The Buffalo Bills have made the postseason for the third time in four years under head coach Sean McDermott in 2020. But we do have a different look this time around.
The Bills (13-3) won’t be leaving Orchard Park for their game. Buffalo hosts the Indianapolis Colts (11-5) in the modified Wild Card round.
Previously the top-two seeds would get a bye, but the NFL added a Wild Card round team to each conference, upping it from six to seven playoffs teams each year. While maybe the Bills players would have enjoyed a week off, having another game to watch is fun for us observers.
But with that first home playoff game en route under McDermott’s watch and the first since 1996, let’s make sure we’re all up-to-date on the Bills’ upcoming opponent.
Here’s everything to know about the Colts ahead of Wild Card weekend:
You know their coach
Colts head coach Frank Reich. Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
The head coach of the Colts is your favorite quarterback when your team is down by a lot on the scoreboard, Frank Reich. Buffalo's former quarterback was hired in 2018 by Indy and has had that gig ever since. Reich won Super Bowl LII as a coach (Eagles OC) and did interview for the Bills' job in 2017 before McDermott was hired.
New QB under center
Josh Allen of the Buffalo Bills (left) and Philip Rivers of the Indianapolis Colts.
The other one you might've known for the Colts, Phillip Rivers is now their quarterback. He was the Chargers' longtime QB, but skipped town for the Colts this past offseason. We're still unsure if he'll be one-and-done there, but Rivers will be under center on Saturday in Buffalo. In 2018, Rivers and Bills quarterback Josh Allen did go head-to-head. The then-Bolts QB won that game, 31-20.
Colts running back Jonathan Taylor. Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports
Colts rookie running back Jonathan Taylor might be the biggest concern for the Bills, not Rivers. He's really come on as of late. Over the course of the Colts' last six games, Taylor has averaged 6.23 yards per carry and has two games with 150 rushing yards or more in that stretch. Per Colts Wire, the second-round rookie won the NFL's rookie rushing title with 1,169 total rushing yards in 2020.
Almost didn't need to worry about them
Titans kicker Sam Sloman. (AP Photo/Sam Craft)
The Bills actually nearly didn't have to worry about any of the Colts. In a wild Week 17 win over the Texans, the Titans went home 41-38 victors. That game ended insanely, with a bomb from QB Ryan Tannehill to WR AJ Brown, putting Tennessee into field goal range with only seconds left. Rookie kicker Sam Sloman who was exiled by the Rams was called up from the Titans' practice squad prior to that game. He just barely connected on a 37-yard game winner... it doinked off the upright and in. That kept us away from overtime in that game and potentially away from the Titans. Had the Texans won, it would've been Bills-Titans, not Bills-Colts this weekend.
Not scared on fourth down
Colts quarterback Jacoby Brissett. Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
The Colts are not scared to go for it on fourth down, even if they're not successful. Indianapolis has a decent 61.5 success rate, but the more interesting number is the number of times they've gone for it: 26. That's near the top of the list in the NFL. In these scenarios, watch out for the trickery, too. Backup QB Jacoby Brissett has been known to come in for these downs to get the extra yard or two under center. The Bills have the best fourth-down success rate in the league at 80 percent. However, they've only gone for it 10 times, a league-low.
Old teammates in important battle
Colts cornerback Xavier Rhodes. Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Xavier Rhodes is in his first year with the Colts. Stefon Diggs is in his inaugural campaign with the Bills. Rhodes is the Colts' No. 1 cornerback. Diggs is the Bills' No. 1 wideout. Both were teammates with the Vikings from 2015-2019.
Also 'won' a trade
Colts defensive tackle DeForest Buckner. Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Speaking of Diggs, remember how a first rounder was too much for him? Well the Colts did the same with defensive tackle DeForest Buckner. He too cost the Colts a first-round pick. But guess what? It also worked out. Buckner, like Diggs, was named an All-Pro already this season by Pro Football Focus.
Another standout in the middle
Colts outside linebacker Darius Leonard. Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Along with Buckner in the middle, linebacker Darius Leonard is very good, too. Leonard recently wrapped up his third-career AFC Defensive Player of the Week Award in Week 17 vs. the Jaguars and is the Colts' lone Pro Bowler in 2020.
Colts guard Quenton Nelson. Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
The Colts recently was named PFF's seventh-best offensive line in 2020. Their explanation started off like this: "This was a relatively down year for the Colts’ offensive line." A top-10 unit with a down year? Yeah, they're good. Buffalo's secondary might have their hands full if their defensive line can't beat these guys. Quenton Nelson was a top-three guard via PFF every year of his career so far. He was a 2018 draft pick and has two All-Pro selections already. Ryan Kelly at center has been an anchor for this group. Braden Smith at tackle did not allow as sack in 2020. Indianapolis did just place left tackle Anthony Castonzo on injured reserve, though. He suffered an ankle injury, per Colts Wire.
Also has a coveted front office
Colts general manager Chris Ballard. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)
You know how you're worried about Brian Daboll leaving this offseason because the Bills are good? The Colts have the same issue but it's their defensive coordinator. Matt Eberflus has already had interview requests from the Jets, Chargers and Texans, per Colts Wire. That's actually already one more than Daboll (Jets, Chargers). But wait, there's more. Two others from upstairs will have interviews with teams in regard to open general manager jobs. Those include Colts college scouting director Morocco Brown (Falcons) and Indy assistant GM Ed Dodds (Panthers). But also like the Bills, the Colts are going to extend the man at the top of this tree soon. Colts general manager Chris Ballard is going to be extended this offseason. Team owner Jim Irsay already said that'll go down. Ballard oversaw an Andrew Luck retirement and improvement from 7-9 in 2019 to 11-5 this year. He's a well-respected guy.
Other playmakers to watch
Colts' T.Y. Hilton. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
The Colts don't have a top-flight playmaker group on the outside like the Bills, but they're solid. Names to watch for on Indy includes TY Helton, who led the team with 762 receiving yards and five receiving touchdowns. Wide receiver Zach Pascal leads the team averaging 14.3 yards per catch. Another rookie to watch is wide receiver Michael Pittman, too. At tight end, the Colts are probably better than the Buffalo. Indianapolis has a solid duo in Jack Doyle and Mo Alie-Cox. Fun note: Hilton, their No. 1 wideout, will be a free agent this offseason.
Colts helmet. Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports
If we missed anything, this will probably cover it. How did the Colts finish in NFL rankings in 2020? Here are your answers:
Red zone offense: 18th
Third down offense: 22nd
Red zone defense: 15th
Third down defense: 19th
The Colts were also 5-3 overall in road games in 2020 and finished 19th in total penalties taken per game (5.9).