If you’re a Las Vegas Raiders fan that wants to feel better about things, I have good news: the Indianapolis Colts come to town on Sunday.
The same Colts hired a TV analyst to run their team a few days ago. The same Colts who benched a competent NFL quarterback for an incompetent one. The same Colts who tied the Houston Texans got shut out by the Jacksonville Jaguars and gave up 26 points to the New England Patriots.
Like I said: good news.
Now for the bad news…the Raiders are still the Raiders. The same Raiders who lost to the Jaguars, got shutout by the Saints, and have blown a historic number of 17-point leads already this season.
Sunday’s matchup is a classic “something’s gotta give” scenario — the question is…what?
Indianapolis: 9 sacks allowed last Sunday; Sam Ehlinger: 32/52, 304 yards, 0 touchdowns, 1 interception in two starts this season
Las Vegas: 0 sacks in their last two games; Davante Adams: 3 total yards in the second half of the last two weeks
Let’s focus on the sacks here because I think it might be the number that determines just how this game plays out. Despite having one of the best pass-rushers in the league, the Raiders have been abysmal at getting to the quarterback — in part because the rest of their unit is below average.
On the flip side, the Colts have given up 21 sacks in their past five games. If ever there has been a week for Chandler Jones to get his crap together, this seems like it, right? Not to mention the guy he’s replacing — Yannick Ngakoue — is on the other sideline, having recorded four more sacks than him this season.
Indianapolis: Sam Ehlinger
When I say “key”, please understand that I don’t mean “best” (or anything close). Ehlinger is the guy that this game will depend most on, from my perspective.
As I mentioned above, the numbers have been underwhelming for Ehlinger — which isn’t all that surprising from a guy who was “fine” in college and never a major draft prospect.
Las Vegas: Anthony Averett
While Rock Ya-Sin has been fine as the Raiders’ lead corner, Averett has struggled mightily since Nate Hobbs went down a couple of weeks ago. This week, he’ll face a huge test against a talented group of receivers that features Michael Pittman Jr., rookie Alec Pierce and Paris Campbell.
Prediction: Raiders 31, Colts 17
Call me crazy, but I’m going to pick the Raiders again — but honestly, it has more to do with the Colts than anything else. When you hire Jeff Saturday, you might as well announce your 2022 intentions with a press release: we’re tanking! They benched Matt Ryan, and they’ve played it safe with Jonathan Taylor — all signs that they’re hoping to add the quarterback of the future next spring.
On the other side, the Raiders are going to keep competing and keep trying to win as many games as they can. At home, coming off a terrible loss in Jacksonville? I think the Raiders look good on Sunday and win comfortably.