The Week 14 matchup between the (7-5) Las Vegas Raiders and the (8-4) Indianapolis Colts had playoff hunt implications for both teams.
The newly expanded NFL Playoffs for the 2020 season will feature 14 teams total, seven from the NFC and seven from the AFC. Only the top seed in each conference will have a playoff bye week and each will have three wild card teams. This means that both conferences will enter an extra franchise from the previous playoff format creating a larger field and involving more markets and exciting their fanbases that are “in the hunt” during the final weeks of the regular season.
After the loss today, head coach Jon Gruden and the Raiders would more than likely have to run the table and win their final 3 games to make the postseason.
Colts’ rookie running back Jonathan Taylor continued to show Las Vegas’ struggles with stopping the running game as he rushed for a career-best 150 yards and two touchdowns. Las Vegas had trouble stopping Indy in the passing game as well with Phillip Rivers connecting to resurging T.Y. Hilton for two touchdown passes while throwing for 244 yards in the contest. The Colts scored on seven of their first eight possessions.
The defense of Indianapolis is regarded as one of the vey best, if not the best in the NFL. While they did surrender 27 points in the victory a pair of interceptions helped take Vegas “points off the board” and added to their own score as well. A key interception by Kenny Moore late in the first half was in the end zone stopping a would-be Vegas scoring drive and giving the ball back to Rivers and the offense who turned it into a field goal extending their lead 20-14 to end the 2nd quarter. The other interception was by safety Khari Willis for a 53-yard touchdown return with 5:22 remaining in the game that clinched the win.
The offense for the Silver & Black has been the bread winner having scored 20+ points in 11 of their first 13 games. They are the highest scoring Raiders team since 2002 through the first 14 weeks. The discrepancy for wins in their record stems from the defense having allowed 30+ points to opponents in 8 games so far this season.
Raiders welcomed running back Josh Jacobs’ return to the active roster, but still struggled to run the ball against the stout Colts defense. Jacobs, to his credit was still nursing a nagging ankle injury but didn’t have enough of his usual explosiveness to help balance the offense and move the chains. He ran for 49 yards on 13 carries and caught 3 of his 5 targets for 25 yards.
Derek Carr looked sharp early with a stat line of 10/14 for 174 yards and 2 touchdowns before throwing the end zone interception with 3:30 remaining in the 1st half. The first touchdown was to tight end Foster Moreau down the deep middle for a 47-yards after he evaded 2 tackles. The second of his passing touchdowns was down the deep middle again but this time to wide receiver Nelson Agholor for 21-yards, this early 2nd quarter score put the Raiders ahead 14-10 for their only lead of the game. Carr finished the game 33 of 45 for 316 yards, 2 touchdowns, 1 rushing touchdown and 2 interceptions.
This was the 1st game of three straight home games for the Raiders who have had quality wins against playoff-bound teams (Kansas City, New Orleans and Cleveland) but will need to have a balanced winning effort in all 3 phases: offense, defense and special teams, the rest of the way if the want to make the postseason.
The Las Vegas Raiders host the Los Angeles Chargers for Thursday Night Football.
Raiders Colts Image, The. Raiders vs. Colts Week 13. 13 Dec. 2020, www.mrglitterati.com/raiders-week-14-colts-win-big-in-vegas-playoffs/. Accessed 13 Dec. 2020.