Find out how to watch Colts vs. Chargers in Week 1 on Sunday.
Still coping with the fallout from Andrew Luck's stunning decision to retire, Jacoby Brissett looks to rally the Colts as they open the season with a difficult contest on the West Coast against the Chargers.
How to Watch: Colts vs Chargers:
Date: Sunday, Sept. 8
Time: 4:00 p.m. EDT
Live Stream: You can stream the game on fuboTV. Sign up now for a free seven-day trial.
The shockwaves from Luck's decision to step away from the game due to his constant battle to overcome injuries is still reverberating around the NFL. The Colts, who reached the AFC divisional round last season after beating South Division rival Houston in the wild-card round, were tabbed as a Super Bowl contender.
This is the second time in three years Brissett will be under center for the Colts, but this will be far different than 2017 when he was originally acquired. That season, Brissett was acquired from the Patriots just eight days before the opener when the Colts were unsure Luck would play following offseason shoulder surgery.
Brissett was named starter in Week 2 and finished with 3,098 passing yards and threw only seven interceptions, but also had only 13 touchdown passes and completed 58.8% of his passes. The biggest differences this time are the improved offensive line–Brissett was sacked 52 times in 2017–and the fact that he had an entire year to digest Frank Reich's offense as Luck's understudy in 2018. That should lead to a relatively seamless transition.
The Colts feature a balanced offensive attack, with receiver T.Y. Hilton, who is coming off his fifth 1,000-yard season in six years after totaling 76 catches for 1,270 yards, leading the way. The defense centers around linebacker Darius Leonard, who seamlessly stepped into Matt Eberflus's system and racked up 163 tackles–111 of them solo–as a rookie. Indianapolis thinks it has found a pair of edge rushers in free agent Justin Houston and second-round pick Ben Banogu that dovetail within Eberflus' scheme, which puts a premium on linebacker blitzing.
As the Colts have fallen off the radar among Super Bowl contenders, the Chargers have remained there with one big caveat. The holdout of running back Melvin Gordon continues to hang over the team, and it could be the difference between Los Angeles contending for the AFC West title and simply contending for a playoff spot.
The passing game remains in the capable hands of Philip Rivers, who begins his 14th consecutive season under center and will be making his 209th consecutive regular season start. Rivers threw for 4,308 yards and 32 touchdowns, while helping the Chargers reach the AFC title game last season, and will again seek out Keenan Allen as his primary target.
Allen has totaled 199 catches for 2,589 yards and 12 touchdowns in the last two seasons, and fellow wide receiver Mike Williams is looking for a breakout third season after catching 43 passes for 664 yards and 10 TDs as Rivers's primary deep threat. The X-factor could be tight end Hunter Henry, who missed all of the 2018 regular season with a torn ACL and is expected to fill the sizeable void left by Antonio Gates.
The Chargers were one of the first teams to use an oversized safety as a roving linebacker–a move born out of necessity with injuries that turned Adrian Phillips into a key cog in their defense–and that should continue. Los Angeles also has a pair of dynamic bookend rushers in Melvin Ingram and Joey Bosa. They will have to be at their best to help a secondary missing All-Pro safety Derwin James for the sizable chunk of the season after he suffered a broken foot during preseason.