3 Things for the Colts to win
1. Protect the franchise. If you can manage to give Andrew Luck a pocket to step up in to the Colts’ plethora of receiving weapons including: T.Y. Hilton, Andre Johnson, Phillip Dorsett and Donte Moncrief can do damage. The Bills’ equalizer is their front four but creating that pocket should be a little easier to accomplish with Marcell Dareus slated to miss Week 1 as he is serving a suspension.
2. Stop the run. You remember how the Patriots repeatedly trampled the Colts’ defense. The Bills’ offensive line and LeSean McCoy along with an athletic quarterback in the form of Tyrod Taylor will be no small feat. Run fits, sound tackling, and leverage will all loom big. But run defense boils down to attitude, drive and determination. It’s a mindset that has evaded Indy for too long. Change that in Week 1.
3. Keep Sammy Watkins in front of you. The Colts have an underrated pair of man-to-man corners in Vontae Davis and Greg Toler but man defense is generally high risk, high reward. Watkins is explosive and looks to build on a solid rookie campaign in year two. Don’t let Watkins beat you with his ability to rack up yardage after the catch particularly if you are in man-to-man because that could result in a house call quickly.
3 Things for the Bills to win
1. Tyrod Taylor must be better than a game manager. Beating out Matt Cassel and E.J. Manuel for the starting quarterback position wasn’t exactly a “shocking” development. However, Taylor was playing with house money considering his competition and the fact that he provides a mobility component the other QBs lack. And while I fully expect the Bills to ride LeSean McCoy throughout the season, Taylor is going to have make his fair share of plays with his arm and legs. Simply turning around and handing the ball to McCoy isn’t going to get the job done in Week 1, particularly with Shady being at less than 100%.
2. The Bills’ talented front four must wreak havoc. Let’s call it a talented front three as Marcell Dareus is going to miss this contest. However, Mario Williams, Kyle Williams, and Jerry Hughes did account for 29.5 of Buffalo’s NFL leading 54 sacks in 2014. As I have stated before and as I will continue to reiterate, the great equalizer in terms of defending an elite passer is consistent pressure. The Bills’ collection of pass rushers are the best in the NFL (statistically) and it will take their best effort to slow down Andrew Luck and the Colts passing attack.
3. Ronald Darby must play well. Head coach Rex Ryan has shown a lot of confidence in the 2015 2nd round pick out of Florida St. and he is expected start from Day 1. Darby is a competitor, sound technically and has improving ball skills. During the preseason you saw good and bad from Darby. Multiple interceptions and pass break-ups as well as not understanding down & distance and a lack of discipline on double moves. Lead cornerback Stephon Gilmore may or may not play in this contest but regardless Darby will likely line up against T.Y. Hilton, Andre Johnson, Phillip Dorsett and Donte Moncrief at some point during this contest. Tough matchups for a rookie in his first professional contest. If Darby can hold up in coverage, take a defensive holding or pass interference call rather than giving up a score then the Bills’ secondary has a chance.
What to watch for…
Down & distance. Andrew Luck is terrific but the Colts can’t afford to be in 3rd & long allowing the Bills to pin their ears back defensively. Likewise, Buffalo’s offense has to stay on schedule. Keep the down & distance favorable so that you can give Tyrod Taylor run/pass options which plays to his skill set.
The Front Office Says…
The Indianapolis Colts win. Yeah, yeah I know what I said on the CPGM Week 1 Podcast but I forgot about the absence of Dareus. Give me the Colts.