A game that will be a challenge for both teams; the Colts who have gone 5-2 after opening the season 0-3 need to win this if they are going to have any hope of being a playoff team. The Bills who looked to be coasting along nicely in a “soft” division suddenly have the spectre of a resurgent Patriots team looming large in the wing mirrors and have to play them twice in the closing weeks of the season.
Back home after pasting the Jets for 45 points last week in the Big Apple bouncing back from a desperate effort against the Jaguars where their high-octane defence was stopped in it’s tracks the Bills face a formidable opponent in the Colts.
The Bills have outscored opponents by 145 points this season, they currently rank second in points per game (31.1) and first in points allowed per game (15.0). Not many teams are as confusing as the Bills. At times this season, they’ve looked like the best team in the NFL and then they’ve also stumbled to defeats to the Jags, Steelers, and Titans. They have topped 40 points on three occasions this year and face a Colts side this week with their pass receiving corps at maximum strength and with a quarterback in Josh Allen who is a dual threat and leads the way in the MVP betting.
Allen for all his upside and swagger this year hasn’t been consistent although he ranks as one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL. The Colts run a zone defence that is designed to limit big plays and keep the offence “in front” of them. However the Colts secondary have nobody who is capable of covering Stefon Diggs who equalled or set season highs in targets (13) and receiving (8/162/1) in last week’s blowout of the Jets. Diggs will once again be a danger to all and it will be very interesting to see if Gabriel Davis plays a more active role as he looks to take over the No2 receiver role from 34-year-old Emmanuel Sanders.
The ground game for the Bills has struggled to spark this year and it looked as though we were back to “committee status” last week where Devin Singletary, Zack Moss and Matt Breida all carried the ball with Breida scoring two touchdowns. The Colts have been decent at stopping the run this year and with the obvious issue of who is going to run the ball for he Bills this is a situation in betting terms that is best avoided.
Talk of the run game leads us to the question that the Bills will have to answer if they are to stop the Colts on offence. Can they slow down or stop Colts running back Jonathan Taylor? Taylor enters Week 11 with touch counts of 27, 21, 19, and 21 over his last four games and 120-plus total yards in five of his last six. The only running back so far to rush for over 100-yards on the Buffalo defence this year has been Derrick Henry. Taylor has the most runs of 10-plus yards in the NFL, while the Bills are tied for the second-fewest long rushes allowed, something has to bend or maybe even break. Stopping Taylor will be a big test and one of the keys to the game for the Bills.
The Colts will need to find some balance within their offence though and although quarterback Carson Wentz is playing better he has only cleared 275 yards passing in 1-of-10 games. Wentz will need to look after the ball against the Bills he’s only thrown three interceptions all season but here he faces a ball-hawking Buffalo defence that have forced an NFL-high 24 turnovers, including 15 interceptions. Wentz has to a certain extent curbed his risk-taking ambitions this season but if he doesn’t maintain that decorum he’ll come unstuck in this game and the Bills are good enough to make him pay for any mistakes.
If the Colts can’t establish themselves on the ground those carefree Wentz tendencies could surface as the Bills have covered most receivers very effectively and even the dangerous Michael Pittman who has played some great football over the past few weeks could be in for a tough game here. Pittman who has 32 catches for 450 yards and five TD’s in the last six Colts games is likely to draw coverage from Tre’Davious White who has snuffed out some elite receivers this season. The other Colts receivers Zach Pascal and T.Y. Hilton haven’t really delivered so far this season so a lot offensively relies on the Wentz, Taylor and Pittman triumvirate.
One angle that hasn’t been discussed so far is the weather and we are getting to the time of the year in Buffalo that meteorological conditions can be a factor. There is the potential for cold, wind, rain and/or wet snow in the forecast for Buffalo on Sunday afternoon and that could affect the scoring in this game between two powerful offences. As we have seen when the Bills offence clicks into gear it can be impressive and the Colts if they can get Taylor going are dangerous but the weather especially the wind can play havoc at Orchard Park in up state New York and I can fashion a case for the total going under the 48.5 points. In terms of touchdown scorers Stefon Diggs for the Bills appeals the most having posted a score in three of the past four games whilst Gabriel Davis is worth a dart throw at 7-2 given the talk of an expanded role in the Buffalo offence.
PROFIT/LOSS (NOVEMBER 2021): LOSS -7.36 points
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