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Christmas Morning After: Derek Carr injury is coal in the Raiders stocking

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NFL: Indianapolis Colts at Oakland Raiders Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Well, Derek Carr's pinky doesn't matter anymore. The Oakland Raiders technically beat the Indianapolis Colts, but I think we all can agree that we lost a lot more than just the game. The Raiders can still make some noise in the playoffs even without QB Derek Carr, but it just got a whole lot harder to do so with him on the sidelines.

What a devastating blow though. Derek Carr is the heart and soul of this team and to see him writhing in pain screaming “It's broken” is the stuff of nightmares. This was one of those absolutely heartbreaking moments where you look to the sky and yell “Why Football Gods?! WHY?!!”.

The answer to that question is because it's football. Injuries happen to the best players and the worst players alike and you never know when that gut wrenching blow might hit your favorite team. For Raider Nation, that blow came on Christmas Eve with the Raiders beating the Colts 33-14 with only 12 minutes to go in the game. They hung on for the 33-25 finish, but the deflating feeling of the team rivaled that off releasing the air out of the Goodyear Blimp.

There was a time where there was massive debates among the Raiders fan base on whether or not Matt McGloin was the future for this team. It's funny looking back and comparing it to now where having McGloin take over feels conspicuously like being kicked in the nuts. Remembering those times does more than just hurt though, it reminds us that Matt McGloin is not a terrible quarterback either.

Of course McGloin is not Derek Carr, and he shouldn't be expected to be. Carr is one of those rare leader of a generation quarterbacks that you don't get to see very often, but that doesn't mean a lesser QB can't still win games for the Raiders. This was a devastating blow, but it doesn't have to be one that takes away all of our hopes for this magical season Oakland is having.

One lesser QB that the Raiders really need to win them a game is Trevor Siemian of the Denver Broncos who plays tonight against the Kansas City Chiefs. Oakland needs something to celebrate right now, and the Broncos beating the Chiefs tonight would give the Raiders the AFC West division title and a 1st round bye.

A Broncos win would also take away a lot of pressure on McGloin (Even though he loves pressure) by making next week game far less meaningful to the Raiders and giving them an extra week of prep time for the playoffs. Both of those things would be huge for the Raiders, they need a pick me up after losing their captain.

Back to the Colts game though, what a great game until the injury happened. Derek Carr was playing amazing but so was the rest of the team. Jalen Richard and DeAndre Washington were unstoppable in this game, they were running right past defenders every time they had the ball. Richard finished with 12 carries for 99 yards and a touchdown while Washington had 6 carries for 66 yards and 2 touchdowns.

The passing game was great, and the running game was even better. The defense though, they were playing one of the best games of the season. They didn't get any sacks because Andrew Luck is ridiculously difficult to bring down but they were in his face all day. Bruce Irvin had 3 QB hits himself alone, and they were producing turnovers too with the heavy pressure.

What area of the team played the best yesterday though? It was the offensive line, wow what a difference Kelechi Osemele makes. When they have Osemele in the lineup they have such confidence and aggression. The sack that injured Carr aside, the offensive line was blowing up the Colts defense all day long. Their holes for the running backs to run through were magnificent and they were providing Carr all day to throw it.

My favorite block of the day wasn't from an offensive linemen though, it was from Andre Holmes. This game illustrated the important of Holmes better than any other this season, and the block he laid on DeAndre Washington's 2nd touchdown run was the best play he made. The hole was there but there was one guy left to block and Holmes ran into the guy so fast that you could barely register him on the screen.

Holmes also had a touchdown catch and he fielded a punt perfectly to down it at the 1 in this game, both huge plays as well. If he wasn't so frustratingly inconsistent with his hands he would certainly be higher up the depth chart, but he showed up in a big way against Indianapolis and is extremely valuable to this team anyway.

Oh yeah, and Mario Edwards Jr. is still good at football.

If it hadn't been for the Derek Carr injury this would have been the most complete game for the Raiders all season. They dominated the Colts until the injury happened, and after that who can blame the team for letting up. They won his game 33-25 because after Carr's injury they gave up 11 points to the Colts in their comeback attempt, but without the injury the Raiders showed no signs of letting up against a lesser team.

That is playoff football. No matter who is at helm at QB if the overall team plays like that they can beat anyone. This team is putting everything together right now for a run and they can do it even without Derek Carr if they rally around each other. In the ultimate team game one person can be the difference, but they don't have to be. If the Raiders can play like this across the board, they can still win in January.

Next up is the Denver Broncos, how important of a game that will be is yet to be seen. A win against Denver and a New England loss to the Miami Dolphins gives the Raiders the number 1 seed in the AFC no matter what happens tonight in the Chiefs/Broncos game. The Raiders will know if they are playing for a bye or the top seed before the game ever starts though because the Patriots play in the early games next week.

If the Chiefs lose tonight and the Patriots beat the Dolphins then the game against the Broncos next week will be of no consequence other than playing spoilers to the Broncos trying to make the playoffs. That in itself is still a reason to want the win, but hopefully Miami gives the Raiders the chance to win and get home field advantage on top of spiting the Broncos.

The football gods owe us that much after Derek Carr’s injury anyway.