The Buffalo Bills and Indianapolis Colts square off on Sunday in what can be seen as a battle of complete opposites. The Bills have a stout defense and a questionable offense, while the Colts have a high-powered offense and a shaky defense.
Tyrod Taylor will make his first career start fas he'll try to prove Rex Ryan right in deciding to go with him. On the other side, Andrew Luck will look to continue the team's upward trend each year as the Colts begin their road to what they hope is a Super Bowl appearance.
Here are three keys to the game for both the Colts and the Bills.
1. Make Tyrod Taylor beat you
The Indianapolis defense is a question mark, particularly along the defensive line, but it couldn't have asked for a better Week 1 opponent. Ryan's bluster aside, Taylor isn't anywhere close to the top half among starting quarterbacks in the NFL. The Colts defense needs to force Taylor to make plays.
2. Pass block like your season depends on it
The Colts' offensive line features one solid starter in left tackle Anthony Castonzo and uncertainty everywhere else, especially right tackle, where Jack Mewhort takes over. The Bills have one of the NFL's most imposing defensive lines and Ryan has a known fondness for blitzing. The pass protection for Andrew Luck had better be good.
3. Pray Frank Gore stays healthy
The Colts enter the regular season with sixth-round pick Josh Robinson, who is coming off a concussion and Tyler Varga, an undrafted rookie from Yale, backing up Gore. Chuck Pagano has already said Gore's carries will be managed, but if something happens to the Pro Bowl back, the running game will likely become a non-factor.
1. Pressure Andrew Luck
The Bills have the pass rushers to put constant pressure on Luck, and they'll need to do that to limit the Colts' offense. The Bills' secondary is shaky without Leodis McKelvin and rookie Ronald Darby starting in his place, but a strong pass rush can alleviate concerns on the backend. It won't be easy to stop the Colts' passing game, but it's doable.
2. Don't rely heavily on the run
Given the Bills' bevy of running backs, it's easy to assume they'll rely on LeSean McCoy and the running game. McCoy likely won't be 100-percent healthy, which is another reason not to lean on the run game. The Bills have to prove that Taylor is a threat as a passer to open up running lanes for the rest of the running backs.
3. Sammy Watkins has to win matchup vs. Vontae Davis
Davis is one of the best cornerbacks in the league and will likely be matched up against Watkins throughout. If the Bills want to have success through the air, Watkins will need to win the battle against Davis. The Colts likely won't be able to send double coverage at Watkins with Robert Woods and Percy Harvin on the field, too.