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Chiefs-Colts preview: What’s wrong with the Colts?

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Thanks to Josh over at SB Nation’s Colts blog, Stampede Blue, for answering our Chiefs-Colts questions. See our Q&A below.

1. This is a loaded question but what's wrong with the Colts?

SB: There are a lot of aspects as to what's wrong with the Colts. The most noticeable one is the defense, which is just horrendously bad. In fact, it's one of the worst in franchise history - and the Colts aren't really a franchise known for dominant defenses since moving to Indianapolis. There are some pieces they have on the unit, but overall it's a group that isn't overly talented and that isn't playing well.

Football Outsiders' Scott Kacsmar pointed out this week that of the Colts' seven opponents so far, three of them have scored a season-high in points against the Colts and two others racked up their second-highest point total of the year against Indy. The defense is terrible, and the linebackers are by far the worst unit on that defense.

In addition, however, the coaching staff has not been great, and I believe that if the Colts had better coaching they'd probably have two or three more wins. Basically, the way I see it is that the Colts don't have great talent, but they're also not maximizing the talent they do have.

On the offensive side of the ball, the Colts have allowed the most sacks and have had the most dropped passes of any team in the NFL, but the offense overall is scoring points and doing good enough to win, mainly because of how well Andrew Luck is playing.

To sum it up, defense, coaching, and lack of talent (which reflects on the GM) are the big issues, while there are some offensive issues that also pop up from time to time.

2. The Chiefs o-line is starting to play better. What can they expect from the Colts pass rush?

SB: If you have an offensive line that needs to get going, playing the Colts is just what the doctor ordered. The Colts really don't provide much in the way of pass rush, as their top pass rusher is Erik Walden (five sacks, eight quarterback hits), who's job has been primarily to be a run defender in the past. Walden has done a nice job as a pass rusher, but he's pretty much the only one. Akeem Ayers has shown some flashes and I expect his snaps to increase, while Zach Kerr, T.Y. McGill, and Henry Anderson have done a nice job of getting after the quarterback at times from the defensive line.

The pass rush is one of the biggest issues on the team for the Colts, and they'll likely only be able to get to the quarterback on a handful of plays each game.

3. Will the Chiefs be able to run the ball on Indy?

SB: Yeah, they definitely should be able to. The Colts' last three opponents have had a running back top 100 yards, and Spencer Ware is obviously having a very productive season for the Chiefs.

The Colts run defense hasn't been good and is arguably the worst in the NFL, and that's in large part due to their linebackers - which, as I mentioned earlier, are the weakest unit on the team. If the defensive line can't shut the plays down right away, the Chiefs will have favorable matchups against the linebackers that will allow them to make plays in the run game (and the same is true of the short passing game in catch-and-run situations). I fully expect the Chiefs to be able to run against the Colts and make plenty of plays there.

4. Who are Andrew Luck's top weapons in the passing game?

SB: In the passing game, it all starts with T.Y. Hilton for the Colts, like it has for years. And so far this year, Hilton has really stepped up and is on pace for his best professional season. Hilton has caught 45 passes for 689 yards and four touchdowns on the year and in three of the last five games has gone for at least 133 yards receiving. Hilton is fifth in the NFL in receptions, third in yards, and tied with several players for seventh in touchdowns. He also has 14 receptions of 20-plus yards this year, which ranks second in the league behind only Julio Jones. Despite shuffling and inconsistently at the other receiver spot, Hilton has had a great season.

Surprisingly, though, Luck's number two target this year has been tight end Jack Doyle. He's really stepped up this year as the number two tight end (and now with Dwayne Allen out as the number one tight end) and is a security outlet of sorts for Andrew Luck, as he's second on the team in receptions (29) and yards (282) and tied with Hilton for the team lead in touchdowns (four). Doyle has really stepped up this year, and while he's not a dynamic playmaker who you have to worry about breaking an 80-yard touchdown, he's a very reliable possession tight end who is versatile and who is one of Luck's most trusted targets.

After that are the other receivers, Donte Moncrief and Phillip Dorsett, and then Chester Rogers after that, though that group has been dealing with some injuries on and off this year - Moncrief, the team's number two wideout, has been out since week two with a fractured scapula, but he may return this week.

5. Your score prediction?

SB: I'll just be completely honest up front: I'm doing a terrible job of predicting Colts games this year, and part of it is because of what I'll call the Andrew Luck factor. Basically, the Colts will be in most games simply because of their quarterback, who is playing incredibly well and better than he ever has. The Colts have been in a one-score game in the fourth quarter in every game this year, and that's largely due to Luck and the offense either playing well to get a lead or making a comeback to make it close. All three wins have actually come via come-from-behind, game-winning fourth quarter touchdown passes from Andrew Luck (two to T.Y. Hilton; one to Jack Doyle). Because of Luck, I think the Colts will keep is close in the fourth quarter, and from there it's anybody's guess as to who wins. I'll take the Chiefs 28-27, but like I said, I can see it going either way.