KC vs Indianapolis NFL Playoff Handicapping
After jumping out to a nine-game unbeaten streak and a sure spot in the playoffs to start the 2013 NFL season, the wheels fell of the bus for the Kansas City Chiefs, who now find themselves fighting it out with the Indianapolis Colts on Saturday in an AFC Wildcard playoff game.
When: Saturday, Jan. 4, 2014 at 4:35 p.m. EST
Where: Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis, Indiana
LINE: -2.5(Colts), O/U 46.5
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In defense of the Chiefs (11-5), they have managed to go from the worst record in football, to being a serious contender in the AFC Playoffs.
And it’s come by way of head coach Andy Reid and quarterback Alex Smith no less. Both who were NFL castoffs just a year ago.
Since then, Smith has showed that he still has something to offer, completing 60.6 percent of his passes for 3,313 yards and 23 touchdowns to just seven interceptions.
But Smith can’t take all the credit, as the Chiefs have also been fueled by a productive rushing attack led by none other than prolific running back Jamaal Charles. Charles had a monster regular season, rolling up 1,287 yards while contributing to the KC air assault with 70 receptions.
That type of threat out the backfield has allowed the Kansas City receiving corps to get few more long distance opportunities, as Dwayne Bowe finished the regular season with 57 catches and Dexter McCluster, 53.
Defensively, the Chiefs have been stingy, allowing just 19.1 points and 367.8 yards per game. They have capitalized on turnovers with a plus 18 in turnover ratio, but struggled somewhat heading into the postseason , with all of their five losses after Week 9.
Meanwhile, the Colts (11-5) are this year’s AFC South Champions, and have earned their postseason spot by playing a physical brand of football, mixed with some offensive finesse.
Led by quarterback Andrew Luck, who is quickly emerging into one of the NFL elites at the position, the Colts are averaging 24.4 points and 341.8 yards per game.
Luck has competed 60.2 percent of his passes for 3,822 yards with 23 touchdowns and nine interceptions, while the Donald Brown led Indy’s ground assault, rushing for 537 yards and a 5.3 yard per carry.
On the opposite side of the ball, Indianapolis has changed things up from a year ago, and have brought some serious heat to opposing quarterbacks.
The Colts defense had 42 sacks and 15 interceptions this season, led by Robert Mathis who tallied up 19.5 sacks all on his own.
As a unit, the Indy defenders are allowing just 21 points and 357.1 yards per game, which should be good enough to keep the Chiefs (26.9 points and 337.2 yards per game) in check for most of this one.
Matt’s Free Prediction
Keeping in mind that these two teams met just a few weeks back on December 22, in Kansas City with the Colts dominating 23-7, this is going to be a hard hitting retribution game.
In that earlier matchup, KC turned the ball over four times, and if they do that again, the Colts will surely make them pay for it.
I expect the Colts defense to get to Smith like they did in the first meeting (five times), advancing past the wildcard for the first time since the 2009-10 season.
Colts 28, Chiefs 21