The Indianapolis Colts have their quarterback of the future, while the Buffalo Bills are still trying to find their best leader under center as preseason takes off.
Last season Andrew Luck emerged as the Colts answer in the post-Peyton Manning era, and as a result he will get the veteran treatment and play only one series against Buffalo in Sunday’s preseason game at Lucas Oil Stadium.
Due to a freak injury, Buffalo will start their first round drack pick in E.J. Manuel after veteran Kevin Kolb hurt his knee by slipping on a rubber mat earlier this week.
Out of Florida State and blessed with prototypical size, 6-foot-5 and 237 lbs, Manuel threw for 3,392 yards and 23 touchdowns in his senior season and was named second team All-ACC.
Kolb is day-to-day, but with his injury history, Manuel could wrangle the starting job should he perform well on Sunday. The Bills were 25th in passing offense last season, and a risk may be necessary to rise up the AFC East.
Another Bills rookie to keep an eye on is linebacker Kiko Alonso from Oregon, whose reportedly already impressed new head coach Doug Marrone enough to be in consideration to start. He’ll have to aide a Buffalo defense that ranked 31st in the league against the run.
The Colts made an improbable run to the playoffs last season behind Luck and his second half magic. But in order to advance beyond the Wild Card round, Indianapolis needs to bolster a defense that was 21st versus the pass, and 29th against the run.
Indianapolis used two of their first five draft picks to select defensive end Bjoern Werner and defensive tackle Montori Hughes. Werner was held out of practice earlier this week, but should play against the Bills, while Hughes was actually compared by head coach Chuck Pagano to perennial Pro Bowler Haloti Ngata.
The game kicks-off at 1:30 p.m. ET and a live online stream is available by subscription on the NFL’s official site here.
The NFL Network will carry Sunday’s lone game.
Betting Odds: Colts are favored by four points.
Over/Under: 36.5 points
Prediction: Indianapolis 17, Buffalo 7