The Buffalo Bills have a chance to make a significant move in the AFC wild card race this Sunday if they can beat the Indianapolis Colts on their home field of Lucas Oil Stadium. It's worth noting, then, that the venue has been a major advantage for the Colts this season, and rookie quarterback Andrew Luck in particular.
Indianapolis, which would be the fifth seed in the AFC playoffs (i.e. the highest-rated wild card team) if they began today, is 4-1 at home. There, they have beaten 7-3 Green Bay and 6-4 Minnesota (along with Miami and Cleveland; they lost to lowly Jacksonville at home in Week 3). There, they have surrendered just 20.4 points per game, as compared to 31.6 per road contest. Granted, their road competition has been slightly better than their home competition (they've lost to Chicago and New England on the road, and were also stomped by the Jets), but the delineation is clear and important.
Luck has not necessarily been a different quarterback in home games; he's just been far less prone to making huge mistakes. Luck has just three turnovers in five home games this season, but a whopping 14 in five road contests. 11 of his 17 touchdowns have come at home this season. Below, you can see the difference between Luck at home and on the road:
|Home (5 games)||119||209||56.9||1,518||7.26||8||2||1||10||3||88.6|
|Away (5 games)||116||203||57.1||1,447||7.13||4||10||4||12||2||65.4|
Buffalo, meanwhile, is playing their seventh road game of the season in Indy; they've run the gamut away from Ralph Wilson Stadium, beating a couple of lowly teams (Cleveland and Arizona, currently on a six-game slide), hanging with legitimate Super Bowl contenders (Houston and New England, which have both occurred within the past month), and getting completely obliterated by other teams (the Jets in Week 1 and San Francisco).
We know that the Bills can, at minimum, compete with any team in any stadium. They'll need to be on their A game on Sunday, however, as the Colts are a much more formidable opponent at home, and their star rookie quarterback is much less prone to making game-changing mistakes there, as well. It'll be up to Buffalo to make the plays necessary to buck that trend and pick up a huge win.