Seven Things To Watch: Colts vs. Bills
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INDIANAPOLIS – How bad are the Buffalo Bills?
Well, those in Vegas have the Colts---who currently are tied for the worst record in the NFL at 1-5---as a touchdown-plus favorite in Week 7.
So, here are 7 things to watch as the Colts (1-5) take on the Bills (2-4) on Sunday afternoon at Lucas Oil Stadium:
1. Establish Some Run
-The Colts are very encouraged by what their run game showed in last week’s second half carrying into a more consistent output moving forward. I’m not as sold just yet. Buffalo brings the 8th best rushing defense into Sunday. We will see if Marlon Mack’s second full game back, and the Colts sticking with the same line combination for just the second time all season (Weeks 2 and 3), leads to better run production early in the game. Ball security will be key for the Colts, too, with the Bills leading the league in forced fumbles.
2. Tackling Shady
-A reason why the Bills have been so anemic offensively this year is because they lack skill talent. LeSean McCoy is the most obvious threat. And with Derek Anderson starting, you know the Bills are going to want to rely heavily on ‘Shady’ this Sunday. McCoy is a very dynamic runner and can really make plays post-touch. So the Colts have to do a sound job in wrapping up the Pro Bowl runner in space.
3. Make Derek Anderson Do More
-Yes, Derek Anderson is still in the NFL at the age of 35. And he’s actually starting on Sunday. It’s been 8 years since Anderson beat an AFC team, but he’ll try to do that this weekend, even though he’s been a Bill for 10 days. You know the Bills will want to lean heavily on their run game and keep Anderson’s workload to a minimum. That’s why the Colts need to load the box and try to find an early lead so Anderson is needed to do more.
4. Return Of Hilton
-If T.Y. Hilton does return on Sunday, and it's looking like he will, you will have some ecstatic individuals in Andrew Luck, Frank Reich, Jim Irsay, etc. Hilton’s absence, which started two games ago, was going to be difficult for the Colts to overcome. But it’s been even greater than that with a wideout group fighting continuous drops. If Hilton’s hamstring injury allows him to be full-go and stretch the field in Week 7, the Colts should finally be able to rely on their offense to give an early lift.
5. Must Win
-Whether you think the Colts can still win the AFC South (they are only 2 games back of the entire division) or you see them as a 5-6 win team in 2018, this is a game you have to have. It’s a home game, going against the worst offense in the NFL, who is now starting a quarterback that was signed just 10 days ago. Lose on Sunday, and then you have to win on the road (in Oakland) next week to avoid a 1-7 record at the bye week. Win on Sunday and you have a chance to keep things somewhat interesting going into a very favorable stretch in the schedule.
6. Better Pass Coverage
-All types and ages of quarterbacks have shredded the Colts in recent weeks. The Colts have allowed a 75 percent completion percentage over these past 3 losses. It comes down to execution for coordinator Matt Eberflus. That means the Colts need better pressure up front and tighter zone looks at the back end to end the constant air success teams are having against them as of late.
7. Vinatieri Nears (Another) Record
-As if Adam Vinatieri needed another record on his first ballot Hall of Fame resume, one is coming, perhaps as early as Sunday. Vinatieri is 10 points away from passing Morten Andersen (2,544) for the most points scored in NFL history. Given the lack of ‘reliable’ players currently on this roster, a guy like Vinatieri, 45, cannot be taken for granted.
Bowen’s Prediction: Colts, 24-13. No, I’m not talking crazy with this pick. I truly believe it. The Bills are not good. Their defense has been solid this season but their offense is one of the worst the NFL has ever seen, and that was before turning to a 3rd string quarterback, who was on vacation earlier this month. Playing back at home, and with a healthier roster coming together, I see the Colts ending this 4-game losing streak with a somewhat convincing win. The Colts will grab an early lead and be in control of this one, moving to 2-5 on the season with one game left before their bye week.