Jacoby Brissett gets a shot at the Oakland Raiders for the first time in his career Sunday afternoon when the host Indianapolis Colts seek a third straight win in a duel of former playoff combatants and Super Bowl champs.
The AFC clubs, who split decisions in the 1971 and ‘77 playoffs, will be meeting for the third time in the last four seasons, with Oakland having won 33-25 at home in 2016 before the Colts returned to California to pick up a 42-28 victory last October.
The Colts had Andrew Luck at quarterback for those two shootouts. He threw for 239 yards and three touchdowns — all to tight ends — in last year’s win.
Luck lost his duel with the Raiders’ Derek Carr in the 2016 meeting, with Carr going for 232 yards and three touchdowns in the win.
The two combined for 11 TD passes in the two games, with five going to tight ends.
The Raiders will take the field Sunday with the NFL’s leading pass-catcher among tight ends, Darren Waller, whose 26 receptions rank second among all pass-catchers behind the Los Angeles Chargers’ Keenan Allen (29).
The Colts, meanwhile, have already allowed two touchdowns to tight ends this season (only three teams have more) and 18 catches to the position (only five teams have more).
Starting in place of Luck — who abruptly retired in the offseason — Brissett had arguably the best game of his career in a 27-24 home win over Atlanta in Week 3, throwing for 310 yards and two touchdowns — one each to Zach Pascal and T.Y. Hilton.
“They did a good job getting Brissett,” Raiders coach Jon Gruden told the media on a national conference call Wednesday. “Not a lot of teams have a superstar quarterback retire who can turn the ball over to a guy like this. You know, Brissett is a winner. He’s a heck of a player. He’s getting paid well, too. He’s not your average Dayton Flyer like me. I mean, this guy is a hell of a player.
“So I don’t want to underestimate him at all. He has done an excellent job.”
The Colts (2-1) might be without Hilton against the Raiders after he was listed as doubtful on Friday’s injury report. He suffered a quad injury in the Week 2 win over Tennessee, then aggravated it in the first half last week against the Falcons.
Hilton missed the entire week of practices, as did standout linebacker Darius Leonard (concussion), who will miss his second straight game.
With or without Hilton, the Raiders can expect to see a lot of running back Marlon Mack, who burned them for 132 yards and a pair of touchdowns on 25 carries in last year’s meeting.
After ranking among the NFL leaders in rushing defense through two weeks, the Raiders (1-2) watched the Vikings’ Dalvin Cook gash them for 110 yards on just 16 carries in Minnesota’s 34-14 win in Week 3.
“They are very tough to run on,” Colts coach Frank Reich insisted to reporters Wednesday of the Raiders. “The first two games, very stout on defense. Very stout up front, and then Dalvin Cook has been, I think, having that kind of day on everybody so far. We expect it to be a good challenge.
“We think we have a good offensive line and a good running game, but we think they’re a very formidable run defense and it’ll be a good match.”
Having visited Minnesota last week, the Raiders will be playing outside the Pacific time zone for the second straight game as they continue on a 49-day trek away from their home field.
—Field Level Media