As of this writing, the visiting Los Angeles Chargers are 4-point favorites over the Indianapolis Colts for Monday Night Football, according to DraftKings Sportsbook.
To win, or not to win, that is the question.
It’s unrealistic to expect NFL players and coaches to lose football games willingly. After all, as Herm Edwards said, “you play to win the game.” True fans struggle with it as well. Many go to great lengths to distance themselves from the games and expect to lose because it’s easier that way (maybe), and they know that losses mean higher draft picks, and that’s the best chance the team has for meaningful long-term change. In their hearts, many of those same fans can’t help but to want to see the Colts win.
Interim head coach Jeff Saturday is trying to learn as much as possible to close out the 2022 season. Ideally, he can find a way to end the season on a high note and show enough chops as a head coach at this level to earn a permanent opportunity. One would have to guess his best, and potentially his only chance to do so is in Indianapolis, so doing something to inspire confidence in Jim Irsay would benefit him.
What won’t inspire Irsay or the Colts fan base is another primetime television embarrassment. The Colts lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers earlier this year for Monday Night Football, got embarrassed against the Cowboys on Sunday Night Football, and then flexed into a nationally televised game last Saturday to give up the largest lead in NFL history to lose to the Vikings in Minnesota.
One would have to think that the team, the coaching staff (including Defensive Coordinator Gus Bradley), and perhaps numerous front office members see their employment on life support after the last few weeks.
Could Nick Foles be the spark the Colts' offense needs to turn things around? If so, it will have to be without Jonathan Taylor, who has been placed on injured reserve and will not return this season. This means Foles will need to utilize Michael Pittman Jr., Alec Pierce, Parris Campbell, and Jelani Woods more than they have been to this point in the season.
It also means that the trio of Deon Jackson, Jordan Wilkins, and Zack Moss will need to do the heavy lifting on the ground. All have flashed the ability to do so at times in their careers.
Can the offensive line hold up? Nick Foles isn’t more mobile than Matt Ryan. He is a pocket passer who will have to feel his way around in traffic with a receiving corps that hasn’t consistently shown an ability to get open quickly. This line has to do a lot of proving to themselves in the final few weeks of the season because no unit is under more scrutiny at this point.
Finally, the defense has been Jekyll and Hyde in the back half of the season. The defense sometimes shuts down teams like the Cowboys, Vikings, and others. In the same games, the unit collapses and appears unable to stop anyone. It is also a unit that makes the Commanders' and Steelers' anemic offenses look much better than they have looked for much of the season.
At this point, the defense is playing for pride. It has been widely considered one of the best units in the league, and now it has to prove itself by putting together a complete game.
While predicting the outcome seems relatively safe, in that the Chargers should be heavily expected to win, the only other safe bet tonight is that the Colts will have a new look to show off for a primetime offense. I’m talking about the uniforms here.
Nick Foles is a new player under center, but it’s tough to predict that the Colts' offense will be new-look until the offensive line gets figured out.