INDIANAPOLIS —While the bye week provdes the Indianapolis Colts' players and coaches an opportunity to recharge their batteries, it's also a good opportunity to take a look at what the team is facing when it returns from its break on Monday.
Because of the late bye week, the Colts (3-7) now have just six regular season games remaining. But, having played some of their best football of the season the previous three weeks against Cincinnati, Houston and Pittsburgh, the first pair of games after the bye should be a great measure of how far the Colts have come, facing the top two teams in their own division in back-to-back weeks.
Here's a quick look at the next three games for the Colts; tomorrow we'll follow up with a look at the team's last three games of the season.(Colts' Upcoming Opponents: Weeks 15-17)Week 12 vs. Tennessee Titans (6-4; 2nd place, AFC South)
Sunday, Nov. 26 at 1 p.m., Lucas Oil Stadium
It's been about a month since the Colts fell to the Titans, 36-22, in Tennessee on Monday Night Football, as the hosts scored 21 fourth-quarter points to put the game away, including a 53-yard touchdown pass from Marcus Mariota to Taywan Taylor and a 72-yard touchdown run by Derrick Henry.
The Titans will also have a little extra rest heading into their next matchup with the Colts, however, as they took on the Pittsburgh Steelers last night on *Thursday Night Football. *The Titans trailed by just six points, 23-17, entering the fourth quarter, but the host Steelers went on a 17-0 run from there to win, 40-17.Week 13 at Jacksonville Jaguars (6-3; 1st place, AFC South)
Sunday, Dec. 3 at 1 p.m., Everbank Field
The Jaguars, heading into Week 11 and a visit to the Cleveland Browns (0-9), boast the third-ranked defense in the NFL based on yards allowed per game.
Their defense benefits from their offense controlling the ball with their No. 1-ranked rushing offense (163 yards per game average), nearly 20 more yards per game than the second-ranked Dallas Cowboys (143.6). Rookie first-round selection Leonard Fournette ranks seventh in the NFL with 629 yards rushing and has six touchdowns on the ground.
But that aforementioned Jaguars defense has also been very impressive to this point. Their 35 sacks lead the NFL, while their 165.1 passing yards allowed per game average is also tops in the league by almost 20 whole yards.
The Jaguars, who beat the Colts in Indianapolis, 27-0, on Oct. 22, will travel to Arizona to face the Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium on Nov. 26 before returning home to play host to the Colts for their second matchup of the season.Week 14 at Buffalo Bills (5-4; 2nd place, AFC East)
Sunday, Dec. 10 at 1 p.m., New Era Field
No one was more surprised to learn of quarterback Tyrod Taylor's demotion to back-up quarterback on Wednesday than Taylor himself. Rookie Nathan Peterman will get his chance to start this week at the Los Angeles Chargers. The 2017 fifth-round (171st overall) selection out of Pitt threw his first NFL touchdown pass last Sunday against the New Orleans Saints in a relief performance for the Bills, who were blown out, 47-10. Peterman's newest weapon is wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin, who was acquired from the Carolina Panthers at the trade deadline on Oct. 31. The offesne is led by running back LeSean McCoy who has a combined 848 yards rushing and receiving so far this season. Defensive back Micah Hyde ranks second in the NFL with five interceptions.
The Bills are currently in second place in the AFC East, two games behind the division-leading New England Patriots (7-2). After facing the Chargers, the Bills stay in the AFC West Division, traveling to Kansas City to face the Chiefs on Thanksgiving weekend. The Bills will host the Patriots on Dec. 3 before the Colts shuffle off to Buffalo for the Dec. 10 contest at New Era Field.
Heading into this weekend the Bills are 4-1 at home and 3-2 within the AFC, but they have three games to play before hosting Indianapolis, and a great deal can happen between now and then.*