Much like Grandma’s eggnog after New Year’s, the Raiders’ playoff hopes have all but spoiled. Therefore there is only one thing left to do. Pay it forward by giving the Indianapolis Colts a lump of coal for Christmas.
In order for Oakland to have any chance at all of playing in the postseason they’ve got to beat Indy on Sunday and the Chiefs next week. That alone is not enough as they’ll need plenty of help along the way too. The scenarios are many and the chances are slim. During a time of year when it is easy to be distracted the Raiders have but one objective.
Just win, baby!
When the season began many might have looked at this matchup as a cake walk for Peyton Manning as his Colts were expected to be among the AFC elite. Well, that’s why they play the game. As it turns out, the Colts find themselves in a position very similar to that of the Raiders.
Both teams enter Sunday’s contest with one rout to the playoffs. Both must win their division in order to get a ticket to the big dance. While there are more scenarios for the Colts – who also control their own destiny – there is still little doubt that anything short of a win will suffice for Nap Town.
Until last week’s performance by Donald Brown, the Colts had not been able to find a rhythm in their running game. Given Manning’s well publicized struggles this year things are setting up nicely for the Raiders and their potent pass defense. However, now that Richard Seymour is questionable there are plenty of concerns.
Tommy Kelly has had his best year as a pro and Sunday he might need to play his best game to date. Getting pressure on Manning is key. No quarterback is unflappable and even the ever composed Manning has shown some shaky decisions when pressured.
While there is still a chance Seymour could play, there is no way Austin Collie will be in action on Sunday or ever again this season. Many of Manning’s weapons have missed action this year and Collie’s absence, though expected, leaves the Colts slightly shorthanded.
For Oakland it boils down to the basics. It doesn’t matter who Manning is throwing the ball to if he’s on the sideline. Running the ball, dominating the line of scrimmage and controlling the clock are necessary for a Raider win.
Quiet as kept, the most important factor of all could be Shane Lechler’s hamstring. Super Shane could prove invaluable if he’s healthy enough to play and be effective. Those 50-yard beauties do more than scrape the clouds. They also force opposing offenses to put together long drives in order to reach the end zone.
Tom Cable has to keep things simple. Pound it with Darren McFadden and Michael Bush. Dominate up front with Tommy Kelly and Robert Gallery. Dare Manning to throw at Nnamdi Asomugha and Stanford Routt. Then hope Santa delivers a loss to the Chiefs and Chargers.
Playing the role of spoiler is fun but being in the playoffs is better. The best part is all of that can be accomplished by winning.
Merry Christmas to all and to all good fight…on Sunday!
Tags: Austin Collie Darren McFadden Donald Brown Indianapolis Colts Michael Bush Nnamdi Asomugha Oakland Raiders Peyton Manning Richard Seymour Robert Gallery Shane Lechler Stanford Routt Tom Cable Tommy Kelly