This weekend, there will be serious AFC Wild Card implications when the Bills take on the Colts in Indianapolis. Both teams have a shot at making the playoffs, an idea that would have been mocked at the beginning of the season. In Week 12 in the NFL, anything seems possible, even the possibility that the Bills can still make the playoffs.
What it Means
The Bills, who have simply made their chances of making the playoffs significantly more difficult by losing games they should have won, will have yet another chance to prove to the league that they can compete and win games. It will be difficult playing in a hostile environment, but the Bills must win, otherwise they can kiss their playoff hopes goodbye.
For the Colts, a win would strengthen their hold on a Wild Card spot, as they compete with the Steelers for the fifth spot. However, a loss could be catastrophic, possibly resulting in the loss of a Wild Card position.
This is virtually a must win game for both teams. Each team has an equal chance of winning this game, but it will simply come down to who makes the least amount of mistakes and who can capitalize on their opportunities.
Matchups to Watch
Reggie Wayne vs. Bills Secondary
Simply said, Reggie Wayne’s season has been nothing short of spectacular. Having only played ten games, Wayne already has over 1,000 receiving yards. He is Andrew Luck’s favorite target and will be targeted numerous times throughout the game. The Bills secondary has had its issues. They are constantly susceptible to the big play down field, usually due to blown coverages. Stephon Gilmore and the other corners must play a physical game with Wayne to offset his timing with Luck. However, when dealing with Reggie Wayne, it is important to be careful of other wide receivers such as T.Y. Hilton, who will use Wayne as a decoy to get open down the field. Look for Reggie Wayne to constantly be shifting in the formations to get favorable matchups and create confusion in the secondary.
Bills Defensive Line vs. Colts Offensive Line
Last week against the Dolphins, the Bills front 4 came ready to play. They dominated a very physical offensive line and were able to create penetration. The Colts like to play a down-field passing game, which will greatly benefit the front four. The Colts offensive line has struggled, and the Bills must take advantage of this. If Andrew Luck is given too much time in the pocket, he will be able to find receivers down the field. If the Bills can create pressure, Luck will be susceptible to throwing interceptions.
C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson vs. Colts Defense
The Bills have one of the best rushing duos in the NFL with Spiller and Jackson — and the Colts have one of the worst run defenses in the NFL. The Bills have decided to start Spiller while Jackson is still nursing the concussion he got against the Patriots. Spiller has proven time and time again that he can make the big play on the ground, as well as through the air. With Jackson playing, Bills fans won’t have to worry about giving the ball to Tashard Choice in the redzone. If they get started early, the Bills will find offensive success. Look for both of them to have huge days tomorrow.
The Bills Will Win If…
THEY SCORE TOUCHDOWNS!!! Against a high powered Colts offense, the Bills will not be able to compete by kicking field goals, especially when they are in the redzone. The Bills will have to run the ball on the Colts defense, which doesn’t seem like too daunting of a task. Finally, the Bills have to create turnovers. Andrew Luck has many INT’s this season. He is still a rookie; if the Bills get pressure on him, he will make mistakes.
The Colts Will Win If…
Andrew Luck has a perfect game. The Colts practically have no defense, ranking near dead last in every category. Luck will have to compensate for this lack of defense by being able to stretch the field and find holes in a vulnerable Bills secondary. If the Luck-Wayne connection is found early, the Bills could be in trouble. However, Luck cannot and will not be able to single-handedly win this game. The defense has to be able to limit Spiller and Jackson when they have the ball, otherwise the defense will be on the field a long time. Finally, the fans have to be loud and into the game. The Colts have a chance to make the playoffs for the first time in the Luck era, so they need to help their team out, especially the defense.
I believe that this game will be a shootout. Both of these teams have strong offenses but struggle on the defensive side of the ball. However, the Bills have started to improve over the last few weeks while the Colts are at a standstill on defense.
I think that the Bills, whose defense has improved, and with Fred Jackson back will win. Despite being at home I believe that the Colts defense will not be able to support Andrew Luck and the offense.
Bills win 35-30. GO BILLS!!!