It’s the welcome end to Buffalo’s brutal stretch of five road games in the first seven games this year. The Bills rough start this year has partly been a product of games away from home and tough opponents. Buffalo has the fourth toughest strength of schedule played so far this year, based on current records. This week may provide a respite—the Indianapolis Colts have started the season 1-5.
Here are some of the issues for Bills fans to keep an eye on this weekend:
1. THE TEAM’S THE THING
Even before midseason, the Bills are on their third starting quarterback already this season. They’ve survived back to back losses to start the year and some disconcerting and almost bizarre occurrences through seven games.
And yet, they keep plugging along. Thirteen-year veteran Kyle Williams says despite how difficult it may be, the team concept keeps him going.
“It's not always easy,” Williams told One Bills Live this week. “Sometimes you don't always feel that great but not everybody gets an opportunity to do this. I love football, I love ‘team’. There's nothing like a team.
”There are ups and downs in a season,” Williams said. “We did it last season - up and then down. Then we had to come back up. There are struggles, and you never know what's out there unless you really attack the day and you grind and get ready and play as hard as you can for as long as you can, and at the end of the year you look up and see where you are.”
Good advice for his teammates, and Bills fans, as midseason approaches.
2. TEAM BUILDING
Ask any of Frank Reich’s Bills teammates from the ‘80s and ‘90s—they knew Reich would be an NFL Head Coach one day.
Part of it was because of his command of offensive techniques and strategy. But also because of Reich’s ‘team’ leadership. His task is similar to the one Sean McDermott is tackling in Buffalo. As we all know the Bills made the playoffs in McDermott's first year. The Colts have started this season 1-5, but Reich is seeing progress.
“Here's what we're excited about,” Reich told One Bills Live this week. “We’re excited about the people in the building and the process that we’re going through. The record isn't what we want it to be right now, but we have been really close. We just gotta find ways to win these games. Every game literally has been a one-score game. But we've got the right guys in the building and just working to finish off those games in the right way.”
3. COMEBACK PLAYER OF THE YEAR CANDIDATE
Even with Indy’s 1-5 record, you’d be hard pressed to find a stronger candidate for NFL Comeback Player of the Year than Andrew Luck. The Colts QB missed all last year, and 26 total games over the last three years with various injuries.
But he’s back now and his surgically repaired shoulder has him on pace to shatter NFL single season records for most pass attempts and completions.
Luck’s health was a question mark right up until the Colts went to camp in July. But his strong recovery comes as no surprise to his coach.
“I can honestly say it didn't surprise me,” Reich says. “I got to see first-hand the process that he had put in place as far as getting healthy, the people he had around him and the work ethic that he was showing in getting ready again.”
4. HALL OF FAMER ON THE FIELD IN INDY
There are only three kickers in the Pro Football Hall of Fame—Jan Stenerud, George Blanda and Lou Groza. The fourth will be wearing number 4 for Indy Sunday-Adam Vinatieri.
In his 23rd season, at age 45, Vinatieri is closing in on the NFL record for scoring. He enters Sunday’s game against the Bills with 2,535 career points. He’s ten points away from passing Morten Andersen and becoming the NFL’s all-time scorer.
The Buffalo Bills will travel to Indianapolis Week 7 to take on the Colts. In anticipation of the matchup, we take a look at the opponents through the years.
5. THIRD DOWN DISCREPANCY
The Buffalo offense has been struggling on third downs. The Bills convert just 28-percent of their third downs, 31st in the NFL (ahead of Arizona). On the other sideline, the Colts are the best third down team in the league so far this season, converting 49-percent of their chances.
Success on first and second downs obviously plays a major role in that discrepancy.
6. UNDER THE YELLOW
The penalty flags were flying last week in Houston—the Bills were charged with 12-penalties for 104 yards. It’s the third game they’ve had with 10-or-more penalties, and Buffalo is 1-2 in those games.
The Bills average 8 penalties per game this season, fourth most in the NFL.
7. LONDON CALLING—AGAIN
The NFL Sunday schedule starts with game two of the three game London series. The Titans and the Chargers kick off at 9:30 AM Sunday at Wembley Stadium. There’s another game in London next week—the Eagles and the Jaguars at Wembley.
The London games, which the Bills played in three years ago, have become a big success. Longtime NFL analyst Peter King of NBC Sports says UK fans are quickly snapping up the tickets at Wembley.
“It strikes me as amazing that it took three days to sell 75,000 tickets for the Chargers and Titans to play in London,” King told One Bills Live. “That's mind boggling. Think about this-- could they have sold out that game in either of the home markets of those teams? I don't think they could have sold 75,000 tickets in either Nashville or certainly not LA.”
King says the league is getting close to committing a team full time to London. And maybe more than one.
“The NFL has a decision to make,” he says, “not now necessarily - but fairly soon. That decision revolves around ‘are we going to put a franchise in London permanently?’ If we do, which one of the current franchises? I don't think there's a stomach to expand because right now the pie is divided into 32 pieces and I don’t think they want to expand it to 34 or 36 pieces.”
Then number two, I think the question is, we always thought that LA would have one team. And they ended up with two. If you look at it, there appears to be some sentiment - majority sentiment I don't know yet - but it would make more sense to make two teams in London so one wouldn't be sticking out there alone.”