Preview: No. 5 Kansas City Chiefs (11-5) at No. 4 Indianapolis Colts

Published: Jan 02, 2014 00:20am EST
By Michael Owen, Sports Writer for Konsume Sports

Please Note: This article was updated Jan 02, 2014 @ 12:20am EST

 

In the first game of the 2014 NFL Playoffs, Wild Card entry Kansas City Chiefs travel to Indianapolis to take on the AFC South Champion Colts.

In what is statistically one of the closest matchups in the 1st round of the playoffs, they'll be meeting for the second time in three weeks Saturday at Indianapolis in an AFC wild-card game. The Colts (11-5) having won three straight while allowing only 20 points, including a 23-7 victory at Kansas City on Dec. 22, feel that they are getting hot at the right time.

"I think if you check the last six Super Bowl winners, they got hot at the right time," Indianapolis defensive end Robert Mathis said. "That's what it's all about, getting hot at the right time."

The Chiefs (11-5), who come in as 2.5 point underdogs, on the other hand, have lost two in a row, but are hoping to finally be getting healthy as they begin the post season.  Having already clinched a playoff berth, Kansas City used Week 17 to rest some of their premier players as well as to get their injury depleted roster back healthy.  Wide Receiver Dwayne Bowe (concussion), and left tackle Braden Albert (hyper extended knee) should be returning on offense while team co-leader in sacks linebacker Justin Houston (dislocated elbow) will return on defense. However, the status of linebacker Tamba Hali (knee) is unknown while right tackle Eric Fisher could miss this game due to a strained groin.

"It's the start of a new season. That's how the playoffs work," coach Andy Reid said. "You're in the dance, as they say. It's another phase of the season. You've worked very hard as a team to get into this position. Now it's important that you exhaust yourself to make sure you're right."

The Colts finished their regular season with a 30-10 thrashing over Jacksonville last Sunday closed out the season on a high note having won 3 in a row and 7 of their last 10.  The Chiefs on the other hand lost in overtime in controversial fashion on the final week of the regular season 27-24 to the playoff bound San Diego, Kansas City finished the regular season, despite having already clinched a playoff berth, with 2 consecutive losses and having lost 5 of their last 7. Four of those 5 losses came at the hands of division rivals and fellow playoff teams San Diego (No. 6 seed) and Denver (No. 1 seed). Kansas City missed out on the AFC West title and a first-round bye due to their late-season struggles, 

On paper this should be one of the more entertaining games, as they match up quite evenly as their identical 11-5 records would indicate, however when you look at their stats it becomes more apparent how evenly matched they are:

Matchup                 KC      IND

W-L

11-5

11-5

Avg Points

26.9

24.4

Avg Points Allowed

19.1

21.0

Home Record

5-3

6-2

Road Record

6-2

5-3

Division Record

2-4

6-0

Conference Record

7-5

9-3

__________________________________________________________________

One could argue that the Chiefs, due to playing in the surprisingly tough AFC West, had a harder road to the playoffs (2-4 in their division), while the Colts who play in the cream puff known as the AFC South (6-0 in division games). The reality is that Kansas City actually had the luxury of playing a last place schedule therefore had an easier path.  The Chiefs .445 Strength of schedule ranked as the easiest in the entire NFL (compared to .484 for the Colts - good for the 10th easiest schedule in the NFL) but more telling was their strength of victory rating of .335 which was 3rd worst in the NFL.  Indianapolis' SOV  on the other hand was .449 which was the 12th highest. Against playoff teams, the Chiefs went 1-5, while the Colts went 3-2.

Looking deeper at just statistics though, you can see how closely these teams match up:

Team Averages & NFL Ranks

TEAM OFFENSE

TEAM

PER GAME AVERAGE

Total Yards

KC

 337

IND

 342

Yards Passing

KC

 209

IND

 233

Yards Rushing

KC

 129

IND

 109

TEAM DEFENSE

TEAM

PER GAME AVERAGE

Yards Allowed

KC

 368

IND

 357

Pass Yds Allowed

KC

 248

IND

 232

Rush Yds Allowed

KC

 120

IND

 125

One of the most striking things to me in researching this game really speaks to the styles and personnel that these teams have. While the Colts went the entire season without a 100 rusher, the Chiefs went the entire season without a 300 yard passing game

Kansas City's defense had a stronger start to their season, leading the Chiefs to a 9-0 start, but then injuries and inconsistency settled in as the team lost five of its last seven. It allowed 12.3 points per game in its first nine and 27.7 in the last seven.

The Chiefs know the Colts offense doesn't cause itself many problems, yielding a league-low 14 turnovers. Kansas City was tied for second with 18, four of which came against Indianapolis.

I'm fully aware I'm stating the obvious when I say that the difference in this game will be who makes fewer mistakes. Winning will come down to turnovers and penalties. As Andy Reid said on Tuesday "Mistakes get magnified in the playoffs."

Neither team has experienced much luck in the postseason of late. The Chiefs haven't won a playoff game since the 1993 season, with three losses to the Colts during that stretch, while Indianapolis has dropped three straight in the postseason including last season's 24-9 first round knockout at the hands of the Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens.

PREDICTION: Indy outlasts KC and show that just plain and simple that they are the better team.  The Chiefs see their season come to an end but have a promising future, while the Colts likely will hit the road to take the next step in their quest for Super Bowl XLVII.

Final Score Colts 27 Chiefs 23.


 

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Michael Owen
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