The LA Chargers have a chance to clinch a playoff spot in Week 16 and could do so on Monday Night Football the day after Christmas. If all goes as planned in the earlier slate of games, a win over the Colts could secure a spot in the AFC playoffs for the Bolts. At worst, a win against Indy would still give the team a 97% chance of making the playoffs, per The New York Times.
Indianapolis is one of the worst teams in the league this season that is already without one of its best players, Jonathan Taylor. Taylor suffered a high ankle sprain in Week 15 and was subsequently put on the IR.
Not only are the Colts going to have someone different running the ball but they are going to have someone different under center as well. Interim head coach Jeff Saturday announced on Wednesday that the Colts will start Nick Foles on Monday instead of Matt Ryan.
This might seem worrisome to Chargers fans because of the magic that Foles has pulled off in the past. While the Colts are not the Philadelphia Eagles of old, Foles has a knack for taking over late in the season and leading his team on some miraculous run. That history should not worry Chargers fans, though, as different history takes precedence.
Nick Foles historically struggles against Chargers head coach Brandon Staley.
Brandon Staley's defense has been playing really well as of late. Since the bye week, Staley's defense is allowing just 21.6 points per game and quarterbacks not named Patrick Mahomes have struggled. Considering the injuries that the team is still dealing with on that side of the ball, it is easily Staley's best coaching job of the last two years.
That momentum is carrying over into a matchup in which Staley (and his defensive scheme) has the advantage against the quarterback. Nick Foles has faced Staley once as a defensive coordinator and the result was not great for the veteran quarterback.
With the Chicago Bears in 2020, Foles completed 28 of 40 attempts for 261 yards, zero touchdowns and two interceptions. Chicago only scored 10 points in that game with seven coming via the defense on a fumble-return touchdown late in garbage time.
Prior to that, Foles faced Staley's mentor, Vic Fangio, twice with Fangio being the defensive coordinator for two different teams. In 2014 he played Fangio's San Francisco 49ers defense and completed 21 of 43 passes for 195 yards with zero touchdowns and two interceptions.
Two years later he played Fangio's Chicago Bears defense (prior to Staley being on the staff). In that game, Foles completed 17 of 36 passes for 200 yards with zero touchdowns and one interception. The book is out on how to stop Foles with this defense and Staley knows that.
In three combined games against this Fangio/Staley defense, Foles has completed 55.5% of his passes for 656 yards (218.7 per game) with zero touchdowns and five interceptions.
Sure, Foles might have pulled out some late-season magic in the past but this quarterback change significantly favors the LA Chargers.