INDIANAPOLIS — This week, the Indianapolis Colts (1-5) get a revenge game of sorts against the visiting Buffalo Bills (2-4).
Last year, the two teams played in Week 14 in what could have been considered a favorable matchup for Indy going into the game. However, the weather had different plans, dumping a comforter of snow on the Orchard Park, N.Y., area, and the Bills escaped with a 13-7 overtime win.
It wasn't the first time the Colts have lost a late-season game in the snow in Buffalo either, as they fell, 30-7, in Week 17 of the 2009 season to the trio of Ryan Fitzpatrick, Fred Jackson and Terrell Owens.
This week the conditions will be more accommodating as the game will be played in the temperature-controlled environment of Lucas Oil Stadium.
Like the Colts, the Bills are coming off of a Week 6 loss. The Houston Texans — victors over the Colts in Week 4 — defeated the Bills, 20-13, on Sunday.
Bills rookie starting quarterback Josh Allen injured his elbow late in the third quarter when he was hit by a defender after making a pass. He was replaced by second-year pro Nathan Peterman.
Before leaving the game, Allen was 10-of-17 passing for 84 yards and was sacked twice. Peterman posted a line of 6-of-12 for 61 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions in Allen's absence.
The Bills began the fourth quarter with Peterman tossing a 16-yard touchdown over a defender and into the hands of wide receiver Zay Jones, taking the lead for the first time in the game, 13-10.
Houston would later tie the game up with a 27-yard Ka'imi Fairbairn field goal, but Buffalo's answer was a Peterman pass intercepted by Houston cornerback Johnathan Joseph. who returned it 28 yards for a touchdown. With the Texans then leading 20-13, Peterman would again throw an interception on the ensuing drive, this one to defensive back Kareem Jackson.
Despite their struggles passing the ball, Bills running back LeSean McCoy had a respectable day on the ground, carrying the ball 16 times for 73 yards (4.6 avg) and chipping in 21 yards on three receptions.
The Bills' defense kept the Texans' offense — led by a banged-up Deshaun Watson — in check, as Houston totaled just 216 yards and 13 points.
Watson, who is nursing a chest injury, was sacked a staggering seven times. He had arguably his roughest game of the season, passing for just 177 yards and throwing one touchdown compared to two interceptions. The second-year star had strung together four straight games with at least 300 yards passing before Sunday.
First and foremost is the status of Allen, the Bills' signal caller, whom Bills head coach Sean McDermott declares week-to-week.
"The injury puts Allen's status for Sunday's game at the Indianapolis Colts in doubt. McDermott said he and his offensive staff will 'work through' whether Nathan Peterman or Derek Anderson would replace Allen as the starter if he cannot play at the Colts," according to ESPN’s Bills reporter, Mike Rodak.
If Allen cannot play, then it appears to be between Peterman and 14-year vet Derek Anderson, whom the team signed last week, to start this Sunday in Indianapolis.
All this points to a likely scenario in which the Colts will have to deal with a heavy dose of McCoy and the Bills' run game. Through six games, Buffalo has passed it 170 times compared to 168 carries.
The Bills' defense can be a very aggressive group against quarterbacks, as their 19 sacks — former Colts first-round pick Jerry Hughes leads them with 4.5 — are tied with the Colts for third most in the league. Their 12 takeaways are also tied for sixth.
The good news for the Colts on that front is that they got starting left tackle Anthony Castonzo back last week against the Jets, and rookie Braden Smith has been playing quite well at right tackle the last two weeks.
Perhaps the tallest task for the Colts offense against the Bills will be the Colts' depleted group of pass catchers against a very good Buffalo secondary. The Colts have been without leading receiver T.Y. Hilton the last two weeks, without starting tight end Jack Doyle the last four weeks, plus receivers Ryan Grant and Marcus Johnson both left last week's game early with ankle injuries. Johnson today was placed on IR, and the team signed veteran Dontrelle Inman.
Aside from Allen, the Bills are pretty healthy, amazingly having no players with an injury designation on their Week 6 official injury report.
2018 KEY STATS
- Tied for 28th in penalties (47)
- 30th in sacks allowed (24)
- 31st in total offense (222.5 YPG)
- 31st on third downs (28%)
- 32nd in scoring (12.7 PPG)
- 32nd in pass offense (123.0 YPG)
- Tied for 32nd in interceptions thrown (9)
- 32nd in quarterback rating
- 3rd in total defense (311.7 YPG)
- Tied for 3rd in sacks (19)
- 3rd in yards per pass attempt allowed (6.7 YPA)
- Tied for 4th in 20-yard pass plays allowed (15)
- 6th in pass defense (219.2 YPG)
- Tied for 6th in takeaways (12)
- 8th in run defense (92.5 YPG)
- 27th in red zone defense (68.4%)