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2019 Opponent Scouting Report: Chargers Special Teams and Predictions

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NFL: Preseason-Los Angeles Chargers at San Francisco 49ers Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Overview

On September 8, 2019 the Indianapolis Colts will kick off the season by traveling to the City of Angels to take on the Los Angeles Chargers. In this Week 1 match-up, I sought to understand our opponent and get a better idea of how they may attack our Colts.

In the past twenty years, our Colts haven’t fared well against the Chargers, going 4-6 including two playoff losses in ‘08 and ‘09. Most recently, our Colts got the better of the Chargers back in September of 2016 when (Buffalo Bills Running Back) Frank Gore’s 82 yards and a touchdown, combined with (ESPN Analyst) Pat McAfee’s three punts inside the Chargers’ 20, helped launch our Colts to a 26-22 victory. Hopefully the result is similar this time around.

Let’s figure out what we can expect in Week 1.

Special Teams


Kicker:

NFL: Los Angeles Chargers Training Camp Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Michael Badgley, despite his appearance, does play in the NFL. The second year pro had an excellent rookie season hitting 15 of 16 field goals, in addition to hitting five of them in the Chargers playoff victory against the Baltimore Ravens.

He was named AFC special teams player of the week after hitting four field goals including one from 59 yards in the Chargers week 14 win over the Cincinnati Bengals.

This is a game that could reasonably come down to kicking and punting and if it comes down to a last second kick I would rather have Adam Vinatieri than Michael Badgley, but the Chargers appear to be in good hands with the actor from NBC’s hit TV show This Is Us.


Punter:

Los Angeles Chargers v San Francisco 49ers Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images

Ty Long spent last season in Canada. This isn’t a story about some bizarre Canadian kicking compound, it’s just the CFL. He played in the CFL and he did it as both a kicker and a punter. I’m not sure that any of the statistics translate to the NFL as I’ve heard rumors that Canadian Gatorade is just maple syrup, I don’t know if that’s true but he did average 48.8 yards per punt with a 38.5 yard net.

I don’t know much about Ty Long but he doesn’t resemble anyone on NBC’s hit TV show This is Us.


Long Snapper:

Seatle Seahawks v Los Angeles Chargers Photo by John McCoy/Getty Images

Normally I don’t highlight long snappers but Cole Mazza is one of the greatest AFL players of all time. I am judging this based on the fact that he’s currently on an NFL roster. Mazza played for the Birmingham Iron, the same squad that saw Trent Richardson run the ball 200* times for 225* yards.

*numbers approximate


Returner:

Wild Card Round - San Diego Chargers v Baltimore Ravens Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Desmond King is a good returner. In 23 attempts last season he averaged almost 14 yards per punt return and in 22 kick returns he posted an average of almost 24 yards per. Though this game could be determined by a single big return, King is good with the ball in his hands but he’s not necessarily someone the Colts have to avoid. Hopefully our Colts will keep him bottled up on Sunday.


Final Thoughts for The Week:

This is a really good Chargers team. Offensively I think they will have some issues against our defense but Phillip Rivers and Ken Whisenhunt are capable of overcoming most things defenses throw at them. If the Colts can capitalize on Russell Okung’s absence, it may not matter how much planning the Chargers do.

On the other side of the ball Jacoby Brissett will be tasked with a very difficult test in his second, first start as the Indianapolis Colts quarterback. The Chargers defense does have a couple weaknesses and I have to believe Reich and co. will do everything they can to exploit them but it may not be enough.

I said in yesterday’s look at the Chargers defense that right now NFL defenses are ahead of offenses and that Brissett isn’t likely to be as far along in the process as Rivers is. That’s still true and I think it could determine the outcome of this game.

Also, let’s just all agree that no matter what happens this is ONE game and we shouldn’t overreact no matter what. Can we do that?


Prediction

Colts 17

Chargers 20