Indianapolis Colts (7-7 SU, 7-6-1 ATS) vs. Oakland Raiders (11-3 SU, 9-5 ATS)
Week 16 NFL
Date/Time: Saturday, December 24, 2016 at 4:05PM EST
Where: Oakland Coliseum, Oakland, California
By Loot, NFL Football Handicapper, Lootmeister.com
Betting Odds: IND +4/OAK -4
Over/Under Total: 53
The Indianapolis Colts take on the Oakland Raiders on Saturday in a big week 16 matchup from the Coliseum. Both teams took care of business on Sunday. The Colts scored a big 34-6 road win over the Vikings on Sunday to go to 7-7 and keep their hopes alive, though the two other contenders in their division also won. For the Raiders, the prognosis is rosier, as they won their 11th game of the season on Sunday. With the Chiefs losing, the Raiders are now in first place, but need to win the division outright, with KC having the season sweep over the Raiders. On Sunday, the Raiders again came from behind to win, defeating the Chargers, 19-16.
After losing to the Chiefs the previous week, the Raiders really needed the win on Sunday, but it's never easy for Oakland against the Chargers. With less than three minutes left, the Raiders broke a tie with a 44-yard FG from Sebastian Janikowski, who was with the Raiders the last time they made the playoffs back in 2002. Beyond all the individual pieces on both sides of the ball for Oakland is their knack to pull out close games. When it's on the line, this team delivers.
Derek Carr is having a big season, with 3705 yards through the air with 26 TD passes and just 6 picks. Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree make for one of the better 1-2 punches at wide receiver. They also have a lot of role guys who catch passes, including clutch Seth Roberts, Clive Watford, and a cabaret of backs who add a short-pass option for Carr. Latavius Murray has taken on less responsibility, but remains awfully productive. One has to like the way they mix it up on the ground, with Jalen Richard and DeAndre Washington adding production and used aerially, as well. They're a balanced offense and the third-highest scoring team in the league. And a line that has allowed Derek Carr to be sacked just 13 times this season has also been big.
Since October 16, only one Oakland opponent has surpassed 24 points of scoring and the Raiders won that game. On the surface, the defense looks like a liability. Then you consider how many times they've come from behind or won close games and it's clear that their defense is doing something right—at least when the chips are all in the middle. They're the 30th ranked defense in the league, but still only allow 24 points per game, a pretty low number for a defense ranked so low. Their playmaking ability makes up for it to some extent. They've secured 26 turnovers on the season. Khalil Mack is a game-changing presence on this side of the ball and they're probably not as bad as they might look on paper.
It's also important to take into account the grit Oakland has shown in reviving the franchise, a team that had been mired in doormat status for over a decade. Jack Del Rio's go-for-it attitude has resonated with an emphasis on mental toughness. They lost only one game on the road this whole season and it's getting to the point where you expect them to pull the late games out. That's also indicative of a team that doesn't really dominate, despite their glistening 11-3 record. All their wins except one were by ten or fewer points. But getting into the playoffs where games are likely to be close, their ability to manufacture wins could pay off well.
Indy's playoff hopes don't look overly positive one game behind both Houston and Tennessee in the AFC South. And they play neither team in their last two games, as they now hope to win out and hope both of those teams falter. A loss the previous week to Houston was costly, as the Texans pulled the season sweep on Indy, though the Colts beat the Titans twice this season. The Colts have won 4 of 6 and look for a big win on the road this week.
Against the Vikings, the Colts got a good showing from Andrew Luck, who was 21-for-28 with a pair of TD strikes. Frank Gore ran for over 100 yards and still has life in his aging legs heading into the final stretch of the season. Among the highlights against a good Minnesota defense was a 50-yard connection to Philip Dorsett and a TD throw to emerging receiver Eric Swoope. TY Hilton had a slow day, but still looms as a constant threat. While not able to string together much consistency this season on offense, they will occasionally spring forth with a big performance. Luck has thrown 27 touchdowns on the season. The line remains an issue, both in terms of protecting the passer and in springing the run-game.
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Indy's defense has gotten better over the course of the season, despite dealing with a lot of injuries. In their last six games, they're allowing 18 points a game on average. While not always consistent, they can get after the quarterback, led by Eric Walden's 10 sacks. They have been this way for several years—a defense that you wouldn't call good, but one that plays with a wide range of play. Some games, the stars align properly and they look pretty formidable, making plays and really getting after it. Other times, they look like a roughshod bunch out there just winging it. They now take a long road-trip to face one of the best offenses in the league—a balanced and capable Raiders' bunch. So one would figure the defense would struggle in this spot. You just can't ever be sure with the Colts' defense.
The Raiders are going to the playoffs. That might infer a lack of urgency in comparison to a Colts' team that needs to win out and pray for things to go right. But within the idea of "playoffs" are a lot of variations. Oakland would be one of the top two seeds and get a bye if they win the division, but if they let KC sneak up on them, they'll be in a less-desirable wild card spot. So the stakes are also high for Oakland. The Raiders propensity for being in close games could repeat this week, with the urgent Colts hanging in there for the cover.
Loot's Prediction to Cover the Point Spread: I'm betting on the Indianapolis Colts plus 4 points. Tired of your credit card not working for sportsbook deposit? End that problem today and bet on the Colts vs. Raiders game from the comfort of your own home by signing up at Bovada Sportsbook where your credit card WILL work and where you'll receive a generous 100% sign-up bonus!