Wild Card Playoff Edition: Chiefs vs. Colts

It’s here, it’s here, it’s finally here!!!  The playoffs are beginning this Saturday.  The Wild Card round. Where real playoff teams get sorted out from the pretenders.  The Colts matchup this week is going to be a humdinger.  They are facing off with an opponent that they dominated just over three weeks ago on their home turf.  The Chiefs come into LOS with a chip on their shoulder and will want to show that what happened in KC was a fluke and will not happen again.  Luck and the boys are on a mission this year.  After winning the last three games of the season to notch another 11-5 season, they do not feel that this season has been successful….not yet.  There were three goals set by this locker room and their coaches at the beginning of the season.  Win the Division, win the AFC Championship, win the NFL Championship.  One out of three have been accomplished.  This weekend the boys in blue take another step toward completing the trifecta.

OFFENSE:
The Colts were pretty outstanding on offense during the last three games, coming out quick and hitting early.  Luck seems at home in a faster paced offense, which is what everyone was saying earlier in the year.  He is finding the quick routes and the receivers seem to be getting off the line faster.  T.Y. Hilton has been explosive during this stretch in particular.  He has become the go-to receiver in the offense and has stepped up his game to prove that he is one.  Last week he notched 11 catches for over 140 yards.  Whalen has been dynamite out of the slot so far, and really has made himself relevant and a true threat for the passing attack.  Brown has been nothing short of spectacular during the second half of the season.  He has given the Colts a rushing attack when no one else could, and it seems that T-Rich has picked up on that over the last couple of games.  Not huge rushing numbers, but they have gotten those short yardage first downs that they seemed to miss out on earlier in the second half of the season.

The Colts’ offense is going to have to be spot on Saturday afternoon.  The receivers are all going to have to contribute and Richardson is going to have to play like he did last week against Jacksonville.  I know they are a bad team, but when he ran, he ran with purpose.  Hilton will not be able to have a huge game this week.  The Chiefs will do their best to lock him up early and often.  Rogers, Brazill, Whalen, and Fleener are going to have to bring their A game if the Colts want to win Saturday.  The Chiefs will have back Justin Houston, who they didn’t have a few weeks ago, but it’s looking more and more like Tamba Hali will miss this game.  The Colts’ offensive line basically took Hali out of the game last time, but Houston is a great pass rusher as well- so the Colts aren’t going to get off lightly on the pass rush.

Defense:
For the Colts to beat the Chiefs again, they are going to have to follow their footsteps.  The Chiefs rely heavily on Jamaal Charles out of the backfield.  He is their leading rusher, receiver, the team’s mom and dad, their priest, and their counselor.  He does it all for them.  The Colts didn’t really take him out of the game a couple of weeks ago, but they limited his output.  That has to happen again.  They need to make Alex Smith win the game on his arm for Kansas City.  Now, that statement doesn’t mean the Colts can easily win with the team relying on Smith for everything.  He is a seasoned quarterback.  He knows how to win and can do so when given the chance.  The Colts defense stepped up huge the last time they played in causing four turnovers.  I don’t know if that can happen again, but you could see the Chiefs were defeated every time the ball was turned over and they couldn’t get their mojo back.  That has to happen again if the Colts want move on to the divisional round.

It looks like most of the original starting defense is going to be back on the field together Saturday.  When they were together, the Colts’ defensive backfield (Davis, Toler, Bethea, and Landry) were a very good unit.  This game, however, will be the game where they all earn their keep.  If Charles is let loose they are going to have to step up and drop him to the turf quickly.  No big plays.  The emergence of Josh McNary in the linebacking corp has been a welcome surprise.  With Angerer going down for the season they are going to need another ILB to step in and McNary is that person, or at least so it seems.  Another person that will be playing to show he is worth the money given to him this past offseason is Ricky Jean-Francois.  He hasn’t been active lately due to injury and his season hasn’t been spectacular.  He could be a key piece, though, on stopping Charles from running all over the field.

As I said already, the Colts are going to have to bring their A game to LOS on Saturday.  The Chiefs will be playing to prove a point.  The Colts must maintain the level of play that we have seen over the last couple of weeks.  If we see a fast offense and an opportunistic defense, then we will see the Colts in New England or Denver next weekend.

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