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Derek Carr and the Oakland Raiders were flying high the last time they faced the Indianapolis Colts.Carr threw three touchdown passes to lead Oakland to its 12th win of the season on Christmas Eve in 2016 Womens Robert Okereke 2019 Jersey , but got knocked out late in that game with a broken ankle. That has sent the Raiders into a downward spiral they still haven't escaped.The Raiders (1-5) are reeling as they head into Sunday's game against the Colts (2-5), having traded away No. 1 receiver Amari Cooper to Dallas earlier in the week after previously dealing away star pass rusher Khalil Mack before the season.The trio of Carr, Cooper and Mack were the foundation pieces in Oakland, but now only Carr remains and the team is once again rebuilding."For me, being in my fifth year, it's hard if I'm being honest," Carr said. "Just going out there, I feel like we've had to do this a couple of times in my early five years. That part is hard. At the same time, it doesn't change my mindset."The Raiders have gone just 7-17 since that victory over the Colts and changed coaches, with Jon Gruden coming in this season to replace the fired Jack Del Rio.Carr's level of play has also dropped Indianapolis Colts Robert Okereke Jersey , with him throwing 29 touchdowns and 21 interceptions in his 21 games since then, compared to 38 TD passes and 13 interceptions in the previous 21 games."I definitely feel like a better player," Carr said. "I'm smarter. I know more. Talent-wise, I think after last year just recovering from injury, I'm back to my strength and my speed how I want it to be. Absolutely I believe that I have nothing but the best out in front of me. I really do believe that."Colts coach Frank Reich, who was an assistant in the AFC West with the Chargers for Carr's first two seasons in the NFL, had plenty of praise for Carr even if his production has dropped of late."He has really good arm talent," Reich said. "He sees the field really well. He can make all the throws. He can drive the ball all over the field. He can throw the touch pass. I just think he shows good instincts. I think he has good feel in the pocket. This is a guy who I think can put a lot of points on the board leading an offense."Here are some other things to watch for Sunday's game:LINING UPColts general manager Chris Ballard made the offensive line a focal point during the offseason. It shows. For the first time this season, the Colts used the same starting five in consecutive games and they delivered by paving the way for Marlon Mack to rush for a career high 126 yards. It's only the fifth 100-yard game during Andrew Luck's seven NFL seasons. Also, Luck has been sacked only once in his last 125 pass attempts after getting sacked 166 times in his first 77 career games."We must stay vigilant in all areas and we've got a great challenge against an aggressive Oakland defense Cheap Alize Mack Youth Jersey , a defense that's tough to figure out," Luck said.WHERE'S THE BEAST?Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch went on injured reserve this week with a groin injury, leaving a big void in Oakland's offense. Lynch leads the Raiders with 372 yards rushing. Now the bulk of the load will go to Doug Martin, whose 3.0 yards per carry the past three seasons is the lowest in the NFL among players with at least 150 attempts. Third-down back Jalen Richard could also take on a bigger role as a runner, and DeAndre Washington figures to get his first action of the season after being hampered by a knee injury in training camp."You can't bring another Marshawn Lynch into the game, but we have a solid group of backs who can get the job done," Richard said.MITCHELL'S RETURNColts safety Mike Mitchell was out of the league until two weeks ago. Now, he's about to make his first trip back to the Black Hole since he left Oakland in 2012. And while Mitchell said he enjoyed the fans while he was there, the AFC's reigning defensive player of the week isn't sure what to expect. But the Raiders' second-round draft pick in 2009 is just glad to have found a home."I could be winning an award this week, they could be calling for my head next week White Marlon Mack Jersey ," Mitchell said. "I just take everything with a grain of salt."JUST FOR KICKSThe final game of Gruden's first stint as Raiders coach ended with a kick by Adam Vinatieri. On a snowy night in New England on Jan. 19, 2002, Vinatieri kicked a 23-yard field goal in overtime to lead the Patriots to a 16-13 victory.The game was most notable for the "Tuck Rule," which turned a potential game-sealing strip sack in regulation for Oakland into an incomplete pass, setting the stage for Vinatieri to tie the game with an improbable 45-yard field goal in the snow. Vinatieri is still kicking and needs five points to break Morten Andersen's NFL career scoring record (2,544 points). But Vinatieri's status is in doubt this week because of an injured groin.AP Sports Writer Michael Marot contributed to this report SB Nation’s Bill Connelly broke down the biggest strengths for each of the 12 NFL playoff teams. Included in his statistical observations is that the Colts have excelled in two important areas of a football game. They are one of the best teams in the league in starting field position, on offense and defense. They are also one of the best teams in the league at finishing drives. From Connelly’s story:I will point out, and I am sure Troy Russell can do a much better job, that the rushing efficiency observation doesn’t jive with our research. Troy uses Rush Success Rate (RSR) and Weighted Rush Success Rate (wRSR) to help analyze rushing efficiency for all NFL teams. His numbers placed the Colts rushing offense at 9th in the NFL in RSR and 10th in wRSR. Using Troy’s passing analysis, the Colts running and passing games are equally efficient and both in the top 10 in the league.Still Marlon Mack Jersey 2019 , Connelly makes an excellent observation about the Colts performance on special teams and the impact it has had on the outcome of games. I would be interested to see how field position impacts offensive efficiency. Without the data, I remember quite vividly the impact field position had on the Colts 2008 wild card playoff game in San Diego. It felt like Chargers punter Mike Scifres single-handily determined the outcome. Let’s compare starting positions, shall we?Indianapolis had offensive drives that started on their 10, 3, 7, 8, and 1 yard lines. San Diego had drives that started on their 29, 44, 29 and on the Colts 44, 45 Womens Skai Moore 2019 Jersey , and 38. The average starting position for Indianapolis was their own 15 yard line. The average starting position for the Chargers was their own 35 yard line. Three of San Diego’s scoring drives started on the Colts 44, Colts 45 and Colts 38 yard line.There is certainly no doubt that some teams can overcome a poorer starting field position. A great special teams unit with a horrid defense won’t win many games. A great special teams unit with one of the best run defenses in the league and a pass defense that limits big plays just might.When you add that the team also happens to be extremely efficient at sustaining and finishing drives, you begin to understand why the Colts are considered one of the more dangerous teams to enter the playoffs. This group is young and hasn’t been consistent — the Jacksonville debacle wasn’t long ago — but there are plenty of reasons to believe Indianapolis is fully capable of competing, even against the best teams in the league.



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