Football Outsiders
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Saturday Wild-Card Discussion

John Johnson
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

This is the open discussion thread for all three of Saturday's wild-card playoff games:

  • Indianapolis at Buffalo (1:05pm Eastern)
  • Los Angeles Rams at Seattle (4:40pm Eastern)
  • Tampa Bay at Washington (8:15pm Eastern)

Comments

248 comments, Last at 10 Jan 2021, 3:51pm

1 Josh Allen

Josh Allen has really turned it around this year not sure if I have seen a great explanation of why but whatever it was has certainly worked

15 I'm sure there are a variety…

In reply to by bedfordp

I'm sure there are a variety of reasons and I can't say I've watched a ton of Buffalo games this year. But just watching that second drive when they just rolled down the field on 4 Vertical concepts--he's an elite athlete WITH an elite arm. He can scramble or create time and still get a ton of velocity (or enough velocity) on the ball to get it to guys who can get open down the field. Diggs has been an enormous help as well.

He's gotten better in all phases, but he still has 2-3 "Josh Allen" throws a game where he just misses guys.

242 Every QB misses throws

Once in a while, he'll have a bad miss, but so does every other QB in the league, including Mahomes and Rodgers. Allen has had a couple games this year where not even one pass could be described as a bad miss. 

A few reasons why Allen is better:

Fixed footwork and throwing mechanics. He had not received high level QB coaching coming up, and there were correctable issues with his throwing motion, particularly his hip rotation, footwork and shoulder angle on deep throws.

 

3rd year in system. Game has slowed down for him. He understands coverages and is able to make the correct checks at the line.

 

Diggs. Force multiplier that makes every player on the offense better.

 

Drive to improve. He is an alpha competitor who is never satisfied.

2 I can certainly see the…

I can certainly see the Bills winning the Super Bowl. Right now they appear to be best team in the AFC. On the other hand, the Colts are a good team and them winning today and sending the Bills home early wouldn't be a shock either. Such are the vagaries of a single game elimination playoff format.

3 My picks, guaranteed to be…

My picks, guaranteed to be wrong if you copy them:

 

Ind @ Buf -6.5 / 50.5

  I think Indy keeps it close enough to cover, but can't sneak in the victory in the final moments. 24-27

 

LA @ Sea -4 / 42.5

  No disrespect to John Wolford, but missing the guy who brought you here is too much. 20-27

 

TB @ Was +7.5 / 45

  Three times, though none recently, a team has gone on the road in the playoffs with 4 more wins (Ind/Scifres, NO/Beastquake, Pit/Tebowed). They all lost (the "right" team won both games with a difference of 3.5). Tom Brady is the GOAT, at least by accomplishment, but no one accomplishes this. 20-24

 

Bal @ Ten +3.5 / 54.5

  Bal cleanses themselves. 38-32.

 

Chi @ NO -10 / 47.5

  Drew is going to be sore tomorrow, but they'll have next week to worry about it. 10-33.

 

Cle @ Pit -6 / 47.5

  Pit handles their business, winning 1 coach to 0. And 16-24.

 

It's the best football weekend of the year!

 

4 The Bills-Texans playoff…

The Bills-Texans playoff game last year was the most memorable game of the season for me, I hope this one is half as entertaining. I haven't been watching football this year but I guess Josh Allen is boring now?

5 Jared Veldheer looks pretty…

Jared Veldheer looks pretty slim at LT for the Colts (replacing Castonzo). He was decent for GB last year, but someone is gonna bull rush him and plant him on his ass soon.

7 Yooing fkr the Cilts todsy. …

Yooing fkr the Cilts todsy. 

Wkuld prefee Rams boning Seattle.

 

will probably pull for Squirrels but tema would get beat in Divisional round most likely, so if tampa bay wins that is  cool. Bucs woudk be good yeam to have in action again next week

8 Not enough for Colts

Two nice drives, a 3 and out on defense and only a 3-0 lead.  I just can’t see Colts dominating all day, they need more at this point.

10 WOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

The playoffs are here. 

Do not liek baker Mayfield  commericlas. I see them and dont even knoe what they are for. In one he cooks a dead bird of some kind in kitchen behind concession stand in browns syafium. In another one he gets locked out of stadium. CBS showed this one durinf 1st quarter. Then therr is one where he reads a romance novel . When see this ad, makes me ask What sort of man reads romance novels? Makes think of ads in Playboy that asked What sort of man reads Playboy. I havent looked at a Playboy in quit e some time. Not sure if ads that ask that qiesiton are still in thete. Perhaps a subscriber to that mag cna chime in.

11 BOOOOO

Go for 4th and 5

12 My head says Chiefs repeat…

My head says Chiefs repeat as Champs this year, but I've got to be honest, my gut says Buffalo wins it all. Hope I didn't just jinx them.

13 I feel like this broadcast…

I feel like this broadcast is giving us even fewer replays that actually show what happened at the line or in the secondary than usual. I don't like it.

20 And the next kickoff return…

And the next kickoff return was stopped at the 12, with a holding call backing the Bills up to the 6, though Andre Roberts could and should have just taken a touchback. There was also a slight facemask tug by the Colts that went uncalled.

Edit: I meant to put this under the next comment and am too lazy to move it.

14 The Colts' special teams…

The Colts' special teams have been tremendous so far -- one punt downed inside the 5, another inside the 15, and a pooch kickoff that died at the 15 without a return.

 

Their offense needs to do more for them to stay in it, though!

16 Are the Colts the best team…

Are the Colts the best team in the league if you just swap the QBs on these two teams?

I like Rivers, but it looks like mostly short stick / mini-curl concepts to get a few yards. He just can't get it down the field with the necessary velocity.

19 Mayyyyybe? Rivers certainly…

Mayyyyybe? Rivers certainly doesn't have a fastball anymore, but I've still seen them find ways to get the ball downfield, including a couple times today. That said, I haven't watched them enough to have a good feel for how much his lack of arm strength has really held them back.

 

They're a good and really well-balanced team though, so any significant upgrade at QB would make them pretty scary.

208 He's done okay in general…

He's done okay in general but has really struggled to get the ball to Hilton downfield. All the charting says he's still a great receiver and getting open but he's not very big and Rivers continually underthrows him. This really limits what they can do even though rivers has been pretty good otherwise. This team if they had kept Luck healthy and happy would be incredible. 

212 "Are the Colts the best team…

"Are the Colts the best team in the league if you just swap the QBs on these two teams?"

No, definitely not. I think people are putting way too much blame on Rivers. If anything, what its showing is that Rivers is ok, but not good enough to elevate the roster. If this were a loaded team, he would be fine being who he is and they would be contenders. 

It was mentioned above, but the Colts are lacking upper level talent at defensive end, corner back, and wide receiver/tight end. Basically, all of the glamour, highly paid/highly drafted positions, the Colts could use a special player. Easy enough right?

17 With 0 on the play clock

Taylor scores a TD.  No idea why NFL allows this, just have as shot clock like basketball

23 How many games you watch?

Every QB in league does it--- they know if ball comes to them just as clock goes to 0 DOG will never be called. Ref has to see the 0, then switch his gaze to the ball-- by that time it has been snapped...

46 In like 2008 there was a…

In like 2008 there was a play where a team scored and won after an obvious missed delay-of-game (I want to say it hosed the Chargers), and there was a big League-wide "review" that off-season - after which they pointedly announced that they would not implement a visible light or sound like the NBA has for shot-clock violations. That really made me angry. I just don't see the logic behind that at all.

117 Presumably the same logic…

Presumably the same logic that prevents the NFL from putting a member of the officiating crew in the booth.  The NFL doesn't really care about whether they get penalty calls correct.

22 Colts have dominated

Each team 4 possessions 168-108 in yards plus all of Colts special team yards.  All of Buffalo plays came on same drive making score 10-7.   Otherwise, three 3 and outs 

26 A Colts upset would be a…

A Colts upset would be a huge boon for the Chiefs. Not only would their biggest rivals in the AFC be eliminated early, but KC would avoid any chance of playing Baltimore next weekend.

121 I suspect BUF and TEN would…

I suspect BUF and TEN would have a better chance to beat KC than BAL.  The most likely route to victory against KC is to be able to out-score them in a shoot out.   TEN's relatively weak D doesn't hurt them as much against a team like KC that can score against the best Ds, regardless.  BUF and TEN could each put up 40 points on KC, and then cross their fingers and hope they somehow keep KC to fewer.  I don't see BAL being as likely to get to 40, or even 30, points, and I don't see any defense holding KC to less than 30 unless KC is already in victory mode.

29 Bad Bad Play Call

why run wide there?  That was a big mistake by Reich-- tough 4th down call now...

38 IND 65 needs to drive BUF 27…

In reply to by oaktoon

IND 65 needs to drive BUF 27 into the end zone there and they score on 3rd down.  Looked like 65 stumbled and hit 27 low, letting him keep his feet.  Otherwise the RB follows 65 into the end zone for a walk in TD.

34 The game is far from decided…

The game is far from decided.

Setting aside the hyperbole, I'm not sure I even really take issue with Reich's decisions. They were already stuffed on an inside run and a QB sneak in earlier short-yardage situations, so it's not crazy to try something different. And the 4th down had a real shot, a slightly better throw would have been a TD.

40 Think Reich made the right…

Think Reich made the right calls there.  The 3rd down call was a good one, should have scored (per above, 65 just missed his block).  Going for the TD on 4th-and-4 was smart.  BUF will score points, IND has to, too, and that's as good a chance as they're likely to have for a TD.  

42 They Scored up the Gut with Taylor Earlier

I don't disagree with the commitment to go for the TD, but if you're going to make it you do not call the one play on 3rd down which can seriously reduce your chances of success on 4th down. Even a pass play with a veteran qb like Rivers has a minimal chance of producing a sack-- whereas one missed assignment or good guess by the Bills blows up that Taylor sweep and there you are....

And in this case, that plus three straight "game of inches" officiating reviews going the Bills way and now you are very unlikely to win this game.... It was bad coaching... Give yourself the optimum chance of scoring on both 3rd and 4th down.. He failed the test... Golf Course awaiting as a result

48 One missed assignment can…

One missed assignment can blow up pretty much any type of play. And if you're open to a pass on third down, I don't see why you see the outcome of the actual 3rd down play as devastating. Say it was incomplete; is 4th and goal from the 2 that much better of a prospect than from the 4? Arguably from the 2 there are some runs in the playbook that would be viable, but being on the 4 didn't prevent them from getting an open look.

32 Not surprise Cotls leading…

Not surprise Cotls leading Bills at moment. Definitely rhioguth colts oculd win. Preseawon pick was Raiders vs Cltos in afc championship game. 

39 Gabriel Davis with multiple…

Gabriel Davis with multiple downfield catches requiring perfect footwork on the sideline, the first of which probably would've stood as incomplete if it were called that way initially. There's something really satisfying about seeing a receiver pull those off.

41 I suppose it's bad form to…

I suppose it's bad form to cut a player mid-game, but my god, if I were the GM and Turay did that on my team...

43 HIP HIP TURAY

If you are a Bills fan that offside may be the play that wins the game.  A TD instead of a 44 yard FG attempt whether made or missed would leave Colts time to score on flip side.

47 The jump came close enough…

In reply to by jheidelberg

The jump came close enough to the end of the play clock that I think the Bills might've been planning to run a play even if they didn't draw an offsides. Certainly a gutting mistake, though!

243 Picks on free plays

The flag makes the result of the play irrelevant. If there was no flag, Allen would have been much less aggressive there. He's been getting a free play at least once a week since their bye and has now thrown 3 picks and i think 2 TDs on them. He knows he had the 1st down no matter what, so he tries the riskier play.

44 And that's why Reich was…

And that's why Reich was correct to go for it on 4th-and-4.  Even starting on their own 4, BUF gets the go ahead TD before the half ends; would have been even easier starting at their 25.

BUF is by far the better team, IND's not going to beat them playing conservative.

45 Stalling in their final…

Stalling in their final drive of the half certainly looms large for the Colts. If they'd converted there, they'd have followed the exact script they need to in order to pull off an upset. Getting a stop (FG or less) to begin the second half feels critical for them.

50 Nothing looks easy right now…

Nothing looks easy right now for Colts after it did earlier. Every conversion by a hair, either because the pass is a hair from being dropped or they get the conversion by a yard.

51 Bills lead. 3:40 left in 3rd…

Bills lead. 3:40 left in 3rd. Taylor wirh 2nd drop. Nto enough cstching at wisconsin. Hands nto food. Knew that coming in. Still thought taylor woudl be very good runnimg. Back

54 Well, so far those 50 50…

Well, so far those 50 50 plays have not gone the Colts way. Failed 4th down, couldn't stall the Bills both times in the red zone, with one dropped int, and now a missed Fg. The next drive, if it's a td, is probably the back breaker.

 

The the fumble recovery and wasted challenge plus stopped on the 2 pt attempt and counting 

 

Edit

 

And now a missed chance at a sack fumble.

 

 

55 What a Colts disaster

Equal possessions, gained 39 more yards then Bills, dominating special teams until missed FG now down 7 with Bills having the ball.  As a Ravens fan rooting for Colts I am disappointed.   The two Colts fans that regularly post must be too busy watching game to write posts, if this were my team I would be livid.

58 Let's not blow it out of…

Let's not blow it out of proportion. Buffalo has averaged 6.6 yards per play to Indy's 5.5. That's a reasonably  significant differential, you wouldn't expect to win such a game. You certainly couldn't say the Colts have been the 'better' team. 

68 True

So I will rephrase, so many big plays have gone against Colts, missed field goal, missed 2 point conversion, offside on 4th and 3, failing on 3rd and goal from 1 and 4th and goal from 4 and now I edit and add that Bass FG blast.

78 I can’t be livid. The Colts…

I can’t be livid. The Colts are making this a much closer game then I expected. I 100% agreed with the fourth and goal call in the 2nd quarter. 
 

Buffalo is the better team. When you’re the underdog, you can’t make mistakes like dropped passes, doinked field goals, and bonehead penalties and expect to win. 

60 That was a pretty awful…

That was a pretty awful challenge by Reich. It pretty clearly wasn't going to be overturned, and the injury timeout afforded plenty of opportunity to see that.

65 It took an offsides call to…

It took an offsides call to goad them into doing it, but going for 2 there is the situation where it's most advantageous that's regularly passed up.

66 I don't hate the decision…

I don't hate the decision. You are an underdog. But, I wonder if it's that valuable to do it now. It would be one thing it cemented the game, but the bills have plenty of time to adjust to that situation.

71 Welp, I don't think the…

Welp, I don't think the Colts defensively can stop the Bills anymore. That fg is going to officially take the Colts out of their comfort zone. Probably going to go sideways now.

76 At some point Buffalo needs…

At some point Buffalo needs to stop this basic Mesh concept. It's the entire Colts dropback game

Until they didn't handle a pretty basic switch route for an easy TD.

81 No offensive holding!!!

 You gotta be kidding.  But, we are 55 minutes in, no holding penalties on offense or defense, no PI, illegal contact or roughing the passer.    Is it an NFL game???

87 I always like the call to…

I always like the call to run on the play immediately preceding the two-minute warning. Defense is still thinking pass-first, and there's a good chance of getting to a favorable down-and-distance without worrying about clock ramifications.

245 Whistle is irrelevant

So long as the side judge hears the timeout called before the snap, the timeout is valid. SJ doesnt need to blow the whistle before the snap for the timeout to count.

101 Yeah that was a fumble…

Yeah that was a fumble. There was an angle shown early in the broadcast that showed his knee was up before the defender made contact with his hand. The ones they were showing at the end couldn't show that because they were showing it from straight behind.

116 Oh yeah, that's right…

Oh yeah, that's right.

Replay officials are far too reticent to coordinate different angles simultaneously. It's like they need that one perfect shot. But it's often very clear exactly what happened when you put two side-by-side. I don't know if it's because they're all lawyers or if they've lost their basic concept of object permanence, but they could reduce mistakes an awful lot if they could get over that.

123 LOL ... the NFL can't even…

LOL ... the NFL can't even get calls correct when they take the time to look at it.

Now, after saying that, they got the BUF catch correct at the end of H1, and that was one I could see them getting wrong because of perspective/camera angle making the shoe look like it's on the white when it really wasn't.

The constant was that they went with the original call on the field, which was correct re the catch, but clearly wrong re the fumble.

 

215 Yeah every single break or…

In reply to by Bobman

Yeah every single break or close call had gone Buffalo's way til that. But it kinda canceled a lot of those out. I was shocked it wasn't overturned even though they were clearly biased towards going with call on the field in this game. 

104 Bills hang on for the 27-24…

Bills hang on for the 27-24 win. Escape the fumble no call and Colts can't get a FG attempt and throw incomplete to the end zone.

105 The Bills are a better team…

The Bills are a better team than the Colts but this game could have gone either way. That Josh Allen fumble in particular could easily have been picked up and run in for six if the ball bounced a little different.

107 I couldn't quite tell when…

I couldn't quite tell when the guy's blue glove hit the blue number on the Colts jersey. Looked like the hand maybe jumped though, as if making contact, shortly after the knee was up. I probably would've called it a fumble in the end.

Doesn't end up mattering much, though. Luckily.

109 Shrug, not much to say about…

Shrug, not much to say about this game. I was just hoping they wouldn't get smoked and they didn't do that. 

 

But still, I am bummed. 

124 Colts team outplayed Bills team

On the contrary, I don't think there's any reason to feel down.  Josh Allen had a HUGE game, and if any one of four 50/50 plays had gone differently, it's OT or a Colts win.  Two missed FGs by Indy--both within his range, but not gimmes certainly, Allen's fumble (50/50), and Turay jumping offsides on 4th and 3 in the most obvious "we're gonna try to get you offsides" situation imaginable. That should never happen and IIRC Buffalo got a TD on that drive.

If TWO of those four plays flipped, Indy wins.  I'll assume they would not then be in desperation mode at the end and the "non-fumble" that was probably wrongly called wouldn't have happened.

More 1st downs rushing and passing.  More yardage. Almost doubled their run yardage.  Only 15 fewer yards passing.  Led in sack differential 2-0.  Turnover differential was even (0-0).

Indy played pretty well--not great, but well enough to win it.  They just couldn't close the door in the red zone (an issue most of the year) and had multiple drops.  Taylor, who had a 97% catch rate this season dropped two easy ones.  Little yips that kill you against a good opponent.

Buffalo was scorching hot coming in and they should be happy but worried now, having won after having a pretty mediocre game.  Missing Castonzo didn't hurt Indy in this game, though statistically it adds to their loss record without him on the field.

The arrow is pointing up.

127 Losing close is almost…

Losing close is almost always harder to get over than a blowout loss, especially for an underdog.

Some days it feels like it just wasn't meant to be, but when you play well enough to almost pull it out and don't, it's easier to dwell on the "what ifs".

134 The thing is, I've been a…

The thing is, I've been a fan for a while and I've never experienced a game where the team really should lose but got the upset win. I guess 2014 against Denver, but I was heavily conflicted on my rooting interests that game. 

I've experienced plenty of soul destroying defeats.

I guess maybe 2006 against the Ravens counts as well.

220 As a packers fan, I’m very…

As a packers fan, I’m very familiar and have been on the losing end of too many of those. I’m still annoyed with the “if you catch the guy who caught the ball, you caught the ball” game. I must admit that I like the Seahawks most of the time. Russell Wilson was amazing for the Badgers and is just a great story and great leader. I also enjoy how fun Pete Carroll is - it’s refreshing. 

110 Now its time for Rams…

Now its time for Rams seahawks - hopefully another close game. Goff is active, but not starting. Maybe we will come in?

111 I agreed with pretty much…

I agreed with pretty much all of Reich’s coaching decisions, except for the challenge early in the second half that Moss fumbled on the play he was injured. 
 

it was pretty clear Moss was down by contact, and the Colts certainly could have used that timeout on the last drive. 

126 +1

In reply to by dmb

+1^2

wait, that's still just 1....

Yeah, stupid challenge.  Ah well.

I have a question--late in the game Pittman caught a bubble screen and ran OB, but the clock kept running.  WTF? Then BUF called a timeout to make it less of an issue, but WTF?!?!

217 I'll add one. We should have…

I'll add one. We should have seen more Brissett in this game. Early in the season the Colts couldn't get the ball in the end zone. Then they started using Brissett on short yardage and it changed everything. And it felt like they were baiting all year for Brissett to unload a surprise pass on 3rd and 1 in the playoffs too. He didn't get the TD on his one opportunity but he should have gotten more chances. 

112 Bad refs

The refs screwed the colts out of 5 seconds at the end. They got out of bounds with 19 seconds. Then the refs started the clock when the ball was spotted and it ran down ton14 seconds before the Bills called a TO. The clock should have never run.

115 I thought the refs generally…

In reply to by nlitwinetz

I thought the refs generally did a good job until the end of the game. That said, given that the Colts shouldn't have still had the ball at that point, on the whole I don't think the Colts were on the short end of the stick.

119 I believe on that play the…

In reply to by nlitwinetz

I believe on that play the receiver fumbled backwards and the ball went out of bounds. Its possible they considered that forward progress being stopped in bounds, and therefore running clock once ball was set. But it was all very hectic at the end there.

171 +1

In reply to by nlitwinetz

+1

118 That game was basically all…

That game was basically all Josh Allen for the Bills. No rushing game and the defense wasn't very good, Allen was everything for them.

122 Which just shows how much…

Which just shows how much the NFL has become a QB driven league. I wasn’t big on the Colts signing Rivers, but his season was much better then I expected. However, his inability to buy time and extend plays with his legs is a major liability in today’s game. 
 

The two sideline throws by Allen in the two minute drive at the end of the first half are prime examples of how big a difference that can make. 

128 Allen was insane

He had three plays where his mobility allowed him to avoid the pass rush and where most guys would throw the ball away, he his Davis the darts.  Fantastic work.  So happy for Bills fans because of him.  And envious, of course.

125 The Bills defense, despite…

The Bills defense, despite giving up only 24 pts, did not play well. They could not get any pressure on the Colts and managed to get gashed by the run despite loading up to stop it. They should hope for Pittsburgh next round because both the Ravens and Titans bring far more offense than the Colts.

As for the Colts. This game pretty much sums up the team and their season. Good but not good enough and the sad part is there's no hope for long term improvement. 

 

Its weird to describe, but this feels like a pointless, feel good season. Unless Rivers reverse aged or the defense suddenly discovered a couple of Hall of Famers, this season played out exactly as well one could have hoped. 

It's not a total waste. The coaching staff deserves a lot of credit and it's fun to watch a good team. But a team is either contending or building for the future. The Colts did neither this year.

129 C'mon, man, cheer up!

I order you to smile.  They took the league's hottest team down to the buzzer on the road.  I think they have a very promising young core, some very solid 30-ish vets, and a potential hole at QB.  Maybe the answer is Eason (having watched him in college at Washington I an cautiously skeptical), or a more mobile FA in the offseason.  They have a crap ton of cap room and a Dak Prescott-sized hole in the roster.

If they win, it's as a team.  Losses like this one, can come down to individual plays (I can think of four that would have reversed the game), but wins would have required a bit more across the board, especially regarding a few dropped passes, nailed FGs, and an offside on 4th and 3 that should never have happened.

Had they won, they'd be the same darn team, but you'd likely be happier, right?  

Maybe Eason is the answer at QB (he's a fair amount like old Rivers or Allen--a human cannon).  Phil did better than I expected this year, but we need more mobility (not Michael Vick, but maybe Chad Pennington?), which would force the D to play a slightly different game and open up more options on offense.

I missed jet sweeps today... were there any?

130 I should cheer up. I was…

I should cheer up. I was thrilled with glee when Miami got thrashed and the Colts made it to the playoffs.

You are right, they put up a fight and could have won. They played well enough on both sides. 

Yea an upset win over a superior team would have made me overjoyed. Oh well. Can be happy with this 

218 That game could have very…

That game could have very easily gone a different way. Those 2 sideline plays with inconclusive replays could have gone the other direction. Plus the offsides - there’s 7 points to the Bills. The uncharacteristic Blankenship missed FG - that’s another 3. I know that these arguments can be made in most games, and it’s impossible to know how a different scoreboard would have changed play calling and motivation factors in the second half. It was just a crazy swing at the end of the first half and was 100% randomness with a side of uncharacteristic unforced errors.