Buffalo Bills: Containing the Colts and more keys to a Week 7 victory

(Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images)
(Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images) /

BuffaLowDown’s Mike DiStefano breaks down the Buffalo Bills’ Week 7 matchup against the Indianapolis Colts, including the three keys to the game.

What a week for the Buffalo Bills. Just when you thought the quarterback controversy was over in Buffalo, the injury puts a wrinkle in those plans.

Enter Derek Anderson. The 35-year-old quarterback was signed last week to be a mentor for both Josh Allen and Nathan Peterman. An injury to Allen, and a pick-six later, Anderson is starting his first NFL game since 2016.

The Bills (2-4) have an interesting matchup this week against the Indianapolis Colts (1-5). Truth be told, there is a little more optimism out of both teams than the records indicate.

Both teams could easily be .500 heading into the week if it weren’t for untimely turnovers late in the game. Just ask those who watched Nathan “Pickerman” throw away the win last week. Or a Colts fan who ripped their hair out week one when the team fumbled during the game’s final drive.

The real fun out of this matchup is going to be the battle between the Colts’ Andrew Luck led offense against the Bills top-flight defense.

Here are the three keys to the game for the Buffalo Bills

1. Contain the Colts in the red zone

The Bills third-ranked defense will need to be just that. The objective of the week will be to keep the Colts out of the end zone and try to make this a low scoring game.

Despite being ravished with multiple injuries in the wide receiving corps, Indy has been one of the best red zone teams this year scoring on 62.5 percent of their drives once crossing over the 20-yard-line. Over the last three games, they lead the league operating a crisp 76.92 percent.

That being said, Luck has been deprived of his top pass catchers over the last few weeks, and that could continue into the game this Sunday. Top wide-receiver threat TY Hilton has missed the last two games with a hamstring injury and as of Thursday’s injury report, he was limited in practice which will make him a game-time decision (Update: He was practicing in full Friday).

The next best target for Andrew Luck over the last couple years has been tight end Jack Doyle, who also has been plagued with an injury this year and has been limited to just two games.

The main recipient of red zone targets with these two out of the lineup has been Eric Ebron. The former first-rounder has already set a new career-high in touchdowns (six) in just six games. It will be imperative for the Bills to keep a keen eye on Ebron once the Colts get inside the Bills 20.

2. Establish a running game

This one shouldn’t be a surprise.

As we all know by now Derek Anderson will be the Bills QB1 this Sunday in Indianapolis. The 35-year old veteran hasn’t started a football game since 2016 and hasn’t been considered a “starter” since 2010 with the Cardinals when he made nine of them.

Needless to say, there should be limited expectations for the passing offense this week (much like most weeks). Thus, it is imperative for Bills to establish a running game.

The key for the Bills offensive success this week will solely be on the success of LeSean McCoy and Chris Ivory. One thing going Buffalo’s way is the Colts are ranked as the NFL’s eighth-worst defense, which should allow the Bills to move the ball.

In the two games Buffalo has won, the Bills are averaging 40.5 rush attempts. In the four losses, they abandoned the running game and only averaged 21.75 rushes. Now, understandably, the attempts are going to be higher when winning in order to run the clock out, but the run game and letting McCoy loose gives the Bills the best chance to win. Especially with Anderson under center.

Over the last two weeks, McCoy has had 40 rushing attempts for 158 yards. Low and behold the Bills defeated Tennessee, and almost beat Houston with a heavy running presence. Shady may not be putting up the Pro-Bowl numbers we’re used to seeing out of the 30-year-old back, but it’s been a step in the right direction over the past couple week.

Buffalo should try to keep the trend going through Week 7 against the Colts.

3. Anderson-Benjamin connection

Buffalo ranks 31st in the league in total offense with 222.5 yards per game.

As stated above, if the Bills are going to pull out a victory at Lucas Oil Stadium the offense is going to need to move the ball and score— because Luck does a lot of that over there in Indy. Luckily, this could be a game where the Bills can find a little success in the passing game against the league’s sixth-worst pass defense.

The Colts play a “Tampa 2” zone scheme which allows for a lot of dink and dunk short passing plays. It’s known as a bend don’t break style of defense. This would seem to be a favorable matchup for Anderson considering his poor offensive line and limited practice time with the team.

That being said, there is a player on the Bills that Anderson knows fairly well that could result in some success this week. Kelvin Benjamin.

The two spent three seasons together in Carolina and had a bit of chemistry in Anderson’s limited opportunities. In the veteran quarterback’s three starts with the Panthers, he targeted Benjamin on 30 of 102 passes for 266 yards and a touchdown. Small sample size, sure, but it’s certainly an encouraging sign going into the week knowing he has a weapon with previously established chemistry.

PS: For those fantasy owners, Benjamin could be a sleeper flex start at receiver if you’re in bye trouble or playing DFS.


As per usual, the Bills will most likely be relying on their defense once again this week and just hope to make a couple plays on offense to get points on the board. Establishing a running game and a big week from Kelvin Benjamin would help achieve that goal.

Next. Top 3 Buffalo Bills who came over from the CFL. dark

I mean who knows; maybe Anderson will pull a Brock Osweiler or Ryan Fitzpatrick and set the world on fire. Unlikely, but only time will tell. Enjoy the game on Sunday, folks.