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NFL Preview: Oakland Raiders Look To Tame Colts

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Star Studded Oakland Raiders Look to Clinch a First Round Bye

After avoiding what would have been their first back to back loss of this NFL season, the Oakland Raiders look forward to the Indianapolis Colts. The Oakland Raiders had a league-high seven players named to the Pro Bowl, but are looking for more. Oakland has already secured a playoff spot but can take the division and a first round bye the Colts look to keep their hopes alive with a win against one of the most dangerous teams in the AFC this year in the Raiders. The Colts have a four-game winning streak against the Raiders going into the game in Oakland, with the last win coming in 2013. Derek Carr and the Oakland Raiders edged out the Chargers last week in a close game 19-16, while the Colts and Andrew Luck come into Oakland following a blowout win against the Vikings. 

The Raiders were able to sneak out of San Diego with a victory, after one of their many close victories of the year. Derek Carr was sacked twice last week but has only been sacked a league-low six times. On top of that, Carr has only been hurried on 25% of dropbacks, second best in the league. While he has not faced the Colts since entering the league, he has not lost against their rivals this year and posted a combined QBR of 93.9 versus the rest of the AFC South. However, Carr has had his struggles in the last couple of games with a combined 330 yards, one touchdown, an interception and a completion percentage of 50.7. He will surely look to Amari Cooper for help, who was held to one catch on three passes thrown his way last week.

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The Raiders defense will be the difference-maker in this game. While they have given up plenty of yards, the defense consistently steps up when it matters, keeping games close. It will be essential not to let Andrew Luck get hot early like in Week 15. Luck was on fire last week, posting a total QBR of 125.6 against a strong Vikings defense, and a QBR or 134.2 when blitzed. The Raiders defense will need to step up in coverage if they want to slow down Luck. The Raiders defense generated pressure on 12 of 28 pass plays against the Chargers without blitzing, resulting in 2 sacks and 4 QB hits according to Pro Football Focus.

They will look to continual threat Khalil Mack and Bruce Irvin, who are the best and 19th best edge rushers in the league respectively by Pro Football Focus grades. Both men shined last week versus San Diego, with Irvin posting two sacks, a QB hit, and two hurries, while Mack recorded three QB hits and five hurries. Another necessity will be for linebackers Perry Riley and Malcolm Smith to step up in coverage and the run game against Frank Gore, who averages 155 rushing yards against Oakland for his career. Riley and Smith stepped up last week, both with Pro Football Focus grades in the top 11 for their positions and will need to continue this outstanding play if they hope to take a week off come January. The Oakland Raiders host the Indianapolis Colts Saturday, December 24 at 1:05 local time.