Monday night’s game shapes up to be more entertaining than many of the games on ESPN’s schedule – especially if you enjoy high scoring affairs with plenty of passing. The Colts travel to the west coast in search of their fourth straight win, while San Diego looks to bounce back from an upset loss at Oakland.

4-1 Indianapolis Colts at 2-3 San Diego Chargers
Monday, October 14 at 8:30 pm ET on ESPN
Announcers: Mike Tirico, Jon Gruden, Lisa Salters
Line: Colts are favored by 1½

Turnovers will be critical (as they always are), and based on what has happened thus far this season the comparison is not at all close. San Diego lost at Oakland last week as they turned the ball over an unforgivable five times to an average defense. On the season the Chargers have turned the ball over ten times (T-23rd), while the Colts defense has ten takeaways (9th); on the other side of the ball Indy has only turned the ball over an NFL 2nd-best four times, and face a San Diego D that has a mere two takeaways (31st).

While the media has focused on the wonderful fantasy football numbers that Philip Rivers is accumulating, not much is being said about the fact that he needs to air it out because the Chargers defense is really bad; aside from not being able to come up with a turnover, they can’t stop the run (4.9 yards per carry, 28th) and they’re not good in the passing game (8.6 yards per pass attempt, 30th) either. Football Outsiders ranks the Charger defense 32nd through week five, dead last is amazingly bad when you stop and consider the current state of some of the other 2012 defenses, such as the Giants, Eagles, Vikings, Rams, and Redskins.

During the off-season the Chargers signed Jacksonville free agent CB Derek Cox to a four-year, $20 million contract, but thus far he has not paid off any dividends. Cox has continually given up big pass plays, and 2nd-year CB Shareece Wright has floundered in coverage; the San Diego defense has just one interception this year. The situation is exacerbated by San Diego losing Dwight Freeney, joining Melvin Ingram on IR. That leaves 2009 draft bust Larry English and Jarrett Johnson, who is more known as a run stopper than a pass rusher to generate pressure on Colts QB Andrew Luck. With weapons like Reggie Wayne and T.Y. Hilton at his disposal, Luck should feast on the San Diego defense and make it a long night for Charger fans.

By The Numbers

Colts Offense vs Chargers Defense
Points: Colts scoring 27.8 ppg (6th); Chargers allowing 25.8 (19th)
Turnovers: Colts 4 giveaways (2nd); Chargers 2 takeaways (31st)
DVOA: Colts 21.4% (4th); Chargers 24.3% (32nd)
Yards: Colts 362 per game (13th); Chargers allowing 406 (27th)
3rd Down: Colts 50.0% (2nd); Chargers 40.7% (23rd)
Red Zone TD: Colts 62.5% (7th); Chargers 61.5% (21st)
Yards per Point: Colts 13.0 (5th); Chargers 15.7 (15th)

Passing Yards: Colts 220 (24th); Chargers 289 (27th)
Passing Yards per Attempt: Colts 7.4 (17th); Chargers 8.6 (30th)
Completion Percentage: Colts 62.3% (15th); Chargers 69.8% (31st)
Passing Touchdowns: Colts 7 (T-16th); Chargers 10 (T-24th)
Interceptions: Colts 2 (T-2nd); Chargers 1 (T-30th)
Passer Rating: Colts 94.4 (12th); Chargers 112.4 (32nd)

Rushing Yards per Game: Colts 142 (4th); Chargers 117 (24th)
Rushing Yards per Attempt: 4.7 (5th); Chargers 4.9 (28th)
Rushing Touchdowns: Colts 7 (T-1st); Chargers 2 (T-4th)

Chargers Offense vs Colts Defense
Points per Game: Chargers 25.0 (12th); Colts 25.8 (19th)
Turnovers: Chargers 10 giveaways (T-22nd); Colts 10 takeaways (T-10th)
DVOA: Chargers 23.4% (3rd); Colts -2.6% (17th)
Total Yards per Game: Chargers 402 (4th); Colts 330 (T-11th)
3rd Down: Chargers 47.5% (3rd); Colts 32.2% (5th)
Red Zone TD: Chargers 57.9% (12th); Colts 70.0% (29th)
Yards per Point: Chargers 16.1 (19th); Colts 20.9 (4th)

Passing Yards per Game: Chargers 311 (5th); Colts 201 (6th)
Passing Yards per Attempt: Chargers 8.5 (5th); Colts 7.0 (13th)
Completion Percentage: Chargers 73.7% (2nd); Colts 56.9% (6th)
Passing Touchdowns: Chargers 13 (T-2nd); Colts 4 (T-3rd)
Interceptions: Chargers 5 (T-18th); Colts 7 (T-4th)
Passer Rating: Chargers 110.6 (3rd); Colts 68.4 (4th)

Rushing Yards per Game: Chargers 91.2 (21st); Colts 129.0 (30th)
Rushing Yards per Attempt: Chargers 3.7 (20th); Colts 4.8 (27th)
Rushing Touchdowns: Chargers Chargers 1 (T-27th); Colts 4 (T-18th)

Even though this should be a bounce-back game at home for San Diego, I just can’t come up with a solid reason to not choose Indy – despite the long road trip.
Pick • Colts 34, Chargers 24
Colts -1½ (two units)
Over 48 (one unit)

 

 

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