Enough already about the Colts game. Yes, the Chiefs need to be thinking about one game at a time; but the fans have the luxury of looking beyond this weekend. The Chiefs have 2 tough games in a row coming up that are going throw up a massive mirror into which the team can look in at their own reflection. Are they a 3-0 team that has finally turned the corner; A team with playoff hopes? Or, are they a wisp of smoke in the night emanating from the gigantic bonfire that is the garbage heap left after burning down their awful team of the last 3 years to the ground?
My answer: we won't have any better idea until after the Houston game. The Colts are not the flashlight of a test that will pierce the darkness that hides the true colors of the Chiefs 2010 squad. We won't know if that light at the end of the tunnel is the sun, or the headlights of an oncoming train until after we face off against the Houston Texans.
If you're a Colts fan, you may want to avert your eyes from the rest of this post. (or you may want to stick around and call me an idiot in the comments; your choice).
The 2010 KC Chiefs offense are averaging 161.3 yrd passing and 160.6 yrd rushing per game.
The 2010 Chiefs defense are giving up an average of 238 pass yards, and 74.6 rushing yards along with scoring 2.6 sacks per game.
The Colts so far this season are passing for 375 a game and running for 75. Their defense is allowing 217 through the air and 149.5 yards on the ground, while cashing in with 1.75 sacks on their opponents.
The stat line alone tells me all I need to know about what Crennel's game plan should be going into the game. The first thing that Romeo has to do is decide what he wants the Colts to do, and then to put a defense on the field that errs to the side of allowing that to happen. This is no big secret. It's the most basic part of game planning for a defense. However, the answer usually isn't nearly this obvious. With no coaching experience at all, any moron off the street could tell you that the Chiefs want the Colts to run the ball. If they had any doubts about that, a quick look at the Colts injury report would confirm the chosen philosophy. The Colts will be headed out onto the field with a gimpy starter at best, but most likely a collection of 3rd and 4th string RB's.
No one in their right mind would go into a Colts game daring Peyton Manning to beat them by throwing the ball, and the Chiefs shouldn't either. Dallas Clark is the major receiving threat (again, look at the injury report), so the defensive game plan is not very hard to figure out:
Clark will be lined up detached as a receiving TE a lot, and the Chiefs need to slide the SAM LB to his outside shoulder, to both force him to play inside and to keep a safety back behind him. The Chiefs are going to want to do everything they can to take away the pass and protect the rookie safety's from Manning's passing arm. The Colts running game does not pose much of a threat (what with their O line troubles and RB injuries) and it is exactly what the Chiefs want to see all day long.
By sliding the Sam to the outside shoulder of the TE (instead of the inside) and keeping 2 deep safety's on the field to play against the pass, the Chiefs will be taking a man out of the box and daring the Colts to run the ball. This is exactly the game plan I expect to see on Sunday; because it's the only one that makes sense. A measured amount of blitzes in obvious passing downs is called for as well, but stacking the box with extra defenders and daring Peyton to beat very the young secondary (2 rookie safety's and a rookie nickel corner) will end in disaster.
On the opposite side, the Colts will be doing exactly the opposite. Their run defense sucks so far this year but they have pure speed on both ends to combat Charles/McCluster. Never underestimate the quickness with which Mathis and Freeny can pursue on a play. The Colts will be trying to take away the outside run game / bubble screens / short outs, and encouraging the Chiefs to pass the ball down the field. They will be daring the Chiefs to beat the 12 yards down the field and with straight up the gut running. I expect to see a lot of play calls that send Jones between the tackles. The Colts defensive speed on the edge will both help to contain the outside run attack and put pressure on Cassel in the passing game.
In short, these 2 teams (based on how they have played this season so far) are BUILT for facing each other. One of 2 things will happen for the Chiefs:
1) They win; and the national media points (rightly so) to all the injuries on the Colts team and their 2-3 record as the reasons. The Chiefs get almost no credit at all for the win, while the national media talks non-stop about the downfall of the once great Colts.. and we all wait for the Houston game to face a 'winning team'
2) They Lose; and the national media points (rightfully so) to the end of the undefeated record in light of all the rookies on the field in the secondary going against the unstoppable Peyton Manning. The media as a whole will pat the Chiefs on the head and shrug off the 3 wins in a row as a fluke, and trash Matt Cassel....and we will be forced to wait for the Houston game to face a 'season defining game'.
It doesn't matter who wins this game, because outside of Chiefs fans the credit will all be given to the other team, and we won't be any closer to knowing the truth about our team.
In contrast: Houston averages 243.5 passing yards, and 172 running yards. Their defense is giving up 337.5 pass yards and only 70.25 running yards. They are scoring 2.25 sacks per game on their opponents.
The Texans, unlike the Colts are a threat running the ball. the Texans are a major threat passing the ball. The Texans can stop the run the way a brick wall stops a Mazda Miata; and they can get to the QB and cause havoc as well. The Texans are a complete team that will test an opponent in every phase of the game. The game plan against the Texans is a mystery thus far in the season. And if I were and Indy fan i'd be scared that the Colts have fallen to 2nd best in the division.
All things being equal, the Chiefs should win the against the Colts. The match ups and the injury report are both in the Chiefs favor. It's just a matter of executing, and having enough luck to get a splash play or 2 during the game. That's right... I said it : The Chiefs should be the favorite on Sunday, not the Colts. And the Chiefs won't know any more about their legitamacy after beating the Colts, because the 2010 Colts are no longer the stick by which everyone measures their team. In the division, that mark is owned by the Texans.
It'll be another week before we know if the Chiefs are legit. If we lose to the Colts, it will just be a fluke.