San Diego Chargers (1-1) vs. Indianapolis Colts (0-2)
Sunday September 25, 2016- 1:25 PM CBS
Lucas Oil Stadium Indianapolis, Indiana
We are currently in week 3 of the 2016 NFL season and the resurgent San Diego Chargers (1-1) have headed east to Indiana to take on the Indianapolis Colts (0-2) who are in search of their first win of the year.
Last week the Chargers were able to annihilate the Jacksonville Jaguars early, but unlike week 1 against the Chiefs, the team was able to close out the game as the Chargers rolled 38-14 in their home opener. The Bolts needed the win to get their season back on track and they certainly were impressive in doing so.
Philip Rivers was masterful on the day, compiling a 138.9 QB rating by going 17-24 for 220 yards and four touchdowns. He also rushed for a 10-yard gain in which he gave tribute to the injured Danny Woodhead with an enthusiastic first down point. Rivers was feeling it last Sunday, and he should continue to have success this week against a Colts defense that has been decimated by injuries, especially in the defensive backfield where Darius Butler, Antonio Cromartie, Vontae Davis and Patrick Robinson are all banged up. Butler has not practiced this week and his availability is up in the air for Sunday’s game.
Melvin Gordon is now gaining the attention of the nation as he has proven in the first two games that he is a different back then what we saw last year. A knee injury last season sapped him of any burst after contact and into the holes. He now runs with way more vision and, with the help of Derek Watt and Hunter Henry, he is exploding through holes and making tacklers miss. Gordon ran for 102 yards last week on 17 carries and even caught three balls out of the backfield for 18 yards. He is a complete back now and with the loss of Woodhead and Branden Oliver, his health will be of utmost importance to the Chargers offensive unit. Expect Gordon to have a productive day on Sunday as the Chargers continue to roll with a balanced attack against a Colts defense that has been lit up so far this season.
Chargers on offense
Expect the Chargers to try to get off to a hot start as they intend to take the crowd out of the game. If they allow the Colts to hang around, the crowd could easily become a factor in the domed stadium. Philip Rivers should have little to no issue with pressure as the Colts defensive front has failed to pressure the QB all season long. At the same time, the Chargers O-Line has done well to protect their veteran play-caller. Melvin Gordon should be featured early as the Chargers do intend to bring a balanced attack. Tyrell Williams and new WR Griff Whalen will also be utilized by Ken Whisenhunt as he spreads the ball around. Rivers enjoys getting all his receivers in the game and that will be no different on Sunday against the Colts.
Chargers on defense
Pressuring Andrew Luck will be the top priority, as the Chargers intend to come back to San Diego with a victory. Melvin Ingram and Jeremiah Attaochu should both have decent games. You could see a sack from each of them as the Colts offensive line has struggled early this year to contain edge rushers. The Chargers secondary will also need to play smart, especially at the safety position, where the team will need someone to step up with the loss of Jahleel Addae. Dexter McCoil is more than capable of filling in, and the lanky safety should make his presence known early. Expect Luck to try to pick on the safeties and test their coverage abilities. That is, if he has enough time to get rid of the ball. Look for the team to force at least two turnovers on the day. Coach John Pagano has traditionally done well against the Colts offense and his brother. Sunday should be no different.
Players to watch
A no-brainer here as the offense runs through this man. He has been a little banged up recently and is battling shoulder issues. The constant abuse of being sacked and hit is taking its toll on the QB. Luck is getting beat up too often. The Colts management should be ashamed with the fact they continually neglect the offensive line when it comes to improving the team. Luck has been limited in practice this week, but all signs point towards him playing without any issues. Losing Donte Moncrief (shoulder injury) is huge for the offensive unit and they will need someone to step up and fill his shoes as a receiving presence for Luck. The Chargers will try to swarm Luck and take away his favorite targets in each and every pass attempt.
Both Melvin Gordon and Melvin Ingram will be huge in this game if the Chargers intend to be successful. The Bolts will look to keep Gordon rolling and they will also need constant pressure on Andrew Luck from Melvin Ingram. Gordon looks faster this season and perhaps that has more to do with his decisiveness through the hole than anything else. He is patient on the handoff, but once a seam is open for him he has been powering through it with authority and punishing opposing defenses. Ingram finally looks 100% healthy after suffering from a couple of injury-plagued seasons. He is ultra athletic and his quickness off the ball will be a huge factor in the final result on Sunday. The Melvins will definitely make their presence felt on Sunday.
That amazing run and catch last week has gotten many Chargers fans excited about this young man (if they were not already). He looks to be a real contributor with Keenan Allen‘s injury plaguing the team. Replacing Allen will never be accomplished, but the growth and production of Tyrell Williams is really exciting for Chargers fans. Rivers is quickly building chemistry with him, and with that bond the quarterback is trusting this young man more and more. Williams has the ability and it appears he also has the work ethic to thrive in this league. Williams will be a factor on Sunday as the Colts try to take Travis Benjamin out of the game. Dexter McCluster could also be a factor as Rivers will enjoy utilizing his new weapon.
Matchup to watch
The Chargers middle linebackers have been victimized early this season. I do not know if it is a communication issue or a physical problem, but their play needs to improve. Traditionally the last few seasons, the Chargers have been burned by running backs out of the backfield on pass plays. Te’o has issues staying with quicker running backs so Robert Turbin and Frank Gore could pose a problem on Sunday. Perryman has been mysteriously quiet this year, only tallying eight tackles on the year. He is too good for tackle numbers like that and he should be in store for a run in production very soon. A talent like him should average 10 tackles a game and I suspect he will eventually. Gore is a nice offensive weapon for Luck, especially on kick-down throws once he is being pressured. Both LBs and all men responsible for covering the running back out of the backfield must remain disciplined. Gore is a cagey veteran and can exploit the team if he is given a chance. Te’o and Perryman have their work cut out for them.
The Chargers will be clicking on all cylinders and that will be just too much for the Colts defense to handle.
Andrew Luck will have his moments in the game but the Chargers will win 37-24, with Melvin Gordon once again eclipse 100 yards rushing.