The Los Angeles Chargers are right smack in the middle of the AFC playoff race after they have notched back-to-back wins. The Chargers survived a scare against the Tennessee Titans, 17-14, in Week 15 to book their eighth win of the season. Now at 8-6, they are in second place in the AFC West and are tied for the No. 6 spot overall in the conference. Los Angeles can strengthen its playoff chances if it can beat the Indianapolis Colts on the road in Week 16. A win will enable the Chargers to potentially catch the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC’s playoff ladder while also potentially putting them a game ahead of the Miami Dolphins. A loss, however, could put the Chargers in the crosshairs of playoff hopefuls like the Titans and New England Patriots. Here are our Chargers Week 16 predictions as they take on the Colts.
Previously, the Chargers were struggling at 6-6 and in danger of missing the postseason. However, they have managed to win their last two games against formidable opponents. That put them in control of their own playoff destiny. Just a few weeks ago, there were questions about whether Chargers head coach Brandon Staley was in danger of losing his job. But after consecutive victories against the Dolphins and Titans, Staley’s job security is no longer in question.
The Chargers are dead set on making the playoffs. Their quarterback Justin Herbert has finally been hitting his stride a bit. He could continue to do so against the Colts. Speaking of the Colts, they have a 4-9-1 record and are coming off a disappointing loss to the Vikings. In an effort to shake things up, they will start veteran backup Nick Foles on Monday night.
With all these in mind, here are our four bold predictions for the Chargers in their Week 16 game against the Colts.
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4. Chargers receivers surge
The Chargers’ successful turnaround this season can be attributed in part to the return of healthy receivers Mike Williams and Keenan Allen to the lineup. Their presence has greatly benefited quarterback Justin Herbert, who has previously had to rely on his third, fourth, and even fifth options at certain positions. One such guy has been Joshua Palmer, who has emerged as the team’s leader in receiving yards.
In the Chargers’ recent victory over the Titans, Palmer caught all five of his targets for 49 yards, Williams caught four of eight targets for 67 yards, and Allen caught eight of nine targets for 86 yards. Despite the Titans having a vulnerable secondary, Williams had a somewhat disappointing outing. However, he made up for it with a 35-yard catch in the final minute that set up the game-winning field goal. Allen, on the other hand, led both teams in catches and receiving yards and has consistently exceeded 80 yards in the past three games.
All three receivers have the potential to have strong performances in Week 16 against the Colts, who have struggled defensively and were recently outplayed by the Vikings‘ Justin Jefferson and KJ Osborn.
3. Chargers D puts the clamps on Indy
In the past two weeks, the Chargers have been performing exceptionally well on defense. They have even ranked third in defensive DVOA. Despite missing star safety Derwin James due to a quad injury, the team has managed to excel under the guidance of head coach Brandon Staley. Staley has been able to come up with effective game plans and player groupings to match the opposing teams’ offensive styles, whether it be the pass-heavy attack of the Dolphins or the physicality of the Titans and running back Derrick Henry.
The Chargers have displayed discipline and toughness in the trenches and have tackled effectively in open space. With just three games left in the season and a chance to make the playoffs, the Chargers defense is hitting its stride at the right time. The return of James and potentially Joey Bosa from injury could make them an even more formidable threat in postseason play.
For this Week 16 matchup against the Colts, we expect the Chargers defense to put the clamps on Nick Foles & Co.
2. QB Justin Herbert racks up the TDs
Chargers QB Justin Herbert has had a bit of an up-and-down season. Yes, he has been without some of his best players and offensive linemen for much of the season. Herbert now has Allen and Williams back. Still, he has only scored one touchdown and thrown two interceptions on 93 attempts in the past two weeks.
The Chargers’ offensive game planning has also been quite inconsistent and has not taken advantage of Herbert’s strong arm. Far too often, the team tries to gain small chunks of yards on drives. Herbert has still thrown the ball more than 40 times per game and has a lot of talent. However, he needs to improve his performance.
In the team’s recent win over the Titans, Herbert completed 28-of-42 passes for 313 yards. He did not score a touchdown, though. That was only the third time in 46 career NFL games that he has failed to do so. Despite this, Herbert came through in the clutch. He set up a game-winning field goal with just 44 seconds left in the fourth quarter. He will try to rack up touchdowns in Week 16 against the Colts. This is a team that has struggled defensively. They have also had significant collapses in the second half of their last two games.
1. Chargers cruise on the road
The Colts’ decision to start backup Nick Foles this week could spell trouble for the team. That is especially since they are already without running back Jonathan Taylor. Keep in mind that the Chargers have a similar offense to the Vikings. Recall that they recently scored 39 points against the Colts. As such, Los Angeles is likely to continue its winning streak on Monday night. The Chargers need a win to secure a playoff spot. They will use the Colts game as an opportunity to find their offensive rhythm before the postseason.
With receivers Williams and Allen back in the lineup, Herbert has the support he needs to lead the Chargers to the playoffs for the first time since 2018. The Colts, on the other hand, have been too inconsistent. Additionally, the constant change at quarterback has not helped their situation. Overall, it has been a difficult season for the Colts, and this game won’t be pretty. The Chargers will enter Indy and cruise to a big win.