AFC Wildcard Weekend
Indianapolis Colts @ Buffalo Bills – 1:05 pm – Sat, Jan. 9th
Bills Stadium – Orchard Park, NY
Betting Line: Bills -6.5, Over/Under 51
In the first NFL playoff game of 2021 a rowdy, likely hammered, Buffalo Bills fan base will host the team’s first home playoff game in 25 years, welcoming the Indianapolis Colts to Bills Stadium. Ironically, it was around that time that current Colts Head Coach Frank Reich led the Bills as Quarterback to the largest comeback in NFL history, coming back from down 32 points to defeat the Houston Oilers in the 1993 AFC Wildcard playoff game.
Adding to the excitement of Bills Mafia is the prospect of a limited number of fans finally being allowed to enter the stadiums hallowed gates that Ralph Wilson erected in 1973. Expect a lot of noise, a lot of shirtless fans, and a lot of beer.
Now to the actual game:
The Bills come into this one as probably the hottest team in the NFL, having won six straight (and just a Kyler Murray last-second miracle away from that streak being 10-straight). At 13-3 they are the AFC East Champions, and will look to continue their home dominance on Satuday afternoon; currently 7-1 in Orchard Park this season.
The Colts also come in riding a hot hand, winning four of their last five games while watching their rookie running back Jonathan Taylor become a star in the process. The Colts finished the regular season with an 11-5 record and narrowly missed winning their own division. Let’s look at the numbers to see how each teams’ strengths and weaknesses stack up.
And here are other key stats that could swing this game in either team’s favor:
It’s pretty clear that this game is going to come down to the Bills’ ability to slow down Jonathan Taylor, and the Colts’ ability to get to Josh Allen. If Indy is able to get 200+ rushing yards on the Bills’ 17th ranked run defense, they will have a good shot at keeping the Bills offense on the bench, holding the score low, and chewing up valuable game clock. And if DeForest Buckner can get to the quarterback a couple of times, Bills fans may need to drink their sorrows away once again.
The Bills on the other hand, need to just keep doing what they’ve been doing. With six straight wins by nearly 20 points per game, they don’t need to try and force the run game or do anything drastically different than what’s been working. By focusing on protecting Josh Allen from DeForest Buckner and the Colts D-Line, that should allow Allen to be able to find his array of wide receivers and scoring points won’t be an issue. Those are two completely different games however, so which is more likely?
One, the Colts winning, requires doing something relatively abnormal. Despite Indy rushing for over 200 yards in two of their past four games, the Bills have only allowed that twice all season. The other, the Bills’ path, requires just sticking with what has been working.
For that reason, I think it is much more likely that the Bills pull away in the second half of this one and easily cover the 6.5 point spread. Let’s not forget who is throwing the ball for the Colts; Philip Rivers, and that the Bills defense are 3rd in the NFL in takeaways. The Colts typically start fast, but even if things go their way early, it’s just a matter of time before Rivers is put in a passing situation and throws one or more interceptions.
The variability in how the game could go is going to keep me away from betting the total, so my:
OFFICIAL PICK: Buffalo Bills -6.5
And let’s not forget:
“Nobody Circles the Wagons like the Buffalo Bills!”