Both teams will be fighting to keep their seasons alive this week as the Indianapolis Colts host the Buffalo Bills. Game time is scheduled for 1:00 EST on Sunday, October 21, at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. Fans in local markets can see the game on CBS.
According to this week’s NFL betting odds, the Colts are 7.5-point favorites at home. The over/under for the game is set at 43 points.
The Colts are in the midst of a four-game losing streak that has seen them fall to 1-5 on the season. Indianapolis has remained competitive for long stretches of that losing streak and had great opportunities to get wins over both the Eagles and Texans. Alas, the Colts have been unable to do enough to win despite encouraging performances from quarterback Andrew Luck.
The silver lining is that the Colts play in what looks like a mediocre AFC South. Despite being 1-5, they are just two games behind the rest of the teams in their division. However, if the Colts want to keep any hope alive of being in the playoff race during the second half of the season, they need to start winning games right now.
The Bills are in a similar position, as they sit at 2-4 after missing out on a great opportunity to get a win last week against the Texans. At times, Buffalo has shown glimpses of being a competitive team, but their path to victory each and every week is rather narrow. They will now look to journeyman Derek Anderson to guide them for the time being with rookie Josh Allen sidelined with an elbow injury.
Much like the Colts, the Bills are just two games off the pace in their division, so there is lingering hope. However, time is quickly running out for Buffalo to turn things around. If the Bills can’t get a win this week, their upcoming schedule makes it unlikely that they’ll get things moving in the right direction.
This line feels extraordinarily high for a game between two teams that have had trouble winning games this season. If the line were a few points lower, I wouldn’t have a problem leaning toward the Colts to cover. However, I don’t feel comfortable picking them to win by more than a touchdown, even against the Bills. I’ll take my chances with Buffalo beating the spread.
Obviously, Anderson is the great X-factor in this game. He was unemployed until a couple weeks ago and hasn’t started an NFL game since 2016. He hasn’t even thrown more than 100 passes in a season since 2010, and now he’s being relied on to lead one of the worst offensive teams in the league. That being said, he’s surely a better option than Nathan Peterman, so as long as Anderson can avoid turnovers and limit his mistakes, the Bills will take it.
It goes without saying that the Bills will attempt to lean on their rushing attack to help Anderson has much as possible. On the season, Buffalo’s running game has been lacking. But LeSean McCoy has had his best games of the season the last two weeks, so things are moving in the right direction.
The Colts have been solid against the run for most of the season. But they’re not exactly dominant in that department, so there’s a good chance that McCoy will have a productive game. If that’s the case, Anderson may be able to find some holes in the Indianapolis secondary, which has had a rough time the last few weeks.
On the other side of the ball, the Colts have a passing attack that’s capable of moving the ball and putting points on the scoreboard. Even during their four-game losing streak, the Colts are averaging 27 points per game on the shoulders of Luck. That being said, the Indy receivers are struggling with dropped passes, which is holding back the Colts. Luck has also thrown five interceptions over the past two weeks, a sign that he’s feeling too much pressure to do everything himself and is trying to force things.
It’s important to keep in mind that the Buffalo defense is better than their record indicates. They don’t give up that many yards and are among the top five teams in the NFL in sacks. In last week’s loss to Houston, the Bills had seven sacks and forced three fumbles, even if they only turned one of those into a turnover. If the Colts can’t keep that pass rush away from Luck, they will be vulnerable to drive-stalling sacks and turnovers.
All things considered, the Colts are too flawed to make me think they can cover more than a touchdown. Obviously, the Bills are also filled with shortcomings, but the Colts aren’t necessarily equipped to expose all of them while also trying to hide all of their issues. My guess is that this game comes down to the wire with both teams so desperate to get a win. For me, that equates to the Bills beating the spread, even if they can’t steal a win.