INDIANAPOLIS IN - DECEMBER 19: Peyton Manning #18 of the Indianapolis Colts passes against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Lucas Oil Stadium on December 19 2010 in Indianapolis Indiana. (Photo by Scott Boehm/Getty Images)
The "playoff" games just keep on rolling for the Colts, although this week they cannot clinch nor be eliminated when they head to the West Coast to take on the Oakland Raiders. We all know the different playoff scenarios going into the game, with the easiest and most straight-forward just being a Colts win. The Raiders still have a glimmer of hope for the playoffs as well, but it is much more difficult, and they'd need a lot of help to get in. In fact, with a Chiefs win in the early game on Sunday, it'll eliminate the Raiders before they take the field, or very shortly thereafter.
The Raiders are 7-7 on the season, coming in off of another beating of the hapless Denver Broncos last week. Darren McFadden had 119 on the ground, and Michael Bush added 2 TD runs to lead the way. The week before, they went into Jacksonville, jumped out to an early lead, then let the Jaguars back in and gave up a big special teams play late in the 4th quarter, setting up a Maurice Jones-Drew TD run for the winning score.
These two teams aren't very familiar with each other, with Peyton Manning only facing them 4 times in his career. His first two starts, both home losses in 2000 and 2001, were then evened up with 2 wins in the last two meetings, in 2004 and 2007. Manning has looked OK in each of the starts, but has thrown an INT in all 4. The latest matchup saw T.J. Rushing take a punt back for a touchdown (that might be the last one of those for the Colts), and saw the Raiders have the lead in the 4th quarter. Manning then took the Colts down the field, scoring with 4:49 to go on a 20 yard pass to Anthony Gonzalez.
How do the two teams match-up in 2010? Let's take a look...
Statistical Comparison of Two Teams (Adjusted):
|Avg Start Pos||27.7||31||30.1||13||28.7||26||32.9||27|
|3 and Outs||3.13||7||4.17||11||4.32||26||4.99||4|
|Penalty Yds / Play||0.662||6||0.764||23||1.180||32||1.308||1|
|Net Punts Yds/Game||39.26||15||40.62||29||41.04||2||38.07||15|
Statistical Keys to the Game:
- The Raiders defense, as a whole, looks to be at about the same level as the Colts offense, so there should be some good match-ups, in particular the Drive stats. The Raiders defense is #1 in the league in Plays/Drive, and the Colts offense is also #1 in the league. All of the other related stats are right there in the top 5. For the Colts to win, they'll need to move the ball against a very good defense.
- The Raiders seem to have two weak spots, and they are big ones in terms of the Winning Stats: ANPY/A and Turnovers. I've talked on several occasions how those two stats are way off for the Colts this year, which is why they've struggled so much. In the Raiders case, it's even worse than the Colts. They can't seem to stop teams through the air, and they don't force a lot of turnovers.
- The Colts rushing offense had their best day of the season last week, and could capitalize again this week on a rush defense that, like Jacksonville, is very "boom or bust". Either they stop you in the backfield, or you can rip off big gains. I'm good with that.
- On the other side of the ball, the Raiders offense just isn't that good, despite some talented players. They do two things extremely well, which are big plays (Yards per Play in top 10), and Yards per Carry. McFadden is easily their best offensive player, but the 22nd ranked Success Rate means he's also a "boom or bust" guy. The Colts just need to limit the "boom" plays.
- The Raiders are the most penalized team in the league, which I think they've held for the last 25 years. Hopefully that means a holding call or 17 against Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis.
- The Colts hold a big advantage in the Red Zone, where the Raiders haven't been that good on either side of the ball. The Colts need to make sure this holds true.
Some other keys to the game:
- The loss of Austin Collie: We all know by now that the Colts placed Collie on IR Wednesday, which means, once again, Blair White has to step up and be a big part of the offense. He's done admirably, but last week you could definitely tell just how important Collie is to this team. White just needs to not play a defender, and he should be ok.
- The return of Joseph Addai: Addai was a full participant in practice on Wednesday, which is extremely optimistic for his return. Donald Brown was great last week, but having both guys available is a much better situation to be in. It keeps both of them fresh, and ready to go late in the game.
- Reggie Wayne vs. Nnamdi Asomugha: This should be fun to watch throughout the game, as teams usually tend to just avoid Asomugha's side of the field like the plague. I have a feeling Manning will want to test him on Sunday.
- Being on the road: The defense has yet to have a standout game on the road this season, despite doing it 4 or 5 times at home. They'll have to play their best road game of the season to ensure victory.
The Raiders, despite the fact they may be out of the playoff picture by kickoff, love playing the spoiler role. They always play hard, no matter the situation, which means the Colts will be in for a battle from the beginning. The numbers look very favorable towards the Colts, which is a good sign, and one that should get the Colts to 9-6 at game's end. This team has looked very good each of the last two weeks with their backs against the wall, and I just don't see a let down on Sunday. The Colts take care of business, and head into Week 17 one win away from the playoffs.
Colts 24, Raiders 20