Preview and pick for the Colts at Bills NFL Wild Card game
Current Betting Odds
The Buffalo Bills will host the Indianapolis Colts on Saturday at 1:00 PM ET in a game that will officially open the NFL postseason. The current NFL betting odds at BetOnline shows Buffalo as a 6.0-point favorite and there’s a posted total of 51.0.
For this time of year in Buffalo the weather conditions are relatively mild. The game time temperature is expected to hover around 28 with light 6 MPH winds. We must keep in mind that Indianapolis plays their home games in the friendly confines of Lucas Oil Stadium which is covered by a dome.
How They Arrived
Indianapolis didn't lock up a playoff berth until the regular season's final week. Ironically enough, by virtue of Buffalo’s 56-26 rout of Miami last Sunday, the Colts were assured of at least a Wild Card position. They enter this AFC bracket as a #7 seed despite putting together an impressive 11-5 season, and barely losing out on the AFC South title via a tiebreaker with Tennessee (11-5). As a matter of fact, all seven AFC teams involved in the post season parade have 11 wins or more. Talk about a stacked field.
The Buffalo Bills finished the regular season 13-3 and captured their first AFC East Division crown since the 1995-1996 season. They enter the postseason as a #2 seed, and it will mark the first time Buffalo has hosted a home playoff game since 1996, when they had a quarterback named Jim Kelly.
lt's No Easy Out
Indianapolis is a talented team that will present a difficult challenge for Buffalo. They are strong on both interior lines, possess a terrific rookie running back in Jonathan Taylor, plus an athletic and underrated defensive unit. Furthermore, they have 17-year veteran quarterback Philip Rivers, who threw for 4169 yards and 24 touchdowns against only 11 interceptions this season.
On some negative notes, this will only be the third time this season that Indianapolis will be an underdog. Unfortunately for them, they went 0-2 SU&ATS in their previous two in that role. Moreover, Rivers has been prone to errors at times during his career. The former NC State signal caller has thrown 20 or more interceptions in a season on three separate occasions.
Bills on Fire
The Bills are currently on a 6-game win and cover streak, while being victorious by 19.8 points per contest. Additionally, Buffalo has also won 9 of its last 10, and their only loss in that sequence came at Arizona 32-30 by way of the infamous Hail Murray desperation last second touchdown pass.
The offense has been an integral part of the Bills success this season. That has been even more apparent throughout their last 8 regular season games. During that specific stretch, Buffalo averaged 36.9 points scored and 420.1 yards gained per game.
Colts Recent Betting Trends
Since 2018, Indianapolis is 6-1 to the under as an underdog of between 3.5 and 9.5-points.
The Colts are coming off last Sunday's 28-14 home win over Jacksonville in a game that stayed under the total of 47.0. Indianapolis is 4-0 to the over in their last 4 games this season following an under during its previous outing. Those four contests had a combined average of 57.3 points scored per game.
Bills Recent Betting Trends
Buffalo has scored 26 points or more in 8 consecutive games. Since 2018, the Bills are 8-1 SU&ATS after scoring 25 points or more in each of their previous two games. That improved to 4-0 SU&ATS (+13.5 PPG) if those games were being played at home.
Buffalo capped of their banner regular season with a 56-26 home blowout win over Miami. Since 2018, the Bills are 6-1 to the over at home following a division win, and there were a combined 54.9 points scored per game.
Final Analysis and Free Pick
Will the fully capable Colts defense be able to slow down a Buffalo offense which has run roughshod over opponents during the second half of this season? If they were to indeed do so, they will need some solid complementary work from their offense's ability to run the ball successfully. That certainly hasn't been an issue of late with the Colts running game having amassed a combined 739 yards throughout its previous 4 contests. The Bills defense has been vulnerable at times this season against opposition rushing attacks. If the Colts can keep this close or play with a lead, they can stick to their running game. If they fall behind and become a one-dimensional passing offense with an aging quarterback that possesses little mobility to speak of, things can quickly snowball out of control.
Buffalo isn't just winning games of late, but they are doing so by consistently lopsided margins. For the first time this season, Buffalo fans will be able to attend a home game. Although they were only granted permission to allow 6700 patrons through the gates, it will provide an additional motivational edge for the hometown Bills.
I have a lot of respect for the Colts defense and the talent level they possess. Nevertheless, Buffalo's offense is clicking on all cylinders right now. Barring the Bills offense killing themselves with penalties and turnovers, they will once again put up 30 plus points. The Buffalo defense has been much improved since the calendar turned to December and will turn in a solid enough effort for a comfortable win. My NFL free pick in this contest will further validate the previous statement.
Pick: Buffalo Bills -6.0
Ross Benjamin is a top sports analyst and one of the sports industry's most respected handicappers. Follow him on Twitter: @RossBenjamin1 or visit his website at RBWins.com