Saturday's Wild Card Game to Watch: Bills vs Colts
The Matchup Overview
Bill Offense vs. Colts Defense
The Buffalo Bills enter today's Wild Card matchup with the league's 2nd best offense in terms of yardage over the last three weeks (487 Yds per game). The Colts have one of the leagues' top defenses, ranking 8th overall in total yards allowed (332 yds per game), yet in the last three games, the Colts defense has been less than stellar 14th, giving up 354 yds per contest.
Matchup to Watch The Bills Offense: OC Brian Daboll vs The Colts Defense: DC Matt Eberflus
How will the Colts slow down the Bills, who are averaging 47 pts per game over the last three?
Bills Base Offense: Heavy 11 personnel (1 Back, 1 TE)
Colts Base Defense: 4-3 (We will see their Nickel a lot today).
Colts Defensive Scheme
The Colts are a heavy zone defense that thrives off of turnovers. Their base formation is a 4-3, but expect to see them in their nickel package (5 DB's) in today's game to match up with the Bills 11 personnel usage (74%).
The Colts Zone Defense
The Colt's usage of zone defense in this game bodes well for them going against Josh Allen. Allen has struggled when facing zone defenses.
Josh Allen vs. Man Defense in 2020
According to charting data from Sports Info Solutions, Josh Allen sees the most success against man coverage. When facing Cover 0/Cover 1/Cover 2 Man Underneath, Allen has completed 132 of 202 passes (65.3%) for 1,649 yards and 25 touchdowns with two picks. According to Sports Info Solutions, Josh Allen's on-target throw rate against man coverage is 77%. Allen's passer rating of 126.0 when facing man ranks above Aaron Rodgers and Patrick Mahomes and only trails behind Kirk Cousins in this category.
Josh Allen vs. Zone Coverage in 2020
Josh Allen's numbers dive when facing zone coverage. According to Sports Info Solutions, Allen has completed a higher percentage of his passes (71%), but his passer rating drops to 95.1. Allen has also thrown for 11 touchdowns against these zone coverages against eight interceptions. (Zone coverages: Cover 2/Cover 3/Cover 4/Cover 6/Tampa 2/Combinations).
The Chess Match Between Daboll and Eberflus
Colts MOFO Approach
In simple terms, the Colts will likely play with two high safeties and rely solely on a MOFO defensive approach (middle of the field open). The Colts should deploy their cover 2, cover four and cover six scheme, which will leave the deep middle and intermediate throwing areas available, but it will force Allen to make precision-based throws into windows.
MOFC is (Middle of the Field Closed), a one high safety look; it is your cover one, and your cover three looks. The Colts are better statistically when in MOFC looks than MOFO looks. According to Sports Info Solutions data, the Colts defense allows the league's 4th best completion rate when they line up to close the middle of the field (58%).
Brian Daboll's Approach
We talked about the personnel usage above and how Daboll utilizes 11 personnel at a 74% rate. The combination of Stephon Diggs, Cole Beasley, and John Brown allows Daboll to dictate the defense's personnel. The Colts are a 4-3 base defense but will be in their Nickel for most of this game. What this also does, is it provides a positive number in the box scenario in the run game for the Bills because of Josh Allens ability to run. The RPO game is also something to keep an eye on as Bills run RPO at a 14% rate averaging 7.4 yds per play.
I chose this as the game of the day for Saturday's Wild card slate. The Bills are a lot of people's choice to make it to the AFC title game. The chess match between Daboll and Eberflus will be a fun one to watch.
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