4:05 PM ET, December 26, 2010
O.co Coliseum, Oakland, CA
The Indianapolis Colts shut down one of the league's top rushing attacks to avoid being eliminated from AFC South contention.
They'll probably want to rely on a similar formula in their next game.
The Colts are in control of the division race, and will try to earn a third straight victory Sunday when they visit the Oakland Raiders.
Indianapolis (8-6) won 34 -24 over Jacksonville last Sunday to forge a tie atop the South with the Jaguars, who would have claimed the division with a victory. The Colts, who cannot clinch the division title this week, will own the tiebreakers over the Jaguars with two more wins.
"The scenario has not changed," coach Jim Caldwell said. "If we get a couple of victories, we'll be in basically the same position."
Jacksonville came to Indianapolis after three straight 200-yard efforts on the ground, but was limited to a season-low 67 yards by a beleaguered Colts defense that entered as the league's fourth-worst against the run.
Indianapolis has moved up one spot, allowing 135.8 yards per game. The Colts should be tested by a Raiders' rushing attack that is averaging 157.5 yards for the second-best mark in the league.
"You have to start from scratch because from a schematic standpoint they are a little different team," Caldwell said. "(McFadden) is a different style back. Week in and week out you are going to run into a little different style.
"He is averaging 5.2 yards a carry, so that tells you right then and there that there are a lot of big runs in there, and he is one of those guys that he can wiggle you, but he's got power, he's got unbelievable speed. So if you give him a crack, you are going to have some difficulty."
The Raiders (7-7) present an unfamiliar opponent for Peyton Manning, who is 2-2 with nine touchdowns and six interceptions against them. This is only his second visit to Oakland, where the Colts won 21-14 in 2007 in the last meeting.
Manning, who has thrown for an NFL-leading 4,257 yards, has bounced back from throwing 11 interceptions during a three-game skid to throw four touchdowns and no picks in two games since. He was aided by a rushing attack that amassed 155 yards last week, marking the fourth time the Colts have topped 100.
That ground game should get another boost this week with the expected return of Joseph Addai, the team's second-leading rusher despite missing the last eight games with a nerve injury in his left shoulder.
Addai also has been frequently targeted out of the backfield, giving Manning a new option to replace the one he's losing. Receiver Austin Collie, who had two of his team-high eight touchdown catches last week, was placed on injured reserve Wednesday due to a concussion suffered in the victory.
Oakland had won five or fewer games every season since reaching the Super Bowl after the 2002 campaign. The Raiders have turned things around this year and are still in contention in the AFC West after winning 39-23 over Denver last week.
"It's a lot more fun," coach Tom Cable said. "Football is football. I love football. I love coaching. That part of it is never an issue for me. It's just more exciting. You get up and come to work and you're excited about getting into a new plan."
The Raiders need plenty of help to reach the postseason, trailing first-place Kansas City by two games and second-place San Diego by one. The Raiders must win their final two games along with a loss by the Chiefs this week and a loss by the Chargers in one of their last two games.
"Just win these last two and let everything else take care of itself," fullback Marcel Reece said. "We have to take care of our business and not worry about San Diego, not worry about Kansas City. Just worry about Indianapolis and then worry about Kansas City the last week of the season."
The Raiders are 5-0 in division games, and visit Kansas City in their finale. They could become the first team to win every division game and miss the playoffs since the NFL went to divisions in 1967.
Oakland is 0-5 against non-division AFC foes.
"You sit around and think, 'God what if we'd done that or that,'" Cable said. "But you can't. At some point you have to stop and say, 'This is reality, this is where we're at and this is what we control.'"
Cable indicated that Nnamdi Asomugha's sore ankle seems to be improving. The Pro Bowl cornerback is a major reason why Oakland has the fifth-best pass defense in the NFL, allowing 197.3 yards per game.
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|Avg Points Allowed||24.5||24.1|
Team Averages & NFL Ranks
|TEAM OFFENSE||TEAM||PER GAME AVERAGE|
|TEAM DEFENSE||TEAM||PER GAME AVERAGE|
|Pass Yds Allowed||IND|
|Rush Yds Allowed||IND|
Head to Head Matchups (Since 2001)
|Indianapolis leads 3-1|
|Dec 16, 2007||IND 21, @OAK 14|
|Oct 10, 2004||IND 35, OAK 14|
|Oct 14, 2001||IND 18, OAK 23|