The Raiders have made the playoffs just once in the last 15 years.
That playoff berth, which saw Oakland bounced immediately with a first-round loss, featured an offense paced by receptions leader Michael Crabtree, receiving yards leader Amari Cooper and leading rusher Latavius Murray, and a defense powered by sacks leader Khalil Mack.
When the Raiders (1-5) take the field against the Colts (2-5) Sunday they will do so without any of those four Pro Bowlers.
That type of turnover is not entirely uncommon. But for that group to have evaporated in just two years shows that Oakland, soon to be Las Vegas, is heading in the wrong direction as they stumble toward relocation.
Still, even without Cooper, who was dealt to the Dallas Cowboys following the Raiders being boat-raced by the Seahawks in London two weeks ago, the Oakland offense has more than enough in the utility belt to beat Indianapolis.
Entering Week 8, the Raiders are in the middle of the pack (No. 16) in total yards per game (373.5). The problem, though, is that Derek Carr and company have not been ale to parlay that movement into points, averaging the fifth-fewest points per game (18.3). Meanwhile, the Mack-less — and sack-less (league-low 1.2 per game) — defense is surrendering 29.3 points per game (fourth-most).
As far as point production goes, Cooper’s departure will not hurt the Raider.
The fourth-year wide out had hauled in just one of Oakland’s 11 scores this season and has never been a huge endzone threat, having never caught more than seven touchdowns in a season. A much more painful loss in that area is running back Marshawn Lynch, who was placed on injury reserve this week, the owner of all three Raider rushing touchdowns this season.
The onus of the Oakland rushing attack falls to Doug Martin and Jalen Richard who have combined for 38 carries and 131 yards — 90 and 376 for Lynch alone. But the scoring will continue coming from the passing attack, Jordy Nelson and Jared Cook in particular.
Jon Gruden’s offense will take a minimal hit in its first week without Cooper and Lynch.
Nelson, Cook, Martin, Richard and Martavis Bryant give Gruden and Carr a viable assortment of options. The question then becomes, will Oakland, which has scored more than 20 points just once this season, have enough to beat a Colts team that currently sits 10th in the league in scoring, averaging 27 points per game.
Indianapolis leans on a balanced attack, sitting in the middle of the pack in both passing yards (267.4, 13th) and rushing yards (102.7, 22nd) per game. And quarterback Andrew Luck has passed for 179 and 156 yards respectively in the Colts’ two wins this season, including a four-score performance a week ago against the Bills.
Defensively, the Raiders will need to stop running back Marlon Mack, coming off a 158-yard (126 rushing, 33 receiving), two-score (one rushing, one receiving) game. Mack is listed as questionable but was a full participant in practice Friday, according to the Colts’ twitter account.
With Amari Cooper out, Jordy Nelson will see a target total eclipsing the eight he saw in his season-best 173-yard game at Miami in Week 3. Andrew Luck, who has been un-sacked in his last two games, will be the victim of Oakland’s best pass rush this season, generating three sacks.
Riding Derek Carr, Nelson and the passing attack, the Raiders will blow past their 18-point season average en route to a 30-24 victory.