Colts vs. Bills: 5 things to watch in Week 11

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It’s time to put up or shut up for the Indianapolis Colts. Frank Riech has put his team in a position to make a second-half run and push for a spot in the postseason. Sunday is an opportunity for the organization to show they need to be taken seriously in the AFC when they face off against the Buffalo Bills.

Reich is 1-1 in his career against the team he once played for. The one loss came last year during wild-card weekend. Buffalo was in control for most of the matchup but the Colts did fight back and almost pulled off the comeback. They fell short and lost 27-24.

Even though there are some players that moved on and there has been a quarterback change since that game, there’s enough of them that are still salty about the playoff loss. Whether you want to call it a revenge game, statement game, or just another opponent, the outcome of this matchup could have a ripple effect across the conference.

The Bills have the New England Patriots breathing down their neck in the AFC East so they need this win. A victory for Indianapolis will put them over .500 for the first time this season and help their chances for the playoffs.

I expect it to be a playoff atmosphere on Sunday, here are my top five things to watch for:

Time for Carson Wentz to earn his money

The Wentz experiment has been far from being a disaster but it also hasn’t been the belle of the ball. Just like the rest of his team, he has played well during their wins against teams that currently have a record below .500. It’s been a mixed bag during the losses.

He had pretty good quarters against teams like the Los Angeles Rams, Baltimore Ravens, and Tennessee Titans, but each had questionable mistakes that were a factor in the Colts not getting the victory. There are the types of games that a franchise quarterback should win for his team.

Josh Allen is going to be the face of Buffalo for a long time and he will be one of the many quarterbacks that Indianapolis will have to go through to get a Super Bowl. If Wentz is going to be that guy that the organization can trust going forward then he has to start beating teams that people don’t expect them to. He has a tough test on Sunday.

The Bills have one of the best defenses in the NFL and have held teams to 190.2 passing YPG, which is the second-best in the league. Wentz has to play with a balance of a risk taker and not playing too much hero ball. How he plays on Sunday will shift the narrative surrounding him one way or another.

Defending Josh Allen

Matt Eberflus’ defense has gotten better as the season progressed but it has struggled against the better offenses in the NFL. The Josh Allen-led Bills have a potent unit that can march down the field with ease and can tally up points in a matter of time.

The quarterback has had some down games in the first half of the schedule but he is still putting together a strong season and is in the MVP race. He’s averaging a career-high 289.1 passing YPG. He is currently sitting at 19 passing touchdowns and six interceptions.

Allen is still using his legs to his advantage, he has 322 rushing yards and three touchdowns on the ground. It is going to be a group effort for the Colts’ defense to slow down the quarterback. The safeties have to make sure that they don’t get beat deep because Allen can take the top off the unit from any point of the field.

Limiting the explosive plays from the Buffalo offense, playing mistake-free, and creating turnovers are the keys to success for the defense. If they can get the job done then Indianapolis will have a shot to win in the fourth quarter.

Is the pass rush here to stay?

The defensive front is coming off their best game of the season and will be looking to build off that success this week. It is important for the unit to show that the last couple of weeks haven’t been a fluke and they are finding something in that area of the defense.

Buffalo has a pass-heavy offense and will be dropping back often on Sunday. Josh Allen is still liable for turning the ball over if a team is able to get pressure on him throughout games. He can pick apart a defense if he has time in the pocket and is allowed to get comfortable to start a game. This year he has only been sacked 14 times and has a career-low 3.9 sack percentage.

DeForest Buckner, Kwity Paye, and the rest of the crew have to come out the gates hot on Sunday. A sack on the opening drive by the Bills’ offense could help set the tone for the rest of the day. This is the time of the year that the front four are more important than ever and they will be the factor in if the Colts get a win.

Is Jonathan Taylor putting together a MVP season?

The young star running back has been galloping for Indianapolis over the last seven games and his play has helped the team climb out of the hole they started the season in. He currently leads the league with 1,240 total scrimmage yards.

Taylor is also tied for the second-most total touchdowns in the NFL. The MVP is typically a quarterback award, the last running back to win it was Adrian Peterson in 2012. If he is able to continue the type of success that he is having and can help lead his team to a postseason berth, then why shouldn’t he be in consideration?

This Sunday can give him a major boost on his resume. Buffalo defends the run just as well as they do against the pass. Teams have only averaged 83.9 rushing YPG against them, which ranks third in the NFL. If Taylor can wear down this defense, help keep Allen on the sideline, and the Colts get the victory then his name should be in the conversation by Monday.

Just win

The theme of this game is just proving that Indianapolis can beat a good team. They have lost eight straight games to teams that have a record over .500. That is a streak that must come to an end otherwise the Colts will always be viewed as pretenders in the AFC.

They have experienced everything they could have in the first 10 games of the season outside of beating one of the best teams in the NFL. The Bills entering this weekend are one of the heavy favorites to represent the conference in the Super Bowl.

The playoff picture is constantly changing every week and there is a number of teams that are in contention for the wildcard spots. It’s a 1-0 mindset going forward for Indianapolis and all they can do is take care of what is in front of them. All three phases of the game will need to be as perfect as possible so they can get the upset victory in Buffalo.

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