NFL Week 1: Oakland Raiders vs. Indianapolis Colts Preview and Prediction

By Eric Smith
Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

It’s hard to believe the NFL regular season is already among us. This Sunday, the Indianapolis Colts will host the Oakland Raiders in the regular season opener at Lucas Oil Stadium.

Last year, the Colts shocked the world by going 11-5 in the regular season and making the playoffs in year one of a rebuilding effort. Indianapolis went 2-14 in 2011 and got rid of most of the players shortly after. They even cut ties with the front office, including GM Bill Polian and the entire coaching staff.

When the 2012 season started, no one gave the Colts much of a chance to finish much better than the 2011 season with a rookie head coach, rookie GM and also relying on many rookies on offense and defense. Indianapolis even switched from a base 4-3 to a hybrid 3-4 defense with only a handful of players that could even play the new scheme.

With all the talent coming back mixed in with 10 newly-signed free agents to help play the 3-4 scheme and protect Andrew Luck, the Colts are going to be not just a playoff contender, but a Super Bowl threat.

The Raiders, on the other hand, are in a rebuild of their own. They went 4-12 last year and not expected to do much better. They don’t have the young talent that the Colts have and will be weak on the offensive side of the ball. Oakland had Terrell Pryor and Matt Flynn split quarterback duties this preseason. The duo has a combined three starts in the regular season, with Pryor having one and Flynn two.

Flynn started the first three games of the preseason while Pryor started the fourth. After all those games, there’s really no front runner to start Sunday. Expect both to split time this season and as they say, two quarterbacks means no quarterback.

The duo only threw one touchdown each this preseason and both were picked off twice. Neither have much talent to throw to as Darius Heyward-Bey is now a Colt and will be playing against them Sunday.

The Raiders are going to live and die by running back Darren McFadden, but he’s been in a slump the last two years. In 2011, he only rushed for 614 yards and two touchdowns. Last year, he didn’t do much better, going for 707 yards and only two touchdowns. Granted he’s been banged up lately, but his 3.3 yards per carry has to get much better or the Raiders are in for a long season.

The matchup this weekend heavily favors the Colts due to all of that.

Indianapolis has a tough defense with the first and second units not allowing a touchdown all preseason. They bring tons of pressure and have a great ability to get to the quarterback. What’s even better is they’re creating turnovers and put more of an emphasis on stopping the run.

Look for Indianapolis to stack the box on Oakland to stop McFadden and force Oakland into passing situations. That won’t be good for the Raiders. On the other side of the ball, Indianapolis will use a more balanced attack in 2013 with tons of weapons. They’re healthy and have already said this is a must-win game.

I like Indy in this one.


Indianapolis 34 — Oakland 13

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