The Colts are hoping this is the year they finally get over the hump as a true contender in the AFC. For the Bills, the postseason now seems like a realistic goal under new head coach Rex Ryan.
How Has The Betting Line Moved?
The Colts are clearly the better team here but their ground game is a bit questionable and the Bills will have the better defense on the field. That makes this a bit of a conundrum for bettors as the Bills home-field advantage makes this an even matchup. As a result, we haven’t seen much movement on the line.
3 Key Storylines
The Time Is Now For Luck: Indianapolis won 11 games and an AFC South title last season thanks in big part to Luck throwing for 4,761 yards and 40 touchdowns but with three NFL seasons under his belt the expectations will increase again heading in to his fourth season. Luck can sling it with the best of them and it appears as though the Colts are taking a “Super Bowl or bust” approach to this season. The additions of veteran receiver Andre Johnson and rookie first-round pick Phillip Dorsett should help the passing game while veteran running back Frank Gore arrives from San Francisco to try and become the workhorse back Indianapolis has lacked over the last few seasons. The Colts offense once again has the potential to be among the best in the NFL and the time is now for Luck to take another step forward.
Bills Defense Could Be Ryan’s Best Ever: Ryan coached some stingy defenses as an assistant with the Baltimore Ravens and then as the head coach of the New York Jets but he called the personnel he inherited in Buffalo the best he has ever been around so it’s safe to say expectations are high for this group. The Bills ranked fourth in total defense last season including third against the pass and their 54 sacks was five more than the Philadelphia Eagles recorded for most in the NFL. The fact Ryan will be able to dial up pressure on opposing quarterbacks without needing to blitz will be a major weapon and the front four will be called upon for a big performance in Week 1 with Mario Williams, Marcel Dareus, Kyle Williams and Jerry Hughes set to get after Luck and disrupt the Indianapolis offense.
Tyrod Time in Buffalo: A lot has been made about the lack of progress shown by former first-round pick EJ Manuel and anybody that watched Matt Cassel play for the Minnesota Vikings will tell you he is definitely not the long-term solution at the position. While he isn’t as well known as either Manuel or Cassel the best option for the Bills at quarterback might actually be a former sixth-round pick by the Baltimore Ravens in Tyrod Taylor. Taylor has shown flashes of his ability to move the ball both through the air and with his legs and there is a growing consensus that he could be Buffalo’s best option under center heading in to Week 1. The Bills might very well end up starting the season with the veteran Cassel as their starter but based on what we have seen so far we like Taylor as their best bet against the Colts.
Bet Early Or Bet Later… And What’s The Play?
There are several factors that could end up shifting the line for Week 1 including which quarterback Buffalo names as its starter for the opener and while it’s unlikely the number jumps from the Colts -2.5 to Colts -3.5 the possibility it could move to -3 at some books means it’s worth waiting. Anybody that likes Indianapolis to win this game should jump on them at -2.5 but since we like the Bills at home with their dominant defense and new running back LeSean McCoy leading the way regardless of who is under center for them we will wait and hope that we can find Buffalo listed at +3 somewhere at some point before Week 1.
NFL Pick: Buffalo +2.5 at Pinnacle