Top 3 Individual Matchups
1 – Jerry Hughes vs. Anthony Castonzo
Buffalo’s veteran pass rusher has been very productive rushing the passer this season. He’ll face a left tackle who is more of a technician than an athlete. That figures to benefit the Bills relentless right defensive end.
2 – Jordan Mills vs. Jabaal Sheard
Mills had a tough assignment last week, and faces another Sunday. Sheard is a quality power rusher, who can lull offensive tackles to sleep and then suddenly bend the corner. Buffalo’s right tackle has held his own in most battles this season.
3 – Jordan Poyer vs. Eric Ebron
The free agent addition has been a big-time scorer for the Colts in the first half of the season. He leads the team with six touchdowns on just 30 receptions. Poyer figures to get the bulk of this coverage assignment.**
Bills Top 2 Advantages
Good advantage – Takeaway ability
The Bills currently lead the league in fumble recoveries with seven, as Buffalo’s opponents have coughed up the ball 19 times in six games. The Colts have lost five fumbles this season to rank 23rd in the league.
Best advantage – Run defense
Buffalo has raised their run defense ranking from 18th to 8th over the past four weeks. Indianapolis doesn’t run the ball much, but when the Colts choose to do so the Bills appear to have the upper hand.
Bills Number 1 Must
Pass pressure on Luck
Buffalo’s run of pass rush productivity must continue against the Colts. Andrew Luck is the trigger man for the offense and knowing how much Indianapolis throws the ball (see below), getting to the Colts QB will be critical to the outcome.
Practice photos from Week 7 of the 2018 season as the Buffalo Bills prepare to take on the Indianapolis Colts on the road.
Throw, throw, throw
Colts head coach Frank Reich hasn’t been shy about making use of Andrew Luck’s surgically repaired throwing shoulder. Through the first six games this season, the Colts have thrown the ball 289 times on 423 offensive plays called. Indy is throwing almost 71 percent of the time, the highest percentage in the league. Part of that is due to being behind on the scoreboard, but through the first six weeks, the Colts offensive identity is to throw it all over the field.
Case of the drops
As much as the Colts throw the ball, you’d think it would mean plenty of practice for Luck’s receiving corps. Unfortunately for him, his receivers have all shared in contributing with a large number of dropped passes.
The team has 18 dropped thorws over their last three games, with an even half dozen coming in each of those games against the Texans, Patriots and Jets.
WR Chester Rogers has three drops over that span, while Ryan Grant, T.Y. Hilton and Nyheim Hines each have two in the last three weeks.
Staying on the field – Part I
Despite those dropped passes, the Indianapolis offense finds a way to stay on the field and extend drives. It’s due in large part to converting on third down. In fact, the Colts lead the league in third down conversion percentage at almost an even 50 percent on the season (49.4%).
Their best day in converting on third down came in their season opener against a good Bengals defense when they went 11-17 on third down for a conversion rate of 65 percent.
Staying on the field – Part 2
Keeping your offense on the field to sustain drives is a good thing, but for your defense it’s a negative. The Colts defense has trouble getting off the field on third down. They rank 26th in third down defense allowing opponents to convert at a rate of almost 44 percent (43.6%).
Only 14 percent of the time this season has the Colts defense been able to force a three-and-out to rank 29th in the league. They have just 10 three-and-outs on 72 opponent possessions in 2018.
Sticking with a theme here, when your defense can’t get off the field, it inevitably means that your opponent is going to reach scoring territory. The first issue is the Colts defense gives up four yards or more on first down almost 55 percent of the time (54.4%), which ranks 27th in the league.
That allows the opposing offense to stay in manageable down and distance and keep drives alive. It’s why it’s not surprising to see that the Indianapolis defense has given up more scoring drive (33) than any team in the NFL. On 46 percent of opponent possessions this season they’ve given up points.
Quote of the week “I’m just going to be myself. I like to have fun. It’s a game and I’m going to go out there and I’m going to enjoy it. Yeah, we’re going to have some mistakes. Obviously, we’re going to try to minimize them as much as we can. Make sure our communication throughout the week is excellent. There is going to be a lot of talking. This is how I see this route or this play, just making sure those things are communicated before Sunday.”
--QB Derek Anderson
Stat of the week
If the Bills can hold the Colts offense to 225 yards or less, it will be the team’s first three-game streak of holding opponents under 225 yards since 2004 when the defense finished second in the league in total defense.
Milestones in reach
Stephen Hauschka needs seven points for 1,000 in his career.
Matt Milano needs one fumble recovery to have the most single-season fumble recoveries (4) by a Bill since Bruce Smith (4) in 1985.
With an interception or fumble recovery, Jordan Poyer will be the first Bill with takeaways in four consecutive game since Kiko Alonso in 2013.
LeSean McCoy has rolled up more than 100 total yards from scrimmage in three of his last four meetings with Indianapolis, including 156 rushing yards and a touchdown last season.