2020 Colts Preview: Colts/Raiders, Week 14

The Indianapolis Colts (8-4) on Sunday travel to Las Vegas to take on the Raiders (7-5) in a crucial inter-conference Week 14 matchup with lots on the line in the AFC playoff picture. Check out the official game preview.

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INDIANAPOLIS — A crucial December showdown between two AFC playoff contenders. It doesn't get much better than this.

Fresh off a dramatic road divisional victory over the Houston Texans, the Indianapolis Colts (8-4) on Sunday are on the road once again, taking on the Las Vegas Raiders (7-5) in their Week 14 battle at Allegiant Stadium.

Kickoff is at 4:05 p.m. ET.

Both the Colts, currently the seventh seed in the AFC, and the Raiders, currently the eighth seed in the AFC, are coming off wild road wins.

Indianapolis found itself in a shootout against Houston in the first half of last Sunday's contest at NRG Stadium — the Colts led 24-20 at halftime — but the game quickly turned into a defensive slugfest over the last two quarters; a Justin Houston sack of quarterback Deshaun Watson in the end zone for a safety represented the only points scored by either team in the second half. Down six points with about a minute left in the game, however, the Texans threatened to take a late lead, but Watson couldn't handle a botched snap on 2nd and Goal from the 2-yard line, and linebacker Anthony Walker recovered the fumble to seal a 26-20 Colts victory.

The Raiders, meanwhile, were on the brink of becoming the first team to lose to the lowly New York Jets all season last Sunday, trailing late, 28-24, at MetLife Stadium. But with five seconds left, quarterback Derek Carr, taking advantage of a heavy blitz call, found speedy rookie wide receiver Henry Ruggs III over the top for a game-winning 46-yard touchdown pass, giving Las Vegas the 31-28 win.

So what all should we be looking for when this thing kicks off? Here is the official game preview.

BROADCAST INFORMATION

  • Sunday, Dec. 13, at 4:05 p.m. ET
  • Las Vegas; Allegiant Stadium
  • TV: CBS — Ian Eagle (play-by-play), Charles Davis (color) and Evan Washburn (sideline)
  • Other radio: Sports USA — Larry Kahn (play-by-play) and Hank Bauer (color)
  • Colts Official App (*Geographic and device restrictions apply. Local & primetime games only. Data charges may apply.)
  • Colts.com mobile website (Safari browser ONLY)
  • Yahoo! Sports mobile browser or app
  • Click here for MORE WAYS TO WATCH.
  • To find out what games will be on in your area, click here.
  • Local radio: Colts games can be heard in Indianapolis on 93.5, 107.5 and 1070 The Fan and 97.1 HANK FM, plus the desktop version of Colts.com with Matt Taylor (play-by-play), Rick Venturi (color), Larra Overton (sideline) and Bill Brooks (pregame/postgame analyst) on the call.
  • National radio: Fans can listen to the live local call on Colts.com (desktop only) and NFL Game Pass. Get your free seven-day trial by clicking here.

*Please check your local TV listing to confirm availability. iOS mobile web and app users should "Allow Location Access" (via Settings > Privacy > Location Services > Safari).

ALL-TIME SERIES

  • Raiders lead, 10-8; Colts are 5-4 all-time against the Raiders on the road (2020 will be their first season in Las Vegas).
  • Last game — Week 4 of 2019; Raiders won, 31-24, at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
  • Of note: his will actually be the second time the Colts have played the Raiders on the road in a season in which they have moved to a new location. In 1995, the Raiders moved back to Oakland from Los Angeles, and would defeat the Colts, 30-17, in their Week 8 matchup at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum. The game was tied at 10 going into halftime, but Oakland would go on a 20-7 run the rest of the way. Indy pulled within three, 20-17, at the 11:04 mark of the third quarter after a nine-yard run by second-year stud Marshall Faulk, but the Raiders would answer right back with a 73-yard touchdown pass from Vince Evans to Raghib Ismail, and wouldn't look back from there. Faulk had 99 total yards of offense on the day for the Colts, with 41 yards rushing (and two touchdowns) and 58 yards receiving. Tony Bennett had two sacks for the Indy defense, while Stephen Grant picked off an Evans pass.

COACHING STAFF

Colts:

  • HC Frank Reich
  • OC Nick Sirianni
  • DC Matt Eberflus
  • STC Bubba Ventrone

Raiders:

  • HC Jon Gruden
  • OC Greg Olson
  • DC Paul Guenther
  • STC Rich Bisaccia

LAST WEEK

Colts:

  • Won at Houston Texans (4-8), 26-20

Raiders:

  • Won at New York Jets (0-12), 31-28

See the best images from the Indianapolis Colts Week 13 victory over the Houston Texans.

INJURY UPDATE

Colts:

  • OUT — P Rigoberto Sanchez (illness)
  • DOUBTFUL — N/A
  • QUESTIONABLE — T Anthony Castonzo (knee), DT/DE Tyquan Lewis (hip), LB Bobby Okereke (ankle)

Click here to read more on the injury report for Sunday's game.

Raiders:

  • OUT — CB Damon Arnette (concussion/neck), S Jeff Heath (concussion)
  • DOUBTFUL — N/A
  • QUESTIONABLE — S Johnathan Abram (knee), RB Josh Jacobs (ankle), CB Isaiah Johnson (groin)

STORYLINES/THINGS TO WATCH

  • Another crucial AFC matchup — Two weeks ago the Colts faced off against the Tennessee Titans in what was then (and remains today) a crucial matchup in the AFC South Division. The Titans, unfortunately, came away with a dominant 45-26 win that day, and now, despite the two teams technically being tied atop the AFC South standings, Tennessee remains in the driver's seat for the division title due to the various tiebreakers involved. While that can certainly change over the final four games of the season, the Colts turn to this Sunday's matchup against the Raiders, which represents their newest "crucial" matchup in AFC play. If Indy, which is currently the No. 7 seed in the AFC playoff picture, can fly home victorious over the Raiders, who are currently the eighth seed, then the Colts' playoff chances get a nice little boost with three games left to play. In fact, according to fivethirtyeight.com, Indy's playoffs chances increase from 70 percent to 89 percent with a win on Sunday; a Colts loss to the Raiders, and their playoff chances decrease to 47 percent. That's almost a 50-percent swing depending on the result. Find a way to get the job done.
  • Which Raiders team will show up? —The Raiders might be one of the most confusing 7-5 teams in recent NFL history. One week they look like legit contenders in the AFC, and then next they look like they should be among those picking in the top five of the upcoming NFL Draft. Just look at Las Vegas' résumé this season, which includes wins against the New Orleans Saints (10-2), the Kansas City Chiefs (11-1) and Cleveland Browns (9-3). But in the last two weeks, the Raiders have been blown out by a 4-7 Atlanta Falcons team, 43-6, and then, last Sunday, needed a last-second bomb from Derek Carr to Henry Ruggs III to defeat the winless New York Jets, 31-28. Over the last three weeks, the Raiders rank 31st in the NFL with eight turnovers and 45 quarterback hurries allowed, 29th with nine dropped passes, 28th in explosive run plays (10-plus yards) with five, have allowed the second most touchdowns in the league (12) and have the eighth-fewest sacks (four). That's no formula for success, but the only thing the Colts know they can expect coming into Sunday's game is a team fighting tooth and nail for a spot in the postseason, and nothing else.
  • First-half importance —The Colts have had one of the league's best overall defensive units throughout the 2020 season, which is an impressive fact considering the team's general struggles in the first half of games. Indianapolis this season has allowed 138 combined points in the first two quarters, tied for the third-most in the league; in the first half, they've also allowed 5.7 yards per play (19th), 136 first downs (22nd) and their opponents have scored touchdowns on 33.9 percent of their drives, which ranks 28th in the league. The second half? Now that's a completely different story. The Colts have allowed a combined 54 points over the final two quarters, the third-fewest in the NFL; in the second half they're also allowing 4.5 yards per play (fourth), 97 first downs (third) and their opponents have scored touchdowns on just 11.7 percent of their drives, which also ranks third in the league. This trend was apparent once again last Sunday against the Texans, as Indy allowed 20 points and 266 yards (including 203 through the air) in the first half of the ballgame, but pitched a shutout — and even scored two points of its own via safety — in the second half. The Colts will continue to try to reverse their first-half issues on Sunday against a Raiders team that has a 4-1 record in games in which they've had a halftime lead this season.

INTRIGUING MATCHUPS

  • Colts LT Anthony Castonzo vs. Raiders DE Clelin Ferrell: Castonzo, of course, is questionable heading into this one, as he's working his way back from a sprained MCL suffered in Week 12 against the Tennessee Titans — an injury that kept him out of last Sunday's win over the Houston Texans — but the 10th-year veteran is certainly trending in the right direction after returning to practice Thursday and Friday as a limited participant. If he's able to go, he faces a potentially tough test against the rising Ferrell, the fourth-overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft who is coming off the best game of his career. In last Sunday's crazy win over the New York Jets, Ferrell had two strip sacks, both of which were recovered by his Raiders teammates. While those plays represented Ferrell's first two sacks of the season, he carries a very respectable 78.3 overall defensive grade from Pro Football Focus (the top grade on the entire Las Vegas defense) and has 18 "stops," which results in a failed play for the offense. Whether it's Castonzo or Chaz Green at left tackle for the Colts, they'll be counted on to prevent Ferrell from carrying the momentum from last week's game into this crucial matchup.
  • Colts RB Jonathan Taylor vs. Raiders LB Cory Littleton: The rookie Taylor is on a roll. Three weeks ago, his second-half effort against the Green Bay Packers played a major role in the Colts' come-from-behind overtime victory; after be played on the Reserve/COVID-19 list and missing the Week 12 matchup against the Tennessee Titans, Taylor returned to the lineup last Sunday against the Houston Texans and had 135 yards of total offense including 13 rushing attempts for 91 yards (7.0 avg.) and three receptions for 44 yards and his first-career receiving touchdown. Now Taylor faces off against a Raiders team that is allowing 4.5 yards per carry (22nd in the league) and has allowed 19 rushing touchdowns, the second-most in the NFL. Littleton, meanwhile, has 55 tackles (three for a loss) on the year with zero interceptions, passes defensed, forced fumbles, fumble recoveries or quarterback hits; his 39.5 overall defensive grade is the third lowest among all qualifying NFL linebackers. 
  • Colts DT DeForest Buckner vs. Raiders QB Derek Carr: Carr was an MVP candidate back in 2016, when he averaged 262.5 passing yards per game, completed 63.8 percent of his passes and had a quarterback rating of 96.7; he completed 357-of-560 passes in all for 3,937 yards with 28 touchdowns to six interceptions. Would you believe that Carr is arguably having an even better season this year? Carr has completed 269-of-395 passes (68.1 percent) for 3,027 yards with 22 touchdowns to five interceptions; that's fewer yards per game, but his quarterback rating is nearly eight points higher (104.1) and his yards-per-attempt figure, 7.7, is also better than his 2016 effort (7.0). Carr also has been a thorn in the Colts' side in his first three matchups against them; he has a combined 665 passing yards with eight touchdowns to no interceptions for a passer rating of 120.8 in those matchups. The one missing factor in those three games? He's yet to take on Buckner as a member of the Colts. Buckner is coming off his two-sack, three-quarterback hit performance in last Sunday's win over the Houston Texans, and at times has been an unstoppable force from the interior of the Colts' defensive line. That will be huge against Carr, who tends to get rid of the football faster than most starting quarterbacks in the league.
  • Colts LB Bobby Okereke vs. Raiders TE Darren Waller: There's Waller and there's Travis Kelce — those are the two elite pass-catching tight ends in the NFL this season. The 6-foot-6, 255-pound Waller this season has 77 receptions for 742 yards and seven touchdowns; among NFL tight ends, he's second to Kelce in receptions and receiving yards, and tied for second in receiving touchdowns. So should Okereke, who is questionable heading in after missing the last two games with an ankle injury, return on Sunday against the Raiders, he'll have quite the matchup waiting for him in No. 83 in the silver and black. If Okereke is limited or misses his third straight game on Sunday, it'll likely be Anthony Walker and Darius Leonard — who have each played 100 percent of the defensive snaps the last two weeks — tasked with covering Waller in most situations. The Colts have had great overall success limiting big plays by tight ends this season — they've allowed just one receiving touchdown by a tight end so far, which is tied with the New England Patriots for the fewest in the NFL, while their eight passing plays of 15-plus yards allowed to tight ends are tied for the second fewest — but they're yet to have really taken on a tight end at Waller's level.

REFEREE ASSIGNMENT

BETTING LINE

REGULAR SEASON LEADERS

Colts:

  • Passing — QB Philip Rivers (3,263 yards)
  • Rushing — RB Jonathan Taylor (609 yards)
  • Receiving — WR T.Y. Hilton (518 yards)
  • Touchdowns — RB Nyheim Hines (7)
  • Tackles — LB Darius Leonard (86)
  • Sacks — Justin Houston (7.5)
  • Interceptions — CB Kenny Moore II (3)

Raiders:

  • Passing — QB Derek Carr (3,027 yards)
  • Rushing — RB Josh Jacobs (782 yards)
  • Receiving — TE Darren Waller (742 yards)
  • Touchdowns — RB Josh Jacobs (9)
  • Tackles — LB Nick Kwiatkoski (66)
  • Sacks — DE Maxx Crosby (6.0)
  • Interceptions — S Jeff Heath (3)

COMPARING 2020 STATS

Colts:

  • Total offense — 13th (370.1 YPG)
  • Scoring — 10th (27.3 PPG)
  • Passing offense — 11th (265.3 YPG)
  • Sack percentage allowed — 5th (3.46)
  • Rushing offense — 21st (104.8 YPG)
  • Third down offense — 29th (36.84 percent)
  • Red zone offense — Tied-16th (59.09 percent)
  • Total defense — 5th (319.0 YPG)
  • Scoring defense — 10th (22.8 PPG)
  • Passing defense — 7th (218.1 YPG)
  • Sacks — Tied-15th (28)
  • Rushing defense — 7th (100.9 YPG)
  • Third down defense — 15th (40.67 percent)
  • Red zone defense — Tied-21st (65.79 percent)
  • Time of possession — 8th (31:02)
  • Turnover differential — Tied-4th (+7)

Raiders:

  • Total offense — 15th (364.8 YPG)
  • Scoring — 11th (26.9 PPG)
  • Passing offense — 17th (243.6 YPG)
  • Sack percentage allowed — 10th (5.25)
  • Rushing offense — 10th (121.2 YPG)
  • Third down offense — 3rd (48.67 percent)
  • Red zone offense — Tied-16th (59.09 percent)
  • Total defense — 22nd (378.2 YPG)
  • Scoring defense — 28th (28.9 PPG)
  • Passing defense — 24th (257.1 YPG)
  • Sacks — Tied-30th (15)
  • Rushing defense — 20th (121.1 YPG)
  • Third down defense — 29th (48.34 percent)
  • Red zone defense — 28th (68.00 percent)
  • Time of possession — 7th (31:13)
  • Turnover differential — Tied-21st (-2)

NOTES AND QUOTES

Kicker Rodrigo Blankenship:

— With one point, he will pass Edgerrin James (102) for the third-most points by a rookie in franchise history.

— With two points, he will tie Mike Vanderjagt (104) for the second-most points by a rookie in franchise history.

— With three points, he will pass Mike Vanderjagt (104) for the second-most points by a rookie in franchise history.

— With three field goals made, he will tie Mike Vanderjagt (27) for the second-most field goals made by a rookie in franchise history.

Defensive tackle DeForest Buckner:

— With one game played, he will reach 75 career games played.

— With one game started, he will reach 75 career games started.—

• Cornerback T.J. Carrie:

— With one defensive or special teams return for a touchdown, he will tie Ray Buchanan and Terrence Wilkins (three) for the most such touchdowns in single-season franchise history.

• Cornerback T.J. Carrie, cornerback Kenny Moore II, cornerback Xavier Rhodes:

— With one interception returned for a touchdown, he will tie numerous players for the second-most interceptions returned for a touchdown (two) in single-season franchise history.

• Wide receiver T.Y. Hilton:

— With one touchdown, he will pass Joseph Addai (48) for the 10th-most total touchdowns in team history. 

— With one receiving touchdown, he will tie Lenny Moore (48) for the fifth-most receiving touchdowns in team history.

— With one game with 10+ receptions, he will pass Don McCauley, Lydell Mitchell, Joe Washington, Anthony Johnson and Dallas Clark, all with three, for the third-most games with 10+ receptions in team history.

• Defensive end Justin Houston:

— With one game started, he will reach 125 career games started. 

— Needs 3.0 sacks to reach 100.0 for his career. He would become the 35th player in NFL history to reach that plateau since sacks became an official statistic in 1982. 

— With one safety, he will pass Ted Hendricks, Doug English and Jared Allen (four) for the most safeties in NFL history.

• Linebacker Darius Leonard:

— With two tackles, he will tie Jerrell Freeman (366) for the second-most tackles in a player's first three seasons in Colts history.

— With three tackles, he will pass Jerrell Freeman (366) for the second-most tackles in a player's first three seasons in Colts history.

• Cornerback Xavier Rhodes:

— With two tackles, he will reach 400 career tackles.

• Quarterback Philip Rivers:

— With one game with three-or-more touchdown passes, he will tie Dan Marino (62) for the sixth-most games of three-or-more touchdown passes in NFL history.

— With one game with 400+ passing yards, he will tie Ben Roethlisberger (12) for the fourth-most games with 400+ passing yards in NFL history.

——————

"Yeah, I'm not going to lie, it did feel good and it feels like it's the way it should be. It's not going to be that way every game, but he is our leader. He is our leader at that position. He is one of the emotional leaders of this team. He has a presence about him and a confidence about him that the team feeds off of. It was great to get him going on Sunday." — Colts head coach Frank Reich on wide receiver T.Y. Hilton's breakout performance last Sunday against the Houston Texans.

"Yeah, I certainly don't feel 29, but at the same time I feel good. But it does, it kind of made me chuckle a little bit yesterday just to think I'm 39 and I'm still getting to play a game. I'm playing a game. One of my children actually asked me how long have you been playing football and I was thinking back – I was obviously around it since I was little. I didn't play tackle football until seventh grade, but you look at whatever that is and that's 27, 28 years. It sounds kind of crazy – been playing a game and still getting to play it. Yeah, I don't really think about it much. I think when you get upwards in age, the birthdays aren't I guess as big of a deal as far as a party and all that stuff, especially when you have nine little ones to celebrate their birthdays. They tend to take the – the excitement tends to go their way from a birthday standpoint." — Colts quarterback Philip Rivers on turning 39 years old this week and how he's feeling physically.

"I would say that when you have a presence like that in the middle, as been stated before in terms of the 3-technique in our defense and really when you're strong up the middle in any defense that's a good thing because it affects the run and it forces double teams to stay on longer in the run game, it forces protection to slide that way in the pass game. There are a lot of things that it does that benefits the linebackers as well as the secondary. So the effect of an interior defensive lineman like DeForest Buckner is really immense when you think about the ripple down effect it has on the run defense and the pass defense." — Colts defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus on the difference he notices when defensive tackle DeForest Buckner is in the game.

"Man, he brings a lot to our offense and he has just gotten better and better and better and better. We have so much confidence in Braden (Smith) and I've really seen big, big growth this year particularly in the pass game and his protection. So credit to Coach (Chris) Strausser and Coach Klayton Adams, they have been developing him and are doing a great job developing him. We want to be a physical team, and no matter what we're doing whether it's passing the ball or running the ball – just because you pass it doesn't mean you can't be physical. We want to be a physical team and Braden is one of our most physical players. In the run game, in the pass game, everything, he is one of our most physical players whether he is getting out on a screen – everything like that. He just brings so much to this offense. He had a phenomenal game against a really good football player on Sunday. He just continues to get better and we're thrilled that he is who he is, he has continued to get better and he is on this team." — Colts offensive coordinator Nick Sirianni on the continued improvement of third-year right tackle Braden Smith.

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