Dec 25, 2023; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; Las Vegas Raiders quarterback Aidan O'Connell (4) talks with head coach Antonio Pierce during the second half against the Las Vegas Raiders at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

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Raiders heat up, while Colts also hope to keep playoff hopes alive

Antonio Pierce intends to be the Las Vegas Raiders’ coach beyond the end of this season.

And judging from the way his players have competed in the seven games he’s been at the helm, it seems like they’d like him to be their coach for years to come.

Coming off a Christmas Day upset of the Kansas City Chiefs, Las Vegas tries to keep its long-shot AFC playoff hopes alive Sunday when it travels to Indianapolis for a showdown with the Colts, who have their own playoff dreams to realize.

At 7-8, Las Vegas has to win out and hope for help from other teams. But if nothing else, Raiders players have shown the willingness to fight under Pierce, which is far more than they appeared to want to do under former coach Josh McDaniels.

The Raiders are 4-3 under Pierce, who said Tuesday that he’s hoping to remain in charge after the season concludes.

“As long as it looks right, sounds right and smells right, I’m fine with it,” he said. “Win, lose or draw, and I’m going to be me and (the players) are going to be them. And when this bad boy’s over with, hopefully, it all works out and we’re together for more years to come.”

It was probably fitting that Las Vegas’ defense has made a big mark on its last two wins, since Pierce played nine years in the NFL as a linebacker and won a Super Bowl ring with the 2007 New York Giants. The Raiders have scored two defensive touchdowns in each game, creating their winning margin in a mere seven second span of the second quarter in Kansas City.

But they would like to get more out of rookie quarterback Aidan O’Connell, who followed a four-touchdown performance against the Los Angeles Chargers by completing no passes in the last three quarters at Kansas City. Las Vegas has the 25th-ranked scoring offense in the NFL.

As for Indianapolis (8-7), it again starts the week in the final wild-card spot in the AFC despite tumbling 29-10 last week in Atlanta. The Colts scored on their first drive of the game and then did next to nothing after that.

First-year coach Shane Steichen said opportunity awaits this team.

“We didn’t play our best in Cincinnati, but we bounced back against Pittsburgh,” he said. “We didn’t play our best against Atlanta and now we’ve got an opportunity at home to bounce back against the Raiders.”

Part of the problem was that Michael Pittman, the team’s top receiver, didn’t play in Atlanta after suffering a setback of concussion symptoms after taking a hit from Pittsburgh’s Damontae Kazee on Dec. 16. The NFL felt that hit was so dirty that it suspended Kazee for the season’s remainder.

Pittman, whose next catch will be his 100th of the year, is still in protocol and it’s unknown if he’ll be able to go Sunday. The offense also missed leading rusher Zack Moss (764 yards) last week.

The Raiders own a 10-9 advantage in the all-time series, although Indianapolis won last year’s matchup 25-20 in Las Vegas.

–Field Level Media

Field Level Media
Sport Writer & Editor
FLM has a North American focus while tying into regional and hyper-local resources – providing the ability to distribute compelling content through the writing of professional journalists. As the U.S. sports content provider to dozens of digital and print media publishers through strategic partnerships with the likes of Reuters and Nielsen Sports, FLM covers the nuts and bolts with a breaking news desk and game event coverage.

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