Can the Raiders get back on the right track at home? That's the question of the week heading into Sunday.
The Silver and Black dropped to 2-6 after two road losses to the New Orleans Saints and the Jacksonville Jaguars. Despite their woes on the road, the team returns to Allegiant Stadium where they're 2-1 this season. They now prepare for the 3-5-1 Indianapolis Colts, who are also reeling off a road loss to the New England Patriots. Last season when the two teams collided, the Raiders left Lucas Oil Stadium with a 23-20 victory in Week 17.
This Week 10 showdown has a trio of matchups on the field and sideline that deserve some attention.
Josh McDaniels vs. Jeff Saturday
This is not a matchup I would've expected to be covering at the beginning of the season.
The Indianapolis Colts parted ways with Head Coach Frank Reich after nearly five seasons, following the Colts' 26-3 loss to the New England Patriots. Colts Owner Jim Irsay made the decision to name former starting center Jeff Saturday as the interim head coach.
The Silver and Black now prepare to face unpredictability. Despite his lack of coaching experience, Saturday spent 13 seasons snapping the ball to Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback Peyton Manning. In Saturday's playing career in Indianapolis, he was a two-time First Team All-Pro, six-time Pro Bowler and a Super Bowl champion. And while this is Saturday's first game as a NFL coach, he was previously the head coach of Hebron Christian Academy in Georgia for three seasons.
"I do know Jeff in terms of the person, and I think this guy was a great, great football player," said Josh McDaniels. "I think he knows the game really, really well and I would assume they're going to let the coaches who've been there coach. The scheme isn't going to dramatically change on offense or defense or in the kicking game.
"They're going to be ready to go, because Jeff will have them ready to go. He's a football player at heart, he's a football person at heart and he knows what goes into winning and losing. He was a tough player when he played."
While coaching in New England, McDaniels had a 7-4 record against Saturday when he was the Colts center – which includes playoffs.
Rock Ya-Sin vs. Yannick Ngakoue
I have a feeling these two defenders could have extra intensity behind playing this Sunday.
This offseason, the Raiders traded edge rusher Yannick Ngakoue to the Colts for cornerback Rock Ya-Sin, a trade that's seemingly benefited both teams this season. After having eight sacks last season in Silver and Black, Ngakoue has recorded 4.5 sacks and 10 quarterback hits as a Colt. Ya-Sin currently leads the team in passes defended (five) and has 34 total tackles through seven games.
"I think the one thing that stands out with Rock, is the improvement in terms of football position," defensive coordinator Patrick Graham said Tuesday. "That's one of the things I talked to him about all the time in terms of being able to get in and out of breaks. He's really worked hard at that. I think that's something that the more consistent you are with your football position, especially at the defensive back position, it leads to positive plays right there, being competitive on balls, getting a chance for turnover opportunities. That's a big part there."
Davante Adams vs. Stephon Gilmore
A classic case of two guys who've been dominant for a long time clashing against one another.
Coming into Sunday's game, Davante Adams had his best statistical performance as a Raider so far, with 10 catches for 146 yards and two touchdowns. Adams is tied for the league lead in touchdowns and is in the top 10 in catches and receiving yards in the NFL.
As for his opponent this week, he'll be facing the mind of Raiders former defensive coordinator Gus Bradley and a star cornerback signing in Stephon Gilmore. Gilmore joined the Colts this offseason after making his fifth career Pro Bowl appearance last year with the Carolina Panthers. Since arriving to his new team, Gilmore has four passes defended and an interception, with a 73.3 overall grade from Pro Football Focus.
Offensive coordinator Mick Lombardi was with Gilmore for two seasons in New England. The former Patriots wide receivers coach said he used to pick the brains of the veteran frequently.
"Steph's a very experienced player, a very smart player, very knowledgeable player," said Lombardi. "He does a really good job being a student of the game. He studies and watches a lot of film. ...
"Davante obviously is a very smart receiver. I don't know how much they'll be lined up against each other. I assume quite a bit, but we'll see how it goes out there. Obviously, Davante is going to focus on his job and his role, and so is Steph. We know we're going to get the best from Steph, and we're going to give Steph our best."
The Raiders hit the practice field at Intermountain Healthcare Performance Center as they prepare for their Week 10 matchup against the Indianapolis Colts.