In the interest of not wasting any time, let's break down the matchup.
How to watch Colts at Bills
Date: Saturday, Jan. 9 | Time: 1:05 p.m. ET
Location: Bills Stadium (Orchard Park, New York)
TV: CBS | Stream: Free on CBSSports.com and the CBS Sports app, also through CBS All Access
Follow: CBS Sports App
When the Colts have the ball
Jonathan Taylor is on an absolute rampage over the last several weeks. There was a lull in the middle of the season where Jordan Wilkins seemingly overtook him as the Colts' lead ball-carrier, but over the final six games of the year, Taylor carried 119 times for 741 yards and seven touchdowns, adding 14 catches for another 96 yards and an additional score. He's coming off of a preposterous 30-253-2 rushing line against the hapless Jaguars -- a game during which he played a season high 82 percent of the team's snaps.
The Indianapolis offensive line, despite rotating through several different tackles as the team dealt with various injuries, has just been totally dominating opposing defensive fronts, allowing Taylor to average 2.48 yards before contact per carry during that time. The league average is 1.71 per carry, per Pro Football Focus and Tru Media, and Taylor averaged 1.67 per carry through the team's first 10 games of the season.
Of course, Taylor has also done his part. After breaking just eight tackles on 113 carries through the early part of the year, Taylor avoided 33 tackles on 119 carries from Week 11 through Week 17. That spiked his yards after contact per carry average to 3.75, and allowed him to gain at least 12 yards (PFF and Tru Media's bar for an explosive run) on nearly 18 percent of his carries down the stretch. (By way of comparison, Derrick Henry did it on just south of 11 percent of his carries during the same time span.)
Buffalo's run defense has been vulnerable at times to blow-up games this season, allowing at least 150 yards on the ground to each of the Rams, Chiefs (245), Patriots, and Cardinals (217). But all of those games occurred in the first half of the season, and the entire Bills defense has tightened up since the team's Week 11 bye. The Bills haven't allowed more than 26 points since Week 10, and even that total was in last week's game against the Dolphins, where a bunch of starters rested during the second half. It's notable the in Pro-Football-Reference's expected points model, the Bills defense created positive value for the team in just two of 10 games before the bye, and in four of six after it.
Buffalo is seemingly well set up to deal with the Indianapolis passing game as well. Tre'Davious White is more than capable of following T.Y. Hilton all over the field. The Bills are most vulnerable to slot receivers who are dynamite-quick in and out of their breaks. The Colts don't have a receiver who really fits that mold. Instead, they run the kind of offense that would actually really struggle against Indianapolis' own defense, one that relies on a ton of crossing routes to create rub action and additional space for their wideouts, tight ends, and backs to get free for gains after the catch. But the Bills are very athletic at both linebacker and safety, and they did a solid (if not necessarily spectacular) job dealing with crossing routes throughout the season.
The key in being able to do so on Saturday will be getting early pressure on Philip Rivers, forcing him to deliver the ball before his man has actually sprung open. Rivers has excellent timing and anticipation, but is also willing to force a throw where he wants it to go if he's under duress, rather than trying to avoid the rush, escape to the outside, and make a play later in the down. He just doesn't have that kind of mobility anymore. The Colts offensive line is terrific, but there's a weakness at tackle right now due to all the injuries, and if the Bills can take advantage of it, they can cause some problems for Rivers.
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