Indianapolis Colts (7-7 SU, 7-6-1 ATS) vs. Oakland Raiders (11-3 SU, 9-5 ATS)
NFL Week 16
Date/Time: Saturday, December 24, 2016 at 4:05PM EST
Where: Oakland Coliseum, Oakland, California
by Scott, Expert Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: IND +3.5.OAK -3.5
Over/Under Total: 53
On Sunday in a big week 16 matchup, the Indianapolis Colts come into the Coliseum to take on the first-place Oakland Raiders. Both teams were able to get the “W” last week, with the Raiders coming from behind (what’s new?) against the Chargers en route to a 19-16 win. The Colts recovered from a costly loss to Houston the previous week to score an eye-popping 34-6 road win over the Vikings on Sunday. While the Colts need to win and hope for a lot of things to go right, the Raiders can’t fall asleep at the wheel now, with the difference of getting one of the top seeds and ending up in wild card spot at stake.
Again, the Colts’ playoff hopes took a major hit two weeks ago in their loss to Houston. Both the Texans and Titans are a game ahead of them and the wild card picture looks highly problematic for the Colts even if they won out. They lost the season sweep to Houston, while they did sweep Tennessee. Still, one should expect them to play like a team that is still in it. And they sure looked good on the road last week.
Andrew Luck was productive against the Vikings on Sunday on 21-for-28 passing with two touchdown tosses. Old reliable Frank Gore went over 100 yards and continues to produce late in the season, even with his aging legs. Luck made some nice plays, including a 50-yard TD strike to Phillip Dorsett and a scoring throw to Eric Swoope, who has suddenly perked up in this offense. TY Hilton is still one of the best receivers in the game. Luck has hung in there pretty well, despite a line that often struggles to contain pressure. It’s a pretty dangerous offense, though not terribly consistent. But a fired-up Andrew Luck can wreak havoc and the sometimes-shoddy Raiders “D” will have their hands full this week more than likely.
Not many defenses in the NFL play with as wide of a range of form than the Colts’ defense. To their credit, they saved their best for late, allowing an average of 18 points in their last 6 games. They can make noise in the pass-rush department, with Eric Walden stepping up with ten sacks this season. They are not what you would ever be tempted to call a good defense. But when you bank on that notion, you’ll watch the game and they’ll suddenly look pretty good. Then if you base your analysis on that, the next time you see them, they’ll look like they barely know what they’re doing out there. This game, for example, looks to be a problematic matchup for this unit, facing one of the top offenses in the league. You just can’t ever bank on this “D” to be either good or bad, or somewhere in between.
Oakland’s Sunday win over the Chargers was really needed after the Raiders lost to Kansas City the previous week. The Raiders broke a late tie with a Janikowski field goal. It underlined a great trait this team has shown this season in cultivating wins in close games. On one hand, they’re not dominant enough to blow teams away, held back by a defense that isn’t always stout. Only one of their wins was by more than ten points. But getting into this part of the season and the postseason around the corner, that ability to deliver in a pinch could pay off in a big way.
The offense gets a lot of credit for the Raiders ascension this season. Derek Carr has morphed into the QB of the future that they envisioned. He has 3705 yards aerially with 26 touchdowns strikes against just 6 picks. Through the air, Carr’s top weapons are Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree, two of the best in the division. Latavius Murray has been a big weapon, as he is spelled by capable backs Jalen Richard and DeAndre Washington. Carr is also able to increase the production of his backs by including them in the passing game. With TE Clive Watford and Seth Roberts making a lot of clutch plays this season, the Oakland offense is one of depth and balance.
From a bottom-line sense, the Oakland Raiders’ defense is not a good one—ranked 30th in the league. That only tells part of the story. While it’s hard to spin that into saying they’re a good defense, they have done a lot of things right to take a sad song and make it better. They have game-changing ability in the play of dynamic Khalil Mack, who might be the most valuable player on defense in the league this season. The entire “D” can make plays and have secured 24 turnovers on the season. They allow an average just 24 points a game, not bad for a “D” ranked 30th. When you look at the multitude of games where they came back or won closely, the defense was a part of that, almost always tightening up at the right time to let the offense stage the comeback or the tight victory.
Oakland is a team that is hard to dislike, even if a lot of people are not predisposed in liking the Raiders. Jack Del Rio really goes for it with bold moves that have paid off and in a lot of ways, the Raiders do what a lot of people wish their favorite teams would do and really go for it and try to get the most of what they have. There is still a lot on the line for the Raiders, as the difference in being one of the top two seeds and a wild card team is pretty vast. But with an urgent Colts team in town, combined with Oakland’s knack for close games, I’m leaning toward taking the points. I’m taking the Colts.
Scott's Pick to Cover the Point Spread: I’m betting on the Indianapolis Colts plus 3.5 points.
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