5 things to watch for as the Bills host the Colts
By: Nick Wojton
ORCHARD PARK – The Buffalo Bills host the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday at New Era Field and on paper, the Bills are the favorite.
Indy (3-9) has struggled this season without quarterback Andrew Luck, but the Bills (6-6) are not in any position to overlook any opponent remaining on their schedule.
With that, here are five things to watch for when the Bills host the Colts this week:
New QB: As prior mentioned, Andrew Luck won’t be playing on Sunday. That job has been handed to Jacoby Brissett. In early September, Brissett was traded to the Colts from last week’s opponent, the New England Patriots. Buffalo is familiar with Brissett because the last time the Bills topped the Pats, Brissett was starting. That came last year in New England during a 16-0 win for Buffalo. But don’t think just because he’s a backup the Colts won’t throw it. In his 11 start, Brissett has attempted 30-or-more passes seven times.
Top targets: The main beneficiaries of those high passing numbers are tight end Jack Doyle and wide receiver TY Hilton. As is the case with many young quarterbacks, the tight end has been the security blanket. Doyle leads the Colts with 62 grabs for 560 yards. Last week, Buffalo struggled against the tight end position, allowing nine grabs and 147 to Rob Gronkowski. Hilton has built up chemistry with Luck in recent years, but he’s built a trust with Brissett as well, leading the Colts with 791 passing yards. Buffalo might be without their top corner in rookie Tre’Davious White (concussion).
Pass game momentum: Heading into the final quarter of the 2017 season the Bills struggled, struggled again, and struggled some more passing the ball. However, there’s a chance the Bills can gain some momentum passing the ball down the stretch. The Colts have the worst pass defense in the NFL, allowing 271.6 yards-per-game. Buffalo’s passing offense isn’t far behind, averaging 174.4 yards-per-game, 30th-best in the NFL.
D-Line dominance: Over the past two games against the Chiefs and Pats, Buffalo had multiple sacks. It was the first time since weeks two and three, against the Panthers and Broncos, respectively, which the Bills accomplished that. Buffalo will be without Shaq Lawson (ankle), but could have a look and have a third-straight multi-sack game for the first time this season. The Colts have allowed an NFL-high 51 sacks. Indy, in total, allowed give tackles for loss, nine QB hits, and four sacks last week vs. the Jags.
No home away from home: The Colts have simply struggled when playing on the road this season, going 1-5 in games away from Lucas Oil Stadium. The lone win the Colts had on the road this season came at NRG Stadium against the Houston Texas in a 20-14 game.