We’re in the Playoffs! (Tossing Horseshoes)

There+will+be+a+handful+of+Bills+fans+at+1+p.m.+on+Saturday+to+watch+the+AFC+Wild+Card+playoff+game+against+the+Colts.+%22Ralph+Wilson+Stadium%22+by+Scallop+Holden+is+licensed+under+CC+BY-NC-SA+2.0

There will be a handful of Bills fans at 1 p.m. on Saturday to watch the AFC Wild Card playoff game against the Colts. “Ralph Wilson Stadium” by Scallop Holden is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Ashwin Prasad

WE DID IT! The Colts survived a nervous wobble against the Pittsburgh Steelers and reached the playoffs! The Miami Dolphins gave us the help we needed with a 56-26 meltdown against the Buffalo Bills, and we took care of business against the horrific 1-15 Jacksonville Jaguars. No matter what, this Colts season has to be considered a reasonable success.

Cast your mind back to the various questions we faced at the beginning. There was COVID uncertainty, aging quarterback Philip Rivers, an inexperienced supporting cast, and feisty division rivals. Luckily, almost all of them broke our way: the Colts remained COVID-free, Rivers turned in a decent season, the receivers and running backs shone, and the Houston Texans utterly collapsed.

The Tennessee Titans, unfortunately, defended the division by clanking in a ridiculous field goal to cap off Week 17. Should the Colts lose next week, point to that moment as the crucial one. One goalpost separated the Colts from a home playoff game and a wintertime visit to Buffalo.

There’s not much to be optimistic about for this game. Buffalo is a monstrous squad. Since losing on a Hail Mary/Murray against the Arizona Cardinals, they’ve won six games in a row by double digits. Bills quarterback Josh Allen is an MVP contender (and fantasy superstar), and his number one target Stefon Diggs is unstoppable. New York governor Andrew Cuomo is even allowing 7,000 fans into their chilly stadium, bolstering their home field advantage.

I’ll still watch the game of course (Sat. Jan. 9 at 1 p.m.). Allen and the Bills blew a 16-0 lead last year against Houston, and the young quarterback looked like a deer in headlights during crunch time. Here’s hoping some more stage fright befalls him; it might be our only chance.

Rivers’ playoff history isn’t great either. With the Chargers, his record was a middling 5-6, with no Super Bowl appearances. He knocked off Peyton Manning’s Colts twice, but succumbed to Tom Brady’s Patriots three times. Even if Rivers avoids turnovers, he might have to put up 35-plus points to keep up with the more explosive Bills. On the Chargers, he never exceeded 28 in the playoffs.

It’s important to keep the big-picture in mind too: this could be Rivers’ last game. He’s always been one deep playoff run short of the Hall of Fame, and this may be his only remaining opportunity to punch his ticket to Canton.

Even if we don’t pull the upset, expect Phil to go down fighting.

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