Last year at this time, it was a popular rumour that the Indianapolis Colts would be coming to Rogers Centre in Toronto to take on the Buffalo Bills in the next chapter of the Bills Toronto Series.
That didn’t happen, and Torontonians had to settle for the considerably less explosive New York Jets.
This year, it’s actually happening, but for a preseason game. The Bills will “host” the defending AFC champions at Rogers Centre on Thursday, August 19 at 7:30 p.m.
“We are excited to be able to play in Toronto,” said Colts Owner and CEO Jim Irsay. “We know Canadians are avid football fans, and it promises to be a great experience for our players and coaches.”
This is a perfect scenario for every party involved. Toronto gets its best road opponent yet, with the biggest name in the sport (Joseph Addai … just kidding, Peyton Manning), while the Bills have a chance to actually captivate fans with some scoring. Even if they aren’t the team putting the points on the board.
Indy gets a chance to grab some new fans, too.
This will be the second preseason game for each team, so you can expect to see the starters for a fairly significant amount of time. The third preseason would be better, but this beats the hell out of the final one, which Manning rarely even plays in.
I wrote last year that losing a regular-season home game against the Colts would be bad news for Bills fans in Buffalo, so this is a good compromise. Everybody wins.
I realize that preseason games are never attractive, but Indy could be the perfect team to spice this thing up. I find that kids don’t mind preseason games as much as adults, and I also get the feeling the Colts have gained quite a few followers worldwide over the last 10 years.
In Toronto, there are likely a lot of 15-year-olds who cheer for the Colts, simply because they were the best offensive team in the league when those kids became fans of the league itself. My cousin Josh is one of those kids.
We’ll find out which team is coming for this year’s regular-season affair when the schedule is released in mid-April. These are the eight possibilities, ranked from most attractive to least attractive:
1. New England Patriots
2. Pittsburgh Steelers
3. New York Jets
4. Miami Dolphins
5. Chicago Bears
6. Detroit Lions
7. Cleveland Browns
8. Jacksonville Jaguars
Unfortunately for Toronto folk planning to attend the game, it’s almost a certainty that one of the bottom four teams will be coming to Canada. The Jets, Dolphins and Steelers have already been involved in the series, while the Bills would probably fight like hell to keep the Patriots game in Western New York.