Tale of the Tape: Indianapolis Colts at San Diego Chargers
The Indianapolis Colts look to improve to 5-1 as they face the host San Diego Chargers in the Monday nighter. The Colts are led by second-year quarterback Andrew Luck, who has orchestrated one of the league's top offenses through the first five games. He'll be in tough against a Chargers roster that has racked up the passing yards but struggled with turnovers in last week's 27-17 loss to the Oakland Raiders.
Here's the breakdown in our betting tale of the tape:
Luck may not have the same quarterback prowess as Peyton Manning, the guy he replaced in Indianapolis, but the 24-year-old signal caller has been impressive in his own right. The Colts average a respectable 362.4 passing yards per game, with seven touchdowns and just two interceptions. The rush offense is even more impressive relative to the rest of the league, averaging 142 yards per contest - the fourth-highest mark coming into Week 6 action.
The Chargers have punished opposing defenses with a pass attack that is averaging better than 311 yards per game. Quarterback Philip Rivers threw for 411 yards last weekend against the Raiders - his third 400-yard game of the season - but also had three interceptions that essentially handed the Raiders the win. The San Diego rushing game has been decidedly less potent, averaging just 91.2 yards per game with two touchdowns through five games.
The Colts have been stingy when it comes to pass defense, surrendering just 201 yards per game in the air. Indianapolis has allowed only four passing touchdowns through five games while haranguing opposing quarterbacks into throwing seven interceptions. That success hasn't extended to the run defense, as Indianapolis is allowing 129 yards per contest - one of the worst marks in the league - and a whopping 4.8 yards per rush attempt.
San Diego has struggled so far this season mostly due to a pass defense that has been hemorrhaging yards. The Chargers are allowing opposing QBs to rack up 289 yards per game and complete nearly 70 percent of their pass attempts. San Diego is below average in run defense - giving up more than 117 yards per game and an average of 4.9 yards per carry - but has limited the opposition to just two rushing touchdowns.
The Colts possess a top-10 kick-return unit, averaging 25.7 yards per attempt despite a long run of just 28 yards. Indianapolis is in the middle of the pack when it comes to punt returns, averaging 7.4 per attempt. Colts placekicker Adam Vinatieri has connected on nine of 11 field-goal attempts while making good on all 14 of his extra point kicks. Vinatieri was 2-for-2 on field goals in last week's 34-28 victory over the Seattle Seahawks.
San Diego ranks just behind Indianapolis in kick-return offense at 24.4 yards per attempt, but with a long return of 42 yards. The Chargers have just seven punt returns through five weeks, and are averaging 7.1 yards on those returns. Veteran Chargers placekicker Nick Novak has made nine of 11 field-goal kicks while making all 14 of his extra-point attempts. Novak went 1-for-2 against the the Raiders.
"Philip goes to him because that's his guy and he trusts him and he's been working with him 10 years. You (have) to make sure somebody's on him, trying to bang the crap out of him so he doesn't have a free release up the field. He has great moves in space." - Indianapolis defensive coordinator Greg Manusky on Chargers tight end Antonio Gates
"Andrew's playing out of his mind, really. It's going to be tough, but we like our matchups. Coming off the way we did against Oakland, it'll be good going against a team like this because we have no room for error." - San Diego safety Eric Weddle