Buffalo Bills vs. Indianapolis Colts Matchup Preview (1/9/20): Betting Odds, Depth Charts, Live Stream (Watch Online)

The Bills (13-3) are hosting a playoff game for the first time since 1995 against the Indianapolis Colts (11-5) and their red-hot rookie in the backfield. This wildcard matchup will feature a pair of top 10 offenses, the NFL’s leading receiver, and the best rookie running back since Saquon Barkley. There is no reason to miss this game on Saturday televised by CBS. For in depth-analysis, betting odds, lineups, and much more, check out this matchup preview for the season’s first playoff game.

For odds movement and full matchup history, visit the Indianapolis Colts at Buffalo Bills Matchup Page.

TV Schedule

Date: January 9th, 2020
Time: 1:05 PM ET
Location: Bills Stadium – Orchard Park, New York
TV Coverage: CBS

Buffalo Bills vs. Indianapolis Colts Live Stream

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Injuries

*Indicates expected to return from IR list for Wild Card game
Buffalo Bills:
IR list: Del’Shawn Phillips (quadriceps), Tommy Sweeney (illness), Cody Ford (knee), Isaiah Hodgins (shoulder), Cam Lewis* (wrist). Questionable: Siran Neal (head), Ty Nsekhe (illness), Cole Beasley (knee), Isaiah McKenzie (ankle), Stefon Diggs (oblique).

Indianpolis Colts:
IR list: Marlon Mack (achilles), Malik Hooker (achilles), Parris Cambell (knee), Le’Raven Clark (achilles), Anthony Castonzo (ankle), Jordan Wilkins (covid). Out: Andrew Donnal (undisclosed). Questionable: Will Holden (ankle), Khari Willis (concussion), Rock Ya-Sin (concussion), Jonathan Taylor (shoulder), T.J. Carrie (ankle), Philip Rivers (toe), DeFroest Buckner (ankle).

Buffalo Bills Analysis

Buffalo BillsIt will be an unfamiliar sight for Bills fans as their team takes the field on Saturday. Buffalo had not hosted a playoff game since 1995 when they defeated Dan Marino’s Dolphins by a score of 37-22. The matchup was, in-fact, the last playoff win in the Bills history (0-6 since that game). But despite that grim record, Buffalo has seen plenty of opportunities to end their drought recently. It was only last year when they took the Texans to overtime in a 22-19 loss. Just a couple of seasons before that, they lost to the Jaguars 10-3.

But aspirations among fans are for more than just one playoff win. The Bills are one of 12 teams to have never won a Super Bowl. Even though all of these teams have been given 52 chances to be victorious, Buffalo’s misfortune seems especially poignant. From 1990 to 1993, they went to 4 consecutive Super Bowls, which remains a record unmatched by any franchise. They lost all 4. Since then, they have failed to even reach the AFC Championship game.

But if any year were to end the Bills’ infamous bad luck in the playoffs, it should be this one. Under the arm of Josh Allen, Buffalo has become one of the supreme offenses in the league. They score 31.3 points (2nd) and travel (396.4) yards (2nd) per game. They score a healthy amount in the RedZone (61.76% of visits, 13th) and convert on a league-leading 49.73% of third downs. Last week a score total of 56 points by Buffalo rocketed the team to a franchise-record in points for a season (501), and their 2nd most points scored in a single game. It was against a Dolphins defense that had been playing well all season, too. This week they play an Indianapolis defense that has struggled against strong passing attacks. All signs point to their offensive success continuing.

Josh Allen deserves much of the credit for the team’s record. The 24-year-old has thrown for 4544 yards (5th), 37 touchdowns (5th), and 10 interceptions (13th most). His quarterback rating of 107.2 ranks 4th best in the league. After a series of strong performances to end the season, calls for Allen to win MVP became louder. It is unlikely he wins the award, but Allen can use a 3 game streak of a 100+ QB rating as momentum entering this matchup.

No player has found a better connection with Josh Allen then receiver Stefon Diggs. Similar to his quarterback, Diggs has surpassed franchise records for the team. He owns the franchise-best single season mark of most receptions (127) and most receiving yards (1535). These stats also led the league this season. His 8 receiving touchdowns (15th most in the league) were comparatively underwhelming. Other receivers on the team include Cole Beasley, Gabriel Davis, and John Brown. They have combined for 11 of Allen’s 37 touchdown passes. While they don’t have the household recognition Diggs does, they should be carefully prepared for by the Colts secondary.

The Bills’ offensive weakness is their run game. They rush for just 107.7 yards per game, 20th in the league. Lead running back Devin Singletary has not done much with his opportunities. Behind a poor average of 4.4 yards per carry, the 23-year-old has tallied just 687 yards (25th) on the ground this season. To make things worse, he is playing the second-ranked rushing defense in the league. The Bills are likely going to rely on their quarterback more than ever in this matchup.

Buffalo’s defense has not been great this year but should be far from a liability in this game. They allow 352.5 yards (14th) and 23.4 points (16th) per game. These stats fall in the middle of the pack this season. Buffalo’s passing defense, however, has been a notable area of strength. While they allow 232.9 passing yards (13th) per game, they hold opposing quarterbacks to a passer rating of just 86.9 (5th). This is large because of their ability to cause turnovers. Buffalo’s 15 interceptions this season ranks 7th in the league. This team’s rushing defense, however, has been poor. They allow 119.6 ground yards (17th) per game, but also 4.6 yards per carry (26th). They will need to do better this Saturday against rookie Jonathan Taylor who ran for the 3rd most yards this season (1169 yards).

Buffalo is a team that no one should look forward to facing in this postseason. They have talent on both sides of the ball but possess an offense that no team seems able to figure out. Put simply; there is no easy way to stop this team. A matchup against the Colts this weekend should be more of the same for the Bills.

Buffalo Bills Depth Chart

QB: Josh Allen
RB1: Devin Singletary
RB2: Zack Moss
WR1: Stefon Diggs
WR2: John Brown
WR3: Cole Beasley
TE: Dawson

Indianapolis Colts Analysis

Indianpolis ColtsUnlike the Bills, there will be nothing unfamiliar for Colts fans about seeing their team play in the playoffs. As recently as 2018, they picked up a road wild-card win against the Texans before losing to the Chiefs in the divisional round. Since 1995 (the last win in Bills playoff history), the Colts are 16-16 in the playoffs, including 1 Lombardi trophy. Even as a wild card team, fans are expecting wins this postseason.

Part of Indianapolis’ success this year is their strong offense. It is not to the same caliber as the Bills, but still respectable. They travel 378.1 yards (10th) and score 28.2 points (9th) per game. These stats fall just inside the top 10. It is worth noting, however, that Indianapolis has struggled in the RedZone. The team has scored a touchdown on just 58.33% of visits, which ranks 18th in the league. They will be facing, however, a Buffalo defense that allows a RedZone TD on 65.52% of visits, which is the 5th most. This battle between a weak RedZone offense and defense should be closely watched in this game.

The offense has largely benefitted from the recent emergence of Jonathan Taylor. The rookie running back had just one 70+ rushing yard performance in his first 10 games, then he went for at least 70 rushing yards in the final 6 games of the season. This includes a couple of monster, 150+ yard performances. It was just last week when the 21-year-old torched Jacksonville for 253 rushing yards. It was both the most yards a Colt has ever run for in a game and the most rushing yards allowed by the Jaguars to any one player. Indianapolis’ ground game might rank outside the top 10 for the season (124.8 rushing yards per game, 11th), but they’re the 3rd ranked rushing offense in the final 3 games of the season (175.7 rushing yards per game in that timespan). A Bills rushing defense that has struggled all season should be worried entering this matchup.

The Colts passing attack should be slightly less concerning for Sean McDermott’s team. Philip Rivers has thrown for 4169 yards (10th), 24 touchdowns (17th), and 11 interceptions (9th most). It is fair to say Rivers has seen better years. But he’s not held the Colts back, either. Rivers has 8 games with a quarterback rating of at least 100, which is the 9th most in the league. His team has gone 8-0 in those games. It is far from guaranteed, but if Rivers reaches that 100 QBR mark, it could spell trouble for Buffalo.

The Colts have talented receivers, but none of them had amazing seasons. T.Y. Hilton led the team with 56 catches (57th) for 762 yards (43rd) and 5 touchdowns (44th). These stats are far from a noteworthy year. Tied with him for receiving touchdowns is 26-year old Zach Pascal. The third-year receiver caught just 44 passes (97th) for 629 yards (66th). Michael Pittman Jr. rounds out the receiving core. He only reeled in 40 catches for 503 yards and just one touchdown. These receivers are not bad at their position, but the Colts passing attack has been far from great this year. Don’t expect much to change against a strong Bills secondary.

The Indianapolis defense is what really made this team make the playoffs. They hold opponents to just 332.1 yards (8th) and 22.6 points (10th) per game. Where the team has especially excelled is against the run. The Colts hold opponents to just 95.5 rushing yards per game (2nd) and 3.7 yards per carry. Only Tampa Bay holds opponents to fewer in each stat. But no team in their last 3 contests has held teams to fewer rushing yards than the Colts (52.7 rushing yards allowed per game in that timespan). In other words, they are red-hot. The Bills have not had much of a ground game this year anyway, but they should be considered effectively irrelevant in this game .

The passing defense of Indianapolis has not been so elite. They allow 241.6 passing yards (20th) and a passer rating of 90.5 (12th) per game. They’ve been able to cause plenty of interceptions (15, 7th most), but it hasn’t made up for their inability to shut down quarterbacks. Josh Allen and the Bills might have yet another huge game this Saturday against a lacking secondary in the Colts.

A strong rushing offense, and rushing defense, has carried the Colts to where they are today. A step-up from their veteran quarterback and some plays in the secondary is all Indianapolis needs to cause what would be one of the biggest upsets in the Wild Card weekend. With a fan-base spoiled with winning seasons and playoff success, they expect nothing less than their team to pull off the underdog win.

Indianapolis Colts Depth Chart

QB: Philip Rivers
RB1: Marlon Mack
RB2: Jonathan Taylor
WR1: T.Y. Hilton
WR2: Michael Pittman Jr.
WR3: Parris Campbell
TE: Jack Doyle

Betting Corner: Buffalo Bills -6.5

Spread: -6.5 Bills
Moneyline: -320 Bills, +260 Colts
Over/Under: 52

Prediction

Spread: -6.5 Bills
Moneyline: -300 Bills
Over/Under: Over

The Bills are 6 and a half point favorite for obvious reasons. The Colts face Buffalo with a worse offense, mediocre passing attack, and a secondary that is expected to be exploited. Indianapolis winning this game would be difficult, but not impossible. If they were to pull off the upset, it would be on the legs of Jonathan Taylor. I have already mentioned his stellar play in recent weeks but put him up against a below-average rush defense in the Bills, and he can have yet another amazing game.

But even if that happens, Buffalo will have answers. Josh Allen and Stefon Diggs have proven they can score from essentially wherever they want on the field, and the Colts’ secondary ranks fairly far down in the league. Even if Taylor exposes the Bills rushing defense, it might not mean much. Considering that Indianapolis will likely find themselves behind, they will need to start airing the ball downfield. Philip Rivers has not been bad this season, but the Colts have been far from a deadly passing threat. I simply don’t think they have enough pieces to overcome this really strong Bills team. Final Score Prediction: 34-23 Bills.

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Daily Fantasy Love/Hate

Love: Jonathan Taylor
Jonathan Taylor should continue his recent success into the postseason. The Buffalo Bills allowed the 16th most points to running backs in fantasy, and the 17th most rushing yards per game. They are simply not strong against the run. Taylor is a great play in daily fantasy leagues for the playoffs.

Hate: Devin Singletary
The running back on the other side of the field, however, I don’t think will have a strong game. Devin Singletary has struggled all year as the Bills running back. Despite owning the Buffalo backfield, he rushed for just 687 yards and ranked as the RB37 in fantasy. Combine that against an Indianapolis rushing defense that allows the 2nd fewest rushing yards per game, and there is no reason to believe he will breakout. Avoid Singletary at all costs for daily fantasy.

  
Luc has been a sports fanatic for as long he can remember. Growing up in New York but having family from Michigan, he grew up as a hybrid sports team fan. He supports the New York Giants, and NYCFC, but also the Detroit Tigers and the Michigan Wolverines. He has been writing sports articles since high school and thoroughly enjoys it. He is studying Sports Management at the University of Michigan.

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