It will be The Battle of Wounded Knees in Baltimore Saturday when the Super Bowl champion Oakland Raiders come east disquised as the wild-card team in an American Football Conference playoff game.
Ken Stabler of the Raiders Sunday rested an injured knee that has been bothering him for several weeks. Bert Jones suffered a bruised knee in the victory over New England.
Both quarterbacks are expected to play and the Raiders, who finished the regular season with an 11-3 record, will be favored, will be favored by 3 1/2 points over the Colts, 10-4, in a non-sellout affair that will be blacked out in Baltimore and Washington.
This will be the Colts' third straight appearance in the playoffs, coinciding with the hiring of coach Ted Marchi-broda. Oakland is in for the 10th time in the last 11 years.
Baltimore's offense slumped this season with wide receiver Roger Carr reporting late after a holdout and then being injured. Fullback Roosevelt Leaks also has been handicapped by injuries.
The Colts led the league in scoring with 417 points in 1976. This season they scored 295 points and rank behind Oakland, 351; Dallas, 345; Miami, 313; Los Angeles, 302, and Houston, 299.
The defense is merely adequate past the front four, although safety Lyle Blackwood led the NFC in interceptions, with 10.
This season, the Colts' strategy became a target of criticism.
But in the "must-win" victory over New England, the Colts despelled the notion that they were uncomfaortable against a 3-4 defense and came back from a 21-3 deficit to win on a fine performance by Jones and a practical defensive game plan against the blitz.
Colts will face the 3-4 defense again Saturday against Oakland.
Their post-Super Bowl image of a budding dynasty at least temporarily scuffed by finishing second in the AFC West behind Denver, the Raiders nevertheless could be the first wild card team to win the big prize.
The challenge this year for the Raiders is to win on the road. They are favored over the Colts because of their experience and the quality in their bench.
The Raiders and Colts have played each other four times. Baltimore beat Oakland for the AFC title in 1970 and in a regular season game the next season. The raiders won in 1973 and 1975.
Wide receiver Cliff Branch missed several games with injuries and safety George Atkinson and linebacker Phil Villapiano have been lost through surgery.
The Raiders emphasize passing based on the quick, accurate releases of lefthander Stabler; the speed of Branch and Morris Bradshaw and the clever moves of Fred Biletnikoff and Mike Siani.
With Russ Francis of New England sidelined for much of the season with an injury, tight end Dave Casper is in a class all by himself.
Fullback mark van Eeghen has a low profile among bigger names, but he gives Stabler an ideal option with his running, which gained 1,273 yards. And he contributes the massive block the Raiders used to rely on from Marv Hubbard.
Coach John Madden's most valuable asset may be the offensive line, which embarrassed the Vikings' front four in play robust defense, and their punter, Ray Guy, is the most valuable leg man in the league.