After starting the season 0-2 for the third year in a row, the Indianapolis Colts once again find themselves with their backs against the wall as they host the (1-1) San Diego Chargers at Lucas Oil Stadium (4.25pm ET, Sunday on CBS).
The season has not gone the way Indianapolis would have wanted it to with back-to-back losses against the (1-1) Detroit Lions and (2-0) Denver Broncos.
Opening the year against the Lions, the Colts faced problems on both sides of the ball almost from the get-go. They were unable to get anything going consistently and found themselves down 14-0 midway through the second quarter. It was only thanks to Adam Vinatieri’s age-defying leg that Indianapolis put its first points on the board. Both the Lions and Colts would score again before the end of the half as Detroit led 21-10.
The Colts scoring drive to end the half was the beginning of the offense and Andrew Luck (pictured) was finally seeming to develop a rhythm. After forcing a quick stop on Detroit to open the half, Luck led his team down the field after two key third-down conversions. The team scored on that drive and picked up the two-point conversion to be just one field goal away from tying the game.
The teams continued to trade scores from that point out with Indianapolis actually tying Detroit after a 94-yard touchdown drive and then taking the lead after a Vinatieri field goal and just 37 seconds left on the clock. But with the final possession, the Lions scored the game-winning field goal before getting their final points on a safety to close it out.
Against the Broncos, it was actually Indianapolis with the chance to win the game in the closing minutes, only for Von Miller to dash those hopes with a huge sack and forced fumble of Luck. It was Miller’s third sack on the QB of the game. Losing to the best defense in the league and the team that is the defending Super Bowl champion is no reason to hang one’s head. Allowing over 34 points in back-to-back games is definitely what is concerning.
Defensively, the Colts have been severely exposed over the first two games. They have sustained a bevy of injuries, including one to Darius Butler. He pulled up lame after an interception and what would have been a touchdown. This preview is less than optimistic about how the team will rebound on that side of the ball. In fact, their unit has been the most decimated along the backfield with three cornerbacks and two safeties going down already.
Without a healthy defense and up against a team and a quarterback who can throw the ball and score pretty efficiently at times, more pressure is put on Luck and the offense. This includes the line which allowed Luck to be sacked five times in last week’s game and which really struggled against the much better front seven of the Broncos.
They won’t be facing nearly as tough a task this week although the Chargers are expecting to get Joey Bosa, the No. 3 overall draft pick, in the game after a hamstring injury kept him out of the first two games of the season. Adding Bosa’s presence to what Melvin Ingram already provides (he had two sacks last week), does give the Chargers a formidable duo when it comes to rushing the QB. That is especially significant on a team like the Colts, who offer almost no threat in the running game and leave Luck a target in the backfield.
It is the Colts own beleaguered defense that will have to contend with Philip Rivers. He has thrown five touchdown passes on the season despite losing two of his top weapons in receiver Keenan Allen and running back Danny Woodhead.
The Chargers as a whole are averaging 32.5 points per game, second only to the 33 averaged by the (1-1) Carolina Panthers. They could very well overtake Carolina with a big performance Sunday, something that is more than possible against the Colts, who are dead last in most points per game to the opposing team, averaging 36.5.
Rivers has found a way to excel despite so many changes in the depth chart and a next man up mentality. In the case of the Chargers offense, that has been Melvin Gordon at the running back position, who rushed for 102 yards against the (0-2) Jacksonville Jaguars last week. Don’t forget Travis Benjamin at the wide receiver position, who has 13 receptions on 14 targets for 147 yards and two touchdowns.
Benjamin has been a more than adequate replacement for the injured Allen and is making a name in his own right. He will have quite the matchup to exploit on Sunday and could be in for yet another massive day.
Our Preview’s San Diego Chargers at Indianapolis Colts Betting Picks
As badly as the Colts need this win and as much as they will put up a huge fight at home as a result, this preview reckons that the San Diego’s offense is the real deal. Against this patchwork defense it shouldn’t be too hard for Rivers and co to continue to put up the high scoring totals. You can see which way we are heading for the betting picks’ prediction.
Then there is the history. The Chargers under Rivers have a 5-1 record against the Colts, including wins in four of the last five. In their most recent meeting, which came in 2013, San Diego controlled the ball for 38:31 and kept Luck out of the end zone for one of the rare times that has happened in his career. The final was 19-9, although this year, there is no doubt the score will be much greater than that.
- The Colts are actually listed as three-point home favorites with one offshore sportsbook, while another has the spread at one point. That doesn’t mean the Chargers pick still isn’t your best option. San Diego is gelling right now so don’t expect too different a result from how the last six games between these two teams have gone down. Our betting picks advice is to bet on the Chargers +3pts @ -125 odds with Bovada. It is +1pt for the better odds of +100 with BetOnline.
- As for this preview’s prediction for the total points to be scored in the game, we are looking at the second highest in the league according to the USA online sportsbooks. Set at 51pts, it is lofty, but when you’re dealing with two teams who offensively have serious firepower and one defense which is allowing over 30 points a game, it makes sense to predict that this could turn into a shootout. So take the over 51pts total points in the game @ -110 with either Bovada or BetOnline.
Marilee writes on NFL, MLB, NBA & tennis for USA Betting. Another area of her sporting journalistic expertise is pro wrestling. A native of Philadelphia and a big Eagles fan, she has been a sports writer for many major websites including Bleacher Report and Rant Sports. She started her journalistic career early, as sports editor for her college newspaper.