Colts must take advantage of these two weaknesses vs Bills
By Jerry Trotta
The Colts can make things interesting against Buffalo in the first round of the playoffs if they exploit these two weaknesses.
The Indianapolis Colts came remarkably close to winning the AFC South on Sunday, but when the dust settled, all they had to show for their 11-5 campaign was a second place finish and a road date against the streaking Buffalo Bills in the first round of the playoffs this upcoming weekend.
On paper, this is a daunting matchup, as Buffalo has looked like the best team in the entire NFL over the final two months of the regular season, a stretch in which they finished 9-1 and scored a whopping 36.3 points per game.
While the Colts certainly have the horses to make quarterback Josh Allen uncomfortable, the defense will have their work cut out for them in that department, as no unit has been capable of slowing him down of late.
Like any team, however, Buffalo has some undeniable blemishes (albeit, not many) that could be exploited with proper game-planning. For starters, they have a bottom-third rushing defense and struggle to prevent teams from scoring once they reach the red zone.
For the season, the Bills allowed 4.7 yards per carry and a whopping 26 rushing touchdowns, which rank 25th and 27th in the league, respectively. We would all agree that the best way to prevent Allen from finding the end zone is to keep him on the sidelines, right?
For the season, the MVP candidate finished fourth in completion percentage (69.2%), fifth in passing yards (4,544) touchdowns (37) and yards per attempt (7.9). He also finished third in both first downs (215) and ranked third among quarterbacks with eight rushing scores.
Luckily for the Colts, their rushing attack is hitting its stride at the perfect time. Jonathan Taylor is fresh off compiling a franchise single game record 253 yards on Sunday, pushing him well over the 1,000-yard mark for the season. The 2020 second-round pick came into that game averaging 87.6 yards per game across the last five weeks, so the coaching staff had better make it an emphasis to get him going early on against the Bills.
In terms of Buffalo’s second fatal flaw, they’re allowing opponents to score on 65% of their red zone possessions, which finished as the fifth-worst percentage of any team. This is one of those scenarios where an unstoppable force means an immovable object, as the Colts ranked 18th in that category (58.3%) this season.
If they stand any chance at keeping up with Buffalo’s high-powered offense, they need to finish with seven points once they enter the red area. Settling for field goals simply isn’t going to cut it against this team, especially if Taylor struggles to find a rhythm on the ground early on.
This is all obviously easier said than done, but it must be reassuring for fans to know that this Bills team isn’t invincible. They’re long overdue for a loss and Indy, as long as they take advantage of these two weaknesses, is more than capable of pulling off the road upset.