It’s remarkable that tonight’s MNF game marks the first time Colts quarterback Andrew Luck will appear live on Monday Night Football on ESPN. Considering all the “suck for Luck” craziness when he was still at Stanford, you’d think the NFL would’ve scheduled him during his rookie season. Instead, the MNF masses had to wait until tonight’s matchup with the San Diego Chargers, which frankly could be a good thing, since Chargers QB Philip Rivers is playing out of his mind this season. The quarterback battle is just one of the storylines to follow on ESPN or if you watch Monday Night Football online free streaming using the links below, but it’s probably the most compelling. And with good reason, as we explore in this game preview.
Colts QB Luck has had a solid season in the air, going 97-156 for 1,144 yards and seven touchdowns. That may not compare stats-wise to Colts QB Philip Rivers, as we’ll show below, but Luck has a quarterback rating of 77.1 this season, the fourth-highest number in the league and more than an 18% increase from his rookie season. Fellow second-year QB Robert Griffin III (RG3), meanwhile, has seen his QBR drop from 73.2 to 29.1. Luck has also been clutch this season, with a fourth-quarter quarterback rating of 88.4 — placing him behind only Chicago Bears QB Jay Cutler (98.6) and Denver Broncos QB Peyton Manning (93.0).
Unfortunately for the Colts, Luck’s numbers haven’t added up to a high-powered passing attack or offense. For the year, the Colts have just the 23rd-ranked passing game and 12th-ranked overall offense. Compare that to the San Diego Chargers, who behind a monster season from QB Philip Rivers have achieved the third-ranked passing game and the fourth-ranked total offense. Rivers has been the impetus for that success, having gone 140-190 for 1,610 yards and 13 TDs. As far has quarterbacks go, those numbers have planted Rivers firmly in the #2 spot for league-wide QBR, trailing only Peyton Manning.
Yet watch Monday Night Football online free streaming tonight or on ESPN, and you’ll see a Colts team with momentum on its side. Having already defeated the 49ers and having handed the Seattle Seahawks their first loss of the season last week, the Colts are primed for tonight’s MNF showdown. In spite of Luck’s prowess, it may come on the ground, where the Colts rank fourth in the NFL and are still getting used to new RB Trent Richardson following that blockbuster trade. Or it may come on the defensive side of the ball, where the Colts’ top-ten D will look to slow Chargers QB Rivers (the Chargers’ running game is a paltry 21st in the league, so it’s not likely going to do much tonight). The Chargers also may be their own worst enemy, as they’re sitting at the bottom of the AFC West because, according to ESPN’s Chargers reporter Eric Williams, they struggle with inconsistency. “The Chargers play impressively one game, but look sluggish the following week, which is the reason the team is 2-3,” Williams said.
Indeed, that inconsistency on the part of the Chargers, combined with the ever-improving play of Colts QB Andrew Luck and Trent Richardson, has pushed the betting odds to favor the Colts as 1-point road favorites for MNF tonight, and although they own a money-losing 1-6 ATS streak against the Chargers, they have an impressive 8-1 ATS run on Monday Night Football that they will try to extend.
Chargers QB Philip Rivers will try to overcome those odds and bring the home-team Chargers a victory tonight — perhaps channeling his inner “Week 6 Tom Brady” to try and pull off the upset. The best way to see if Rivers succeeds is to catch MNF on ESPN or via the ESPN app on Xbox 360, but you can also watch Monday Night Football online free streaming either on gameday-live.com or on DirecTV if you have the NFL Sunday Ticket Package (subscription required). If you believe what the oddsmakers are saying, though, Colts QB Andrew Luck is going to have that “beginner’s luck” and walk home with a victory in his first Monday Night Football game tonight.