The Oakland Raiders clinched a postseason birth for the first time since the 2002-03 season last Sunday when they traveled to the San Diego Chargers and came away with a 19-16 win.
The Raiders offense struggled in the red zone, but kicker Sebastian Janikowski connecting on all four of his field goal attempts, and timely defense was enough to come away with a victory.
Saturday the Raiders host the Indianapolis Colts in their last home game of the regular season. It is possible that the Raiders clinch the AFC West and a first round bye this weekend, as a win coupled with a Kansas City Chiefs lost to the Denver Broncos will do just that.
It will not be easy though as they take on Andrew Luck and a Colts team that has won four of its last six games.
The Raiders defense will be aided by the return of Mario Edwards Jr. The second-year defensive end injured his hip in the first quarter of the first preseason game in August and hasn’t played since. Edwards will likely be lined up on the opposite side of Khalil Mack when he plays, which will help put pressure on Luck, who has been sacked 37 times this season which is tied for the third most in the league.
Luck is having another strong season, as he ranks sixth in the league averaging 279 passing yards per game to go along with 27 touchdown passes and 10 interceptions.
Indianapolis has one of the better receiving corps in the league that features T.Y. Hilton, who ranks third in football with 1,248 receiving yards to go along with six touchdowns. The Colts will also be aided by the return of their biggest red zone threat, Donte Moncrief.
Moncrief missed last week’s game with a hamstring injury, but head coach Chuck Pagano said he is ready to go for Week 16. Moncrief has caught six touchdown passes in eight games this season.
Rounding out the Colts offense is the ageless running back Frank Gore. The oldest running back in football at age 33, Gore is on pace for another 1,000-yard season as he has carried the ball 234 times on the season for 891 yards and four touchdowns. The future Hall of Famer also has 35 catches for 251 yards and four receiving touchdowns.
While the Colts offense will be tough to keep up with, the Raiders offense is not slouch either. They have struggled a bit in the red zone in recent weeks, but offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave recently said that he wants to get that back on track.
Carr is dealing with a finger injury that has forced him to work exclusively out of the shotgun the past couple of weeks, so look for that again on Saturday.
Oakland’s top receiver Amari Cooper will look to get back on track, as despite having 1,038 receiving yards on the season he has had less than 60 receiving yards in every game since Week 8 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He is listed as questionable with a shoulder injury but is not in any jeopardy of missing the game.
The Raiders will once again be without safety Karl Joseph (toe) and defensive tackle Stacy McGee (ankle) in the game while the Colts will be without outside linebacker Chris Carter (shoulder).
Saturday’s game is scheduled for 1:05 p.m. Pacific time and will be aired locally on CBS.