The Indianapolis Colts (8-4) travel to Las Vegas to take on the Raiders (7-5) in a crucial game that solidifies the AFC playoff bracket. The Colts are coming off a 26-20 win over the Houston Texans, courtesy of a late Deshaun Watson fumble in the fourth quarter. Las Vegas is coming off a brutal two-game road trip, with a last-second touchdown pass to Henry Ruggs III sealing the 31-28 Week 13 victory against the winless New York Jets.
The Colts’ offense is interestingly similar to the Raiders’ in terms of rankings. Philip Rivers is having a solid season, throwing for 3,263 yards (10th in the league), 18 touchdowns, and nine interceptions with a 96.0 quarterback rating. He is also no stranger to the Raiders, having played them twice in 16 seasons with the now Los Angeles Chargers. Despite their record, the Colts’ receiving core lacks on paper.
They are 12th in receiving yards per game (273.3), but T.Y. Hilton is starting to heat up, along with running back Nyheim Hines, who excels in the passing and rushing game. With the Raiders’ defensive struggles all year and an injured secondary, expect the Colts to rely on their passing game, especially since Rivers has zero mercy against a former AFC West rival. Besides, Rivers loves to throw to his tight ends, so expect Mo Alie-Cox to be involved more this game.
While the Colts’ offense is performing at a slightly above average level, it’s their defense that really stands out. Indianapolis has the eighth-ranked passing defense, giving up only 218 yards in the air per game. A key stat to look out for is their success against tight ends. The Colts have only allowed one touchdown to opposing tight ends, so expect them to lock down Darren Waller, who happens to be Derek Carr’s favorite target. If the Colts want to seal the victory, they must slow down a surging Raiders’ run game (well, before Weeks 12 and 13). They have the seventh-ranked rushing defense, only allowing just about 100 yards on the ground per game. Expect the Colts to blitz more against a struggling Raiders’ offensive line, especially with DeForest Buckner and Denico Autry performing well.
Las Vegas Raiders
With the exception of the disastrous Week 12 performance against the Atlanta Falcons, the Raiders have shown why they’re a top 10 offense. Carr’s numbers are similar to Rivers’ and he has many options in the Raiders’ young receiving core. However, there are two keys to success for the Raiders, asides from trying to survive on defense. One is if the coaching staff can get Ruggs more involved in Week 14, especially after catching the game-winning touchdown last week.
With the Colts expected to be glued to Waller, the Raiders have two options: actually utilize their first-round pick or get the running game going again. Josh Jacobs is having a solid sophomore season but is only averaging 3.8 yards per carry and expected to play with an ankle injury. If Las Vegas wants to perform well against a tough rush defense, their offensive line must step up and protect Carr, along with opening up holes for the run game.
The Raiders’ kryptonite this season is their defense, especially in the air. Their pass defense is ranked 24th in the league and allows an average of 257.1 passing yards per game. Rivers is no stranger to Las Vegas, so expect him to ruthlessly target the banged-up secondary. However, safety Erik Harris has demonstrated success against Rivers in previous years, so his leadership and vision are key to this defense. Also, expect Las Vegas to include a few more blitz packages, but primarily play in zone coverage to make up for the absence of Johnathan Abram, Damon Arnette, and Jeff Heath. Pressuring Rivers is key due to his age and allows time for the secondary to gather themselves, but expect the Raiders’ defense to struggle and be exposed once again. If they apply enough pressure, Rivers will turn the ball over, giving Las Vegas a shot (no pun intended) in this game.
Date: December 13, 2020
Start Time: 4:05 PM ET
Location: Las Vegas, NV
Stadium: Allegiant Stadium
TV Info: CBS
Betting Odds Sponsored by Jazz Sportsbook
Points Spread: IND -3 (-110) | LV +3 (-110)
Moneyline: IND -165 | LV +135
Over/Under: O 52 (-110) | U 52 (-110)
With the Raiders coming off two consecutive poor performances, it is safer to take the Colts’ money line. Since the spread is barely within a field goal and Indianapolis has taken the spread as of recently, go with the Colts on this one. 52 points seem high for an over/under, but these teams excel in the passing game and despite the Raiders’ recent struggles, they still went over in eight of 12 games. In addition, they like to make things fun in the fourth quarter, so take the over on this one. With caution.
The Raiders have struggled in the past two weeks and Week 14 is not any easier against a playoff-caliber team. Carr does like to keep things enticing in the second half, as the Raiders have done a good job overall making second-half adjustments. However, their secondary is very concerning against a future Hall of Famer and the Colts’ defense is too strong up front. The Colts will put up enough points to defeat the Raiders despite a strong Las Vegas passing game.
Final Score: Indianapolis Colts 38, Las Vegas Raiders 30
Follow Nicolette Rojo on Twitter @NRojo5
Main Image Credit: Embed from Getty Images