The Indianapolis Colts and Buffalo Bills are kicking off Super Wild Card weekend on Saturday, with their 1:05ET game the first of six that will be played in the first year of an expanded playoff field. Indianapolis had to sneak in as a result of Miami’s Week 17 loss (in Buffalo) and were close to being a rare non-playoff team with an 11-5 record. The Bills, on the other hand, have won nine of their last 10 games–and they are a “Hail Murray” away from 10 straight wins. At first glance, this should be an easy Buffalo victory. However, the numbers might tell a different tale.
That was the last year the Bills won a playoff game. On December 30, 1995, Buffalo beat Miami 37-22 in the Wild Card round. They have gone 0-6 in the postseason since. At that time, Josh Allen‘s mother would have been about halfway through her pregnancy with him (he was born May 21, 1996). Philip Rivers had just celebrated his 14th birthday (December 8), by the way.
In seven of the past eight years, road teams have won at least one game on Wild Card weekend. Road teams also have another reason to be confident, because…
Wild NFL playoffs stat: The road team has won six of the last 8 wild card games over the past two seasons, and since 2017, road teams are 8-4.
In seven of the last eight seasons, at least one road team has won on wild card weekend.
— Zak Keefer (@zkeefer) January 6, 2021
…this is the first season since 1968 that home teams finished under .500. Perhaps the limited crowd sizes had a bigger impact on outcomes than we anticipated.
While these numbers help cast a rosy picture for Colts fans, they ultimately have nothing to do with the game being played on Saturday. Which are the pivotal figures to monitor? Glad you asked!
The Colts are +10 in turnover differential, which is second-best in the league, trailing only Tennessee at +11. Indianapolis is third in fewest giveaways with 15 as well as fifth in most takeaways with 25. Buffalo forced 26 turnovers but gave it away 22 times. Their +4 differential ranked 10th in the league.
The Bills are a bottom-10 rush defense, yielding 4.6 yards per carry and 21 touchdowns on the ground. In his last five games, rookie Jonathan Taylor is averaging 6.7 yards per rush and has scored seven rushing touchdowns (eight total).