Chiefs vs. Colts: 5 keys to victory for Kansas City

John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

With so much to discuss heading into the Wild Card round, let's take a look at the five most important factors.

With the Kansas City Chiefs only a few days from playing against the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium, it's time to start running through a few things to watch.

There are plenty of topics to choose from, many of which won't be discussed here but likely sorted through in the comments below. In a game of this magnitude, anything and everything could become the storyline.

Here are my top five keys (excluding penalties, because of course no penalties):

1. Run the ball, Jamaal

Jamaal Charles has had a heavy burden to shoulder this season, touching the ball 329 times (259 carries, 70 receptions). However, the best running back in football is coming off a virtual bye week and is facing the 26th ranked rush defense, giving up an average of 125.1 yards per game.

Normally, I'm all for about 20 carries and six receptions for Charles. This game, I'm cool with the Chiefs giving him around 25 carries. The Colts have a major problem stuffing the run and Kansas City should take advantage. Nothing against Knile Davis who has proven dangerous, but I want Charles toting the rock.

When you combine Branden Albert being back, turf, a bad rush defense and Charles, I get excited. Run baby.

2. Turnovers, turnovers, turnovers

Two weeks ago against Indianapolis, the Chiefs turned the ball over four times while dropping two easy interceptions. Kansas City can't afford to lose the turnover battle, having feasted on other team's mistakes all year.

Hell, here is a proclamation: If Kansas City wins the turnover battle, they will win the game, guaranteed.

Alex Smith had an uncharacteristic game in the aforementioned contest, throwing a pick and fumbling twice. If the Chiefs can protect Smith and the ball, they should be in good shape.

Hell, here is a proclamation: If Kansas City wins the turnover battle, they will win the game, guaranteed.

3. Get off on third down

In the 23-7 loss in Week 16, the Chiefs defense let the Colts go 7-for-18 on third down. What that stat doesn't show is the amount of dumb penalties Kansas City took to keep drives alive. Andy Reid's group needs to stop the run and force Indianapolis into 3rd and long. With Justin Houston back, that would be a beautiful thing.

Of course, the other benefit of getting off quickly on third down is getting the ball back for your offense. In the previous matchup, Kansas City had the ball for a grand total of 21:40. Give the ball back to the offense, get rest, and enjoy the show.

4. McCluster causing chaos

Dexter McCluster has had one of the best punt return seasons of all-time. His 686 yards in that category rank him first in the NFL this year and fourth all-time in league history for a single season. Two weeks ago, McCluster only had three return opportunities and amassed just 23 yards. We need to see that number improve.

McCluster doesn't need to break one to the house (although he can if he wants) but simply change field position and perhaps momentum. Everybody always forgets about special teams, but they can absolutely win you a game. Ask last year's Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens about Jacoby Jones.

According to Football Outsiders, the Chiefs have the best special teams in the league. The Colts? 22nd.

5. Secondary receiving

Outside of Dwayne Bowe and Charles, you may have noticed our other receivers struggle to be consistent. Not to beat the dead horse again, but two weeks ago Kansas City did not have a receiver break 50 yards, and only Donnie Avery had more than 19 outside of Bowe and Charles.

Indianapolis rolled coverage all day over Bowe and Charles, creating man-to-man matchups everywhere else. The Chiefs need Anthony Fasano, Sean McGrath, Junior Hemingway, A.J. Jenkins, not Chad Hall, and McCluster to find open space. Smith needs to have options, otherwise we will see a ton of three and outs.

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior users will need to choose a permanent username, along with a new password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

I already have a Vox Media account!

Verify Vox Media account

Please login to your Vox Media account. This account will be linked to your previously existing Eater account.

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior MT authors will need to choose a new username and password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join Arrowhead Pride

You must be a member of Arrowhead Pride to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Arrowhead Pride. You should read them.

Join Arrowhead Pride

You must be a member of Arrowhead Pride to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Arrowhead Pride. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.

tracking_pixel_9341_tracker