The Colts Will Lean Heavily On One Player Against The Raiders

Oakland was gashed on the ground last week, which is a great sign for this standout talent

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  • Marlon Mack leads the AFC with 299 rushing yards through three games.

  • The third-year Indianapolis Colts running back is averaging 4.9 yards per carry.

  • The Oakland Raiders allowed 211 rushing yards last week against the Minnesota Vikings.

First Three Weeks

Marlon Mack is off to the best start of his career. The third-year running back out of South Florida is on pace to run for over 1,500 yards this season, and that number would smash his previous career high of 908 rushing yards set last year.

Mack ran for 174 yards against the Chargers in Indianapolis’ season opener, but he had to bounce back last weekend after a rough outing in Tennessee. He averaged 4.6 yards per carry against the Falcons in a 27-24 victory, and he did it despite Atlanta routinely rolling eight men into the box to try and stop the run.

Indianapolis has one of the top offensive lines in the NFL this season. Mack has benefitted from running behind the Colts’ big boys, especially guard Quenton Nelson. Nelson was the No. 6 pick in last year’s draft, and the second-year player is already being heralded as one of the best interior linemen in the league. He is a devastating pull blocker, and his mobility allows Indianapolis to use him as a lead blocker in misdirection plays.

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Mack Making the Most of Three-Down Role

At the start of the season, many thought that Mack would be the primary back in a running back by committee backfield. However, Mack has seized the starting job for himself through the first three weeks of the season, and he is poised to have another big day against Oakland on Sunday.

Mack has taken 61 of the 77 carries allotted to running backs thus far. He has established himself ahead of both Nyheim Hines and Jordan Wilkins on third downs as well. While Mack has been on the field for 69 percent of snaps so far this season, Hines has only been on the field for 24 percent of plays, and Wilkins has seen action on 10 percent of offensive snaps. 

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Matchup Against Oakland’s Run Defense

Through the first two weeks of the season, Oakland’s run defense looked impressive. The Raiders had allowed just 2.8 yards per carry against the Broncos and the Chiefs, but then Minnesota gashed this front seven on the ground. The Vikings averaged 5.6 yards per play and ran for 211 yards en route to an easy victory last week. Minnesota’s domination in the run game was so thorough that the Vikings didn’t even attempt a pass in the fourth quarter.

Oakland is dealing with numerous injuries among its linebackers, and that’s a problem ahead of this game. Marquel Lee was just placed on injured reserve, and Vontaze Burfict, Nicholas Morrow, and Kyle Wilber are all questionable to play this Sunday. Burfict and Wilber are starters, so if those two can’t go, the Raiders will be very thin in that position group.

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What BetQL’s Model Is Showing

The BetQL NFL Model has Indianapolis defeating Oakland in this matchup. The Colts are currently consensus seven-point favorites, but the BetQL Model lists the spread at 9.5. Jacoby Brissett proved that he can beat defenses over the top when they roll eight into the box like Atlanta did last week, and he will punish Oakland if they try to do the same thing. The BetQL model lists the Colts as a -473 moneyline favorite, a more drastic figure than the -315 consensus designation.

Betting the over (both first half and total) is also a smart move, according to the model. Indianapolis’ offense is expected to put up big numbers against an Oakland defense that will be the worst one it has faced to date this season. The Colts moved the ball effectively against the Los Angeles Chargers, Tennessee Titans and Atlanta Falcons, and all three defenses are rated higher than the Raiders according to advanced metrics.