After receiving some unexpected Christmas presents from their rivals, the Los Angeles Chargers can clinch a playoff spot with a victory at Indianapolis on Monday night.
Defeats for the New England Patriots and Las Vegas Raiders on Saturday mean that the 8-6 Chargers hold the AFC's sixth seed going into their Week 16 game and have a chance to move up to the No. 5 spot.
What: Los Angeles Chargers @ Indianapolis Colts
Where: Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis
When: 8:15 p.m. ET/5:15 pm PT Monday, December 26th
How to watch: ESPN & stream via fuboTV
Odds: LA Chargers -210, IND Colts
The manner of the Colts' 39-36 overtime defeat at the Minnesota Vikings in Week 15, which extended their losing streak to four games, does not augur well for a swift rebound.
Jeff Saturday's men blew a 33-0 lead from halftime, allowing the Vikings to complete the biggest comeback in NFL history.
Despite winning the turnover battle 3-1, forcing seven sacks and finishing with the lion's share of possession, Indy still found a way to lose.
The 4-9-1 Colts yielded 518 total yards and the third-highest number of passing yards by any team in the NFL this season - 460.
Chargers QB Justin Herbert and a talented array of offensive weaponry around him will go after the same weaknesses that the Vikings exploited in Indy's defense.
The third-year signal-caller is coming off a so-so performance against the Tennessee Titans in which he went 28-of-42 for 313 yards and a couple of interceptions.
Although he didn't throw for a touchdown for only the third time in his pro career, he did spread the ball around well with Keenan Allen returning eight catches for 86 yards and Mike Williams posting four receptions for 67 yards.
It was only the second full game both had been available for this season and, with running backs Austin Ekeler and Joshua Kelly combining for 82 rushing yards on 22 carries while scoring a TD apiece against the Titans, the Chargers offense now looks well-balanced.
The Colts have been favoring the run more than most in the last few weeks and actually managed to amass 171 yards on the ground against Minnesota, despite losing leading rusher Jonathan Taylor to an ankle injury early in the first quarter.
Zack Moss and Deon Jackson will have to carry the load from here onwards because 2021 rushing king Taylor has been ruled out for the remainder of the season.
Matt Ryan, who completed 19 of his 33 passing attempts for 182 yards and a touchdown last weekend, is being benched this week with Nick Foles coming in as the Colts' third starting QB of the season.
Foles is 3-9 as a starter for three different franchises in the last four years and seems like the last throw of the dice from a desperate staff looking to avoid being part of a postseason coaching cull.
The Chargers, meanwhile, should be close to full strength when they arrive in Indianapolis with only edge rusher Joey Bosa (core muscle), defensive tackle Austin Johnson (knee) and cornerback J.C. Jackson (knee) the notable absences.
Los Angeles' 21st-ranked defensive unit has been trending in the right direction health-wise and in its ability to limit opponents' yardage.
And they gave up only two touchdowns in each of their last two home games against the Miami Dolphins and Tennessee after surrendering an average of 27 points over the previous three weeks.
That improvement, allied to the Colts' second-half capitulation last week and the proven ability of Herbert to come through in the clutch should leave little doubt about the visitors' chances of covering the -4.0 point Spread at .
The Chargers are 8-5-1 against the spread this season and, although they have covered just the one time in the last four games, they are 5-2-0 ATS when away from SoFi Stadium.