Why would we say what we did in this headline? Well, it is because the Oakland Raiders are going to be giving a start to a quarterback who, in the opinion of many, is not ready to be the on-field leader any team can depend on. Whether this becomes the “Terrelle Pryor era” or not is anybody’s guess, but his presence in the Oakland lineup indicates that the coaching staff is willing to try any experiment to inject some life into the offense.
The Raiders take to the road on the opening weekend of the season as they visit Lucas Oil Stadium to play the Indianapolis Colts in a game that kicks off at 1 PM ET.
In the NFL odds that have been established on this game by the people at Bovada.com, the Colts are laying a lot of points:
Indianapolis Colts -11
Oakland Raiders +11
Over 46.5 Points -110
Under 46.5 Points -110
The story with the Raiders is that they figured they could replace Carson Palmer with something better, but may wind up paying the price. They made a trade to get Matt Flynn, who was given a big contract moire than a year ago by the Seattle Seahawks that was hardly justified, and he proceeded to lose the quarterback competition to rookie Russell Wilson. Flynn was thought to be an answer in Oakland, but he really didn’t do much to impress anyone in camp. And people have started to come to grips with the possibility that he may be nothing more than a career backup.
The player who has the job now is Terrelle Pryor, who was a somewhat legendary athlete coming out of high school, played quarterback at Ohio State, and was one of the players involved in the memorabilia scandal at the school that also claimed coach Jim Tressel. He went to the Raiders (+2000 to win the AFC West at Bovada) in the supplemental draft after he was declared ineligible, but was very raw. He may or may not have an NFL arm, but he is the preferred choice because of his ability to improvise. That’s good, because Flynn may have been running for his life.
Oakland has a host of new defensive starters this season, as a rebuilding project is underway. This is a team that has been trying to work some room in the salary cap, and the will suffer the consequences of it this season. Among the departed offensive players were Darrius Heyward-Bey, who is now a member of the Colts, and Brandon Myers, the tight end who was the team’s leading receiver last year. Darren McFadden had better improve on his 3.3-yard average of a year ago or the Raiders may find themselves sinking into the Pacific Ocean.
The atmosphere around Indianapolis is much more upbeat about the chances of the Colts, who are listed at Bovada as +240 to win the AFC South title. As you may know, Chuck Pagano had to abandon the coaching lines for a while as he got treatment for leukemia. He’s gone into remission, and the man who had taken over for him and led the Colts to the playoffs – Bruce Arians – left to become the head coach of the Arizona Cardinals.
Indy’s chances obviously center around Andrew Luck, who made it to the Pro Bowl in his rookie season. A lot of people point to Luck’s numbers, which included 18 interceptions, and found fault with him. But he was working without a very good running game and learning on the job, just as Peyton Manning did in Indianapolis. The fact is, he engineered seven fourth-quarter comebacks to win or tie, so he may have been about as valuable as any quarterback in the league. Now he has been joined by Pep Hamilton, who was his tutor and offensive coordinator at Stanford.
The team certainly hopes that Ahmad Bradshaw can be one of those guys who can shoulder the load at running back this year. Reggie Wayne is still one of the best wide receivers in the game, and there is a lot of upside in T.Y. Hilton. So there could be a lot of “Good Luck” to look forward to at Lucas Oil Stadium.