The Kansas City Chiefs and Indianapolis Colts come into Saturday’s Wild-Card game playing different types of football.
The Colts come in hot, winners of 3 straight games including a win over the Chiefs in week 16. Indianapolis appears to have gotten its groove back following the loss of Reggie Wayne for the season.
Kansas City comes in losers of 2-straight and beat-up. Two of the Chiefs most important players, Eric Fisher and Tamba Hali could miss the game due to injury, and Justin Houston is reportedly not close to being 100 percent.
Kansas City hasn’t won a playoff game since 1993, with three of those losses coming to the Colts.
During the first meeting between these two teams, Alex Smith had no answer for the Colts defense and Smith easily had his worst game of the season. He turned the ball over 3 times, finished with an 11.1 QBR, and threw for only 153 yards. If the Chiefs are going to win this game, Smith is obviously going to have to play significantly better, especially considering how banged up Kansas City’s defense is. Jamal Charles needs to touch the ball a minimum of 25 times against the NFL’s 6th worst rush defense. He only had 13 carries in the first game gaining 106 yards. Expect Indy to gang up on Charles, and force Smith to beat them down the field. That means along with Dwyane Bowe, Donnie Avery and Dexter McCluster are going to have to have big games. Not having Eric Fisher could be a big factor.
In order for Indianapolis to replicate what it did in the first match-up, the Colts have to get off to a fast start offensively. That way, the loud Lucas Oil Stadium crowd will wreak havoc, Indy would be able to ride the rushing attack led by Donald Brown and Trent Richardson, and Alex Smith would be forced to air it out. The Chiefs defense is banged up, so Andrew Luck should have plenty of time in the pocket to find TY Hilton and Coby Fleener down the field.
Colts – This is a trust factor, give me Andrew Luck over Alex Smith even though Jamal Charles is the best offensive player in this game.
The Chiefs defense was the reason why the team got off to a 9-0 start, and was also the reason why the team finished the season losing 5 of its last 7 games. Injuries to Justin Houston and Tamba Hali proved to be devastating and neither of these players appear to be close to 100 percent. The lack of pass rush has exposed Kansas City’s secondary. It got so bad the Chiefs finished with the 7th worst pass defense in the league. In order for the Chiefs defense to play well, Justin Houston has to get back to playing like he did before he got hurt, if not, Kanas City will be in a world of trouble.
After allowing 42 points in Cincinnati, the Colts allowed a combined 20 points over its last 3 games. Robert Mathis’s league leading 19.5 sacks have helped the Colts sport one of the league’s better pass defenses. Vontae Davis, who will be matched up with Dwyane Bowe, and safeties Laron Landry and Antoine Bethea form a solid secondary. The achilles heel has been the rush defense. Indy lucked out in the first meeting with Jamal Charles only having 13 carries. There’s a good chance they won’t have that same luck again with Charles, and Smith can’t play as bad as he did in week 16.
Colts – If these teams met before week 10, the edge would be the Chiefs. Kansas City’s defense fell apart in the 2nd half, and the Colts D played its best football.
Ryan Succop vs. Adam Vinatieri
Dustin Colquitt vs. Pat McAfee
Quintin Demps vs. David Reed
Ryan Succop missed 3 of his 6 kicks on the year over the Chiefs last 4 games including a potential game-winning 41-yarder last week in San Diego. There’s probably no kicker you’d rather have in the playoffs than Adam Vinatieri.
Both Pat McAfee and Dustin Colquitt had excellent season punting the ball. The pressure in this game though will be on McAfee to keep the ball away from Dexter McCluster who led the NFL with 686 punt return yards.
In the return game, Quintin Demps averaged nearly 6 more yards per kick return than David Reed for the Colts. Reed’s long for the season is 39 yards, while Demps had a 95-yard kick return touchdown earlier this year.
Even – The Chiefs special teams is the best in the NFL except for Ryan Succop. Succop’s been so bad over the last 4 games he simply can’t be trusted. On the other hand, Adam Vinatieri is the most reliable post-season kicker ever.
I just don’t see Alex Smith being able to lead the Chiefs to victory. Indy comes in playing as well as they have all season, and are as healthy as they’ve been all year.
Colts 23 Chiefs 17