Everything you need to know, plus what I’ll be watching for Sunday when the Buffalo Bills visit the Indianapolis Colts:
TV: CBS. Announcers: Spero Dedes (play by play), Adam Archuleta (color analyst).
Radio: Bills Radio Network. Buffalo-WGR 550 AM; Toronto-Fan 590 AM; Rochester-WCMF 96.5 FM and WROC 950 AM; Syracuse-WTKW 99.5 FM and WTKV 105.5 FM. Announcers: John Murphy (play-by-play), Mark Kelso (color analyst).
Series history: Bills lead, 37-31-1. Buffalo has lost its last five games on the road against the Colts, although it hasn’t played in Indianapolis since 2012.
Bills injury report: Out: RB Taiwan Jones (neck), QB Josh Allen (elbow).
Colts injury report: Out: DL Denico Autry (hamstring), TE Jack Doyle (hip), S Clayton Geathers (concussion), WR Ryan Grant (ankle), RB Robert Turbin (shoulder). Questionable: CB Arthur Maulet (hip), CB Chris Milton (hamstring), TE Erik Swoope (knee).
Point spread: The Bills are 7.5-point underdogs at footballlocks.com.
Did you know? The Bills have held their last two opponents, Tennessee and Houston, to less than 225 yards (221 and 216, respectively). If they are able to hold the Colts under 225 yards, it will be the first time the team has done that in three straight games since 2004.
Next up: The Bills return home for a Monday Night Football matchup with the big, bad New England Patriots. Hey, at least he tailgating should be fun.
Here are five things to watch against the Colts:
1. Derek Anderson’s debut. The Bills will start their third different quarterback in the first seven weeks of the season when Anderson lines up under center against the Colts. He’s in because of an elbow injury to Josh Allen and an inability to play for Nathan Peterman. Expectations for Anderson should be low. He’s 35, has had less than two weeks to get into football shape (and learn the offense) and was never expected to be put in this situation so soon. With all that said, the bar to clear for the passing offense to be better isn’t all that high. The Bills figure to give Anderson plays that he’s comfortable with, with a steady diet of LeSean McCoy and the running game.
2. Does Kelvin Benjamin come alive? The one player Anderson has some familiarity with is the Bills’ alleged No. 1 receiver. Perhaps that’s enough to get Benjamin’s season turned around. He has just 10 catches for 146 yards and one touchdown this season – numbers that receivers around the league are capable of putting up in a single game. Keep in mind that Benjamin is in a contract year. He’s running out of time to prove he deserves a long-term deal either here or somewhere else next year.
3. Does Vlad Ducasse resume his starting job? Ducasse missed the end of the Week 6 loss to the Texans because of a knee injury. He was limited in practice Wednesday, but able to fully participate by the end of the week. Ryan Groy replaced Ducasse against the Texans. There’s a chance he could stay in the lineup.
4. Can Jerry Hughes torment his former team? The Bills’ top pass rusher has been on a roll this season. He’s looking forward to playing the team that traded him after spending a first-round draft pick to acquire him. Hughes has 38.5 sacks since joining the Bills in 2013, which leads the team. There should be plenty of opportunities for Hughes to get after Andrew Luck. The Colts are calling pass plays 71 percent of the time, which is the highest rate in the NFL. If the Bills can continue to play solid run defense, there will be chances for Hughes and fellow defensive end Trent Murphy to get after Luck on obvious passing downs.
5. Who handles punt returns? Coach Sean McDermott said the Bills are still “working through” who will be back for punts. McDermott was not pleased with rookie Ray-Ray McCloud, who fumbled twice in Week 6, one on a kickoff, one on a punt, losing the latter. McCloud, who did not make the trip to Indianapolis for a personal matter, was benched after his fumbles for sure-handed safety Micah Hyde. That’s not an ideal situation for the team, though, as Hyde is much too valuable on defense to be subjected to the punishment that punt returners can take. Perhaps the Bills give Marcus Murphy another crack at the job. He figures to be active Sunday with Taiwan Jones out because of a neck injury.