Indianapolis, IN - The Indianapolis Colts are heading into a very exciting season. Coming off of an 11-5 campaign in 2012, the fan expectations are high on a very young Colts team. Led by second-year quarterback Andrew Luck, the Colts will kick off their 2013 regular season with a home game versus the Oakland Raiders.
There will be many things to keep an eye on in this Week 1 match-up on both squads. Let’s take a look at what to watch for and expect on Sunday afternoon.
Andrew Luck is coming off of a very strong rookie season, throwing for 4,374 yards and 23 touchdowns. The one aspect of his game that the Colts want to see improvement in would be his turnovers. Luck threw 18 interceptions last season, and needs to cut down on those mistakes this season if the Colts want to return to the Playoffs for the second straight year.
The Colts’ rushing attack has a chance to be much improved with the signing of former New York Giants running back Ahmad
Bradshaw. Bradshaw is coming off of a bad foot injury, but team doctors have cleared him to play against the Raiders and don’t expect to see any lingering issues. Bradshaw rushed for 1,015 yards last season despite missing two games due to injury.
Reggie Wayne, T.Y. Hilton, and Darrius Heyward-Bey are a trio of receivers that will wreak havoc on Oakland’s secondary. Wayne’s sure hands to go along with the speed of Hilton and Heyward-Bey will be a very scary match-up for any opponent this season. There is big play ability with every snap when you have the ability that these three receivers possess.
Defensively, the Colts spent major money this off-season trying to improve. They signed Erik Walden, Ricky Jean Francois, LaRon Landry, and Greg Toler. All of those guys are expected to receive playing time, and they are all being counted upon to play well each and every week. The two biggest additions would be Landry and Toler, who will be expected to team up with Vontae Davis and Antoine Bethea in the secondary.
The Oakland Raiders have had a very rough past few seasons. Terrelle Pryor will get the start in the season opener after beating out Matt Flynn for the job. Pryor is a very mobile quarterback that could cause some problems for the Colts defense. There is definitely still uncertainty about Pryor’s NFL ability, but he’ll be given his first chance to prove himself on Sunday.
Oakland’s offense hinges upon the health of injury riddled “star” Darren McFadden. Most analysts considered him as one of the best RB’s in the league just a few years ago, but he has been unable to prove himself on the field. He’s very dominant in the ground game, but he can also be a dangerous receiver out of the backfield. If he’s able to stay healthy, you can expect to see DMC put up good numbers consistently.
The Raiders defense has a revamped secondary that will have to deal with the previously mentioned Colts offense. Charles Woodson, Tracy Porter, and rookie D.J. Hayden will be faced with a very difficult task right off the bat. Kevin Burnett and rookie linebacker Sio Moore are two guys to watch as the anchors of the middle of the Raider defense. There’s no doubt that Oakland will have some issues with the Indianapolis offense, but they just have to do their best and contain Luck and company as much as possible.
Overall this game is a match-up that the Colts should win. They have to take care of the football and play the defense has to live up to their capability. If Oakland wants to have a chance in Indianapolis, they need their defense to step up. They’ll need to force a turnover or two and put pressure on Andrew Luck. This should be a good game, but there’s no doubt that Indianapolis is the better football team.