Bills vs Colts: Buffalo bills vs Indianapolis Colts: – We have reached that point in the Bills’ season, the one we reach every year, where they have very little room for error in their quest to make the playoffs.
It’s not at the stage where they don’t have their destiny in their own hands because if they were to shockingly run the table and win their remaining four games, the Bills more than likely would make the postseason tournament for the first time since 1999.
The fact that they still have a road game at New England makes that scenario a bit unlikely, but the other three games are certainly winnable, and the first of those comes up Sunday at New Era Field when the Indianapolis Colts take up residence on the other sideline.
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The Colts are one of the worst teams in the NFL, and the Bills should take care of business even with rookie quarterback Nathan Peterman expected to start. A win would get Buffalo to 7-6 with Miami in town next week before the game with the Patriots.
It’s very possible the Bills will go to Miami for the final game sitting at 8-7 and still alive, though probably in need of much help. However, the postseason dream would die Sunday if the Bills falter against Indianapolis.
1. Can the Bills win offensively on the early downs? The Colts don’t do many things very well, but one thing they excel at is stopping the run on first down. Indy is allowing just 2.9 yards per first-down rushing attempt, lowest in the league, and that could be troublesome for the Bills. Buffalo, as always, will have to rely on its running game, especially with rookie Nathan Peterman most likely at quarterback in place of injured Tyrod Taylor. But if the Colts stuff the run and put the Bills in
unfavorable down and distance situations, that ramps up the pressure on Peterman. The Bills haven’t been terrible on first down as they’re averaging 4.24 yards rushing on those plays, ninth-best in the NFL. However, they’ve also been maddening inconsistent on the ground as they’ve also had about 25 percent of all their rushing attempts stuffed, meaning zero or lost yardage. The Colts are solid on the front line, but are weak at linebacker, especially with John Simon getting hurt last week and now out for the season. This is a matchup the Bills have to exploit with LeSean McCoy.
New Bills receiver Kelvin Benjamin caught 3 passesBuy Photo
New Bills receiver Kelvin Benjamin caught 3 passes in a 47-10 loss to the Saints. (Photo: JAMIE GERMANO, @jgermano1/Staff Photographer)
2. How much will Peterman and Kelvin Benjamin matter to the passing game? The weather isn’t supposed to be too cooperative, so the passing game — a weakness for both teams — may end up being a non-factor. However, the Bills need to find a way to take advantage of a Colts defense that ranks dead last in the NFL in passing yards allowed and 30th in sacks per pass attempt. We haven’t seen much from Peterman, but it certainly seems he’s more willing to throw the ball downfield than Taylor, and Sunday
he’ll have the Bills’ best WR at his disposal as Benjamin is expected to play after missing nearly three full games with a knee injury. The last time we saw Benjamin, he was catching a perfectly-thrown 20-yard pass over the middle from Peterman in Los Angeles. He hurt his knee on the play, left the game, and Peterman melted down with five interceptions. Also, it will be interesting to see whether Brandon Reilly — if he’s active — can factor into the passing game. He and Peterman have worked closely for three months on the scout team and have a connection with each othe