Win or go home. The NFL playoffs are here and Wild Card weekend is just a couple of days. One matchup features the AFC East champion Buffalo Bills taking on one of the three wild card teams, the Indianapolis Colts. In this article, I will give you a few things to keep your eye on.
Battle of the 17’s
In this matchup, we will see a battle of two quarterbacks who wear the number 17. Colts quarterback Philip Rivers had a solid regular season. He threw for 4,169 yards, throwing 24 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. Looking at Bills quarterback Josh Allen, he has been fantastic this year. He registered 4,544 passing yards while throwing 37 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. It will be interesting to see the battle between these two. Aside from the stats, Allen has the mobility and can extend plays. All year long, Rivers had only one rushing play for three yards. I don’t know if Rivers can outduel Allen, but it will be interesting to see what transpires this weekend.
Can the Bills contain Jonathan Taylor?
A big reason why the Colts are a playoff team is because of their running back Jonathan Taylor. According to NFL.com, Taylor sits in third for rushing yards (1,169). He finished the year with 11 touchdowns and has been a pain to contain. I’ll talk about each team’s defense in a minute but the Bills running game has been much better as of late after having a rough first half during the regular season. During the regular season, Buffalo’s defense has held their own against the league’s best running backs. For example, the league’s leading rusher Derrick Henry finished the year with over 2,000 rushing yards and when he faced the Bills earlier in the season, he only registered 57 yards. Taylor has been good all year so it will be interesting to see if the Bills can contain him.
To win in this league, you need a reliable defense and both of these teams do. When it comes to total defense, the Colts sit in 10th and the Bills sit in 16th. Buffalo has the edge in passing defense as they are the 13th best defense in that category whereas Indianapolis is 20th best. For rushing defense, the Colts are 3rd best and the Bills sit in 13th. However, those stats mean nothing now because it’s a whole new season.
A familiar foe returns to Buffalo
Bills fans will recognize the head coach for the Colts this weekend. Frank Reich will return to Buffalo. If you’re a Bills fan, it will be hard to root against him. Reich used to be a quarterback for the Bills back in the 90’s and is well known for him leading the greatest comeback in NFL history when the Bills were trailing the Houston Oilers 35-3 in the 1993 wild card game. Hopefully he doesn’t do it as a coach this time.
Bring the noise
For the first time since last season, the Bills will have fans in the stands for the game against the Colts. A couple of weeks ago, New York governor Andrew Cuomo announced there will be 6,772 fans attending the game. All fans will be socially distanced and will need to have masks on them at all times. The Bills have not hosted a playoff game since the 90’s and it will be nice to have actual crowd noise in the stadium.
I expect this to be a close game. Buffalo has not won a playoff game since the 1990’s, so they are definitely due for a victory. It won’t be a walk in the park though, the Colts have a great team and can pull off the victory. I do think it will be a great game and you can catch the game on CBS this Saturday with kick off getting underway just after 1 pm.
All stats are credited to Pro Football Reference.
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-Zach Jezioro (@ZachJezioro_13)