NFL Football Preview: Oakland Raiders at Indianapolis Colts

NFL Football Preview:  Oakland Raiders at Indianapolis Colts

A matchup of ‘haves vs. have nots’ on the first Sunday of NFL action as the Oakland Raiders head to Indianapolis to take on Andrew Luck and the Colts. After enduring a 2-14 season in 2011 the selection of quarterback Luck with the first pick in the NFL draft paid immediate dividends as the Colts rebounded to 11-5 in 2012. A good reason for their success was a strong home record of 7-1–as well as the benefit of the weak schedule of opponents afforded to last place teams. At any rate, Luck has matured more quickly than anyone expected and expectations are high for 2013. That’s not the case in Oakland. The Raiders were 4-12 last season and there’s a strong sentiment that the team may be even worse this year.

One interesting change for the Colts is the offensive coordinator–Bruce Arians has left to become the head coach in Arizona and he’s been replaced by Pep Hamilton who was Luck’s offensive coordinator in college at Stanford. At the very least we know that the two men will have a good working relationship but Hamilton’s ability at the NFL level is unproven. The Colts will definitely benefit from having head coach Chuck Pagano back at full strength following his bout with cancer. Pagano’s presence should greatly benefit the team’s defense. Indy spent a lot of money on free agent acquisitions and historically this strategy has required time to ‘gel’ and seldom produces immediate improvement.

Oakland is an easy team to hate and the public sure seems to hate them. The quarterback situation is a mess–the Raiders will start Terrelle Pryor at quarterback for a couple of reasons. He did seem to provide something of an offensive spark when he saw preseason action. Of course much of the team’s choice of Pryor for the starting QB job is his mobility–the hope is that he’ll fare better behind a porous offensive line than his less fleet of foot counterparts. We’re going to hold our nose and take the Raiders for technical reasons–double digit NFL underdogs are a 60% winning proposition. With 83% of bets on the Colts in this matchup there’s also a good contrarian case for the Raiders–and being on the same side as the sports book is a long term winning strategy.