The road to the playoffs gets more challenging for the Las Vegas Raiders as they head to Indianapolis. NFL odds this week have the Colts as 6.5 point favorites. But before discussing whether the Raiders can cover the spread, here is what you need to know about this Week 17 matchup.
Las Vegas at Indianapolis
- Date: Sunday, Jan. 2, 2022
- Time: 1:00 P.M. EST on FOX
- Venue: Lucas Oil Stadium Indianapolis, IN
- Participants: Las Vegas Raiders and Indianapolis Colts
Raiders On Defense
The COVID-reserve list added another big name this week. The Indianapolis Colts learned Carson Wentz would miss the game against Las Vegas.
Rookie quarterback Sam Ehlinger will get his first NFL start against the Raiders. Ehlinger has yet to throw a pass in a regular-season NFL game. I believe the Colts will try to make life easier on their rookie quarterback by having Jonathan Taylor carry their offense.
Yet, the 19th ranked Las Vegas rushing defense has recently dealt with star running backs. In their 16-14 win over the Cleveland Browns in Week 15, the Raiders held Nick Chubb to 91 yards on 23 carries.
Last week, the Denver Broncos only managed 18 yards on the ground, with Melvin Gordon running for -4 yards. The Raiders won another close one, 17-13.
However, Jonathan Taylor and the Colts’ offensive line are on another level. Taylor is the NFL’s leading rusher with 1,626 yards. I believe that the Raiders’ best chance to win this game is to stack the box against the run and force Ehlinger to pass the football.
Las Vegas has a decent pass defense, giving up the 11th-fewest passing yards per game (219.6). Rush ends Yannick Ngakoue and Maxx Crosby, who have 15 sacks combined, can pressure the young quarterback and possibly force an errant throw into traffic.
Raiders On Offense
Derek Carr doesn’t get a lot of fanfare, but he is still one of the most dangerous passers in the NFL. The Raiders are fifth in passing yards per game (219.6) and 11th in total yards (367.5). Carr is third among starting quarterbacks with 4,363 passing yards.
Receiver Hunter Renfrow is enjoying his best season with 949 receiving yards. The Raiders could find some success passing the ball against The Colts’ 16th-ranked pass defense (234.8 per game).
Yet, the Raiders’ last three wins have come with a commitment to their own running game.
In their last three wins, the Raiders averaged 133.6 yards on the ground. Last week, RB Josh Jacobs rushed for 129 yards against the 13th-ranked rush defense of the Denver Broncos (110.2 rushing yards allowed per game).
Raiders vs. Colts (-6.5)
A Week 17 win will improve the playoff picture for both teams. This week, the Raiders face a backup quarterback for the third week in a row.
Last week it was Drew Lock for the Broncos, and two weeks ago, Cleveland played without Baker Mayfield. But if the Raiders hope to extend their two-game streak, a significant defensive effort against the run is crucial.
Jonathan Taylor is sure to get his yards this week. But the more challenging the Raiders make it, the more Sam Ehlinger will have to pass. If the Raiders can force Ehlinger into some poor throws and use their running game to limit the Colts’ time on the field, they could pull off the upset this week.
Week 17 Predictions
Do you see the Las Vegas Raiders covering this week? Or do you think Jonathan Taylor will roll over the Raiders’ defensive line?
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