NFL Week 1 Preview: Oakland Raiders vs. Indianapolis Colts

McFadden ColtsWeek 1 of the NFL regular season is finally upon us and the scheduling gods did not do the Raiders any favors by having them travel to Indianapolis to face the Colts in their season opener.

The Colts shocked everyone by going 11-5 last season and making the playoffs after being just 2-14 the previous season. Quarterback Andrew Luck had a lot to do with that turnaround. With very little around him in terms of skill players, Luck threw for 4,374 yards and 23 TDs as a rookie. While not RGIII or Colin Kaepernick, Luck is a very capable runner as well so the Raiders defense will have to make sure to keep their eyes on him as he is deceptively fast when he decides to run.

Defensively the Raiders will be in for a challenge. The Colts have brought in former Raider Darrius Heyward-Bey who will line up opposite of mainstay Reggie Wayne who continues to be as dangerous as ever. With the explosive T.Y. Hilton working out of the slot Mike Jenkins, Tracy Porter, and D.J. Hayden will all have to be on their game. The Colts also boast two extremely dangerous tight ends in Dwyane Allen and Coby Fleener, both of whom are excellent receivers. The Raiders may have to use Tyvon Branch to cover one of them as they could prove to be too fast and athletic for the Raider linebackers.

On offense the Raiders face a defense that was 29th against the run, giving up 5.1 yards per carry last season. With an unproven quarterback the Raiders will have to rely on the run game and this is a defense that Darren McFadden should be able to thrive against on his way to what he hopes will be a fantastic season. The Colts have added safety Laron Landry and linebacker Erik Walden in an effort to shore up their run defense but it won’t be enough if McFadden is on his game, even with the Raiders constant injuries on the offensive line.

Terrelle Pryor will be facing a less than stellar pass defense in his first start of the season. Receivers Denarius Moore and Rod Streater have a favorable matchup against corners Vontae Davis and Greg Toler who are solid, but unspectacular CBs. Pryor would do well, however to keep his eye on speedy safety Antoine Bethea who had seven passes defensed last season, tying for the team lead. The Colts are aware of what Pryor can do, however, and will be making sure they limit his explosive plays.

This game has the makings of an offensive shootout as neither team boasts a stellar defense. If McFadden is able to dominate and control the clock for the Raiders, they could edge out this game against a team who, by all accounts, overachieved last season. If not, expect Andrew Luck to pick apart an overmatched Raiders defense on the way to a Colts victory.