Playoff Game Preview: Chiefs vs Colts from The Mothership
And so, we meet again.
The Kansas City Chiefs and Indianapolis Colts reunite Saturday and on a much-larger stage, the AFC Wild Card. 13 days after the teams played in the Week 16 matchup at Arrowhead Stadium, the Chiefs travel to Lucas Oil Stadium, hoping to avenge their home loss and take the next step towards their ultimate goal.
The 2013 Chiefs Playoffs Journey Begins from The Mothership
As I walked into the building this morning, the mood was even more businesslike than usual, which is the way it should be, according to Chiefs QB Alex Smith.
"They're all individually different," Smith said of playoff games. "None of them are the same. No one game-each week, the matchup is different. I mean, these are all of the best of the best teams. There are not many weak areas on these teams. They all really play good football and there's a reason they made the playoffs. All of these games are very different. All of the stakes get raised. There is no tomorrow, so certainly, it's normal to get pretty jacked up for these games, you should be."
Reid And Reid: 5 Questions With The Coach from The Mothership
What's the biggest difference between regular season and playoff games?
"Everything's a little faster, each step that you take in the playoff, it's kind of a crazy phenomenon, but that's how it works. Competition makes the speed of the game faster, so it's important that you balance that and you still function at your best level, each step that you take as things intensify."
Chiefs And Colts Playoff History from The Mothership
The Chiefs competing against the Colts in January is nothing new to Chiefs fans. The Kansas City Chiefs have faced the Indianapolis Colts three times in the playoffs, following the 1995, 2003, and 2006 regular seasons. Unfortunately, the outcome hasn't been in favor of Kansas City with the Chiefs going 0-3 in postseason play against Indianapolis. However, don't forget that this is a team that has moved from worst in the league in 2012 to a legitimate contender and a playoff bound team in 2013.
Inside The Lines: Chiefs vs. Colts from The Mothership
The Chiefs have recorded 11 return touchdowns this season - five interceptions, one fumble recovery, two kickoff returns, two punt returns and one special teams fumble recovery - marking just the third time in franchise history that the team has recorded 11 return touchdowns.
Kansas City ranked tied for fourth overall in scoring differential. The Chiefs outscored their opponents 430-305, a differential of +125.
After 16 weeks of play, the Kansas City Chiefs rank first in the NFL in average starting field position. The Chiefs offense has had 197 possessions with the average starting point at the 33.4-yard line.
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KCChiefs.com Video: Focus Points For AFC Wild Card Matchup
KCChiefs.com Video: 2013 Chiefs Road To The Playoffs Preview
NFL.com Video: Preview: Kansas City Chiefs vs. Indianapolis Colts
NFL.com Video: Pass Rushers To Watch On Wild Card Weekend
NFL.com Video: The Experience Of Defeat
NFL.com Video: The Experience Of Victory
It's Time For Chiefs To Erase The Pain Of Playoff Losses To The Colts from FS Kansas City
Three times. Three times the Colts have ended a Chiefs playoff season, each one unique in its agony for Chiefs fans. Together they account for almost half of the seven consecutive playoff losses the Chiefs have endured since their last postseason win 20 years ago.
That pain surely must end Saturday in Indianapolis, right?
Here's a quick look back at the wreckage of those defeats.
Chief Concern from Grantland
But at least Cleveland's trauma has brought drama. If there's nobility in suffering, the city's fans were knighted a long time ago; Cleveland has earned national renown for being Heartbreak City, complete with proper nouns to describe the high points (The Drive, The Fumble, The Decision). Major League made us all Indians supporters for a time. Cleveland sports fans have been brutalized, but at least their sacrifices have been recognized. And they did win the lottery the year that winning the lottery meant drafting James, the best player of the last 20 years in the sport where one player can make the biggest difference.
By comparison, the plight of the Kansas City sports fan is almost ignored. We suffer in silence. But man, have we suffered.
Flanny's Five: Chiefs' Reid Believed This Was A Playoff Team From The Start from FS Kansas City
Chiefs coach Andy Reid inherited a 2-14 team that probably in its wildest dreams couldn't have imagined winning 11 games and getting into the playoffs this season.
But Reid, with a completely straight face, said he knew right from the start it was possible, perhaps even likely, that the Chiefs would make the playoffs.
"I believed, yeah," Reid said. "I think that's important that you believe. You have to have the trust. If you don't believe in your guys and what you're trying to accomplish, you're never going to accomplish anything. I'm all in.
"I was all in then and I'm all in now."
In the end, Kansas City returns to the formula that produced a 9-0 start - a heavy dose of Charles combined with a relentless pass rush and opportunistic defense - and make just enough plays in the second half to keep a scrappy Indianapolis team at bay. The Chiefs put an end to their seven-game losing streak in the playoffs while the Colts' grows to four in a row, as Luck gets a second taste of the postseason disappointment that his predecessor experienced early in his career.
Kansas City 27, Indianapolis 23
Double Coverage: Chiefs At Colts from ESPN
Chiefs coach Andy Reid decided to rest most of his starters against San Diego in the finale. Do you think that was the right thing to do?
Teicher: Undoubtedly. The Chiefs didn't get a bye in the playoffs, but Reid created one for eight defensive and seven offensive starters who didn't play against the Chargers. I would expect that to be reflected in how those guys play against the Colts. Momentum going into the playoffs is overrated. The NFL is such a week-to-week deal that it's almost impossible for a team to carry anything over from one game to the next, and even at that, the starters were able to get in some practice time last week.
Derrick Johnson Deserved Better from ESPN
Johnson is again having a strong season, but didn't make the Pro Bowl teams, either. Johnson tied his career high in sacks with 4.5 and had a couple of interceptions, but otherwise didn't have the flashy stats that make things easier for the voters. But looking at his season on a down-by-down basis, Johnson was deserving.
Over the summer, Poe went all sacrilegious on Frank and thousands like him on the home front, declaring that he'd lost weight by cutting out barbecue, that Kansas City cornerstone. Then he went out and played like a holy hand grenade, emerging as one of the best nose tackles in the NFL and garnering a Pro Bowl berth in the process.
All of which, you see, puts Frank in a bit of a pickle, fried or otherwise. As a BBQ man and a Chiefs lifer, he's torn between his love for Poe's Sunday bulldozer act at Arrowhead Stadium and his disappointment with losing a 346-pound customer.
"It's one of those things -- I suppose you could make a deal out of it that's negative," Schloegel says. "We just kind of let it go."
Hali Listed As 50-50, Fisher Won't Play from ESPN
Hali didn't play in last week's game in San Diego nor did he practice this week. The Chargers' game was only the second of his career that Hali has missed because of injury, the other happening in 2008.
The Chiefs are still hoping to pair Hali with outside linebacker Justin Houston, who on Saturday will play for the first time in six weeks.
"Meijer understands just how important it is to support the communities where our customers and team members work and live, and are pleased to offer these playoff tickets to local military families as a way of thanking them for all they do," Co-Chairman Doug Meijer said.
"Meijer is a great community partner, and we are proud to have them as our exclusive grocery sponsor," said Colts Owner and CEO Jim Irsay.
Colts Deserve Sellout Against Chiefs from ESPN
This game deserved to be sold out, and it's not because the Colts have sold out 137 of their last 138 home games. It's because they deserve the support after overcoming season-ending injuries to five key players to win the AFC South and earn at least one home game in the playoffs. As I pointed out Thursday in a story on coach Chuck Pagano, the Colts could have easily fallen apart during the regular season.
The Chiefs rested almost all their starters in Week 17 because they weren't playing for anything. That should help them in this game, as should the revenge factor. However, Indianapolis is playing like the team that beat Denver, the Seattle Seahawks and the San Francisco 49ers this season. The Colts have gained a second wind in December and are now getting the offensive line play they've needed all along for quarterback Andrew Luck. If the Colts can maintain the momentum they've established over the past few weeks, they should be able to win and cover. The NFL spread originally opened at -3 for Indy before dropping to a pick.
NFL Playoff Preview: Chiefs At Colts from The Los Angeles Times
The Colts have gotten past their problem with slow starts and can draw on their brief playoff experience from last season. They made light work of the Chiefs in Kansas City two weeks ago, although this game figures to be closer. COLTS 24, CHIEFS 21
The Chiefs were able to keep eight defensive starters out of last week's final regular-season game in San Diego and that should help improve their tackling against the Colts. The Chiefs, after a torrid start to the season, looked fatigued on defense toward the end of the season and that can be reflected in sloppy tackling.
To illustrate the point, the Chiefs had one of their better tackling games against the Chargers last week. Using mostly fresh players who had spent much of the season as backups, the Chiefs missed only three tackles.
Seven Keys To Victory, Kansas City from Colts.com
HALF-COURT/FULL-COURT - Put succinctly by Special Teams Coach Tom McMahon, it's winning the kicking game. With an opponent that tops the league in offensive drive starts,
Pat McAfee's punts and kickoffs will play a big role in the outcome. Perhaps no other opponent makes "hidden yards" so visible. With fearless returners ("Kansas City's are ridiculous," said McAfee), the Chiefs have four TDs on punts and kickoffs - Dexter McCluster (89t, 74t PRs), Quintin Demps (95t KOR) and Knile Davis (108t KOR). Those numbers are regurgitated from two Fridays ago. Thankfully, they are the same now. If they're different Saturday, there may be some regurgitating in Indianapolis. McMahon wants his kicking team to pin the Chiefs deep, while his units prosper - play half-court offense, full-court defense.
Some Chiefs fans said they are staying home because of the high mark-up on tickets for the big game. One broker acknowledges there has been a bump in price, but there are deals out there if you still want to head out to Indy.
"The face value on the tickets normally would be like $25 to $100. Now the face value on these tickets are going for $66 to $350," said Hal Wagner with Ace Sports and Tickets.
He said it isn't unusual for a game this high profile.
Andy Reid Reason Chiefs Are Back In Playoffs from NY Daily News
If the Chiefs are to win this game, it will be because they rediscover the all-out effort that sparked them at the start of 2013. Despite all the regular-season success, K.C. limps into this game. The Chiefs have lost five of their last seven, and one of their best defenders, lineman Tamba Hali, may not be at full strength.
But they have made it this far with a chance to chase a Super Bowl, and Reid feels they can't waste this opportunity. All the work can't be for nothing.
Bob Lutz: Reid Gives Chiefs Reason For Confidence from The Wichita Eagle
KC will encounter a hostile crowd and a rising star in quarterback Andrew Luck. The Colts' defense has given up only 20 points in the last three games and stymied the Chiefs after an early Jamaal Charles touchdown.
There are so many things that pointed to an Indianapolis victory.
And then there is Andy Reid.
The Chiefs have him. The Colts do not.
NFL Wild Card Round Preview from FOX Sports
The Colts win if... Luck dinks-and-dunks his way through Kansas City's defense, an early deficit takes the ball out of Jamaal Charles' hands.
The Chiefs win if... Charles takes advantage of Indianapolis' susceptible rush resistance, the Colts backfield fails to provide ample contributions for Luck and the passing game.
Prediction: Colts 27, Chiefs 24
He recorded a video as he told Andrew that they can't watch the Chiefs game because of a blackout. Being a diehard fan, Andrew appeared disappointed.
That is until Dad told him the only way to see it is by going to Indianapolis. Andrew couldn't believe it and started jumping up in the air.
The Playbook: Previewing 49ers-Packers, Eagles-Saints, More NFL Wild-Card Games from Sports Illustrated
This is the lone game where the weather will not play a factor, thanks to Indianapolis' retractable roof, so there could be some fireworks through the air.
Indianapolis might prefer that to a grind-it-out game. Why? Well, the Chiefs own an advantage on the ground, with the ability to unleash Jamaal Charles against the league's 26th-ranked run defense. Even in that earlier 16-point loss to Indianapolis, Charles gained 144 total yards and a touchdown. For what it's worth, Donald Brown and Trent Richardson combined for 122 yards rushing in Kansas City.
Video: Breaking Down The Four NFL Wild Card Games from The Wall Street Journal
Kevin Clark and Geoff Foster discuss all four games, including why Kansas City is built to stop the powerful Indianapolis Colts attack in one of the more intriguing matchups of the weekend, where a shocking Chiefs team-who have been reborn under new coach Andy Reid, have built a mistake-free brand of football that may play perfectly in the playoffs.
Defense Leading The Way For Colts from ESPN
Luck, however, is not the reason behind the Colts' three-game winning streak. Don't get me wrong, Luck has been good, but you have to look at the defense when it comes to giving credit to the team's recent success.
The Colts head into Saturday's wild-card playoff game against the Kansas City Chiefs having forced eight turnovers and feasting on opposing quarterbacks like they're at a buffet, registering 12 sacks in their three-game winning streak.
Speaking of room temperature, that's what fans at the Chiefs-Colts game are going to have to "put up with" under the roof at Lucas Oil Stadium. Not only do Colts and Chiefs fans get the warmest venue, but they also get the cheapest tickets this week. Tickets to see Indy host Kansas City are going for as low as $61.
Things Could Get Wild This Weekend from ESPN
Can the Colts put Charles on hiatus? Philadelphia's LeSean McCoy led the NFL in rushing, but Charles might have been the more valuable player to his team's offense. Reid rested Charles in Week 17, but with 1,980 yards he still ended up accounting for 35.3 percent of the Chiefs' offense and scored an NFL-best 19 TDs. The Colts couldn't contain him during their Week 16 contest, as he gashed Indy for 106 yards on 13 carries and caught five passes for 38 yards. However, due to a large second-half deficit, K.C. couldn't get Charles his normal amount of touches down the stretch.
In order to answer these questions, we used Topsy Pro, a platform that allowed us to collect all tweets mentioning NFL teams from June 1, 2009 to January 1, 2014. We then sorted the tweets as originating from inside or outside the team's market.
NFL Playoffs: Quick-Change Artistry Revives Chiefs, Colts, Eagles, Saints from The Los Angeles Times
When the Chiefs play at the Colts, followed by the Saints at the Eagles, a fundamental reality of the NFL will be on display - situations change in a flash, and you had better win if you want to keep your job.
Reid flipped a U-turn with a Kansas City team that was 2-14 the previous season. Payton picked up where he left off with Drew Brees and the Saints' offense, and got a historically bad defense corrected. Pagano proved that he's a good head coach, and that the Colts wouldn't drop off a ledge with the departure of Bruce Arians, the interim who was named NFL coach of the year last season. And Kelly showed he could successfully install an NFL version of his innovative, up-tempo college offense.
Even if the Chiefs can hold up in pass protection, Smith's arm strength and the receivers' inability to shake man coverage (which the Colts have played increasingly well) are weaknesses that can't be hidden without a rushing attack that's capable of creating eight-man boxes and manageable third downs. Jamaal Charles did not get consistent touches to find his rhythm in the last matchup; it's imperative that he does this time.