The Oakland Raiders take on the Indianapolis Colts in the Black Hole with playoff implications on the line.
The Raiders must win Sunday’s ball game and need the Kansas City Chiefs and San Diego Chargers to lose to have a chance to make it to the playoffs, while the Colts are in the driver seat to winning their division title and making, yet another return to the playoffs. I’m pretty sure when both teams saw this game on the schedule for week 16, they didn’t think that post-season livelihood would be the main plot surrounding this game. Here are the keys to the Raiders getting the “W” in Sunday’s match-up.
Offensive efficiency is so huge in this game, that any lulls on offense for Oakland could be detrimental in their hopes of making the playoffs. They face one of the best quarterbacks to ever play the game in Peyton Manning, and need to put up a lot of points just in case he brings his A+ + game. A heavy starch and carb diet of the running game will allow the Raiders to do what they do best, as well as control the time of possession. All things offensively, begin and end with running back Darren McFadden. If he has a big game, Oakland stands a good chance of becoming victorious Sunday afternoon.
Defensively, the Raiders must keep the 4-time NFL MVP that stands 6’5, with the laser rocket arm in check. Although Manning had a rough patch of games in the middle of the season, he is regaining form when it matters most. The Raiders have the 5th ranked pass defense in the league, so this should be an exciting match-up to watch. With the Colts running game being their Achilles heel, expect defensive coordinator John Marshall to dial up a number of blitz packages, which has normally worked in Oakland’s favor when they’ve face top tier quarterbacks in the league this season. The Colts get running back Joseph Addai back, so no need to turn a blind eye to their running game just yet. If they limit the Colts gains on the ground, and pressure Manning for most of the ball game, the Raiders will be in good shape come the 4th quarter.
Oakland’s mental focus will be huge in Sunday’s ball game. The Raiders must take care of the ball, try to remain discipline on both sides of the ball, and stay the course during trying times. Against quality teams, the Raiders can never seem to play a full 60 minutes, and they’re more than likely going to need all of those minutes in Sunday’s contest.
Before the Raiders have a chance, they must find a way to give themselves a chance by taking care of business against the Colts. Coach Cable has led this version of the “Silver and Black” back onto the radar of NFL this season, but can he lead them to the playoffs, or are they a year away from making that next step? With two bullets left in the chamber, will Oakland hit their remaining targets? This should be interesting!
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Written by Arthur Kai