1. The NFL's hottest team finally has fans in the stands
The Bills are hosting their first home playoff game since 1996. Bills Mafia has been waiting on this moment for several years and it's fitting this will be the first game all season with a limited amount of fans. Bills Stadium will host 6,772 fans as a part of a pilot program for expansive testing announced by Governor of New York Andrew Cuomo.
The fans in attendance will get a chance to witness a game that could go down in Bills history. They also get a ticket to watch the hottest team in the NFL. Buffalo has won the last six games and nine of the last 10 to end the regular season. From Weeks 9 through 17, the Bills led the league in scoring averaging 37.9 points per game. That's 10 points more a game than the defending Super Bowl Champions were averaging over that time period. On defense, in the final six weeks of the regular season, Buffalo ranked fifth allowing only 18.3 points a game.
After scoring a season-high 56 points against Miami, Bills left tackle Dion Dawkins reflected on 2019 and said the playoff loss against Houston is still fueling their desire to win in the postseason.
"We have a feeling that we don't want to feel every again," Dawkins explained. "It just gave us the experience and it just gave us that feel that this is not how we want to end our season. That fire and that burn that (we) felt from losing, it's still in us. And we still feel it. That's why guys are so hard on themselves, because we have to be the best at all times and we know if we're not, things like what happened in Houston can happen. We're fighting for that never to happen."
2. Contrasting styles at quarterback
Two things Bills quarterback Josh Allen and Colts quarterback Phillip Rivers have in common -- they both wear No. 17 and haven't made it to the Super Bowl. After that, the two don't have too much in common. The Bills are riding on a young quarterback to take them all the way, while the Colts are hoping a 17-year veteran can lead his team to the Super Bowl.
Rivers has appeared in 11 playoff games with a record of 5-6. Allen has played in one wild card game, which was a loss to the Texans. The two aren't far off when you look at their stats from this season. Allen completed 69.2% of his passes for 4,544 passing yards and threw for 37 passing touchdowns. Rivers completed 68% of his passes for 4,169 passing yards and threw for 24 touchdowns.
NFL Network’s Steve Wyche thinks Colts vs. Bills is the game of the weekend because of the scoring ability from each offense.
"When I watch the Bills the past few games, the discipline they play with especially on offense with Josh Allen, Stefon Diggs and what the rest of those receivers have going on, that's special," Wyche explained. "But also look at the ascension of running back Zack Moss over the past couple of weeks, an excellent complementary piece to Devin Singletary. We're going to be talking a lot about the Colts running game. You cannot discount what those two running backs bring to the Bills offense, which is why this thing flows so smoothly."
3. Frank Reich's return to Buffalo
He started his playing career in Buffalo and is coming back to coach in a stadium where he won a lot of playoff games. The last time the Bills won 13 games, Colts head coach Frank Reich was a quarterback for the Bills. Reich was drafted by Buffalo in the third round of the 1985 NFL Draft and played nine seasons for the Bills. The former QB backed up Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly during his time in Buffalo, but started in and won some important games for the Bills.
Reich helped secure the AFC East title during the 1990 season with a Week 16 win over the Dolphins after Kelly went out late in the season with an injury. His most famous game came on January 3, 1993 when he led the Bills out of a 32-point deficit in order to beat the Oilers 41-38 in the Wild Card game. Reich finished the game with four passing touchdowns, which all came after halftime.
Before the season began, at the NFL Scouting Combine, Reich said he was proud of what Sean McDermott has accomplished in Buffalo.
"I'm very excited for Sean and the Bills," Reich said. "Obviously playing there for 10 years, I'm a huge Bills fan. Even though they're in the AFC, when it doesn't hurt the Colts, I root for the Bills. I think very highly of Sean McDermott. I think he's all class. I think he's an excellent x's and o's guy. He's a great leader, very happy to see what he's doing there in Buffalo."
4. Two coordinators who could see HC jobs soon
The Buffalo Bills have had one of the best offenses in the NFL and the Indianapolis Colts have had one of the best defenses in the league this season. With several head coaching jobs open, Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll and Colts defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus have been named as potential candidates for several of the vacancies.
Buffalo finished the regular season ranked second in scoring averaging 31.3 points a game and second in offense averaging 396.4 yards per game. Bills wide receiver Stefon Diggs became the first Bill ever to lead the league in receiving yards and receptions. After 16 games, Indianapolis ranked 10th on defense allowing 22.6 points a game and eighth allowing 332.1 yards per game. The Colts had three players with at least 7.5 sacks this season.
Per reports, the Jets have put in a request to interview Daboll and Eberflus. Daboll said he's not going to let the buzz impact his daily preparations.
"The minute you start thinking about other things, is the minute you start slipping on the job you have," Daboll said. "That's not my nature. That's never been my nature. It's not how I was raised. Certainly not how I would raise my children. I just think when you have a job to do, you do it to the best of your ability every day. Certainly, some things are humbling. And you appreciate that. But you never let it set in because you worry about the next game, the next thing you have to do."
5. Beware of these Colts playmakers
The Colts attack teams with their run game. If the Bills defense wants to have success, they'll have to stop Indianapolis' run game first. Rookie running back Jonathan Taylor is making a name for himself early in his career with his explosive running style. Taylor finished the regular season with 232 carries for 1,169 rushing yards. His 11 rushing touchdowns tie for the most among rookie running backs this year.
Running back Nyheim Hines is the perfect complement to Taylor's bruising running style. Hines finished with 89 attempts for 380 rushing yards and 63 receptions for 482 receiving yards. Hines added on seven total touchdowns for the Colts. It doesn't stop on the ground, Indianapolis can also find success through the air. Wide receiver T.Y. Hilton leads the team with 762 receiving yards and five receiving touchdowns. Wide receiver Zach Pascal leads the team averaging 14.3 yards per catch and has the second-most receiving yards with 629.
NFL Network's Kim Jones posed a question when previewing the matchup wondering if the Bills are better equipped to stop a strong rushing attack now than they would have been earlier in the season.
"He's ridiculously fast and hard to bring down," Jones said of rookie running back Jonathan Taylor. "We all knew that if we watched any Big Ten football. We're certainly aware of his talents and the Bills are too." Jones added that the Bills are equipped to slow down Taylor and the run game based on the talent they have at linebacker with Edmunds and Milano.