It's Week 16 and who would have thought the Oakland Raiders would be in playoff contention. That being said, this is a must win game.
The first and most important is the defensive line. Richard Seymour (hopefully), Tommy Kelly, Matt Shaughnessy, Lamarr Houston and John Henderson must control the line of scrimmage. Peyton Manning is not a quarterback that holds onto the ball. If he gets time, he will pick apart any defense. It is of the utmost importance for the D-Line, which has contributed 24 of 40 sacks this season, and tied for third in the league in total sacks, to get pressure early and often in the game.
The Colts have a pair of very good if not great wide receivers in Reggie Wayne and Pierre Garcon. Nnamdi must shut down Reggie Wayne, who thus far has 99 receptions for 1247 yards and five touchdowns. If Nnamdi can take Wayne out of the game, it will give the defensive line more time to get after Manning. The Colts will be missing Austin Collie and Dallas Clark, who combine for 11 of Peyton Manning's 28 touchdowns. Jacob Tamme has been a decent replacement for Dallas Clark, who, now that Collie is gone, will get more targets over the middle.
Tyvon Branch, Rolando McClain and Co. must punish Tamme should he go over the middle.
The offensive line must do its job on Sunday or it will be a long day; most of all, Mario Henderson and Jared Veldheer, who will have the responsibility to contain Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis, who are by far the best defensive end duo in the league.
They must not only stop Freeney and Mathis from getting after Jason Campbell, they must sustain their blocks long enough for Darren McFadden, Michael Bush and Marcel Reece to get through the hole.
Keeping Peyton Manning off the field is of the utmost importance, and key to that is the run game. If McFadden, Bush, and Reece can move the chains slowly but surely, then the Raiders will be in good position to win the game. The Colts have the 28th ranked run defense in the league, giving up 135 yards per game.
The running game cant get started if they stack the box with 8 people. Meaning Jason Campbell must make some plays early on. that being said the passing game cant get started if the running game doesn't get started. The Raiders have some dynamic receivers in Muphy, Ford, and Heyward-Bey. If they can make a big play early on the Colts will not be able to stack the box.
All that being said the Raiders not only need to win out they also need a Chiefs loss this week as well as at least one Chargers loss either this week or next week. Here's hoping the titans can beat the Chiefs and Cincinatti or Denver can beat San Diego.