By Dave Thomas
If Oakland (11-3) can beat the Indianapolis (Dec. 24) and Denver (on the road Jan. 1), respectively, it will go into the playoffs on quite a high, claiming its first AFC West crown in more than a decade. On the other hand, a loss at home to the Colts and a Kansas City win at Arrowhead Stadium over Denver (Dec. 25), will leave the Raiders’ postseason positioning in limbo until week 17.
Heading into play this weekend, the Chiefs sit a game back of the Raiders, but would win the division if the two teams finished tied based on the season-sweep of the Silver and Black. With that in mind, it is rather obvious why the Raiders want to take care of business against the Colts, and then hope that Denver pulls off the upset Christmas Day in Kansas City.
Oakland Relatively Healthy Late In Season
Given they’ve played 14 games to date, the Raiders come into Saturday’s game in relatively good shape.
The biggest scare recently was starting QB Derek Carr injuring the pinky on his throwing hand a couple of games back. Despite the injury, Carr has been good-to-go. With Indianapolis being a team that can put points up on the board, Carr and the Raiders may find themselves in a shootout come Saturday.
While finishing the regular season strong is of course the priority, both Cooper and Crabtree will need to be as healthy as possible come playoff time, especially if the Raiders are to win their first post-season game in more than a decade.
In their 19-16 win at San Diego last Sunday, the Raiders found themselves in a back-and-forth struggle with a team that will be sitting home yet again this season for the playoffs. With Oakland’s offense not firing on all cylinders, it was the Raiders’ defense that carried the team most of the day.
Although Indianapolis is sitting on the bubble at 7-7, expect the Colts to give Oakland everything it has and then some. Head coach Chuck Pagano is on the hot seat, while quarterback Andrew Luck wants to assert Indy’s place as the top team in the AFC South. Heading into Saturday’s game, the Colts are one game back of both Houston and Tennessee in the division race.
Colts Relatively Healthy Too
Despite having 11 players listed on their Friday injury report, the Colts (who will need some help reaching the playoffs this time around) are in relatively good shape for this weekend’s game.
(WR) Amari Cooper (Shoulder) – Limited Participation in Practice
(WR) Michael Crabtree (Finger) – Limited Participation in Practice
(G/T) Kelechi Osemele (Ankle) – Limited Participation in Practice
(LB) Perry Riley Jr. (Hamstring) – Limited Participation in Practice
(LB) Malcolm Smith (Hamstring) – Limited Participation in Practice
(DT) Dan Williams (Foot) – Limited Participation in Practice
(LB) Shilique Calhoun (Knee) – Did Not Participate in Practice
(S) Karl Joseph (Toe) – Did Not Participate in Practice
(DT) Stacy McGee (Ankle) – Did Not Participate in Practice