18 Things to Watch for During Sunday's Colts Raiders Game
Last week, the Colts kept the season alive. This week, they'll head out to Oakland for a holiday battle with the Raiders. The game may or may not mean anything, but the Colts have to treat it as a must win playoff game. Put down your eggnog and watch for...
1. Watch the pass rush. The Raiders have 40 sacks on the season and rank second in adjusted sack rate for a defense. The Colts have allowed a league low 15 sacks and have the best adjusted sack rate. The team that wins this part of the matchup will likely win the game. With Addai possibly playing on Sunday, he could be the difference as a blocker.
2. Watch the turn around. Darren McFadden is showing just how foolish it is to write a player off after just a season two. He has more yards and touchdowns this season than in his first two combined. His yards per attempt are up by almost two yards over last year.
3. Watch the Jags. If Jacksonville loses to Washington in the early game, this game with Oakland means exactly zero for Indy's chances of making the playoffs. If the Jags win, this game becomes a desperation game for Indy who doesn't want to give up control of their destiny.
4. Watch the passenger list. The nice thing about road games is that we find out Saturday night who made the trip for the Colts. Joe Addai is back at practice, but CJ, Hayden, and Session were all limited. Those that fly to Oakland have a good chance to play.
5. Watch the great deal. The Richard Seymour trade was panned by experts who thought the Pats were giving up an old guy for a top 5 pick. The Pats have sorely missed Seymour, and Oakland's 7 wins already put them in the middle of the first round instead of the top. Seymour has been productive as part of a strong Oakland line.
6. Watch for two in a row. Don Brown's breakout game last week was nice, but he'll be hard pressed to repeat it this week. Oakland is stout running in all directions, and I doubt the Colts are able to surprise the Raiders in quite the same way.
7. Watch the hobbled super-star. Nnamdi Asomugha is arguably the best corner in football. He's been battling an ankle injury, however, and is listed as questionable. The last time Indy played Oakland, he held Reggie Wayne to one catch. That one catch was an insane third down grab where Wayne leaped high in the air and snagged a pass one handed. If Nnamdi is healthy, Wayne shouldn't be a factor at all.
8. Watch the carbon copy. The Raiders are a lot like the Jags offensively, though not as good in the passing game. Oakland wants to impose its will in the run game, and it will be incumbent on the Indy D to show that they can shut down a strong running attack two weeks in a row. McFadden won't be hobbled like MJD was, however.
9. Watch Tamme. For the first time in a while, Jacob Tamme didn't show up on the injury report. His effectiveness has been limited as he's struggled with a back injury. The Raiders do a bad job covering tight ends, so the Colts need Tamme to go off. He had seven catches for just 34 yards last week. Indy needs him to be more dynamic than that.
10. Watch for motivation. The Raiders are trying to sell their players on being in the playoff race. That's a little insane, honestly. Actually by 4 PM on Sunday, it may not even be true. The Raiders need two wins, plus two losses by the Chiefs and a loss by the Chargers to get in. If the Chiefs beat the Titans at home on Sunday, Oakland is all but finished. If the Raiders are hoping that fever over making the playoffs will help them, it could be a bad gamble. Post elimination depression might be a bigger factor.
11. Watch for 30. Peyton Manning needs two touchdowns for 30 this season. That will be the 6th time he's hit that mark. Favre holds the record with nine. For those keeping track, Tom Brady finally did it again this year for just the second time ever.
12. Watch for roadkill. The Indy defense has given up at least 24 points in 6 of 7 road games this season. They forced 7 turnovers in 7 road games compared with 13 in 7 home games. At some point the defense HAS to show up on the road, or it won't matter much if Indy makes the playoffs or not. Amazingly, a win Sunday and the Colts finish 4-4 on the road for 2010.
13. Watch the old familiar shoe. It's Dierdorf and Gumbel again this week. This marks the fourth or fifth time they've called an Indy game this year. Dierdorf is like an old comfortable shoe. It fits like a glove, but it full of holes and eventually makes your feet hurt. Also, the dog has been chewing on it and it looks like hell.
14. Watch the weak sisters. The AFC and NFC West are the two worst divisions in football. The Raiders are 7-2 against the West divisions and 0-5 against all others. If you don't think the AFC West is horrible, just imagine what the division would be like without each team getting four games against the NFC West. The Chiefs, for example, are 4-0 against the NFC West, 5-5 against everyone else.
15. Watch for brevity. It's Christmas, so you'll have to forgive me if the entries today are shorter. Christmas is one of the lowest traffic days of the year at 18to88, so I'm not going to kill myself writing a piece almost no one will read! The funny thing is, that Eyes always used to be like this. When did I get so long winded?
16. Watch Campbell verses the stacked box. Indy shut down the Jags by overloading the line. Jason Cambpell is going to have to hit throws against a decimated Indy secondary. If he does, the Raiders could easily post 30 points.
17. Watch for Colts fans. Several 18to88 readers have requested a plea for those going to the game to possibly meet up. If you are going to the game in Oakland, leave a note in the comments section if you are interested in hooking up with other Colts fans. There's safety in numbers!
18. Watch for the happy holiday. This game won't be easy, but if the Colts want us to believe they are playoff worthy, they have to be able to beat a mediocre team on the road. The Raiders have been all over the map this year, and the Colts will most likely need this game. Indy gets it 30-27.