It’s a playoff stat special, let’s dig in.
First off, here is a Colts overview to get us started:
Now, on to the five stats that could determine this game:
1 . Pass-Happy Pat
If there’s one thing Chiefs fans can feel confident in this season, it’s Patrick Mahomes’ arm. For good reason, too. The young quarterback is coming off of a historic season with over 5,000 yards thrown and 50 TD passes — wow. With that arm, Mahomes threw the most passes that were at least 20 yards downfield and averaged 82 yards per game on deep passes. This doesn’t look good for the Colts defense:
The Colts defense gave up a 43 percent completion percentage on 20-plus yard passes this season.— Aly Trost (@AlyTrost) January 11, 2019
Patrick Mahomes' percentage rate on passes thrown at least 20 yards downfield?
The Colts defense is ranked fourth-highest in the NFL in that category.
However, these numbers all mean nothing if there isn’t a receiver there for the Chiefs to get on the end of the ball. Luckily for Mahomes, Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill had the most deep targets in the NFL — 42 of which he was at least 20 yards downfield — and he tallied the most receptions with 18. If the Mahomes-to-Cheetah duo is on, the Colts are in trouble.
2. In the zone
The Colts defense hasn’t seen an offense quite like the Chiefs all season. In fact, in their last 11 games, they only faced ONE team that finished in the top half of the league in scoring: the Houston Texans, who came in at 11th with their 405 points.
And, if the Colts play a lot of zone defense Saturday, they may be in trouble:
#Colts run zone coverage at highest rate in the league.#Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes played 5 games vs teams that run zone at top-8 frequencies this season, completing 64.1% of his passes at 7.99 yards per attempt with a perfect 14:0 TD-to-INT ratio against them.— Evan Silva (@evansilva) January 8, 2019
Correct Answer: #LetsRoll QB Patrick Mahomes— GTPPicks.com (@gtppicks) January 10, 2019
Interesting enough, the #Colts play zone coverage at the highest rate in the NFL (82.1 pct) - NFL average: 63.1 pct of coverage snaps
3. No Luck here
Andrew Luck when throwing in 2.5 seconds or less...26 TDs, 2 INTs.— BJ Kissel (@ChiefsReporter) January 11, 2019
Andrew Luck when throwing after 2.5 seconds...13 TDs, 13 INTs.
(stat via @PFF) #LetsRoll https://t.co/BLFSGhxBx5
If the Chiefs can limit Luck’s options, force him to hold on to the ball, then break through the Colts offensive line, they’ll be successful in throwing off any momentum.
And the Chiefs, with Dee Ford, Justin Houston and Chris Jones, have the guys just right for the job, but that doesn’t mean it’ll be easy against the Colts’ offensive line:
The Colts OL vs. the Chiefs DL is something I'll be watching closely during the #NFLPlayoffs Divisional Round. The Colts have only allowed 8 sacks over the last 12 games. #FantasyFootball— Moody (@EricNMoody) January 11, 2019
But the Chiefs did tie for the NFL lead in sacks this season with 53 and ranked third in quarterback pressures with 211 — 150 of which came from the combined efforts of Dee Ford and Chris Jones. So you’re saying there’s a chance.
Additionally, an open-air stadium is not the best environment for Luck and his Colts. Check this out:
Andrew Luck outdoors in the playoffs: 2 touchdowns, 8 interceptions, 52.0 passer rating.— Red Sea Reader (@RedSeaReader) January 10, 2019
Talk about Arrowhead advantage.
4. Chiefs Run Defense vs. Marlon Mack
The Chiefs defense gave up the most yards per carry (five) this season, and in the Colts’ wild card game against the Houston Texans, running back Marlon Mack — alone — averaged six yards per carry on his 148 total yards.
But that wasn’t the only 100-yard game Mack has had in recent weeks. In three of the last four games, Mack has run for 100 or more yards. He put up 119 against the Titans in Week 17 and 139 against the Dallas Cowboys in a massive 23-0 blowout win for the Colts in Week 15.
The divisional round is full of good stats. My favorite? The Kansas City Chiefs allowed opponents to average 5.0 PER CARRY during the regular season. I break down what this could mean for the #Colts come Saturday— Caroline Cann (@ncarolinecann) January 10, 2019
Full story: https://t.co/RvWksiQjn1
Sponsored by @indmemberscu pic.twitter.com/cejOfUc5H5
This could prove especially dangerous should the snowy, wintry weather mix rear its ugly head on Saturday, as most offenses tend to run the ball vs. pass in inclement weather.
5 . Kelce the Key?
The Colts and Chiefs defense have not performed well against tight ends, which could really hurt either team on Saturday given that the Chiefs have the best tight end in the league in Travis Kelce, and the Colts have Eric Ebron, whose receiving yards are lower than Kelce’s (750), but his number of touchdowns is higher by three (13).
Kelce’s production on the receiving end could really help lift the Chiefs over the Colts if we’re just looking at this stat:
Colts have allowed 1,234 yards vs. tight ends this year, most in the NFL. (Kelce finished with 1,336 yards. Second most in NFL history by a TE)#Chiefs have allowed 10 TDs from TEs, second most. (Colts TE Eric Ebron has 13 this year)— Farzin Vousoughian (@Farzin21) January 10, 2019
Kelce & Ebron will have fun on Saturday.
Another aspect to this is the number of touchdowns that the Chiefs have allowed against tight ends: 10, the second most in the league.
While the number of yards they’ve conceded to tight ends is still lower than the Colts (1,067), It’ll be crucial for them to shut down Ebron and for Kelce to not only have a lot of quality targets but also be productive with the looks he gets from Mahomes.