The opening week of the pre-season comes to a close Sunday afternoon as E.J. Manuel and the Buffalo Bills travel to Indianapolis to take an a Colts team looking for yet another surprise season. Andrew Luck and the Colts took the league by storm in 2012, shocking the world and qualifying for the post-season. This year they won’t catch nearly as many teams by surprise, but if they can iron out their deficiencies on the defensive side of the game, another solid year is not out of the question. For the Bills, it’s another new era in Orchard Park. Head coach Doug Marrone has taken over duties from Syracuse, and first-round selection E.J. Manuel is ready to be unveiled after an injury to his competitor Kevin Kolb. Both Indianapolis and Buffalo have plenty of storylines surrounding them as they head into the regular season, and this should be an intriguing tilt. After last night’s winner on the Giants, we’ll look to make it two-in-a-row with another winning selection. Read on below for today’s thoughts and official selection.
Bills at Colts Betting Odds:
Buffalo Bills +3.5 (-105)
@ Indianapolis Colts -3.5 (-115)
Over 36.5 (-105)
Under 36.5 (-105)
Betting odds taken from Bovada.lv
Bills at Colts Pick:
Like all wagers in the pre-season, finding an edge means sifting through depth charts and coach reports to see who is playing, and for how long. In today’s matinee affair, it’s expected that E.J. Manuel could play up to an entire half of football in his first professional game. With Kevin Kolb battling injuries, Manuel will play the bulk of the opening half before giving way to undrafted free agent rookie QB, Jeff Tuel. For the remainder of the Bills starters, it’s believed much of their time on the field will be used trying to refine their defense. In 2012, the Bills were simply atrocious at defending, and new coordinator Mike Pettine will be eager to see his blitz-happy approach in action today. Like last season, the talent is again there, but whether or not the results come remains to be seen. Against Andrew Luck and an explosive Colts attack, Pettine’s group will surely receive a nice test today.
For the Colts, head coach Chuck Pagano has said his starters will likely only play “a series or two” on Sunday. However, the Colts made an astute off-season acquisition In picking up wily veteran, Matt Hasselbeck. Hasselbeck provides great insurance to Luck and can definitely provide some key guidance along the way. Hasselbeck remains a capable quarterback, and moving into the second half, he holds a definite edge over the young Bills rookie Jeff Tuel. Expect that match-up to make a difference, and give the Colts an advantage as the game progresses. The Colts also have an intriguing battle at the running back position going on, between Ahmad Bradshaw, Delone Carter, Vick Ballard, and Donald Brown. All have shown glimpses of being solid running backs in the NFL, and this battle should be fierce throughout the pre-season. Expect solid outings from all of those guys when and if they get their shot today.
In the end, look for the Colts to take charge late in this one. Hasselbeck can still play the game, and will make the Colts second and third stringers look much better than Jeff Tuel can do with Buffalo’s. With veterans Leodis McKelvin, Brad Smith, and key wideout Stevie Johnson all out for the Bills, Doug Marrone will have to heavily rely on his rookies in their first ever professional games. It can be a nerve-racking experience, and look for a calm Colts squad to cruise to victory as a result.
PICK = Colts -3.5 (-115)