INDIANAPOLIS – As the weather begins to change, the Colts know full well that the stakes are rising in their 2021 season.
It’ll be the Colts (5-5) traveling to take on the Bills (6-3) this Sunday afternoon, with the Colts needing to win some of these games as an underdog in order to make the playoffs.
What did we learn from the Colts on Wednesday?
- Rodrigo Blankenship is healthy enough to kick, but the Colts are sticking with the perfect Michael Badgley. Frank Reich explained the Colts’ decision on Wednesday. Blankenship will remain on injured reserve due to his hip injury. “It’s pretty similar to any guy that gets hurt and somebody comes in and is playing at a very high level,” Reich explained on Wednesday. “Rod is still continuing along the process of gaining full strength and stamina back. Could he kick? Yes. But we are going to go with Badgley for now…It’s competition. It’s the NFL. We have to do what we think is the right thing for the team. And it’s really nothing against Rod. We love Rod. Everything about him. But Badgley is playing very well.” As a refresher, in 2021, Badgley is 7-of-7 on field goals and 19-of-19 on extra points. Blankenship is 7-of-8 on field goals and 11-of-14 on extra points, with 3 of those 4 misses coming in the game after he injured his hip in warmups. Reich said that he thinks both kickers have similar distance range, with Badgley yet to attempt a kick of longer than 50 yards in Indianapolis. Badgley is 3-of-9 in his career past 50 yards (with a long of 59). Blankenship is 1-of-4, with a long of 53. For their careers, Badgley is 80.8 percent on field goals and 95.3 percent on extra points. Blankenship is 84.3 percent on field goals and 94.3 on extra points.
- Baby girl No. 2 (Hudson Rose) entered the Wentz family earlier this week. Girl dad Carson Wentz was back at the Colts facility on Wednesday fully immersed in Bills prep, albeit still hoping to catch up on some sleep: “Very busy,” Wentz said of his week balancing fatherhood and football. “Long days…Definitely a blessing…Not a ton of sleep.”
- When you look at the Bills numbers this season, they are darn impressive, no matter the side of ball. They are the only team in the NFL with a point differential of more than 100, and that number is an eye-popping +145. Now, the Bills have played the easiest schedule in the NFL so far (they haven’t faced New England yet in the AFC East). The list of quarterbacks they’ve faced is not menacing. Still, the numbers are very notable. The Bills rank 2nd in the NFL in points scored per game (31.1) and 1st in points allowed per game (16.6). Obviously, Sunday is a huge measuring stick for the Colts, but it’s also that (on a lesser extent) for the Bills.
- In looking back on the Colts’ 27-24 Wild Card loss to the Bills last year, you will find so many squandered opportunities for Frank Reich’s team. Reich said he could easily point to a handful of plays that could have resulted in a Colts’ win. An inability to finish off promising drives, a handful of drops, a missed short field goal, a ‘dumb ass’ penalty and poor clock management is a brief summary of the Colts dropping a game they easily could have stolen. Does that offer hope as the touchdown-underdog Colts prepare again for a road game in western New York? By the way, the weather in Buffalo doesn’t look too dicey for Sunday. Temperatures are forecasted to be in the 50-degree range with around a 40 percent chance of precipitation.
- Through two months of the season, the Colts ‘lead’ a category that no one could have expected at the start of the year. Through 10 weeks, the Colts and 49ers are the only teams to have yet to put a player on the COVID-19 list. While many teams around the league have had marquee names miss time on the COVID list (for a positive test and/or for being a close contact), it’s the Colts that have not had a single player miss any time, COVID-related, during the regular season. With the holiday season here, and the NFL having their highest COVID numbers of the season last week, the league is ramping up protocols around the league, trying to quiet down some of the rising numbers.
- If the Colts make the playoffs this season, they will become just the 2nd team in the last 22 years to start a season 0-3 and make the postseason. Now, those stats include 6 teams making the playoffs in each conference, whereas now 7 teams make it (a change that started last season). Ironically, it was the 2018 Houston Texans that accomplished this feat, starting 0-3 and then winning their first game in a wild overtime contest in Indianapolis to spark their run to the AFC South Title.
- Guys that appeared to be practicing on Wednesday: Quenton Nelson (ankle), Xavier Rhodes (calf). Will the Colts re-insert Rhodes into the starting lineup despite his shaky play through injury? Guys that didn’t appear to be practicing: Dayo Odeyingbo, Kwity Paye, Braden Smith and Eric Fisher.
- The Colts are on their normal practice schedule this week (Wednesday-Friday). They’ll have a Saturday walk-through before traveling to Buffalo for Sunday’s 1:00 PM kickoff.