Before the Kansas City Chiefs Thursday Night Football matchup against the Los Angeles Chargers, all of Arrowhead Pride’s contributors picked the Chiefs to win. Most weren’t looking for a big victory; our combined prediction of a 34-28 Kansas City victory was only 14 points removed from the 27-24 final. (Only two of 2021’s aggregate predictions were closer). Meanwhile, 90% of our readers thought the Chiefs would win — but one in three thought the Chiefs would win by at least eight points.
Let’s see what the staff — and our readers — think about the matchup.
Price Carter (@priceacarter)
In Week 3, the Colts already have their backs against the wall. Fortunately for them, their backs are against an AFC South wall; at 0-1-1, they can still win a terrible division. With it being the home opener in Indianapolis, I expect the Colts to play with their hair on fire. The Chiefs, however, match up well against them — both offensively and defensively. The Colts’ only path to success is slowing Kansas City’s passing attack with Gus Bradley’s Cover 3 and having Jonathan Taylor rush for triple digits. I don’t see either happening in this game. But I think it will be tighter than we expect.
Chiefs 28, Colts 21
Tom Childs (@tomchilds56)
With the way the two teams have been playing, it's almost impossible for me to make a reasonable argument for a Colts win. The immobile Matt Ryan should make an easy target for the Chiefs’ improved pass rush — while Patrick Mahomes will once again exploit one of Gus Bradley's defenses.
Chiefs 33, Colts 13
Nate Christensen (@natech32)
There are many truths in sports, and one of them is that you can’t fake desperation. The Colts are 0-1-1, have been abysmal on both sides of the ball and are on the verge of their season crumbling to a point of no return. I expect them to come out early and give the Chiefs all they have. Still, this is a poor matchup for the Colts. Patrick Mahomes has notoriously shredded Gus Bradley’s defense, and Indianapolis doesn’t have the offensive firepower to compete in a high-scoring affair. I expect the Colts to start fast — but when the Chiefs are able to respond quickly and build momentum, I don’t think Indianapolis will be able to keep up.
Chiefs 34, Colts 17
John Dixon (@Arrowheadphones)
The Chiefs are probably wise to ignore the Colts’ 0-1-1 record and quarterback Matt Ryan’s passer rating of 63.9. The 2-2 Colts, after all, were the first team to knock off the 4-0 Chiefs during their 2019 championship season. Indianapolis has some playmakers — not the least of which is running back Jonathan Taylor — but few NFL teams have found that depending on a ground game (even with a talent like Taylor) is a good way to outscore an offense led by quarterback Patrick Mahomes. In the immortal words of Chicago cop Jim Malone (as portrayed by the late Sean Connery in The Untouchables), it’s like bringing a knife to a gun fight.
Chiefs 31, Colts 23
Justin Eichman (@justin_eichman)
The Colts have been a puzzling team recently. They have three or four players who are the best (or one of the best) at their positions. But head coach Frank Reich just can’t seem to find the right quarterback for his system. One would think that Jonathan Taylor would make life easy for Ryan — but the Colts have opened with two disappointing performances. Patrick Mahomes is going up against Colts defensive coordinator Gus Bradley, whom he has dominated in the past. I think Kansas City puts the hammer down and wins convincingly.
Chiefs 38, Colts 20
Maurice Elston (@recenickelz)
Many would say this is a trap game for the Chiefs, but Andy Reid rarely overlooks any opponent. After sometimes struggling against the Chargers, I expect the offense to come out firing on all cylinders, jump out in front and force the Colts into many passing situations — just so they can keep up. That means more Matt Ryan and less Jonathan Taylor — which should equal a solid Chiefs win.
Chiefs 35, Colts 17
Talon Graff (@CoachGraff34)
Chiefs can start 3-0 if they can keep one of the league’s best running backs in check. Jonathan Taylor could have been a Chief — but instead, Kansas City chose Clyde Edwards-Helaire. We could see plenty from both players, but Taylor is a much larger part of the Indianapolis offense. New Colts quarterback Matt Ryan is off to a rocky start with only one touchdown (to four interceptions), running an offense that was held scoreless in Week 2 and whose best wide receiver (Michael Pittman) could be limited. Kansas City is coming off a little hiatus and should handle its business in Indiana.
Chiefs 34, Colts 21
Mark Gunnels (@MarkAGunnels)
The Indianapolis Colts are getting Michael Pittman Jr. and Alec Pierce back this Sunday — but All-Pro linebacker Shaq Leonard will remain out. While it’ll be nice for Matt Ryan to have some weapons returning, it’s not going to change the team’s offensive line woes. Also: we know how good Andy Reid is when he’s coming off a bye. This wasn’t technically a bye — but Kansas City nonetheless had extra time. In this one, I think the Chiefs roll.
Chiefs 38, Colts 20
Zach Gunter (@ZachGunter08)
I expect this game to come down to the Colts’ injuries. Shaquille Leonard won’t play, but how does Michael Pittman Jr. look? Alec Pierce? Based on those injuries, the game could either be an absolute blowout or a little closer. The Chiefs will jump out to an early lead and then start running the ball a lot. This season, I don’t think even Jonathan Taylor has what it takes to keep the game close.
Chiefs 45, Colts 17
Conner Helm (@ArrowheadConner)
My level of concern for this game is higher than it seems, given that Indianapolis has looked like one of the worst teams in the league. In order to make the Colts one-dimensional, Kansas City will need to jump on them right away. I think that early in the game, the Colts will keep it close by riding Jonathan Taylor — but by the end of the first half, the Chiefs will begin to separate. In the second half, the corpse of Matt Ryan will be getting bullied by Chris Jones and the rest of Sack Nation, leading to a Chiefs W.
Chiefs 28, Colts 13
Ashley Justice (@Justice_Paur88)
Those of us who can recall the complicated and devastating history between the Chiefs and Colts know not to overlook any team — even if that team was just shut out by a Jaguars team that is still finding its way. That being said, I hope that Indianapolis fans can find comfort in the “any given Sunday” adage — because on Saturday night, they will need it to sleep. Andy Reid is not known for beating up on the little guy or running up the score, so this won’t get out of hand — but a Kansas City victory will nevertheless be the outcome. Indianapolis will come out swinging — and may even take an early lead — but the Chiefs are better equipped to outlast the Colts.
Chiefs 38, Colts 14
Ron Kopp Jr. (@Ron_Kopp)
In Week 2, the Chiefs suffered the best kind of loss: an ugly win. The players have had plenty to correct in the film room — which should keep their heads from swelling over their 2-0 start. So even though the Colts have made it easy to overlook them, I don’t think this ends up as a trap game. The Colts are getting healthier — but I still see Kansas City’s passing attack bouncing back in a big way, outdoing what Indianapolis’ offense can put together.
Chiefs 31, Colts 18
Aaron Ladd (aaronladd0)
It certainly feels like two teams on opposite sides of the spectrum entering Lucas Oil Stadium on Sunday. Kansas City likely emerges from its mini-bye week confident and energized from a hard-fought win in a four-quarter battle over division rival Los Angeles. Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs' offense stayed on schedule in primetime, peppering the ball around and eventually wearing the Chargers thin. Meanwhile, Indianapolis looked to have no schedule at all during a Week 2 loss in Jacksonville. Matt Ryan’s unit had three turnovers and gained just nine first downs in defeat. The home opener gives Indianapolis some juice — but the Chiefs will keep the Colts on their toes.
Prediction: Chiefs 35, Colts 17
Rocky Magaña (@RockyMagana)
At first glance, this game seems like it should be a beatdown. The Colts are coming off a Jacksonville Jaguars game in which they were outscored 24-0. Jaguars head coach Doug Pederson is an Andy Reid disciple — and runs a similar offense — so it stands to reason that the Chiefs should not have problems putting up points. Still, Indianapolis head coach Frank Reich and his staff have had a full week to go back to the drawing board and make adjustments. Multiple Chiefs have made a point to say that they are not looking past the Colts — which makes the pessimist in me worry that they are doing just that. That being said, I think the Chiefs do enough to get by in a game that will be closer than it should be.
Chiefs 28, Colts 24
Ricko Mendoza (@ricko_mendoza_)
On paper, this should be a smooth victory for the Chiefs. I think, however, that the Colts are a lot better than their record shows. Their 24-0 blowout loss to the Jaguars last week was bad — but they were also down two starting wide receivers: Michael Pittman Jr. and Alec Pierce. That allowed Jacksonville’s defense to key in on running back Jonathan Taylor. The Colts’ middle linebacker Shaquille Leonard has been out for the past two games and won’t play in this one. This could be a closer game than many expect — but, ultimately, I believe the high-powered Chiefs offense will be too much for the Colts to overcome.
Chiefs 30, Colts 23
Stan Nelson (@chiefsfanstan)
The Chiefs may have a history of going into a game just like this, playing down to the level of the competition and losing in an embarrassing fashion — but not under Andy Reid and Patrick Mahomes. Neither of those guys are going to allow the team to look past a game like this — especially in a league where the difference between the best and worst teams can be razor-thin. Coaching (and quarterback play) will catapult this team to an impressive win. Look for Mahomes to spread the ball around even more — and for some new players to score touchdowns.
Chiefs 41, Colts 13
Tom Ruprecht (@truprecht)
I was very worried about the desperation factor making the Colts a dangerous opponent. Then I remembered their defense is run by Gus Bradley. Suddenly, my worries simply melted away. The fact that Shaquille Leonard remains out is also a big help for the Chiefs. The return of Michael Pittman Jr. will give Indianapolis a boost — and Taylor will get his yards — but I see a comfortable win for the Chiefs.
Chiefs 41, Colts 21
Kramer Sansone (@KramerTalks)
For the Chiefs, this game is not a gimmie. Yes... the Chiefs are going to win this one — but it will be close. This is the first time this season we will really witness whether the Kansas City run defense has improved from last season. I have a feeling we will see the defense wreck the Indianapolis offense, applying pressure to Matt Ryan all afternoon. But the Chiefs should be concerned about the same thing — because even though it gave up 24 points to the Jaguars last week, the Colts’ defense is no joke. Still, Patrick Mahomes made Gus Bradley’s defense look like a little league team while he was with the Raiders. Mahomes Magic will once again give the Chiefs a victory.
Chiefs 30, Colts 24
Jared Sapp (@TrumanChief)
The Colts are likely a better team than their 0-1-1 record suggests — and they will probably enter this game with improved health. Though they are 2-0, the Chiefs will come into this matchup with chips on their shoulders after a widely criticized offensive performance against the Chargers in Week 2. History suggests the Indianapolis defense will not be up to the challenge. Patrick Mahomes is 6-1 against defenses led by Colts (and former Los Angeles Chargers and Las Vegas Raiders) defensive coordinator Gus Bradley — with the Chiefs scoring more than 40 points in both 2021 matchups against the Raiders. The Chiefs are not likely to shut out (or even blow out) the Colts as the Jaguars did last week, but they will win comfortably. A meaningless late Indianapolis score will make the game look closer than it truly was.
Chiefs 31, Colts 24
Nick Schwerdt (@nick_schwerdt)
As I peruse the box score of the Colts' 24-0 loss in Jacksonville last week, I struggle to understand why I thought Indianapolis would be a playoff team this year. Aside from Michael Pittman Jr. and Jonathan Taylor, this team simply doesn’t have enough offensive firepower to keep up with most AFC offenses — let alone a top-5 offense like Kansas City’s. The Colts had to score 17 points in the fourth quarter of their Week 1 game to manage a tie against the Houston Texans — meaning that on the season, they’ve been outscored 44-3 in the first three quarters. I just don’t see much life from this team. This feels like another easy victory for the Chiefs, reminiscent of the team’s season-opening win over the Cardinals.
Chiefs 34, Colts 10
Stephen Serda (@StephenSerda)
Before I started digging into this matchup, I was downplaying the Colts’ struggles through the first two weeks — at least in part — because of all of their injuries. After a closer look — and acknowledging the Colts’ injuries in Week 2 — I’m finding it hard to see a scenario where Kansas City doesn’t look just as dominant as it did against the Arizona Cardinals in Week 1. Through two games, the Indianapolis offensive line hasn’t played well — and with Gus Bradley calling the shots, the defense looks like it’s far removed from its Matt Eberflus days. We’ve seen what Patrick Mahomes can do to a Bradley-led defense — and it’s never a good thing for Bradley.
Chiefs 38, Colts 13
Matt Stagner (@stagdsp)
In the offseason, this game was seen as part of a brutal stretch of Chiefs games against other playoff teams. After two weeks, it appears that the schedule might not be as bad as we thought. Starting 2-0 helps — especially since the rest of the division is already at least a game behind. The Colts started the season with a tie against a bad Texans team and then got blown out by the Jaguars. Nothing we’ve seen so far should lead one to believe that the Chiefs will lose this game. Like they do most weeks, they’ve got a massive coach and quarterback advantage — and the Colts are facing some injury problems on an already-thin roster. The Chiefs’ front four should get to Matt Ryan — and they’ve got enough run-stoppers to keep Jonathan Taylor from taking over. On offense, there are mouths to feed. You can bet that Mahomes wants to get his two veteran receivers (JuJu Smith-Schuster and Marquez Valdes-Scantling) involved (along with the rookie Skyy Moore). This one shouldn’t be too close — but anything can happen.
Chiefs 35, Colts 24
Bryan Stewart (@BryanStewart_)
The Colts are a desperate team heading into their home opener. That’s a dangerous combo for opponents. Andy Reid, however, will have his team ready to play when it is fresh off an extended rest period. There’s plenty they can improve upon from what they showed last Thursday against the Chargers. The defense will have some hiccups as they deal with missing pieces at various positions, but the offense will roll.
Chiefs 31, Colts 20
Pete Sweeney (@pgsween)
While I do believe the Colts are better than their 0-1-1 record dictates, I’m not sure they are much better. They should be aided by the probable return of wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr. (as the Chiefs play their first of four games without Willie Gay Jr.) — but even still, Patrick Mahomes and the offense have shown me enough through two games to know they will be just fine against a team that gave up 21 first downs and 24 points to the Jacksonville Jaguars (while scoring none). Quarterback Matt Ryan looks uncomfortable; his play has indicated he may be in the final year of his career. The Chiefs will pull away — but with some late points, the Colts make the scoreboard interesting.
Chiefs 34, Colts 24
Dakota Watson (@dwatson_56)
As a Chiefs fan, some of the most heartbreaking losses I remember have come at the hands of the Colts. But there is no need to rehash bad memories — because these are not those Chiefs or those Colts. Indianapolis has been abysmal this year, looking listless on both sides of the ball. This sets up a potential early-season trap game for Kansas City. So with the absence of Willie Gay Jr., I see the Chiefs’ defense struggling more than it should — because early on, the Colts will rely heavily on their best player: Jonathan Taylor. The Chiefs, however, will pull away in the second half and cruise to a 3-0 record.
Chiefs 41, Colts 23
Which team wins Chiefs (2-0) at Colts (0-1-1)?
This poll is closed
Chiefs in a blowout (14 or more points)
Chiefs in an easy win (8-13 points)
Chiefs in a close game (7 or fewer points)
Colts in a close game
Colts in an easy win
Colts in a blowout
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Ties in the standings are broken with prediction points error — how much each prediction misses the actual point spread and the number of points scored by each team.
For the second consecutive week, AP contributor Kramer Sansone turned in a prediction with only eight points of error. But in Week 2, he had company: Bryan Stewart, John Dixon, Jared Sapp, Ron Kopp Jr. and Aaron Ladd also had picks with eight points of error. These ranged from Kramer and Bryan’s 31-24 predictions to Jared’s call for a 26-20 Kansas City win. Rocky Magaña’s 31-30 prognostication was the next best with 12 points of error. So after two weeks, Kramer leads in the standings — but there’s not much separating those immediately behind him.
In Week 2, even our simulated Chiefs-Chargers game on Madden was eight points removed from the final score!