The Oakland Raiders return home to host the Indianapolis Colts for a special Christmas Eve matchup hoping to keep control of the AFC West.
The Raiders are coming off a big win against the San Diego Chargers that gave them the division lead after the Kansas City Chiefs fell to the Tennessee Titans earlier in the day. With the win, the Raiders now control their own destiny and can win the division if they win this week and their season-finale in Denver.
The Colts come to Oakland underachieving this year, holding third place in the AFC South at 7-7.
Colts quarterback Andrew Luck is returning to the Bay Area where he played his college ball at Stanford University. Luck is leading a Colts offense that is ranked 11th in total offense. Much of that is to do with Luck having another fantastic year, tossing for 27 touchdowns and 10 interceptions.
The Raiders secondary will have to keep an eye on speedy wide receiver T.Y. Hilton, who ranks second in the NFL with 1,248 receiving this yards with six touchdowns. The Raiders secondary needs to keep Hilton in front of them, while also making sure to tackle him quickly as he's dangerous after the catch.
The Colts backfield is led by another familiar face to the Bay Area, running back Frank Gore. The veteran back is on pace for another 1,000-yard, already with 891 rushing yards in the books. Gore is a wily veteran that is a capable receiver out of the backfield and can do damage against a Raiders defense that is giving up 116 rushing yards a game.
Quarterback Derek Carr and the Oakland offense should find room to gain yards on against a Colts defense that ranks 29th in the league. While the Colts give up over 370 yards per game, they rank fourth in the league in red zone efficiency.
The Raiders offensive line has continued to be the best in the NFL and will need to slide their protection towards outside linebacker Erik Walden, who has 10 sacks this season, a career-high. The o-line should be able to produce some holes in the running game as the Colts area allowing 109 rushing yards per game, 20th in the NFL.
The Colts defense are also susceptible to big plays in the passing game, allowing 261 passing yards per game -- ranking 27th in the NFL. Carr and the receivers need to look out for safety Mike Adams, who leads the Colts with four takeaways (two fumbles and two interceptions, and he also has the second most tackles on the team with 67.
While the Colts struggled early on in the year, they have allowed just 38 points since week 13 -- the fourth fewest in that time span.
The Raiders will head out on the road for their season finale against the Broncos, but will be playing in the postseason for the first time since 2002. Head coach Jack Del Rio and his team have the opportunity to host the playoff game if they win out, but will have to wait and see what happens in the next couple of weeks.