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2018 opponent scouting report: Buffalo Bills special teams, a prediction and the return of draft watch

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Buffalo Bills v Houston Texans Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images

Overview

On October 21, 2018 the Indianapolis Colts will host the Buffalo Bills In this week seven match-up I sought to understand our opponent and get a better idea of how they may attack our new look offense.

The 2017 Bills went to the playoffs for the first time since the Clinton administration. They went 9-7 in what was their fifth winning season in the past two decades. The last time these two teams played it be came an all time favorite game for me. Both teams battled through what looked like a foot of snow to try to play football at its highest level. The Bills came out on top in a close, fun to watch game but this year the game will be played indoors so hopefully there will be a different result.

Let’s figure out what we can expect in week seven.


Kicker:

Tennessee Titans v Buffalo Bills Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

Steven Hauschka is a career 87% field goal kicker. He isn’t on anyone’s list to go to the hall of fame but he’s been a consistently good kicker for a long time in the NFL. He started his career as poorly as possible in Baltimore but really turned it around once he arrived in Seattle. If this game comes down to a battle of field goals, I have no doubt I will be worried about Hauschka. He is more than good enough to trot out for a game winner, hopefully it doesn’t come to that.


Punter:

Buffalo Bills v Baltimore Ravens Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

Last season the Bills employed a one Mr. Colton Schmidt for their punting duties. In my report on the Bills special teams last season I called Schmidt a good but not great punter and in what was a surreal moment for me, Mr. Schmidt’s agent took exception to my description of him and sent me an email explaining why his client was better than I was giving him credit for.

This season Colton Schmidt is unemployed and the Bills have brought in Corey Bojorquez. In Schmidt’s (and his agent’s) defense, his net yards per punt average was nearly a yard higher in 2017 than the rookie’s has been so far this year. So I guess you could say Bojorquez is also a good but not great punter.


Returner:

Buffalo Bills v Chicago Bears Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Ray-Ray McCloud is the name you need to know in the return game. I say that not because he’s their best returner nor has he returned the most kicks for the Bills this season. I say that because he’s the only healthy returner on the team and I have no idea if Marcus Murphy or Taiwan Jones will be able to play in this one.

McCloud is averaging 5 yards per punt return and has 18 yards on his lone kick return this season. McCloud hasn’t shown enough to be concerned at this point.


Final Thoughts for The Week:

The Bills have an impressive defense and a very unimpressive offense but that could change. The Bills have announced Derek Anderson will be their starting quarterback on Sunday. Normally I would be confident in the Colts chances against a team starting a guy at quarterback they signed off the street a week ago, but for some reason I think Anderson could come out and play well.

Forcing the new guy to make mistakes will go a long way to securing the win. If the Colts can get off the field on any of the dozens of 3rd down’s they create, they should have a very good chances in this one.


Prediction

Colts 24

Bills 17


Draft Watch

It is with absolutely no joy I am bringing back my Draft Watch segment. Draft Watch is the silver lining to a bad season and that’s exactly what our Colts are in the middle of. Even if the team gets hot, even if everyone is suddenly healthy, even if they rattle off 3-4 wins in a row, realistically I don’t see any way the Colts will have a first round draft pick past 15th overall in the 2019 NFL draft.

As of right now the Colts have a one and five record we’ll take a look at the other 4 teams and how they may do in their week seven games:

  • New York Giants- The Giants will be playing a 2-4 Falcons team on Monday Night Football. I do expect the Giants to fall to 1-6 on the season after this game.
  • San Francisco 49ers- The 49ers will take on the 6-0 Rams. I don’t believe this game will end up being much of a contest. The 9ers will drop to 1-6.
  • Arizona Cardinals- The Cards will host the Denver Broncos tonight on Thursday Night Football. The Cardinals haven’t been good and Von Miller seems to think the Broncos are going to win but the Cardinals do have the home field on a Thursday night game. This could go either way but I expect that the Cardinals will get a win and go to 2-5 on the season.
  • Oakland Raiders- The Raiders are on a bye this week so they can’t possibly lose on Sunday. Gruden’s best week since returning to coaching.

If all of the above happens the way I expect it to (with a Colts win) it looks like the Colts will be drafting somewhere between 4 and 6 after this weekend.

If you’re interested in seeing a little more about the current 2019 NFL draft order you should check out Tankathon.