With the start of the Indianapolis Colts season just under 24 hours away, let’s look in depth at the game tomorrow against the Raiders with some key points and why the Colts could win or lose the game.
This game is a tale of two franchises going in opposite directions. For the Colts, they start year two of their new regime in the Luck-Pagano-Grigson area and look to improve on their surprising 11-5 campaign the year prior. The Colts made a splash in free agency by signing players to fill the voids that were apparent during last year’s season. The 2012 draft was a success in creating five permanent offensive starters in Andrew Luck, Coby Fleener, Dwayne Allen, Vick Ballard, and T.Y Hilton. This year, they addressed the defensive side of the ball by drafting Bjoern Werner and Montari Hughes. They also honed in on the offensive line by selecting Khaled Holmes and Hugh Thorton to help protect the franchise, Andrew Luck.
The Raiders on the other hand haven’t had success since their Super Bowl run in 2002. They gave up 1st and a 2nd round draft picks to acquire Carson Palmer which didn’t pan out and Palmer is now in Arizona. Drafting Jamarcus Russell in 2007 and hurt the cap for many years when he signed a six year contract worth up to $68 million. Oh, and 31.5 million was guaranteed!
This year’s incarnation of the Raiders look to be in rebuilding mode with no clear picture at quarterback, no above and beyond defensive player, and have no real direction in which the franchise is going. They had to rely on stop gaps on secondary such as oft-injured Mike Jenkins and Tracy Porter as well as Charles Woodson coming back to Oakland to play safety. There’s no legitimate pass rusher now that Richard Seymour is gone and their offensive line has been riddled with injuries.
Surely this marks an easy victory for the Colts right? It may not be that simple.
Why the Colts will win
- Andrew Luck, who has never faced a defense this void of talent will have a field day under new offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton and become accustomed to his new offensive line and new offensive weapons like Darrius Heyward-Bey and Ahmad Bradshaw
- The offensive line will prevent Luck from getting hit and will have their way with the depleted front seven that the Raiders have.
- The Raiders were poor against the run and if Pagano wants his offense to sport the “power running game,” this game would be good test run to see if it is successful.
- Although the Colts lack the pass rush as they did in the past, they will get to the quarterback and force Terrelle Pryor to make bad throws.
- The Colts secondary is bolstered with new talent in Greg Toler and LaRon Landry. With their skill set alongside Vontae Davis & Antoine Bethea, they may be too much for the Raiders receivers to handle especially having an inexperienced quarterback throwing to them.
- If the Colts win, it’ll be a blowout
Why the Colts will lose
- The Colts have not faced a read-option quarterback and it is an unknown how this new defense would matchup.
- Terrelle Pryor is the Raiders X-factor in this game. If he makes plays with his feet on a consistent level, it could get the Colts to expect that and Pryor airs it out at will.
- With Pryor running all over the Colts, Darren McFadden would get in on the fun as the Colts, as history has shown, just cannot stop the run for the life of them.
- If the offensive line is still very flawed and the Raiders will manage to get to the quarterback and force Luck to hold onto the ball for too long and/or make bad throws.
- The Colts will lose especially if they just straight up overlook the Raiders onto Week 2’s matchup against the more formidable Dolphins.
- If the Colts lose, it’ll be within one possession.
All in all, I don’t think Colts fans have anything to worry about come gameday. The Colts will take care of business as they are bigger and better than they were last year. Andrew Luck will also have the best game of his young career up to that point. Although the Raiders aren’t in the upper echelon of the NFL, we get to see how the Colts defense handles the read option with games against the 49ers and Seahawks quickly loom.
Colts 41 Raiders 10