The Indianapolis Colts have won 10 of their past 11 games heading into the AFC Divisional Round and it only gets tougher from here. Indy might be the hottest team in the entire league, but Saturday’s tilt against Kansas City will undoubtedly be their most difficult task yet.
The Chiefs have arguably the most explosive offense in the NFL, but it’s their home venue that makes things so difficult for the opposition. Aside from the fact that it is statistically one of the loudest stadiums in the country, Saturday’s forecast makes this matchup one for the ages.
Arrowhead is projected to receive four-eight inches of snow, while the temperature outside will be under 30-degrees. Sure, the Chiefs’ postseason history isn’t on their side (1-11 in last 12; 0-6 at home), but they have something that the franchise hasn’t had in a long time—an MVP caliber quarterback.
Outside of the forecast, the matchup to watch was easily the two best quarterbacks in 2018, Indy’s Andrew Luck and Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes. The second-year star out of Texas Tech took this season by storm and became just the third QB in NFL history to throw for 50 touchdowns. Even more impressive is his generational arm talent, giving him the ability to complete absurd throws on the run, across his body and even looking in a completely different direction. These plays were the reason that the Chiefs opted to move on from Alex Smith and retain their new weapon as the starter.
Indy on the other hand had a season nobody predicted, and probably not even their own fan base. Luck didn’t know if he would be ready for the season opener and the organization had a new head coach with Frank Reich taking the reins. After starting 1-5, everybody had written the colts off (I’ll admit that I did too), but then the Stanford product got back into an NFL-rhythm and the rest is history. The Colts won every game they needed to in the past two months, including a Week 17 do-or-die matchup on the road in Tennessee.
Now, two of the best offenses meet up in Kansas City with a chance to play for the AFC crown next Sunday. So…what can we make of this matchup?
Even though the Chiefs lost 2017 rushing champion Kareem Hunt in December, they still have a lot of weapons on offense. Travis Kelce will be the player to key in on, especially with the snowy conditions that are expected to take place. Mahomes being a rookie won’t have that much of an effect on this game, but only because of the snow. The Chiefs will have turn to Damien Williams to carry the load and protect the football on the ground, because Saturday is going to be a battle of field position.
Indy’s offensive line must push around the top rated pass rush in the league, while protecting Luck in the process. Luck has been sacked just twice in the past four games, but the line has created a running game that the Colts haven’t had in over a decade. Marlon Mack will have to keep finding holes and moving the chains against the poor Chiefs run defense as the biggest key for the Colts is time management. The less time Mahomes has with the ball the better off Indy is.
On a clear, sunny day this game would easily be a shootout. But with the snowstorm projected to hit Arrowhead this game is going to be about field position and managing the clock.
Indy is a five-point underdog, but I give the slight edge to the Colts for their experience and clock management. The game is going to be a low scoring, defensive battle and field goal kicking will unlikely be in play. I’ve stated this multiple times across both my blog and other articles, but I’ll take my MVP over the inexperienced gunslinger in a tight game.