San Diego Chargers (1-1 SU, 2-0 ATS) vs. Indianapolis Colts (0-2 SU, 0-2 ATS)
NFL Week 3
Date/Time: Sunday, September 25, 2016, 2016 at 4:25PM EST
Where: Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis, Indiana
by Scott, Expert Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: SD +3/IND -3
Over/Under Total: 51.5
The San Diego Chargers come out east to face the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium on Sunday. The Colts have once against gotten off to a slow start after dropping their first two games and are in danger of letting the season get away from them a bit at 0-3. At home, they can really use a win. The Chargers won on Sunday at home with an easy win over the Jacksonville Jaguars, 35-14. Can they come into Indy and beat what should be a desperate Colts team?
Week two was an important triumph for the Chargers, but a costly one at the same time. After losing to the Chiefs in a huge comeback win for KC in week one, they needed something good to happen and it did with them jumping out to a 35-0 lead against a supposedly-improved Jacksonville team, before the Jags added two late meaningless scores. But after losing number-one receiver Keenan Allen with a torn ACL in week one, the same thing happened to Danny Woodhead in week two and Philip Rivers comes into Indy with his two most valuable weapons out for the rest of the season. There is depth and promising youth on the offensive side of the ball, but can a team coming off a 4-12 season really succeed the following season after losing their top two dogs on offense?
One thing in the favor of San Diego’s offense is the play of Rivers. He was 17-for-24 on Sunday with 4 TD passes. In addition to Rivers’ play is the development in this system of 2nd-year back Melvin Gordon and newly-acquired receiver Travis Benjamin. Both will be called on heavily and initial signs are positive. After a brutal rookie campaign, Gordon had over 100 yards on the ground on Sunday and scored a TD after scoring two in week one. And Benjamin had 115 yards receiving, while Rivers hit him on a pair of TD strikes. Old faithful TE Antonio Gates also hauled in a score, as did promising receiver Tyrell Williams, who has looked good through two weeks. It’s an offense that’s already been burnt badly by injuries, but maybe they can soldier on with what they have and just hope the injury bug has flown the coup.
The San Diego defense has also shown improvement and will need to continue doing so to give the Chargers a chance this season with the offense not in prime shape. In week one, they were all over Alex Smith and really the entire offense, before the Chiefs mounted a huge comeback where the Chargers’ defense more or less melted. That aside, they’ve shown a lot this season. The secondary looks better, though they lost Jahleel Addae for a while. Free agent signing CB Casey Heyward picked off two passes on Sunday, while Brandon Flowers and Dwight Lowery were making plays left-and-right. The line looks good with Corey Liuget all over the field with Brandon Mebane stuffing up the run. The middle looks fierce with pass-rusher Melvin Ingram finding his stride, with a big boost from Denzel Perryman, Manti Te’o, and others. If third-pick DE Joey Bosa can get in there and start producing, it will be even better.
Even with Andrew Luck in there, this Colts team has gotten off to some bad starts before. They will again need to get on a roll. In week one, a big comeback should have gotten the Colts the home win against Detroit, but they couldn’t get any help from the other side of the ball. Against Denver on the road in week two, the defense wasn’t bad, but the offense lost two turnovers that were returned for scores and that ended up being the Broncos’ margin of victory. As Luck looked to launch his trademark comeback bid, Von Miller’s strip-sack, followed by Shane Ray’s return for a TD, put an end to Indy’s hopes. They really need this one on Sunday.
Judging the Colts’ offense based on how they played on the road against what might be the defense of this generation is not a good way to gauge their effectiveness moving forward. Luck was off the mark and wasn’t able to consistently use his best playmakers—receivers TY Hilton, Donte Moncrief, Phillip Doresett, RB Frank Gore, and others. At home, look for them to have more success this week and beyond. An urgent Andrew Luck can be super-dangerous.
One of the toughest defenses to gauge is the Colts “D.” For the past several seasons, trying to figure out what you’re getting from week-to-week has been a futile undertaking. They sure haven’t been great through two weeks, but they weren’t really that bad against Denver, despite the 34-point total. They allowed just one touchdown from the Broncos offense and kept damage to a minimum through the air, while also picking off Siemian. Their secondary is all dealing with issues, with Vontae Davis out, and Antonio Cromartie, TJ Green, and Patrick Robinson all banged-up. This unit needs to be a little more clutch and better against the run, but they’ve had horrible two-game windows of play before getting better before and they’ll need to do it again this week.
This Colts team has dealt with slow starts before, as this is the third straight year they lost their first two games. Last year, injuries prevented Indy from going too far, but they still ended up 8-8. In 2014, an 0-2 start turned into an 11-5 season. In other words, urgency is not lost on Luck and this team and one should expect them to respond again this season. The Chargers defense has seen two muted offenses in relation to what they might be seeing this week and their offense is iffy moving forward minus a huge part of their production. But those looking at this game might see almost too simple of a storyline, where the desperate Colts are at home beating up on a 4-win team from last season. I just don’t see the Chargers playing that role this week. I’m taking the points.
Scott's Pick to Cover the Point Spread: I’m betting on the San Diego Chargers plus 3 points.
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