The Buffalo Bills picked up a big win last week over the New York Jets, but this week they face a much stiffer challenge against the Indianapolis Colts. Buffalo defeated the Colts in the AFC Wild Card Playoffs last year, winning 27-24 in a game that came down to defending a Hail Mary pass at the end.
This week, Buffalo is without at least one key starter, and there may be at least one more who ends up inactive again this week. With that in mind, we have a slightly different list of players to watch this week.
Here are our players to keep an eye on against the Colts.
RB Matt Breida
Will he be active again? After a two-touchdown performance last week, it seems foolish to leave him a healthy scratch, so I’m going to roll the dice and say that Breida will play this weekend. Breida only touched the ball six times last week, but he only appeared on eight offensive snaps. He totaled 50 yards (28 rushing, 22 receiving) on those six touches, though, showcasing great speed, route-running ability, and hands in the process. Even if he’s only the change-of-pace to the change-of-pace back, Breida showed that he belongs on the field. He’ll have another chance to shine this weekend.
WR Isaiah McKenzie
With Cole Beasley nursing a rib injury, the Bills turned to a combination of McKenzie and Gabriel Davis more often than they have this season. Davis surpassed 100 yards receiving on the day, and McKenzie scored a rushing touchdown on the jet-sweep play that he has run so effectively in his time with the team. McKenzie has been so close to breaking a big return on special teams, too, and if he does break one this weekend, here’s hoping that it won’t be called back like his touchdown against the Tennessee Titans. Like Breida, McKenzie adds a speed element that the Bills just don’t have otherwise. Expect the Bills to use McKenzie’s wheels to their advantage.
OL Daryl Williams
Will he be the right guard on Sunday with either Tommy Doyle or Ryan Bates replacing Spencer Brown, who was placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 list, at right tackle? Or will Williams shift outside to play right tackle again, leaving either Cody Ford, Jamil Douglas, or Bates to slide in as the right guard? Frankly, I never want to see Cody Ford on the field playing for the Bills again, but I also don’t want to move Williams back to tackle, where he’s been far less effective this year. I think I’d go with Bates on the right side of Williams, since offensive coordinator Brian Daboll could scheme protection help easier with a tight end or a running back to help Bates at tackle than at guard. I’d also rather see DeForest Buckner, the Colts’ All-Pro defensive tackle, lined up across from Williams.
DT Harrison Phillips
With Star Lotulelei still on the Reserve/COVID list, the buck may stop at Phillips to serve as the primary one-tech defensive tackle. This isn’t ideal against a team that runs the ball as well as the Colts. Stopping all-world running back Jonathan Taylor is essential to beating the Colts, and Lotulelei would help the Bills immensely to achieve those means. Phillips has been fine this year, but he’s not Lotulelei. The Colts have one of the league’s top offensive lines, led by All-Pro guard Quenton Nelson. Phillips managed three tackles on a season-high 46 defensive snaps in his first start of the year against the Jets. He’ll need to be just as good, if not better, this week.
LB A.J. Klein
Speaking of players filling in for starters, Klein had a great week against the Jets, looking smooth in pass coverage and explosive in his run fits. If Edmunds, whose hamstring injury is still keeping him from practicing, can’t play, then Klein is going to play a huge role for the second straight week. Teams definitely try to target Klein in pass coverage, but the veteran does such a good job for head coach Sean McDermott and defensive coordinator/assistant head coach Leslie Frazier that they have nothing to fear by playing him. The defense is obviously better with Edmunds joining Matt Milano as the primary linebackers, but Klein can more than hold his own. Against a tough rushing team, he’ll have a chance to shine this weekend.