Colts: Bills’ defensive stats advantageous for hobbled offensive line

LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 10: Anthony Castonzo
LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 10: Anthony Castonzo /

Buffalo’s lackluster pass rushing stats bode well for the Colts this weekend.

Though it was a lot closer than we would have liked in the second half, the Indianapolis Colts ultimately did what they needed to do and disposed of Jacksonville to clinch a playoff berth after the Dolphins faltered in the earlier slate of games.

Unfortunately for them, however, their 11-5 record was rewarded with just a wild card berth after the Texans’ valiant upset effort came up just short against Tennessee. As a result, the Colts are slated to face the streaking Bills, who are currently riding a six-game winning streak, on the road in the first round this weekend.

On paper, this matchup should scare the living daylights out of fans. However, they can take solace in the fact that Buffalo’s strengths don’t exactly line up with the Colts’ weaknesses.

Speaking of which, we would all argue that Indy’s depleted offensive line would be a recipe for disaster against a team with a stout pass rush given Philip Rivers’ inability to navigate around pressure, right? Well, the Bills are the opposite of efficient in that department.

It’s admittedly bizarre that Buffalo blitzes the eighth most of any team in the NFL at 33.5% despite the fact that they have just a 20.3% success rate in terms of pressures. Whatever the case, that is absolutely massive news for the Colts, who were forced to lean on veteran journeyman Jared Veldheer at left tackle in Week 17 after starter Anthony Castonzo was placed on injured reserve last week with an ankle injury.

In a pleasant surprise, however, Veldheer held his own against Jacksonville. We know the Jaguars’ pass rush is non-existent, but let’s not forget that he hadn’t played in a game all season prior to Sunday. In 67 offensive snaps (100%), he conceded just one penalty and zero sacks, earning an elite 71.6 overall blocking grade from Pro Football Focus in the process.

This obviously isn’t an ideal situation, but considering how devastated Colts fans were following the Castonzo news, it could be A LOT worse. For a player coming off the street, Veldheer was more than adequate and his performance — coupled with Buffalo’s pedestrian pass rushing efficiency — proves that he should be able to replicate that success this weekend, assuming he gets the nod at left tackle again.