NFL 2019 (Week 1): Indianapolis Colts at Los Angeles Chargers
By Pete Fasulo
Special to Pro Football Guru
In a very-underrated Week 1 match-up, this game pits two teams that made the playoffs last season. Due to injuries, holdouts, and retirements, the thinking by some is that this contest may have lost some of its luster along the way. But this actually should be quite a good game between two pretty talented teams. It has become a battle of the North Carolina State quarterbacks as Jacoby Brissett takes on Philip Rivers.
When the Colts have the ball: With Brissett taking over for the recently-retired Andrew Luck, it’s acceptable to believe the Colts will struggle on offense. Yet, Indianapolis head coach Frank Reich has plenty of weapons in the passing game and should be able to put up some points on a Chargers’ defense that is missing injured safety Derwin James. Brissett has two excellent wide receivers in T.Y. Hilton and Devin Funchess. Tight end Eric Ebron should be able to have a solid day vs. Gus Bradley’s defense. The key here will be keeping Brissett upright. The Colts’ offensive line, led by second-year left guard Quenton Nelson, should be able to keep the Bolts’ front seven at bay. The key up front will be keeping Chargers’ defensive end Joey Bosa away from Brissett.
When the Chargers have the ball: Ken Whisenhunt’s offense, led by Rivers, will need to make some adjustments to compensate for the loss of running back Melvin Gordon. Last season, the Bolts had a fairly-balanced attack in terms of run (42.2 percent) and pass (57.8 percent) plays. The thought here is that head coach Anthony Lynn and Whisenhunt trust Rivers more than they trust replacement backs Austin Ekeler and Justin Jackson. Therefore, the team will pass more than they’d actually like to. This has pluses and minuses for Los Angeles. The plus is that Rivers has been a machine throughout his career and should be able to generate some offense versus a fairly stout Indianapolis’ defense. The minus is that the Chargers’ offensive line allowed 34 sacks last season and if they are forced to throw more, the 37-year-old Rivers could be on his back more than desired. The Colts’ defense, with newly-acquired defensive end Justin Houston and second-year linebacker Darius Leonard, could create havoc for Rivers if the Bolts can’t get their normally-balanced attack to success on the ground.
Prediction: Expect this game to be very close. This should be one of the most tightly-contested match-ups of Week 1. The belief here is that the Chargers will have trouble running the ball, and relying on Rivers vs. that strong Colts’ defense will result in a very close game that goes down to the wire. Rivers and the Chargers’ offense will need a late drive to pull this one out.
Los Angeles Chargers 28, Indianapolis Colts 27
Pete Fasulo (@LISportsFans) is a freelance writer covering business, music, and sports. He has written for music publications such as Revolver and Aural Fix. His sports writing career has been resurrected here after numerous years at The Torch and The Long Island Tribune (many moons ago).