Colts vs. Chargers: Breaking Down MNF Game's Most Compelling Storylines

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Colts vs. Chargers: Breaking Down MNF Game's Most Compelling Storylines
Jonathan Moore/Getty Images

Andrew Luck makes his Monday Night Football debut (8:30 p.m. ET on ESPN) as the Indianapolis Colts travel to San Diego to take on the Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium. 

Indy is coming off of last weekend's impressive 34-28 victory over the then-unbeaten Seattle Seahawks, while the Chargers are coming off a loss to the Oakland Raiders.

Here is ESPN's preview of Monday's matchup:

Though San Diego holds a 17-10 series lead over the Colts, there are plenty of reasons to believe Indy will walk away with their 11th victory and a 5-1 record heading into next weekend's big matchup vs. Denver.

The Colts must not get caught looking past the Chargers, however. San Diego has always played Indianapolis tough.

Here are just a few story lines as we head into Monday night's game.

 

Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Milestone In The Making

Last weekend, we had Robert Mathis' 100th career sack milestone eclipsed. And on Monday night, we may have another.

Colts wide receiver Reggie Wayne is four catches away from achieving his 1,000th career reception, which, according to Mike Chappell of the Indianapolis Star, would make Wayne just one of nine receivers to ever accomplish this goal.

The fact that Wayne, who will turn 35 in November, is still producing at such a high level is a tremendous asset for both a young quarterback and a hungry team.

Wayne has 28 receptions so far this season for 365 yards and two touchdowns.

 

No Dwight Freeney

Jeff Gross/Getty Images

Fans who were looking to see former Colts great and current Chargers defensive end Dwight Freeney go at his former team will be disappointed.

Freeney tore his quad muscle earlier in the season and has been designated to the IR by San Diego.

Hard to not believe this will be the end of Freeney's career, as the 12th year player out of Syracuse already had trouble finding a team this previous offseason.

 

Two Teams At Odds

The Chargers offense and Colts defense are two areas where the two teams match up well on paper.

Here is a look at the two squads:

San Diego Offense vs. Indianapolis Defense
YPG Rush YPG PPG
Chargers Offense 402.4 (4th in NFL) 91.2 (21st in NFL) 25.0 (11th in NFL)
Colts Defense 330.4 (10th in NFL) 129.0 (30th in NFL) 15.8 (4th in NFL)

Stats via ESPN.com

Where things get interesting is on the other side of the ball. The X-factor in this game will be the Colts offense.

Indianapolis has the 12th ranked offense in the league in terms of yards per game at 362.4 and are fourth in the league with 142.0 rushing yards per game, as well as fourth in the league with 27.8 points per game.

However, while the Colts defense matches up well with San Diego's offense, the same is not true when the roles are reversed.

The Chargers have one of the worst defenses in the league, coming in ranked at 28th in yards allowed per game, 22nd in points allowed per game and 27th in passing yards allowed per game.

These numbers, combined with Luck's weekly improvement and running back Trent Richardson's growing acclimation to the playbook, could spell trouble.

 

Prediction

Who do you think wins tonight's Monday Night Football matchup?

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The Colts have a very favorable matchup vs. San Diego's depleted defense. I fully expect Luck to exploit the weaknesses in the Chargers D and have a field day. Look for Trent Richardson to come into his own tonight, as the Chargers give up 4.9 rushing yards per attempt and 117.2 yards per game.

Indianapolis should take care of business here.

Indianapolis Colts 31, San Diego Chargers 21

 

Dustin Bradford/Getty Images

Looking Forward

A win tonight would give the Colts a very comfortable two-game lead for the AFC South, as pointed out by Mike Wells of ESPN.com below and a 5-1 record heading into next weekend's all-important matchup vs. former Colt Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos.

Though Colts fans are excited to see Peyton's return next Sunday night (8:30 p.m. ET on NBC), they must focus on the much bigger playoff picture.

The Colts have a very real opportunity to be in the hunt for home field advantage going into this year's playoffs.

Following San Diego and Denver, the Colts schedule looks like this: Houston twice, Tennessee twice, Jacksonville, Cincinnati, Kansas City, St. Louis and Arizona. At first glance, I only see Indianapolis losing two of those—Cincinnati and Kansas City, both away games. But I digress.

The fact that Indy has a realistic chance at winning the division and possibly fighting for home field advantage is something Colts fans should be proud and excited about.

Andrew Luck is only improving. And his Monday Night debut is sure to satisfy.

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