The Indianapolis Colts did a decent job protecting Andrew Luck against the Minnesota Vikings. However, they could have a rough day against the Oakland Raiders.
Throughout the team’s 34-6 win over the Vikings, Luck operated in a relatively clean pocket. His offensive line did not surrender a sack, and Minnesota only registered two quarterback hits all game.
The offensive line’s performance Sunday was refreshing and desperately needed. All year, Indianapolis’ offensive line has been marred by its pass blocking deficiency. Luck has been sacked 37 times this season, and was the league’s most sacked quarterback for much of the year.
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Also, the offensive line’s success was surprising when considering the quality of Minnesota’s defense. The Vikings came into the game with 35 sacks, which statistically meant their were a Top 5 team when it came to getting to the quarterback.
Even with this recent success though, the Colts’ offensive linemen could be in a rough game Sunday against the Oakland Raiders. The Raiders may only have 25 sacks this season, but they have a couple players who can give Indianapolis problems.
The Raiders have two excellent pass rushers in Kahlil Mack and Bruce Irvin. Mack has 11 sacks this season while Irvin has seven sacks. Both guys are high energy guys and are threat to get into the backfield on any down.
The Colts’ offensive tackles need to be in top form in order to deal with these two outside linebackers. Unfortunately, consistent performance have not been in Indianapolis’ forte this year.
Left tackle Anthony Castonzo has played better of late, but he has been on and off his game throughout the season. Meanwhile, regular starting right tackle Joe Reitz missed the game against Minnesota.
As a result, the Colts resorted to starting rookie Joe Haeg and had rookie Le’Raven Clark substitute in occasionally. The combination worked against the Vikings. However, it is hard to see that combination working against the Raiders’ top two pass rushers.
The Colts are in a must-win situation, and protecting Andrew Luck is their only chance of escaping Oakland with a win. The offensive line needs to finally put together back-to-back solid performances.
The battle between Indianapolis’ offensive tackles and Oakland’s edge rushers is the key matchup in the game. The sides that wins this battle will likely secure a Week 16 victory.