The Chargers can clinch a spot in the playoffs this week, and the Colts have a chance to play spoiler with a new quarterback starting. The Chargers are getting healthy at the right time, Derwin James is returning to the lineup, and he will be a big addition to this secondary. The Colts are not getting healthy and will be without Jonathan Taylor, Kenny Moore, and Kylen Granson in this matchup.
Vegas Line: Chargers -3.5 | Over/Under: 47
Chargers: OUT — CB Kemon Hall
Colts: OUT — CB Kenny Moore, TE Kylen Granson
Data to Know (Sports Info Solutions)
Chargers Pass Offense vs. Colts
- Justin Herbert has thrown for over 300 yards in three straight games but has only had two total passing touchdowns.
- The Chargers are struggling to convert in the red zone, scoring touchdowns on 49% of their trips.
- The good news is that the Colts are the second-worst red zone defense this season, only behind the Kansas City Chiefs.
- The five main pass catchers are Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, Joshua Palmer, Austin Ekeler, and Gerald Everett.
- The Colts’ pass defenses mix up coverages frequently, but I expect them to deploy a similar game plan against Herbert as they did Patrick Mahomes.
- That means a lot of Cover 1, Cover 3, and Cover 4.
- Against these coverages, Palmer leads the group in targets, Ekeler leads the group in targets per route, and Allen leads the group in yards per route.
- With Brandon Facyson back in the lineup, I don’t expect Stephon Gilmore to travel with Mike Williams or Keenan Allen.
- The Colts have been one of the best teams in the NFL at defending WRs and have allowed four wide receivers over 100 yards, two of which came last weekend.
- Last weekend, 90 yards for Justin Jefferson and K.J. Osborn came from the slot.
- Allen gets most of the slot work, but each player will get routes from that area.
- Donald Parham played this past weekend and was a part of their offense.
Chargers Rush Offense vs. Colts
- This week is about the Chargers making the playoffs, and I expect heavy usage for Ekeler.
- The Colts have allowed the eighth most yards per reception and 10th most receptions to running backs this year.
- The Colts are one of the better run defenses in football but have been susceptible to pass-catching backs.
- Joshua Kelley has seen some snaps in recent weeks, but with the playoffs, on the line, I don’t expect much work from him.
Colts Pass Offense vs. Chargers
- There’s not enough data to predict how the passing game will look under Nick Foles, but we can look at how teams have beaten the Chargers’ pass defense.
- The players that have had success against the Chargers are Davante Adams, Travis Kelce, Justin Watson, Marquise Goodwin, Amari Cooper, Zay Jones, Christian Kirk, DeAndre Hopkins, Brandin Cooks, Tyreek Hill, and David Njoku.
- The Chargers have given up the ninth most receiving yards in the NFL on Vertical routes and the second most touchdowns.
- Parris Campbell leads the team in vertical routes, Alec Pierce leads the team in production, and Jelani Woods gets targeted most frequently.
- Crossers, Corners, and Post routes have been a way for some WRs to find success, and Michael Pittman has been the main player on these routes, with Ashton Dulin being the most targeted per route.
- In the Colts’ last game, Pittman, Pierce, and Campbell were the only three players running routes.
- Mo-Alie Cox had the most routes among the tight ends, but Jelani Woods was the most productive.
Colts Rush Offense vs. Chargers
- Without Taylor, there will be a split between Zack Moss and Deon Jackson.
- Last week, Moss played 67% of the snaps, handled 24 carries for 81 yards, and had one target. Jackson played 32% of the snaps, handled 13 carries for 55 yards, and had one reception.
- This will be a backfield that splits touches, and both will be viable against the Chargers’ run defense.
- The only issue is that the Colts have not been great at run blocking this year, and this is a negative matchup, according to the Trenches Tool.
- Seven different RBs have run for over 100 yards, and 11 have averaged over 4.5 yards per carry with at least ten rushing attempts against the Chargers.
Nick Foles will be tough to trust, but in this matchup, I believe he can succeed against the Chargers, who have no film on what they are trying to accomplish. I expect the Colts to move the ball in the first half while keeping it close but stall in the second half of the game once the Chargers know how they are attacking them. I am most intrigued with Alec Pierce in this matchup because of his ability to win deep, and throughout Foles’ career, he has given players a chance down the field. The Chargers have not defended tight ends well, and I believe Mo-Alie Cox or Jelani Woods will be more involved in this game. I think pivoting off the running backs to the pass-catching game will be unique in showdown contests, and there are points expected in this matchup.
The Chargers are in a game to lock up the division, and I expect the usage to be high for their main players. They are clicking at the right time, and with how bad the red zone defense for the Colts has been, they should be able to correct their issues in the red zone. Keenan Allen in the slot will be the player to have a big game, and he has had 80 yards receiving in three straight. Austin Ekeler, out of the backfield, will be catching a lot of passes as well, and I expect Mike Williams to struggle amongst the trio.
- RB Austin Ekeler
- QB Justin Herbert
- WR Keenan Allen
- WR Alec Pierce
- QB Nick Foles
- WR Mike Williams
- WR Michael Pittman
- RB Zack Moss
- WR Joshua Palmer
- TE Gerald Everett
- DST Chargers
- K Cameron Dicker
- K Chase McLaughlin
- DST Colts
- TE Jelani Woods
- TE Donald Parham