The Andrew Luck saga abruptly came to an end before the season even started in 2019. News trickled out of Luck retiring at the conclusion of the Colts’ final preseason game and the crowd in attendance let him have it with boos. The Colts, who were a favorite among many people to win the AFC South, saw a steep decline in their odds to win the division.
With Luck out and Jacoby Brissett in as the starting quarterback, the Colts are +550 to win the division. They previously had even odds to win the AFC South. Banking on Luck to remain healthy throughout this season was a tough ask to begin with. With respects to the Super Bowl, the Colts went +1500 to +5000.
Understandable, but I think a bit of an overreaction. As a result of Luck’s retirement, the Colts immediately started working on a new contract for Brissett. It was a smart move to give Brissett a peace of mind giving their new starter some confidence going into the year. When it comes down to dollars and cents, we’ll have to wait and see what kind of ROI they get with him.
Brissett has started games before, but only as a fill in for the No. 1 quarterback. He made his debut against the Houston Texans in 2016 in what was a memorable day for him. Brissett led the Patriots to a 27-0 win in that one, as he proved to be a reliable backup in New England for Tom Brady.
His biggest workload was in 2017 with the Colts. He started 15 games and appeared in all 16 after Luck went down in Week 1. Brissett finished with 13 touchdowns and 7 interceptions in his debut as a fulltime option. However, this will be the first season that he isn’t just filling in for somebody. We’ll see if he can surprise. His initial test of the 2019 season is going to be out west against the Los Angeles Chargers in California.
The Chargers went to the playoffs last season with a record of 12-4. They beat the Baltimore Ravens, 23-17, in the Wild Card Round, but were thumped by the Pats, 41-28, the following week. Philip Rivers is back, but they are going to be down Melvin Gordon for at least Week 1 and likely longer. It’s possible that he never plays another down with the Chargers and ends up in a trade. Head below for our free Colts vs. Chargers Week 1 pick.
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Naturally, the Colts are going to have a tougher time finding wins with Brissett under center than Andrew Luck. They are going from an All-Star quarterback to a guy who has been a solid enough game manager in his career. Now it’s time for Brissett to shake the game manager tag and lead the team to wins. He is going to have targets to work with this season.
Brissett won’t have to do it all alone. Notably, a healthy T.Y. Hilton to hit deep will help aid Brissett in his development this season. Hilton feels pretty confident about 2019, going as far to say that this is the best Colts team he’s played with. Along with Hilton, Eric Ebron is going to provide Brissett with an excellent safety valve.
Since going to the Colts, Ebron has turned into an All-Star tight end. He’s reaching his full potential, something he was never able to do with the Lions. Ebron was a monster target for Luck in the red zone, as he hauled in 13 touchdowns and 66 receptions on the year. His presence is going to help Brissett immensely against the Chargers and this season.
Perhaps Brissett’s best help this season is going to come from the defense. This was one of the most underrated units in the NFL last season. They finished 11th in the league with 339.4 yards allowed per game and 10th with 21.5 points allowed. The Colts got better in the offseason as well by adding Justin Houston to the defensive line. It’s their most talented defensive end since Dwight Freeney was terrorizing backfields.
The Chargers are going to go with a mix of Austin Ekeler and Justin Jackson. Ekeler goes into this third season in the NFL, having notched a career-high of 554 yards last season. He is going to be more of a focal point with no Gordon in the backfield. Northwestern product, Justin Jackson, ran for 206 yards as a rookie in 2018. The Chargers will be okay in this one, but are certainly going to miss Gordon.
There will without a doubt be overreaction to Andrew Luck’s retirement this season. Yes, the Colts would obviously be better with Luck at quarterback, but Brissett is not some bum that they have to roll in there. Brissett has won games before and he gets to work with some talent around him.
With the addition of Justin Houston, the Colts are going to have a threat on the end as well now. Expect Indianapolis to be even more amped up to play well here. They’ve been hearing for over a week now that they’re nothing without Luck. The Chargers may win, but by 3 or 4 points to give the Colts a cover in a good Week 1 contest.