The Indianapolis Colts head out to Oakland to take on the Raiders this week, as they look to extend their two-game winning streak and keep themselves in line to win the AFC South title.
The Raiders haven't been that good of a team in recent memory, but this year is different and they are competing for the AFC West division crown, although their playoff hopes are dwindling. Nonetheless, they still have hope and that should be enough to stand tall against the Colts today.
The problem with Oakland is that they are incredibly inconsistent, thanks to their heavy reliance on the run game and a subpar QB in Jason Campbell. Same story for the defense, who could be missing some key members this week.
So here are the matchups that I will be keeping a close eye this week.
Peyton Manning vs. Oakland Defense
Richard Seymour, the ex-New England Patriot, would be licking his chops for a chance to play his old friend Peyton Manning normally, but with a hamstring injury he is questionable to start Sunday.
Another Pro Bowl player on the Raiders defense who is battling an injury is CB Nnamdi Asomugha, who has struggled with an ankle injury all year. He is unquestionably the best player on their defense and maybe the team. Even if he does play, it would appear that he will not be 100 percent.
This is all good news for Peyton Manning, who has been very efficient in the past two weeks, including throwing zero interceptions. It would appear that the Manning could have a big day against a dinged up Raiders defense.
Darren McFadden vs. Colts Defense
The Colts defense is coming off an outstanding performance against Jacksonville, where they held Maurice Jones-Drew to under 50 yards, which was by far his worst single-game performance against Indy ever.
But the Colts will be tested again this week as the run-happy Raiders are set to unleash another great running back, and that would be speedster Darren McFadden. He has 212 carries for 1,112 yards, which is good for an average of 5.2 yards per carry.
To make matters worse, the Colts will be without Daniel Muir, who is probably their best run stuffer in the middle of the line. Despite reports earlier in the week, LB Clint Session will miss this game as well. As big as a day that Peyton Manning might have, McFadden might have an even better day.
Colts Special Teams vs. Oakland's Jacoby Ford
The Colts will have to be very careful when kicking off today, because Jacoby Ford is a threat to return it for a touchdown every time.
Ford already has two this year, and his average return is out past the 20-yard line, so Pat McAffee needs to handle the kickoffs with extreme caution. If he does not, then we could all be hearing ESPN's Chris Berman say, "He could go all the way!"
I predict a Colts victory, 35-28. Enjoy the game everyone.
Keep up with all the Colts news at my blog, #18 and the Colts.