News and happenings are slow to come during the July lull between the end of OTAs and the beginning of training camp, so we’re taking this time to review and break down each of the Raiders’ 2018 regular season opponents.
This edition will cover the Raiders’ Week 7 home opponent, the Indianapolis Colts. The Colts based their entire future on Andrew Luck, and his health issues have turned them into arguably the worst team in the NFL.
Key Additions: G Quenton Nelson, TE Eric Ebron, WR Ryan Grant, OL Matt Slauson, DE Denico Autry, RB Nyheim Hines
Key Departures: CB Rashaan Melvin, RB Frank Gore, DE Dwight Freeney (retired), LB Jon Bostic, LB Barkevious Mingo
NFL.com Power Ranking: #32
2017 Total Offense: #31 at 284.6 YPG, Scoring offense #30 at 16.4 PPG
2017 Total Defense: #30 at 367.1 YPG allowed, Scoring defense #30 at 25.3 PPG allowed
Colts QB Andrew Luck vs. Himself
Throughout the history of the Colts, they have been an awful franchise buoyed at various times by otherworldly quarterback play. First Johnny Unitas, then Peyton Manning, and then Andrew Luck. With only mediocre or average QB play, like what they got last year from Jacoby Brissett, they are terrible. Luck hasn’t played regularly for the better part of the last two years because the Colts don’t see fit to provide him with an offensive line. Luck has been in, I dunno, fuckin’ Tibet or something on a vision quest to heal his injured shoulder/collarbone/fragile psyche.
With Luck at full strength, the Colts are playoff contenders. Without him, they are worse than the Browns. Current reports are that Luck is throwing without issue, but that may not be the case by Week 7. And even if it is, Khalil Mack, Arden Key, Maurice Hurst and Bruce Irvin will try to ensure he does not make it through the game.
Raiders receivers vs. Colts cornerbacks
One of the bright spots for the Colts last year was the play of CB Rashaan Melvin, as he and rookie safety Malik Hooker helped the defense not be the worst in the league, just almost the worst. But Melvin now rocks the Silver and Black and the Colts are left with second-year player Quincy Wilson out of Florida and New England castoff Kenny Moore as their starting corners. That’s good news for the Raiders and bad news for Hooker, who will likely be left one on one with either Jordy Nelson or Martavis Bryant. Derek Carr should be able to pick this secondary apart.
Colts TEs Jack Doyle and Eric Ebron vs. Raiders linebackers/safeties
The Colts have a speedy WR in TY Hilton, but Doyle has been their most effective offensive player lately and the Colts splurged to bring Ebron over from the Lions and give themselves a threat in two-TE sets. Covering this pair will be the unenviable task of Tahir Whitehead, Derrick Johnson, Karl Joseph and Obi Melifonwu. The Colts’ offensive tackles are awful and Andrew Luck or whoever is under center for Indy will he running for his life on a regular basis, so he’ll be looking for a safety valve in the form of one or both of these talented tight ends. The Raiders must ensure they do not get open or all that pressure in the backfield could be for naught.
We’ll know a lot more about the Colts by Week 7 than we do right now. They play in a brutal division with talented pass rushers on the Titans, Jaguars and Texans. JJ Watt, Jadeveon Clowney, Calais Campbell, Dante Fowler, Yannick Nkagoue, etc. will be gunning for Luck early in the season so he may not even make it to the Raiders game.
But the Colts did the right thing in drafting Quenton Nelson in the first round, and he and Jack Mewhort make a formidable guard tandem. It’s too bad the rest of their line is trash, and their defense is too now that their best defender, Rashaan Melvin, plays for us now. Malik Hooker had better be the next Brian Dawkins or the Colts are boned beyond belief.
It’s difficult to fathom how bad the Colts are without Andrew Luck, and even with him they’ll have to score 35 points every week to win. They have no running game, they have no pass rush even after signing Margus Hunt from Cincinnati and their secondary is highly questionable. The Raiders should cruise in this Week 7 home game, but a healthy Luck could give them (and everyone else) serious trouble. If the Raiders jump out to a lead, they cannot get complacent because Luck is a comeback artist. Just ask the Chiefs!