Greetings, Raider fans! It is I, RaiderDamus, the majordomo of mojo, the poobah of prognostication, the chieftain of clairvoyance, and your paragon of virtue. It has been a long nine months of no football (that counts) for Raider fans, but the season is back and so are the always-accurate visions of RaiderDamus.
This week, as always, RaiderDamus has been deep in seclusion in his cave emerging only to write a few articles here and there for our fearless leader, Levi Damien. The wisdom of the ancients hath filled the senses of RaiderDamus and hath shewn him the future. The Great Beyond has been in close contact with RaiderDamus and has given a clear indication regarding the outcome of the game on Sunday.
It's no secret that I am a huge fan of Andrew Luck. Whenever I think about the upcoming game, I think about the game where Andrew Luck became a star: November 7, 2009 vs. Oregon.
Luck, Toby Gerhart and the Stanford Cardinal bulldozed the Ducks and won the game 51-42. Luck went a mere 12-20 for 251 yards and two touchdowns, which are pedestrian numbers when you consider what Luck went on to do and what other premier college quarterbacks put up on a week to week basis.
It wasn't Luck's numbers that made him look so good, it was the way he played. He was under pressure constantly during that game, and he never lost his poise. He scrambled when he had to, he rolled out when he had to and he ALWAYS made the correct read, the right play, with the desired outcome.
Toby Gerhart was a human wrecking ball in that game but if Luck hadn't played the way he did, Gerhart would have been far less effective. I have seen 500-yard six-TD days by numerous college quarterbacks which do not approach the level of mastery displayed by Luck in that game, played in his sophomore year.
I'm not suggesting Luck will do that on a weekly basis this year, even though he looked pretty good last year and went to the playoffs. The running game in Indy is a bit of a mystery, with the always-injured Ahmad Bradshaw and the overlooked Vick Ballard (henceforth to be referred to as Bick Mallard because that's more fun to type) leading the attack.
The Colts' first round pick a few years ago, Donald Brown, has proven to be a bust and has tumbled down the depth chart. Unless Bradshaw can get going on the ground, Luck won't be able to sit back and pick apart the Raider secondary, which frankly is pretty talented and shouldn't allow that sort of thing, even to Luck.
The Colts' passing game will do good things because they are too talented not to. T.Y. Hilton has been a revelation across from Reggie Wayne and Dwayne Allen has proven to be a solid pro tight end.
On the other hand, the Colts defense is hot garbage. Buffalo dropped 44 points on them in preseason and EJ Manuel looked utterly unstoppable. I will venture to guess that, right this instant Terrelle Pryor is better at footballing than EJ Manuel.
Will the Colts be able to stop Pryor? That depends entirely on one man- Darren McFadden. If he can break off a few big runs or even string together a few 8 or 9-yarders, the Colts defense will be forced to cheat up.
The Raiders don't have any quality tight ends or receivers who have proven that they can exploit mismatches one-on-one but that's better than the alternative, which is that the ground game is totally shut down and the Colts can drop six guys into coverage every play.
Pryor's best strategy is to effectively mix short throws, deep strikes, and the best part of his game- his running ability, which in my eyes is on par with Cam Newton's. Against the Colts defense, which is a dumpster fire, he should be able to do this. Can you name any members of the Colts defense off the top of your head? I can't.
In the end, we have to remember that the Raiders are on the road against a playoff team, and a damn good one at that. I suspect the Raiders will give us little cause to wail and gnash our teeth and don sackcloth and ashes. I don't think they'll win the game though, because I don't trust their pass rush to be able to harass Andrew Luck enough to keep him from slowly picking them apart.
Colts win, 41-29.