The Las Vegas Raiders will look to keep their playoff hopes alive on Sunday, as they take on the Indianapolis Colts on the road. Much like the 2021 NFL season, the Raiders will need to win out in order to have any chance to make the playoffs, and the Colts currently are ahead of the Silver and Black in the standings.
Here, we look at the keys to victory for the Las Vegas Raiders in this crucial AFC battle on the road.
Las Vegas Raiders: Keys to victory against the Colts in 2023 Week 17
Continue to protect the football
Despite his struggles last week against Kansas City, quarterback Aidan O'Connell once again did a good job of protecting the football. In fact, he has not had a turnover across his last two games, so while he has had his issues in the passing game, at least he is not hurting the Raiders by giving the ball back to the opponent.
That will loom large on Sunday, as any turnover could turn this game on its head. For O'Connell, he needs to remain the calm presence he has been all season long, and let the game come to him in this one.
Pass rush has to get to Gardner Minshew early and often
Gardner Minshew stepped in for the injured Anthony Richardson this season, and he has done a nice job keeping the Colts playoff hopes alive. However, he was not at his best last week against the Atlanta Falcons, barely completing 50 percent of his passes with zero touchdowns and an interceptions.
Atlanta was able to do a nice job getting after Minshew in the pocket, posting six sacks and 11 quarterback hits. That has to be the recipe for Patrick Graham and this Raiders defense on Sunday, and based on how they have played the last three weeks, that should be no problem.
Stop Michael Pittman Jr.
The Colts passing game struggled in a big way last week against Atlanta, and you can credit a lot of that to the fact they were without star wideout, Michael Pittman Jr. Pittman has been outstanding once again this season for the Colts, and is one catch away from 100 on the season, and he has already gone over 1,000 yards for the season.
Pittman is still in concussion protocol, but he practiced fully on Thursday, and is expected to be ready to go for this crucial AFC battle inside Lucas Oil Stadium. If he is active, he has to be priority No. 1 in the passing game for the Silver and Black.