INDIANAPOLIS — This week, the Indianapolis Colts (2-1) and Oakland Raiders (1-2) square off in a rematch of last year's entertaining midseason matchup.
This time around, the Colts host the Raiders at Lucas Oil Stadium after defending their turf in their home opener last week against the Atlanta Falcons, 27-24. The Colts are winners of two in a row while the Raiders are heading in the opposite direction, dropping two consecutive contests.
This is the NFL, however, and you can never downgrade any opponent. Let's take a look at what the Raiders bring to the table.
The Raiders took a shot to the chin last week, losing 34-14 on the road to the Minnesota Vikings in a contest that wasn't even as close as the final score indicates.
Raiders' Passing Game
Oakland quarterback Derek Carr continued his incredible efficiency, going 27-of-34 passing (79.4 percent) for 242 yards (7.1 YPA) with two touchdowns and one interception for a passer rating of 103.7. His ESPN QBR told a much different story, however, as it came in at just 22.5. Carr was also sacked four times, which is understandable given Minnesota's dominant defensive front seven.
Carr's leading receiver on the day was tight end Darren Waller, who caught 13-of-14 targets for 134 yards (10.3 avg). Carr's top two wide receivers, Tyrell Williams and J.J. Nelson, combined to catch 7-of-8 targets for 65 yards (9.3 avg) and both of the touchdown passes.
Raiders' Run Game
Rookie running back Josh Jacobs was held in check due to the nature of having to play from behind. He carried the ball 10 times for 44 yards (4.4 avg.) and had a run of 18 yards. Fellow backs DeAndre Washington and Jalen Richard carried the ball eight times 37 yards (4.6 avg).
Vikings' Passing Game
The Vikings were able to run the ball very well, which took away from the passing game. Minnesota quarterback Kirk Cousins wasn't a high-volume passer on the day, but he was effective, going 15-of-21 passing (71.4 percent) for 174 yards (8.3 YPA), one touchdown, throwing no interceptions and not being sacked, compiling a passer rating of 112.0 (87.3 ESPN QBR).
Rookie tight end Irv Smith Jr. caught all three of his targets for 60 yards (20.0 avg) while top receivers Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs caught 6-of-8 targets for 70 yards (11.7 avg) and a touchdown by Thielen. He also carried the ball once on the goal line for a one-yard score.
Vikings' Run Game
As we mentioned, Dalvin Cook and the Vikings' run game was once again the driving force against an opponent the Colts would face (Colts and Vikings both defeated the Falcons). Cook carried the ball 16 times for 110 yards (6.9 avg) and a touchdown. He also caught four passes for 33 yards (8.3 avg) and had six total plays of 10-plus yards. Backup Alexander Mattison ran 12 times for 58 yards (4.8 avg) and had an acrobatic touchdown.
Raiders' Passing Game
So far, Carr and the Raiders' passing game has been very efficient, but lacking explosion. Williams has stepped into the WR1 role after Antonio Brown was released just before the start of the regular season, and Waller has stepped up and become a better player like many thought he might. Nelson and rookie Hunter Renfrow have become solid options for Carr with Williams.
For the Colts, they have a deep secondary to defend Oakland's passing attack with Pierre Desir, Rock Ya-Sin and Quincy Wilson on the outside, Kenny Moore II in the slot and Clayton Geathers and Khari Willis at safety. Starting free safety Malik Hooker suffered a knee injury against the Falcons last week and is expected to miss a little time. However, it may be a productive day from the Colts' linebackers as they defend Oakland's shorter passing attack, especially considering Waller is their leading receiver.
- QB Derek Carr — 73.5% completions, 699 yards, 7.1 YPA, 4 TD, 3 INT, 7 sacks
- TE Darren Waller — 26 catches (29 targets), 267 yards (10.3 avg)
- WR Tyrell Williams — 14 catches (17 targets), 180 yards (12.9 avg), 3 TD
- WR Hunter Renfrow — 9 catches (15 targets), 71 yards (7.9 avg)
- WR Ryan Grant — 4 catches (9 targets), 14 yards (3.9 avg)
Raiders' Run Game
Jacobs is one of the NFL's latest hyped-up, first-round running backs. He has been productive when called upon, but Oakland frequently playing from behind hasn't allowed him to be quite as involved yet as expected. He hasn't gotten involved in the passing game much yet either, which is something that is a special part of his game. "Yeah, we're trying. We definitely do want to get Josh to be a big part of the passing game. No doubt. We certainly do," Raiders head coach Jon Gruden told reporters this week. "We'd like to get more out of Jalen Richard as well. All of our backs. We take a lot of pride in using our backs in the passing game. You are right though, 100 percent, we have to get more out of Josh as a receiver."
The Colts have had some struggles against the run so far this season, allowing 114.0 yards per game and a 29th-ranked 5.3 yards per carry. If they are able to get All-Pro linebacker Darius Leonard, who missed Week 3 with a concussion, back for this contest then they should get some added juice against Oakland's backfield. Defensive end Jabaal Sheard, one of the top run defenders in the league, could also make his 2019 debut this week after undergoing a minor knee procedure during training camp.
- RB Josh Jacobs — 45 carries, 228 yards (5.1 avg), 2 TD
- RB DeAndre Washington — 11 carries, 39 yards (3.5 avg)
- RB Jalen Richard — 5 carries, 21 yards (4.2 avg)
Colts' Passing Game
Quarterback Jacoby Brissett and the Colts' passing game opened up last week to the tune of 310 yards and two touchdowns. Brissett set or came close to setting many new personal bests in the process. Including last week, it's been an overall offensive team effort where the ball is spread around to each position group and is supplemented off of the run game. While presumed WR2 Devin Funchess went down in Week 1 with a clavicle injury, many people thought it might just be one guy, such as Deon Cain, to step into that role, but so far it's proven to be many guys stepping up.
One question mark facing the Colts' passing game this week is the status of leading receiver T.Y. Hilton and his quad injury, which kept him out of the second half of last week's game. If he's unable to go on Sunday or is limited again, then Cain, rookie Parris Campbell, Zach Pascal, Chester Rogers will be the next men up as Jack Doyle, Eric Ebron, Mo Alie-Cox and Nyheim Hines step up from their positions.
You never want your top receiver to be out, but if Hilton is out or limited then this would be an opportune week for it to happen. Defensively, the Raiders rank poorly in overall pass defense, opponent passer rating, pass plays of 20 and 40-plus yards, and they have yet to record an interception.
- QB Jacoby Brissett — 71.7% completions, 646 yards, 7.0 YPA, 7 TD, 1 INT, 6 sacks
- WR T.Y. Hilton — 20 catches (25 targets), 195 yards (9.8 avg), 4 TD
- TE Eric Ebron — 7 catches (11 targets), 80 yards (11.4 avg), 1 TD
- RB Nyheim Hines — 8 catches (10 targets), 35 yards (4.4 avg)
- TE Jack Doyle — 7 catches (9 targets), 87 yards (12.4 avg)
Colts' Run Game
Marlon Mack, the Colts' offensive line and the run game have been killing it so far in 2019. Mack ranks third in the NFL in rushing yards behind only Dalvin Cook (375) and Christian McCaffrey (318) while the team ranks sixth in the NFL in rushing (149.7 YPG). Jordan Wilkins and Nyheim Hines have also been productive, whether it's as runners, pass-catchers or pass protectors.
This is a matchup in which the Colts have a clear advantage, as the Raiders have given up some nice team performances to opposing backfields. The Chiefs focused more on passing against the Raiders, but the Broncos (Phillip Lindsay and Royce Freeman combine for 99 yards on 21 carries) and Vikings (Cook and Mattison combine for 168 yards on 28 carries) clearly wanted to run against Oakland. The Raiders are currently dealing with injuries to linebackers Vontaze Burfict, Marquel Lee and Nick Morrow, so a banged-up linebacker corps would be expected to have a tough time against a top-notch run game.
- RB Marlon Mack — 61 carries, 299 yards (4.9 avg), 2 TD
- QB Jacoby Brissett — 13 carries, 38 yards (2.9 avg)
- RB Jordan Wilkins — 8 carries, 80 yards (10.0 avg)
- RB Nyheim Hines — 8 carries, 25 yards (3.1 avg)
RAIDERS' 2019 KEY STATS
- 2nd in completion percentage (73.5%)
- Tied 6th in fourth-down conversion (75%)
- 7th in third-down conversions (49%)
- 23rd in turnover differential (-3)
- 24th in passing (217.0 YPG)
- 26th in overall offense (322.0 YPG)
- 29th in scoring (16.0 PPG)
- Tied-23rd in scoring (26.0 PPG)
- Tied-24th in pass defense (286.3 YPG)
- 25th in overall defense (398.7 YPG)
- Tied-26th in pass plays of 40-plus yards allowed (4)
- 28th in opponent passer rating (118.6)
- Tied-28th in interceptions (0)
- Tied-29th in third-down conversions (53%)
- 32nd in pass plays of 20-plus yards allowed (17)