The first game of the NFL’s brand new “Super Wild-Card Weekend” is finished, and what a wild game it was. The Buffalo Bills won their first playoff game in 25 years, as they defeated the Indianapolis Colts 27-24. Led by MVP candidate Josh Allen, the Bills were able to move the ball with ease for most of the day. Thanks to some questionable coaching decisions by Indianapolis’ head coach Frank Reich, the Bills were able to survive a late Colts surge and advance to the Divisional Round.
The Colts finished the 2020 season with an 11-5 record and their first postseason appearance since 2018. This season we saw the emergence of the Colts defense, which was one of the best overall defenses in the NFL, ranking in the top 10 in both yards per game and points per game. Offensively, we saw Philip Rivers, in his first season as a Colt, play efficient, relatively mistake-free football, and a running game that emerged as one of the best in all of the NFL. Even though Saturday’s playoff loss will sting, this team has a ton to be proud of as we put a bow on their 2020 campaign.
What’s next for the Bills is clear. They’ll wait to see the winners from Sunday’s AFC playoff games to determine who their opponent will be next weekend. The real question is, what’s next for the Colts?
The first thing on the Colts’ list of priorities this offseason is to figure out who will be under center for the team in 2021. Rivers will now become a free agent after signing just a one-year contract last offseason, and there are serious questions regarding whether or not Rivers had just played his last NFL game and look to hang them up. There is also the question of even if Rivers wanted to play next season, would the Colts want him back.
If Saturday was Rivers’ last game, what a game it was. Rivers played excellent against Buffalo, finishing the game completing 27-of-46 passes, for 309 yards, two touchdowns, and no picks. Rivers proved that he can still get the job done with his arm, and performed excellently in the clutch, completing multiple 4th-and-long completions in got-to-have-it moments. If you are Rivers, can you really hang them up after a performance like that? I just can’t see it.
Reich said postgame that he would want Rivers to return if Rivers opted to keep playing in 2021. This decision by Reich shouldn’t come as a huge surprise, as Rivers has really played winning football all season long, not just against the Bills on Saturday.
For the season, Rivers completed 68% of his passes, while passing for 4,169 yards and 24 touchdowns to just 11 interceptions. Rivers definitely won’t wow people for his athletic ability or arm strength—both are admittedly below average and the team could certainly improve at the position from the standpoint of those traits. However, Rivers is still arguably the best quarterback in the league pre-snap and consistently puts his offense in favorable situations. He is also still one of the more accurate passers in the game and took good care of the football in 2020. Considering the Colts’ identity is running the football and playing outstanding defense, Rivers' efficient style of play is more than enough for this team to make another run with him next season.