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Analyzing Colts biggest threats in the AFC: Los Angeles Chargers

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Despite the fact that most of Los Angeles’ fans are focused on the Rams, the Chargers have themselves an extremely talented roster.

Divisional Round - Los Angeles Chargers v New England Patriots Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images

The Chargers have perhaps the most complete roster in the AFC, with no clear flaws, and a solid amount of depth. Behind quarterback and Chargers’ legend Philip Rivers, they finished last season 12-4 and defeated the red-hot Ravens in the Wild Card game before being annihilated by the Patriots in the Divisional Round. After a solid offseason, where they added some very good players, the Chargers look poised for a big year.

Strengths

Divisional Round - Los Angeles Chargers v New England Patriots Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images

The Chargers’ biggest strength is not any one thing in particular, but rather that they are good at every aspect of the game. They are the most balanced team in the AFC. On offense, they can either hurt you through the air, with Rivers at quarterback, featuring weapons like Keenan Allen, Hunter Henry, or Travis Benjamin, or they can punish you on the ground, with their two-headed monster Melvin Gordon and Austin Ekeler.

On defense, the Chargers have plenty of talent all over the place. They have Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram rushing the passer, talented linebackers in the form of Thomas Davis, Denzel Perryman, and Jatavis Brown, and a solid secondary, starring Derwin James and Casey Hayward.

Chargers Rank (2018/19 season)

Pass Offense Rush Offense Pass Defense Run Defense Offensive YPG Yards Allowed PG Turnover Diff. Sack Rate (Allowed)
Pass Offense Rush Offense Pass Defense Run Defense Offensive YPG Yards Allowed PG Turnover Diff. Sack Rate (Allowed)
10th 15th 9th 9th 11th 8th 15th 13th

The Chargers might not stand-out on any specific thing, but they are at least top 15 in every major category. Los Angeles also added some solid players in the NFL Draft. Jerry Tillery is a monster on the inside and will break havoc alongside Bosa and Ingram. Nasir Adderley and Derwin James will form the most dynamic young safety duo in the League, and linebacker Drue Tranquill has a chance of taking over as a starter midway through the season.

Overall, it is impossible to pinpoint something the Chargers are really good at, because they are good enough at everything. Even their special-teams unit is above average now, ever since the Chargers found their kicker of the future in Michael Badgley.

Weaknesses

Divisional Round - Los Angeles Chargers v New England Patriots Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images

Ever heard the term “Jack of all trades, master of none”? Well, that might define the Chargers. While being a solid overall team might get you wins in the regular season, in the Playoffs you usually need something you can rely on when things go south. For example, the Patriots had their stout running game. In fact, when the Chargers visited the Patriots in Foxborough, the Patriots had 4 rushing touchdowns against LA. You either need to be really good at everything, like the 2017 Eagles, or elite in one or two aspects of the game, like the Peyton Manning led-Broncos (passing offense, pass-rush).

The other Chargers’ “weakness” has nothing to do with their roster nor their coaching, but with their fans. After moving from San Diego to LA, the Chargers attendance numbers have declined drastically. It also does not help that StubHub Center seats only 27,000 people; in comparison, Lucas Oil Stadium fits 70,000. The Chargers do not have a real home-field advantage, something that is also critical for playoff success: In the past 10 Divisional Rounds, the home team won 14 times out of 20 (70% win percentage), and for the Conference Championship, the home team won 11 out of the last 15 (73% win percentage). To further develop my point, since moving back to Los Angeles, the Chargers have a 62% win percentage at home (10-6), in comparison, the AFC Playoff teams had a combined 83% win percentage while playing at home last season (33-7).

How they matchup with the Colts

San Diego Chargers v Indianapolis Colts Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

It has been quite a while since the last time the Colts met with the Chargers, but they will actually play each other in Week 1 of the upcoming season, in the StubHub Center. It will be a real test to see if the Colts are for real or not, in a game that could cent the Colts' status as Super Bowl contenders. The Chargers will most likely try to establish their running game early, and so far it looks like they have the edge in this area, as the Colts have failed to improve the defensive tackle position. The Colts athletic linebackers should be able to contain the Chargers tight ends, and Pierre Desir will get a tough matchup against Keenan Allen. On offense, the Colts offensive line will face a true test to see how far they have come. Quenton Nelson will face former teammate Jerry Tillery in what should be an interesting individual battle. I'm concerned about Smith and Castonzo’s ability to stop both Melvin Ingram and Joey Bosa. The Chargers linebackers are not the most athletic of the bunch, so look for Eric Ebron to have a big game.

If the Colts want to come out of LA with a win, then they will have to pressure Philip Rivers. Justin Houston will most likely face Russell Okung, and he will have to beat him consistently to make Rivers uncomfortable. Overall, I like the Colts chances against the Chargers, but they will have to play a good game in all 3 aspects if they are to beat LA.