The Los Angeles Chargers will open the 2019 season against the Indianapolis Colts.
Had this game been on the schedule to start the season last year, most would have said that the Chargers were going to win it in a laugher. After all, the Colts were picked by some to be the worst team in the league.
That didn’t happen… not even close.
The Colts battled every week as Andrew Luck returned to the forefront to lead his team to a Wild Card berth and even a victory in the playoffs. The team had arguably the best draft last season as any in the league and all of that has led to a big change in how analysts feel about the Colts this year.
You will see some predicting Luck could be the league MVP this year and the Colts are slowly becoming a trendy Super Bowl pick in the AFC. If all of that is to be believed, expect the Chargers to have their hands full in the opener.
Week 1: Colts at Chargers, September 8, 2019, 1:05 p.m. PT
Luck and Hilton have become one of the top quarterback-wide receiver combos in the league and Hilton remains one of its most dangerous deep threats.
Hilton is coming off a 2018 season that saw him catch 76 passes for 1,270 yards and six touchdowns. The Chargers will need to have eyes on him at all times.
Leonard was part of what could have been the league’s best draft last year and after a monster rookie season, was chosen as the league’s Defensive Rookie of the Year. Chargers fans know how good Derwin James was as a rookie, so the idea that Leonard won the award over him says something.
In addition to those pieces, the Colts might have the league’s best offensive line. The Chargers new and improved defensive line will face a stiff test to begin the year.
The Chargers are quite familiar with a couple of these players as Houston and Ware both played for the Kansas City Chiefs. It was surprising to see the lack of attention surrounding Houston when the Chiefs moved on from him as he has been one of the league’s top pass rushers for some time.
Is he the missing piece for this Colts team?
Funchess gives Luck another big, experienced target and if he can resurrect his career the way Eric Ebron did with Luck throwing him the ball last year, look out.
The Indianapolis front office did a great job in retaining key free agents. Slauson retired and Inman, who was won with the Chargers, signed with the New England Patriots. Aside from that, the Colts should easily recover from each free agent they lost and even those two won’t hurt that bad.
This team looks good from top to bottom.
Key to the game: The battle of the trenches
It was referenced above, but the battle between the Chargers’ defensive line and the Colts’ offensive line will be key.
Will Jerry Tillery be in the starting lineup Week 1? Will the Chargers be able to get any kind of push against the likes of Quenton Nelson, Ryan Kelly and Mark Glowinski on the interior of the line? Whether they can get penetration and throw Luck and the Colts’ rushing attack each off their game could likely be the difference between a win and a loss.
The Chargers have the home-field advantage here but is that actually an advantage? The team was better away from Los Angeles last season. But this is a key game between two contenders in the AFC and if you look at the schedule for Week 1, it’s not a stretch to call this the game of the week.