The Indianapolis Colts entered Sunday’s Week 7 matchup with the Buffalo Bills in a season featuring several ups and downs and holding a 1-5 record to show for it. The Colts may not have faced a very impressive squad in the Bills, but that doesn’t take away how strong they looked outside of a scoreless first quarter of play.
Andrew Luck threw at least 3 touchdowns for the fourth straight week, the Colts defense forced at least 2 turnovers for the fifth time this season and the Colts are now 2-5 with the best record in the AFC South being only 2 games better with 9 games left to play.
Is this the beginning of a surge from the Colts? Or is it just one win in one game, against a less-than-average Bills team that the Colts absolutely should have won? We’ll find out, but for now, here are 4 takeaways from the Colts huge win over the Bills in Week 7.
Marlon Mack is hitting his stride
Last week Mack racked up 89 rushing yards on just 12 carries and had, undoubtedly, his best game in the NFL to that point. Today, Mack bested that output with a performance resembling that of an NFL lead back gaining 126 rushing yards — and 159 all-purpose yards — with 2 total touchdowns.
Mack has had trouble in his young career with his vision and staying to the gameplan when it comes to running between the tackles, we’ve all discussed that at this point. But, this year it looks as though there’s some legitimate breakout potential for him with an offensive line that appears to be gaining the chemistry needed to be successful.
Mack has looked very disciplined, strong, smart and powerful lately since coming back from recent injuries. If Mack can remain healthy, and continue his ascension, the explosive running back gives the Colts an aspect to this offense that the team hasn’t had in years.
Colts OL continues to protect Andrew Luck very well
Many took shots at Chris Ballard and the Colts for picking Quenton Nelson at No. 6 overall in the 2018 NFL draft. A guard simply isn’t given the same value that other positions are regardless of the fact that he was clearly the best offensive line prospect of the draft class. However, Nelson has worked out and remained healthy, and right now — the other rookie — Braden Smith is showing that he is just as valuable a pick, and doing a very good job at right tackle for the Colts at this point.
Anthony Castonzo is back and looking good, and even Mark Glowinski is more than holding his own at right guard after Matt Slauson was placed on IR a couple weeks ago. Ryan Kelly has had some struggles against the Texans and today against the Bills with snapping the ball, but has been very good blocking in the run game as well as protecting Luck.
This Colts offensive line hasn’t given up a sack in the past two weeks — only 2 QB hits all game today — and has only allowed 1 sack in the past 3 weeks.
They’re blocking very well in the running game and it looks as though this unit is really creating a solid foundation for the long-term future of the offense. This past week PFF ranked the Colts’ line as the 10th best in the league, and I admit that I didn’t really think much of it. But, after another very good week in all facets of the game, you have to start thinking this group is for real.
Andrew Luck has been amazing this season
We remember how we were feeling in the first few weeks of the season when the Colts’ offense was doing literally everything with a dink-and-dunk approach, right? Well, all appears to be forgotten now.
Luck didn’t have to throw the ball 50 times today, he didn’t have to put the entire roster on his shoulders just to keep things close, but he was still every bit the “Andrew Luck” Colts fans were hoping to see this year.
Luck was 17-of-23 (73.9%) with only 156 passing yards, but tossed 4 touchdowns without any blemishes on the day. He was smart, didn’t force much at all and was extremely accurate on the day. What else is there to say about the man? He’s doing exactly what he needs to do in order to be a top-5 NFL quarterback without argument.
Colts defense forcing key turnovers
The Colts defense has been a group of peaks and valleys so far this year, but when they’ve been good, they’ve been very good. Bend but don’t break is a reality right now within this scheme, but this type of defensive system is predicated on forcing turnovers and playing with the lead.
Today included, the Colts have been forcing turnovers all season. Newly signed safety Mike Mitchell was a part of two turnovers for the Colts (interception/forced fumble), rookie Kemoko Turay strip-sacked Anderson and Quincy Wilson recovered it leading to another Luck touchdown pass, Kenny Moore picked Anderson off midway through the fourth quarter, and Corey Moore picked him off after a tipped ball by Wilson.
This was certainly the first 5-turnover game of the year for the Colts defense, but it was the fifth time in which this defense forced at least 2 turnovers this season. Additionally, the Colts have forced at least 1 turnover in each game through Week 7. Though the defense obviously has a lot to work on going forward, these turnovers have been a big part in the Colts remaining competitive in each game this season.