The Las Vegas Raiders have a must-win game against the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday.
There are lot of moving parts this week, however, with both teams dealing with large COVID-19 outbreaks so things will be fluid. The Raiders can make the playoffs if they win their final two games, but also may be eliminated this week with a loss to the Colts and Chargers win over the Broncos.
No. #Raiders can be eliminated this week with a loss to Colts and Chargers win over Broncos, Patriots win over Jaguars and Bills win over Falcons. (Lines of thosegames per @FDSportsbook Colts -6.5, Bills -14, Pats -16, Chargers -6) https://t.co/jIphLk57KY— Josh Dubow (@JoshDubowAP) December 27, 2021
Here are five keys to victory for Las Vegas, assuming the game is played as planned.
Don’t let Johnathan Taylor take over:
The Colts’ offense starts with this monster of a tailback especially with the flux at quarterback this week. Taylor is leading the NFL with 1,626 rushing yards and he is a league MVP candidate. Taylor gutted the Raiders last season in a 44-27 Colts’ win in Las Vegas by running for 150 yards on 20 carries. The Raiders’ run defense has been strong the past two weeks, both wins. They will need to dial up another run-game defensive gem this week.
Secure the ball:
The Raiders have led the NFL in giveaways since Week 9. They somehow survived five turnovers in the past two weeks. They need to be extremely careful with the ball against the Colts, who are the type of team that takes advantage of success. Oh, and, Indianapolis is second in the NFL with 31 takeaways. This is a critical aspect of this game.
Continue to be better on third down:
The Raiders were awful on third down for most of the season, but they have shown improvement in the past two games. They were 6-of-14 on third down against the Cleveland Browns in Week 15 and 6-of-12 against the Denver Broncos last week. If that trend continues, they have a shot against the Colts.
Keep on running the ball:
The Raiders took over the game against the Broncos in the second half on the ground as running back Josh Jacobs had his best game of the season, by far. He ran for 129 yards on 27 carries. If Jacobs can control the ball on the ground, the Raiders will be in good shape.
Get to QB:
There are rumors the Colts will try to bring back the retired Philip Rivers this week to replace starter Carson Wentz, who is on the COVID list, if Wentz isn’t lifted off the list in time to play. If not, sixth-round pick, Sam Ehlinger, who has never thrown an NFL pass, is set to play Sunday if Wentz can’t. Whoever is quarterbacking the Colts, the Raiders’ plan is simple: Make him uneasy. The Raiders had their best pressure game of the season against Denver as they pressured quarterback Drew Lock on 48 percent of his drop backs. That type of pass-rush production would certainly help against Ehlinger, who will likely be jittery.