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2021 AFC Wild Card Preview: Colts vs Bills

With the end of the 2020-21 NFL Season and the playoffs now upon us The 11-5 Indianapolis Colts match up against the 13-3 Buffalo Bills in one of the AFC Wild Card games.

Indianapolis is in tough against a team that won their final game 56-26 and grabbed the AFC East title, knocking out the New England Patriots 10 year run as winners of that division. Not only that, but the Bills are in the AFC Wild Card game, and the Patriots are nowhere to be found.

Colts Come In AFC Wild Card As Serious Underdogs

That may be an understatement but it’s true in every sense of the word. The Bills are that good of a team.

They showcase a star quarterback in Josh Allen who became the first quarterback in NFL history with 4,500-plus passing yards, 35-plus passing touchdowns, and five-plus rushing touchdowns in a single season.

AFC Wild Card, Colts, Bills
MIAMI GARDENS, FLORIDA – SEPTEMBER 20: Cole Beasley #11 of the Buffalo Bills is tackled by Nik Needham #40 of the Miami Dolphins after a reception during the second quarter at Hard Rock Stadium on September 20, 2020 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

Allen broke virtually all of the team’s single-season passing records, including passing yards (4,544), passing touchdowns (37), total touchdowns (46), completions (396), and completion percentage (69.2 percent).

The Bills dominance doesn’t stop with Allen

Stefon Diggs had 127 receptions and 1,535 yards in 2020. He is the NFL’s leader in both categories this year. He is another powerful weapon in a potent Bill’s offense, that will make this AFC Wild Card game explosive.

Diggs also finished the regular-season finale against the Miami Dolphins with seven catches for 76 yards and has seven-plus receptions in eight straight games, also a Buffalo Bills record.

AFC Wild Card, Bills, Colts
GLENDALE, ARIZONA – NOVEMBER 15: Wide receiver Cole Beasley #11 of the Buffalo Bills celebrates with wide receiver Stefon Diggs #14 after Beasley’s touchdown during the second half against the Arizona Cardinals at State Farm Stadium on November 15, 2020 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Cole Beasley caught 82 passes for 967 yards with four touchdowns in 2020, setting career highs in the first two categories. He has been out since Week 16 with an injured knee he sustained late in the Bills win over the New England Patriots. Beasley would add yet another weapon for Allen in this AFC Wild Card matchup.

Isaiah McKenzie who had three total touchdowns in Sunday’s win over the Dolphins, proves that the Bills have multiple threats to burn a team on offense.

McKenzie had 30 receptions for 282 yards with five touchdowns this season, scoring two touchdowns in Sunday’s game. He also returned a punt 84 yards for a touchdown in the blowout win over Miami, knocking the Dolphins out of the AFC Wild Card spot.

McKenzie did not participate in Tuesday’s practice due to an ankle injury while Stefon Diggs also had a limited role as well.

That could seriously hurt the Bills chances against the Colts in this AFC Wild Card game, but you have to believe that Diggs and McKenzie will play especially if Beasley cannot.

Colts Defense Could Provide Good Counter to Bills Offense

For all The Bills high powered offense, The Colts do have a star-studded defense with linebacker Darius Leonard and defensive tackle DeForest Buckner leading the way. Leonard was tops on the team with 138 tackles; Buckner racked up 9.5 sacks and 26 QB hits. The Colts were also tied for fifth in the NFL with 25 takeaways.

Buckner had some issues with his ankle in Tuesday’s practice but it doesn’t look to be too serious.

Cornerback Rock Ya-Sin hasn’t played due to being in concussion protocol since the Colts Week 16 game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. He also couldn’t pass through the protocol in time causing him to miss last Sunday’s game against the Jacksonville Jaguars. If Ya-Sin can’t pass through the concussion protocol this week he will miss the Colts playoff game.

Safety Khari Willis is also in the same boat as Ya-Sin with concussion issues and is practicing but missed the Jaguars game on Sunday, and may miss the AFC Wild Card game.

AFC Wild Card
INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA – DECEMBER 01: Corey Davis #84 of the Tennessee Titans is hit by Khari Willis #37 of the Indianapolis Colts during the first quarter at Lucas Oil Stadium on December 01, 2019 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

Cornerback TJ Carrie has been covering for Ya-Sin as well but also has ankle and shoulder problems that have plagued him.

Colts Offence Has Emerging Star In Jonathan Taylor

When Marlon Mack went down in Week One it looked to spell trouble for the Colts offense. They were already gambling on an aging Philip Rivers at quarterback and adding a rookie back in Jonathan Taylor could have spelled disaster.

Fortunately for the Colts that did not happen. Taylor became just the fifth rookie in team history to rush for 1,000 yards in a season when he had a franchise-record 253 yards Sunday against the Jaguars. Taylor finished with 232 carries for 1,169 yards (5.0 per carry) and 36 catches. He had 12 total TDs, helping his team reach the AFC Wild Card game.

Philip Rivers was 369-of-543 (68%) for 4,169 yards, 24 TDs and 11 INTs. He had a passer rating of 97 and has been sacked 19 times.

The Colts’ rushing game has gained at least 127 yards in each of their past four games. The Colts have not had an interception in any of their past 3 games on offence as well.

Thanks for reading my article about the AFC Wild Card Game between the Buffalo Bills and the Indianapolis Colts. Follow me on Twitter for more great content @lebaneb

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