ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — Indianapolis Colts coach Frank Reich says it was “painful” re-watching the tape of his team losing to the Buffalo Bills in an AFC wild-card playoff game in January.
Reich finds encouragement in how close the Colts came to victory in a 27-24 loss. He says his team has improved as the Colts travel to face the AFC East-leading Bills on Sunday.
The Colts have won four of five to improve their record at 5-5.
The Bills have split their last four and watched their division lead dwindle to a half-game over New England.
Reich said he challenged the Colts to use the lessons they learned from winning four of their last five to propel them into the playoffs and make a deeper run than most expect.
Reich believes it's not just possible, it's plausible.
“There are a lot of good teams in the AFC, but no one’s just taken over, so why can’t it be us?" he said. “Why can’t the Indianapolis Colts take over right now? That’s our mindset. If we’re going to do it, we've got to prove it this weekend in Buffalo against a very good football team."
Sure, Indianapolis faces an uphill climb after getting to .500 for the first time this season. But the reality is the AFC is wide open. While the Bills and Kansas City Chiefs started this season as conference favorites, Tennessee (8-2) has emerged as the top team through 10 weeks. The Titans hold a three-game lead over Indy in the AFC South and have swept the Colts in the season series, essentially making it a four-game difference.
Beyond Tennessee, it's anybody's guess.
Nine teams are within two games of Buffalo and Baltimore, both 6-3, including the Colts, who can cut the gap in half with a win on the Bills' home turf.