12 Things to Watch for In Sunday's Colts-Bills Game
Buffalo Bill! Oh no!
Last week, the Colts were drubbed by the Patriots. This week, they have a chance to get the dream season back on track against the Buffalo Bills. Here's what to watch for this week...
1. Watch for the lotion in the basket. This is going to be a high-scoring game featuring lots of big passing plays. The Colts have the worst defense in football, and the Bills aren't much better. If there was ever a week for Andrew Luck to light up the scoreboard, this is it. Expect monster games from both quarterbacks, and the team that has the ball last could well win it. The Colts' entire playoff run has been based on Luck and Reggie Wayne doing special things, and Luck will have to drop the ball right in his basket a few more times on Sunday.
2. Watch for it to get the hose again. The corner combination of Darius Butler and Cassius Vaughn were dowsed by Tom Brady last week. Though Vontae Davis may play, there's no telling how well he'll hold up or how long he can be effective if he does play. The Bills have an effective passing offense, but a really great rushing defense. The Colts haven't been good at stopping either, but the pass defense could end up being what sinks them against Buffalo.
3. Watch for the bomb. Davis or not the Bills intend to make Steve Johnson their primary target. Expect the Bills to put a great deal of pressure on the safeties by sending Johnson deep any time it looks like single-high coverage. It should be particularly dangerous in play action as Tom Zbikowski bites on nearly every bait tossed his way.
4. Watch the big run. C.J. Spiller of the Bills has had a ridiculous season in terms of yards per carry. He has 723 yards rushing on just 109 carries. To put that in context, Vick Ballard has 105 and 386. Spiller has a quick-strike ability to turn short gains into long runs. The Colts have to limit him to runs of under 10 yards if they hope to keep the Bills off the scoreboard. Fortunately, Indy is 9th in second-level yardage, meaning from 5-10 yards passed the line, they are effecitve. Of course, they are 27th after 10 yards, so maybe that's not a great sign.
5. Watch for freshman heroics. This game may become a slingfest but the real story must be Andrew Luck if the Colts are to win. It's a terrific matchup as the Colts have the 4th best passing offense in the league while the Bills sport the 27th passing defense. While the Colts haven't capitalized on all of those matchups this year they must win that battle if they are to remain in the playoff hunt. Another freshman may play a big part of that: T.Y. Hilton would become the first Colts rookie with four 100-yard games if he can cross the century mark in this game.
6. Watch for the return. Coby Fleener had begun to turn his season around when he went down with an injury. The Colts need his presence, especially as the field compresses. The team has no trouble moving the ball until they get to about the 40 yard line. Fleener gives Luck a much-needed target in close. Fleener has had a bad rap because Dwayne Allen has outplayed him. That should hardly be a knock against Fleener, however, whose actual production has been in line with reasonable expectations for his draft position.
7. Watch for an old favorite. Former Colts coach Pete Metzelaars is now coaching the Bills tight ends. Metzelaars was a standout at Wabash College before becoming a favorite during his NFL career in Buffalo. During the Manning era Pete was key to Tom Moore's staff in Indianapolis. After this new era ushered in a new staff Metzelaars returned to Buffalo to resume his coaching career. While not necessarily a face fans will remember expect the old guard Colts to welcome Pete back with open arms.
8. Watch for a renewal of an old rivalry. Back in 1996, the Colts sat at 6-6 needing a win over Buffalo to keep their slim playoff hopes alive. I brought some girls from college to the game with me. A Bills fan sat a row in front of us and was obnoxious. He, um, flossed himself with his #1 foam Bills finger repeatedly. Then he started smoking. We were in the Dome. I asked him to put out the cigarette as it was bothering the ladies. He went and got security. He demanded I be thrown out of the game for telling him to (and I quote) "put out my f***ing ciagrette". I told the gentlemen that I went to Bible school and didn't even use the Lord's name in vain. They grabbed the Bills fan by the collar and literally drug him down the steps and out of the stadium. Indy won in OT and made the playoffs. Ah, the good old AFC East days. Sigh.
9. Watch for the home crowd. Can you feel it? I can and it sure seems like 2011 is a long way behind us. The home crowd knows the importance this game has and should be fired up to cheer their Colts closer to the playoffs. Vegas is calling this one a toss-up with the Colts getting the customary 3 points for being at home. Something tells me the fans are higher on this team than the bettors.
10. Watch for the battle of disappointments. The Colts' offensive line and the Bills' defensive line are two units that brought in help in the offseason, but have disappointed thus far. The Bills, with the acquisition of Mario Williams, had much higher hopes than the Colts. Nevertheless, both units have disappointed this season, and will be a key matchup this week. The most important matchup is between LT Anthony Castonzo and DE Mario Williams, both players who have had disappointing seasons thus far.
11. Watch for flashbacks. The Colts' run defense is currently the worst in the league according to Football Outsider's DVOA. The Bills are second worst. Both teams are in the top half of the league in run offense. The amount of ineptitude on defense should rival that of the Colts' of the 2000's, creating physically painful flashbacks to the Jaguars' game in 2006.
12. Watch for the run renewed. If the Colts are going to make the postseason, they need at least eight wins, and probably nine. They need to win at least two, if not three of the following games: Buffalo, Tennessee, at Detroit, at Kansas City, or Houston to end the season. Given that they are at home, this week is as good a time as any to land one of those games. Indy wins a thriller. Colts 35 Bills 30
Eyes is the collaborative product of Nate Dunlevy, Kyle Rodriguez and Todd Smith.
Per my note below, here's a story you'll find interesting (I hope) -
I'm getting quotes to redo my yard, and one of the guys who came over was clearly from up "nawth" somewhere near "bastan". Of course, I don't care, I just want a good quote. Anyway, I found him to be obnoxious, not writing any notes, criticizing what I had done already to the yard - just a jerky guy.
Then he happened to walk over to the front of my house and noticed my Colts sticker, Colts tag, Colts "family" sticker and I happened to be wearing my Colts flipflops (yes...I own a pair) - and so he started in on me about "Peyton is through, he'll never play again..., he was terrible when he was healthy..." I had to remind him that a) Peyton plays for the Broncos and b) Peyton is PLAYING for the Broncos and c) Peyton is WINNING for the Broncos. I then noticed he had a Patriots sticker on his car. I'm not a trash talker, and if I had to get business I would never insult a potential customer's team - EVEN if it was the Saints. Just typical. He left, and I turned to my wife and said "nope". Not that I carry that much weight with my wife, but despite being a Giants fan, she loves Peyton Manning so she agreed.
At work, it's all Steelers fans with their terrible towels. Surrounded I am!
@BDiddy No, you couldn't. That was why they drug him out of the stadium. He was complaining that I told him to put out his cig, even though it was illegal to smoke there.
It was hilarious.
This game is the one that will tell us how good or bad the defense really is, I think. he Bills have a good offense, but they aren't juggernauts, and they're smart. Spiller gets yards because he knows when to wait and where to strike when a hole opens up, and Fitzpatrick's brain covers up a real lack of...everything else.
They can consistently put up 30 points against mediocre to bad defenses, and looking at their scores, you can almost rank defenses by how many points they put up. If the Colts want a gauge of where they are defensively, and I don't think it's the worst in the NFL, this is it. They've scored a ton against a lot of teams, but 4 teams (with pretty good defenses) have held them to under 20 points.
I doubt it'll happen, but it would be nice to see the Colts join the we-held-the-Bills-to-under-20 club. It would be a very good sign going forward.
@omahacolt I'm not sure. I think there's a very split opinion on him among Colts fans. I think he's been ok, great in run blocking.
I don't know if that one was Todd or Kyle. Curious to hear the explanation.
@Nate Dunlevy @omahacolt Mine. He's been MUCH better recently, and he's been good in run blocking all year, but he hasn't progressed enough in pass blocking for me. That's what the Colts brought him in for, and he's looked downright bad at some points. I still think he's the best OL right now overall, but I'd like to see more from him against elite pass rushers. Wimbley killed him at TN.
That being said, I don't know if we'll get to see him against Williams this week, as it seems like he's playing more on the other side this season.
@omahacolt @Kyle Rodriguez @Kyle @Nate Luck's sack rate is still pretty good. I wouldn't categorize it as "he holds onto the ball too long" as much as I would that Arians doesn't offer enough checkdown routes and Indy WRs struggle to get open.
Most of the time he's hanging on to the ball, there's just no one to throw to.
@omahacolt @Kyle Rodriguez @Nate Dunlevy He's given up the fourth most sacks, the fifth most hits, and the 10th most hurries among tackles. Granted, Luck's had a lot of drop backs, but even still his pressure per snap numbers are below average for tackles. He wasn't good in pass pro against GB or MIN either, although the TN game was the only really egregious game. It's less about him being dominated, and more about how he was unable to have a really good game until the past two weeks, when the Colts have played two teams that have no pass rush.
@Nate Dunlevy the titans game is the only one where i think he looked bad. i think pff (not that they matter much to me but i know they do some people) even had him rated pretty hign
@omahacolt @Nate Dunlevy PFF has his Pass Blocking grade at 63rd in the league for tackles right now. I don't agree with that completely, but it is indicative of the fact that he's struggled a lot at times. Although, it's important to say that I think the struggles in the interior have hurt him as well.
Love #8. Don't think Castonozo has had a disappointing season. (And when Garcon Thursday, reached behind him and made a great catch and then took it the distance, I felt like i had a bowling ball dropped in my stomach. I will never get over the New Orleans Super Bowl.)
@DougEngland every wr drops passes. time to get over it
@omahacolt Alas, it is not going to happen. Perhaps it is a character flaw, but Peyton's Broncos could win a couple of Super Bowls and Luck's Colts could win 4 or 5, and that game will still haunt me.
And I know these guys are not robots, but Garcon dropping such a routine play that would have totally changed how the game played out, just sticks with me more than the orther three or four plays that would have changed the outcome, even Baskett's inability to fall on the onside kick.
I also know that I am probably the only person in America that did not buy into the "feel good" Saints. I'm sorry about Katrina, but that does not change the fact that Coach Payton is a petulant punk and Coach Williams... well, we all know what he is.
It also pissess me off that the Saints seem to be continuing to win the PR battle with the NFL over Bounty Gate. Goodell and the NFL may have plenty of faults, but this is not one of them. They gave the Saints plenty of warning to stop what they were doing, and Payton and the others were just too arrogant.
Every time I see Brees and the other Saints crying about how bad they have been treated, I want to barf.
@DougEngland did you forgive manning for throwing that pick 6?
@DougEngland @omahacolt Boy you ARE not the only one I can't STAND the Saints for a different reason than I can't stand the Patriots - for all of the same reasons you mention above. Like the Steelers, the play on this "we're just a bunch of hard working stiffs who just don't get no respect" where in reality they are snobs with the most annoying, arrogant fans that I've ever met. I'll post something below regarding fans in New England, you are just about as bad. We should have won that game, and Garcon was a key reason we didn't. Couple that with his previous "me first" attitude, pointing at his name each time he scored a touchdown, and I really started to hate that guys.
But when I think about that game - UGH!
@DougEngland I'm right there with you, NO was destined to win that game even though we were the better team. Classic Garçon, can't catch the balls that hit him in the hands but is king of the circus grabs.
The Colts do not have the worst defense in pro football! Davis probably won't play, Fleener may but isn't as needed. I hope the Bills go long, Fitz doesn't have the strongest arm. Oh, the worst D in pro football? Hamilton Tiger-Cats. By a whisker...