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Breaking Down the Opponent: Colts limp into week 4 matchup with the Raiders

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NFL: OCT 28 Colts at Raiders Photo by Douglas Stringer/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

With 4 starters not practicing, the Colts have caught the injury bug at the right time if you’re a Raiders fan. The defense is especially banged up with 2017 first round pick FS Malik Hooker out with a knee injury and starters MLB Darius Leonard and CB Pierre Desir yet to practice this week.

The Raiders really need to get their offense jumpstarted so this could be the perfect week to do so. Let’s take a look at how the Raiders can attack the Colts this weekend.

Getting playmakers going on offense

The Raiders selected Josh Jacobs in the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft. With the Colts favoring to go with an undersized pass rushing front seven, now is the time to lean on Jacobs and pound the rock.

The Titans had success running the ball with another Alabama running back and Derrick Henry had a big game on the ground against this Colts defense. Through 3 games the Indianapolis defense has allowed 114 yards per game and a healthy 5.3 yards per carry.

Week 1 against the Chargers, running back Austin Ekeler had a career day amassing almost 200 yards of total offense and 3 touchdowns. Ekeler had close to 100 yards receiving and the Colts defense had a hard time tracking him down on screens and passes out of the backfield.

Josh Jacobs was known for this in college. Jalen Richard was priority tendered mostly for his receiving chops. Everyone has been clamoring for the Raiders to pass to their backs more often. This is the week it needs to happen.

The only consistent playmaker in the Raiders offense is tight end Darren Waller. Waller leads the NFL in targets amongst tight ends with 26 and is currently 3rd in yards with 267. Waller will benefit from a heavy dose of the ground game by taking advantage of an aggressive Colts defense like on the play above. Watch how the linebackers get sucked in on the play-action and let Austin Hooper run open down the seam.

The Colts defense is giving up plenty of yards to tight ends according to fantasy outlets so at the very least this should be another productive game for Waller.

Making the Colts offense one dimensional

After going up agains the NFL’s leading rusher last week, the Raiders don’t get much of a break in week 4 going up against the 3rd leading rusher in Marlon Mack. Mack is a very good back but maybe not the elite talent that Dalvin Cook was last week in Minnesota. The edge Mack has, however, is an incredible offensive line that can block any scheme.

The Raiders will have their hands full bottling up this rushing attack. But if they can, it will limit what the offense can call in the passing game.

Many thought the season was lost for the Colts after the sudden retirement of Andrew Luck. With a savvy play caller like Frank Reich however, now starting Jacoby Brissett has allowed Colts fans to lay off the panic button.

Brissett makes a good throw here but check out the design. A RB motions out wide as the ball is snapped. The slot receiver takes an outside release and keeps his shoulders square breaking down slightly at the same time Brissett pump fakes to the running back in the flat. This freezes the slot defender just long enough for a touchdown pass to go over his head.

The Raiders defense has struggled with this type of play, especially in week 2 when the Chiefs scored on an almost identical look. If the defense can limit the big plays they have a good chance of winning this football game.

The Titans did the best job of stopping the run against the Colts and had the offense in plenty of 3rd and long situations. As a result, Jacoby Brissett had to hold the ball longer and was susceptible to negative plays. The Titans sacked Brissett officially 3 times (one was Brissett sliding while still in the backfield) and intercepted him once. All of these plays came in 3rd and long situations. Stop the run. Make Brissett play big league QB, and the defense will have a chance to do the same.

Notes

The Colts main receiver T.Y. Hilton also missed practice this week and is doubtful for the game. After Hilton, the next most productive wide receiver on the roster is rookie Parris Campbell with 5 receptions for 37 yards.

With T.Y. Hilton’s status up in the air, the Colts will lean on Tight Ends Eric Ebron and Jack Doyle. Both of these tight ends tore the Raiders defense apart last season with Andrew Luck at the helm. Let’s see what Guenther cooks up to cover the post players.

Derek Carr and the offense are coming off a pair of uninspiring performances. With the Colts defense suffering so many injuries and lost practice time as a result, if they don’t have a good week there will be little hope for the offense 2019.