Wild Card Playoff Preview: Kansas City Chiefs AT Indianapolis Colts

Posted: January 2, 2014 in Uncategorized

luck

The Rundown

Date and Time: Saturday, January 4th, 4:35 PM
Venue: Lucas Oil Field in Indianapolis, IN (Dome)
Spread: Indianapolis by 2.5
Last Meeting: December 22nd in Kansas City (Colts, 23-7)

Overview

The AFC South champion Indianapolis Colts (11-5) host the fifth seeded Kansas City Chiefs (11-5) in the first matchup of the postseason. Indianapolis is led by sophomore QB Andrew Luck (23 TD – 9 INT) while Alex Smith (23 TD – 7 INT) commands Andy Reid’s Chiefs to a postseason berth a year after they finished with the worst record in football.

In fact, this playoff matchup is unique mostly because these are the last two teams to own the #1 pick in the NFL draft. Indianapolis selected Luck with the first pick in the 2012 draft; Kansas City took T Eric Fisher with that selection last year. What a difference a few years make? Both Indianapolis and Kansas City are now the two of the best teams in the league behind new coaching staffs and quarterbacks who limit turnovers.

Indianapolis’ Chances

Luck is one of the best young quarterbacks in the NFL. It will be his ability that will determine whether or not the Colts can make a surprise run to the Super Bowl. Indianapolis lost their road wild card game against Baltimore last season. They’ll try to learn from those hardships in the second season of coach Chuck Pagano’s tenure in Indy. After all, the Colts do have impressive victories over San Francisco, Denver, Kansas City, and Seattle and have won three in a row down the stretch.

However, the Colts are a very one-dimensional team. The lack of a running attack has put more pressure on Luck’s shoulders, forcing the youngster to make more turnovers than in his rookie campaign. Trent Richardson (2.9 yards per carry) doesn’t have the burst or quickness to beat the strong Kansas City front-seven and without Reggie Wayne, T.Y. Hilton (82 Rec – 1083 yards) is the sole legitimate security blanket for Luck.

Overall, Indianapolis’ hopes of winning the AFC are slim. The injuries on both sides of the ball have lowered their ceiling exponentially. Can they still defeat Kansas City this weekend? Sure, they just topped the Chiefs in Missouri two weeks ago. But, they’ll need to win the turnover battle and hope that the D can contain Jamaal Charles again.

Kansas City’s Chances

The Chiefs won the first wild card after a 9-0 start under new head coach Andy Reid. The former Philadelphia skipper has brought a new winning attitude to a team that hasn’t won a playoff game in 20 years. Behind Alex Smith and Jamaal Charles (259 Att – 1287 yards, 12 TD), the Chiefs possess an offense that won’t beat you over the top. But, the ability of Charles to catch passes out of the backfield gives the Chiefs a big play ability that many teams, including the Colts, lack.

The story of the year was Kansas City’s defense during their 9-0 start. The Chiefs didn’t allow more than 17 points in any game over that time frame. Of course, the same cannot be said about their 2-5 finish, where the Chiefs allowed at least 23 points in all but one of those games (including three games in which they allowed 30+ points). Which Chiefs will we see? The team that limited opponents by forcing critical turnovers at crucial moments or the one that went 2-5 down the stretch by allowing big plays and long, drawn out drives?

Prediction

Winning in the playoffs is all about winning the turnover battle and being able to run the football. I don’t think that Indianapolis has much of a shot based on those two factors. Couple that with the fact that the Chiefs’ defense is getting healthier after Andy Reid benched his starters last week, and Andrew Luck could fall to 0-2 in the playoffs. I don’t think the Chiefs have the makeup to challenge their second round opponent. But, they should get revenge for their home loss a few weeks ago. Chiefs 26, Colts 20

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