The first game of the 2014 NFL Playoffs has the Kansas City Chiefs visiting the Indianapolis Colts. These two teams are not strangers to each other in playoff games. That history has not been good to the Chiefs, however. Dating back to the AFC Divisional Round in 1996, the Colts have won three straight (1995 Divisional Round 10-7, 2003 Divisional Round 38-31, and 2006 Wildcard 23-8) over the Chiefs in playoff games. The Colts and Chiefs are also no strangers to each other this season. Just two weeks ago, the Colts traveled to Arrowhead Stadium and stunned the Chiefs 23-7. After watching the Chiefs score a TD on their opening drive, the Colts took advantage of three turnovers from Alex Smith and added just enough offense to win the game. With three straight playoff wins over the Chiefs, and a dominating win at Arrowhead this season, why don’t I feel good about the Colts defending their home turf today? Read on for my reasoning.
WHEN THE CHIEFS HAVE THE BALL: There’s nothing special to KC’s approach to offense. In fact, its quite generic. However, the Chiefs do have several components can make them quite formidable.
- Jamaal Charles, the number three ranked rusher in the NFL this season, is a threat to take it the distance at any time. It will be important for the Chiefs passing game to be effective. If Alex Smith can get the ball to Dwayne Bowe and company, things should open up for Charles.
- Andy Reid, has been quite successful in playoffs, dating back to his tenure with the Philadelphia Eagles. His play calling is up there with the best, so you can bet the Chiefs will be efficient, even if they’re not necessarily explosive.
- Physicality. The Chiefs are one of the most physical teams in the NFL. I like teams that are physical up front and that can run the ball. Teams that run the ball well usually win playoff games.
The Colts have been quite stingy, however on defense. The Colts have given up only 20 total over their last three games. In addition to the seven given up to Kansas City in Week 16, the other two opponents were the Jaguars and Texans. So, not exactly murderers row, but still impressive. The Colts are quite physical also, with players like Robert Mathis leading the way. They’re objective will be to slow down Charles. Stop Charles, you stop KC, but will that enough?
WHEN THE COLTS HAVE THE BALL: While Indy has been on a roll, winning three in a row, the offense is still a question mark. There has been improvement since struggling in mid-season, but there’s no question that the Colts offense has been a disappointment. Especially, after trading a 1st Round pick to Cleveland for Trent Richardson. As Richardson struggled, so did the Colts offense as a whole. Losing Reggie Wayne may have been the biggest blow, however. Andrew Luck has no doubt missed Wayne’s experience on the field. T.Y. Hilton is the Luck’s go-to receiver now, and has had a nice season, but he’s no Reggie Wayne and going up against a stout Chiefs D in the playoffs could spell doom. The Chiefs physicality will be a problem for the Colts. There has to be at least some threat of a running game from Richardson or Donald Brown, if not Luck will have a long day against the Chiefs secondary.
OUTCOME: While I don’t see much explosiveness coming from Kansas City’s offense, the one thing they can do well is run the ball. Which means a lot in the playoffs. It’s probably more than the Colts can say, anyway. I think both defenses will find lots of success today, therefore I don’t see much scoring. As always in playoff games, turnovers and field position will be crucial. The team that is better built for these types of games is Kansas City.
CHIEFS 20 COLTS 16