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Crumbling their cookies: How the Buffalo Bills should attack the Indianapolis Colts

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Every week, I write an opinion column on a few general game-planning tactics I like for the Buffalo Bills to use against their upcoming opponent—ones I think have a chance to be successful based on personnel usage and scheme along with the strengths and weaknesses of each team. These may take many forms, though I typically try to come up with at least one tactic on offense and one on defense.

Last week was an exception and I did not write a “crumbling” piece because the media and fans didn’t even know who would be playing against the Miami Dolphins in Week 17. If you don’t know who’s playing and for how long, writing a strategy piece becomes not only difficult, but pointless. Today, however, is a new day. This week is a new week and the Bills, as a favorite, are hosting the Indianapolis Colts in the Wild Card Round of the AFC playoffs. What can Buffalo do to see to it that their hot streak continues? I have some thoughts...

Dance with the one that brought you

The Bills have gotten to the point where they have a division championship and a home playoff game in large part due to their passing offense and Josh Allen. There’s very little reason for that to change this week. The Colts boast one of the best run defenses in the league (52.7 ypg allowed over the last three weeks) and also have struggled recently against the pass (301.3 ypg allowed over the last three weeks). With no current extreme weather conditions that would force the Bills to abandon their passing game, it should remain the central piece of the attack against the Colts’ D and potential future NFL head coach Matt Eberflus.

Coverage > pass rush

Philip Rivers is a veteran NFL QB who boasts a successful career. He’s seen a lot of defenses and his ability to quickly process coverages allows him to get the ball out to running backs Nyheim Hines, Jonathan Taylor and Jordan Wilkins (a significant part of the Indianapolis offense this year) on swing passes while they’re still able to make plays after the catch. Slowing down his processing is the key to letting the pass rush get there and throwing off the timing of the play. Rivers has a 108.2 passer rating when he gets rid of the football in under 2.5 seconds (17th in the NFL) and a 82.2 passer rating when forced to hold it longer than 2.5 seconds (27th in the league).

...and that’s the way the cookie crumbles. I’m Bruce Nolan with Buffalo Rumblings. You can find me on Twitter @BruceExclusive and look for new episodes of “The Bruce Exclusive” every Thursday and Friday on the Buffalo Rumblings podcast network!