Indianapolis at Kansas City
Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill vs. Colts defensive backs Clayton Geathers and Malik Hooker
Don’t be surprised if the Colts don’t even attempt to play man coverage on a single snap against the Chiefs this weekend. The played 65 snaps of man coverage during the regular season, the second-lowest total in the NFL, and unless you have cornerbacks who can run a 4.3-second 40-yard dash, that’s usually the correct coverage to play against Tyreek Hill.
“If it’s running it for 200 or throwing it for 400, I’m always going to say the same thing, we are trying to score every time we touch the ball and we are going to game plan and call the game in a way to score points,” Reich said on Tuesday, per 107.5 The Fan. “We are really not trying to think so much about, ‘Well, let’s hold the ball and keep it from them.’ We want to run it. There’s no secret about that. That does keep them off the field. That would be great. But at the end of the day, the primary goal is score points.”
Despite the Chiefs’ high-flying offense, the under has hit in five of Kansas City’s eight games at Arrowhead Stadium this season. Also, the total has gone under in six of Indianapolis’ eight games overall. SportsLine’s model projects that trend to continue on Saturday, as the under hits in almost 55 percent of simulations.
The Chiefs have been similarly frustrated in most of their past 12 playoff games, two against Manning and one each against Jim Kelly, Dan Marino, John Elway, Andrew Luck, Tom Brady and Ben Roethlisberger, among others.
The Chiefs are finally going into a postseason contest with the expectation that their quarterback will be a problem like that for the other guys.
But it’s also worth pointing out that KC has seldom had the superior QB in the matchup, which it does have this year in Mahomes. According to Elo, Mahomes is not only better than Luck, but he has the second-best pregame rating adjustment of any Chiefs playoff starter in a divisional round game since the 1970 merger, trailing only Trent Green from 2003-04 (when Kansas City gained 408 yards — and didn’t punt the ball once — but still lostbecause the Colts gained even more yards and also didn’t punt.) With a likely MVP under center, the Chiefs are hoping they finally have the ingredient that was missing in those previous postseason disappointments.
By the night of the draft, the entire Chiefs brain trust aligned with Veach. They didn’t need a quarterback, because Smith had just concluded a season in which he went 11-4, won a playoff game and posted a 91.2 quarterback rating.
But in Mahomes, they saw their future.
This is the story of how Mahomes’s incredible passes come to be. It combines his unique arm talent, prodigious practice habits, his warm-up routine, a lifelong devotion to training his arm, and a brain that can conjure up the types of passes that have enthralled the NFL this season.
Officiating assignment shift
With a record four rookie referees in the mix this season, the NFL made a notable in-season administrative change to the way it assigns referees and crews. It busted one norm in Week 11, by mixing three crews for a much-hyped Monday night game between the Chiefs and Los Angeles Rams.
Around the league
The Browns offense exploded under Kitchens’ guidance, who unleashed a diverse, multifaceted attack that had defenses running in circles. Cleveland averaged 23.8 points per game with Kitchens calling the plays and scored on 79.2 percent of its red zone trips.
The NFL had asked to challenge some diagnoses made by settlement-approved doctors and upheld by a court-appointed administrator whose decisions are supposed to be final. The league nonetheless filed an appeal on the grounds that the standards used to diagnose the ex-players with dementia were not being applied consistently.
Gase was fired by Miami less than two weeks ago after three seasons with the Dolphins. The 40-year-old led Miami to a 10-6 record and postseason appearance in his first season at the helm, but went 13-19 in the following two years, both of which were marred by injuries and discontinuity at the quarterback position.
Could Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Kyler Murray, of Oklahoma, stick with football after all? The talk about it has been picking up in recent weeks.
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Berry missed practice on Friday, December 28, before he was eventually held out of the Chiefs’ final game of the season against the Oakland Raiders. Berry practiced limitedly to start this week on Tuesday, which many felt was a good sign, but he could not participate on Wednesday as he deals with his lingering heel injury.
The team added safety Mike Mitchell to injured reserve due to a calf strain he suffered against the Houston Texans in the wild card round.
”For me, it’s my first playoff game,” Mahomes answered. “I’m excited just to be here, and at the same time, get the opportunity to go out there and win games like this. When you [are growing] up, you want to play games like this. You get older and you want to be a professional athlete, you want to win on the biggest stage. So for me, it’s about going out there to be myself, lean on my teammates, and win a big football game.”
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