Last updated December 22nd, 2013
Andrew Luck (pictured) and his (4-1) Indianapolis Colts look to continue their recent success against the West coast teams as they travel to Qualcomm Stadium to face off against the (2-3) San Diego Chargers (8.40pm ET, Monday).
The Chargers, despite somewhat of a monster day for Philip Rivers (411 yds, 2 TD, 3 INT), are coming off of a loss against the Oakland Raiders in decided 10-point fashion. And while the AFC West is likely already won, it is not too late for San Diego to turn their season around and earn a playoff spot. The first step, will be getting a much needed home win against the Colts on Monday night.
The Colts meanwhile will also be looking for a win and will be looking to continue their dominance against NFC West teams (2-0, +26 point differential). While facing Rivers is not the same as the Colts will encounter next week with Peyton Manning’s Denver Broncos, the offensive styles are similar. In fact in the Chargers, the Colts will be up against the league’s fifth best passing offense. Manning’s Broncos, of course, are tops in that category. For that reason, Indy could look at this game as a tune-up and as a way to see if their sixth best passing defense is for real.
The spread is near the smallest margin, currently sitting at just one-point in favor of the Colts, who are 4-2 in their last six road games and undefeated on the road this season. The over/under is pretty high for the week. At 50, the Colts/Chargers game is projected to have tied for the third highest total of week six.
The Comeback Kid and the Rejuvenated Veteran
In a six-point win last week over the Seattle Seahawks, Andrew Luck, the comeback kid, worked his magic to help the Colts edge out their opponents, doing so by outscoring them 11-0 in the fourth quarter. For the second-year QB, the comeback represented his ninth in 21 career games.
Interestingly enough, this may not be a reputation that Luck wants to have. It is probably a result of the inability of the Colts to get ahead and stay ahead that is contributing to the low spread this week.
Luck’s late game heroics couple with a San Diego offense that is one of the better passing groups in the league. Philip Rivers, the rejuvenated vet, is having a renaissance year with 1,610 yards and 13 TD, the latter of which is second only to Manning for league-high. Incredibly, he is also completing 73.7% of his passes which is good enough for second in the league, again bested only by Manning.
Rivers’ renaissance has been credited to his new OC but the overall San Diego offense deserves a lot of the credit too. On the year, Rivers has utilized his entire receiving corps, giving five different Chargers over 200 yards.
Rivers has been great all season but doesn’t have the results to prove it. Meanwhile, Luck is doing his best Peyton impersonation putting together game-winning drives and comebacks.
Against this San Diego defense, ranked 27th in the NFL, Luck should have no problem finding his top guys in Reggie Wayne and TY Hilton. He shouldn’t find himself in need of a comeback either. In fact considering that the Indianapolis secondary has already picked off the opposing QB seven times this season, going against the pass-happy Chargers and the sometimes prone-to-interceptions Rivers, the Colts defense should hold up. Additionally, this defense boasts the NFL’s leading pass rusher in Robert Mathis, who has 9.5 sacks through just five games.
Guarding Indy’s Offense: Easier Said Than Done
You know what he is going to do because it is the same every time. Luck drops back in the pocket, takes a look downfield in search of Wayne. If Wayne is covered, he’ll look in Hilton’s direction. And if all else fails he’ll dump off to Coby Fleener his tight end and old roommate at Stanford.
Despite only being in his second year of the NFL, Luck has become predictable. The only problem for the Colts is that this is not a problem for the Colts. In fact, it is a problem for opposing defenses because even though they know what Luck is going to do, they still can’t stop him.
On the year, Luck is completing 62.2% of his passes, an increase of 8% from last season. And about 50% of those completions and 60% of the Colts’ team receiving yards, have gone to Wayne or Hilton, Luck’s favorite targets.
Even though Indianapolis is just 24th in the league in passing offense, Luck is very efficient when he has the ball. He has decent speed, faster than you would think, and can make things happen in the pocket. He has already rushed for 135 yards on an average of 6.8 yards per carry and his running ability has helped to open up the field as well.
But when Luck isn’t running he has runningback tandem that is a force to be reckoned with. Luck, combined with the efforts of Trent Richardson and Donald Brown mainly (Vick Ballard and Ahmad Bradshaw are both on the DL), have led to Indy having the fourth most efficient rushing offense in the league. San Diego has the league’s 24th best rushing defense making this a favorable match indeed for Luck and his RBs.
Colts at Chargers Betting Picks Advice
A one-point spread assumes that once again the Colts will play a close game. But consider the trend. The Chargers are actually the better team ATS this year and have played well as underdogs. The team is also 5-1 straight up in their last six against the Colts.
- So I’m taking the Chargers as the pick in this one. They have been playing well of late and look primed to continue that at home. Bet on the Chargers +1pt @ betting odds of -105 with Betonline (it is -110 for the same spread with Bovada).
- As for the total, expect it to stay the under as both teams have historically played to the under when facing each other. It is under 50 points with BetOnline at -105. Again it is -110 for the same terms currently with Bovada. If you are not American then both bets should be placed with Bet365.
RESULT: Chargers won 19-9. Both advised bets won.
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.