Indianapolis Colts vs Kansas City Chiefs

In this first of two exciting AFC matchups of the NFL Playoffs Divisional Round weekend, veteran quarterback Andrew Luck and his on-fire 10-6 (1-0) Indianapolis Colts travel eight hours south to face second-year phenom Patrick Mahomes and his well-rested 12-4 AFC West champion Kansas City Chiefs, all happening on Saturday, January 12 at 3:35 pm at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, MO, broadcasted by NBC.

The 10-6 (1-0) Indianapolis Colts:

After closing out the regular season on a nine-out-of-ten win run and then taking care of business against the Houston Texans 21-7 in the Wild Card game, the 10-6 (1-0) Indianapolis Colts will travel south to take on the well-rested offensive powerhouse from Kansas City.

Quarterback Andrew Luck is playing high-level football, completing 19-of-32 passes for 2 touchdowns and an interception for the win against the Texans.

Indianapolis was just 4-4 on the road in the regular season, but they’re 1-0 away from home in the post season, so they’ll have to continue their streak in enemy territory and hope they can outscore a Chiefs team that leads the league in scoring.

The 12-4 Kansas City Chiefs:

After going 9-1 to start the season, the 12-4 Kansas City Chiefs began to crack a bit, going 3-3 during their final stretch, their defense incapable of keeping certain opponents from outscoring their own touchdown-centric offense.

Second-year quarterback Patrick Mahomes has thrown for 50 regular season touchdowns, the most in the NFL by 11, while throwing for 5,000+ yards with just 12 interceptions.

Kansas City defends Arrowhead well, with a 7-1 regular season home record, and they’re 10-2 against AFC opponents, so their main goal in this one will be to limit Luck’s deadly passing attack, a challenge for the second-to-worst passing defense in the league.

What’s at stake:

These two teams have met 25 times (including 4 postseason games), with Kansas City winning 9 games and Indianapolis winning 16 games. The Colts have won 3 of the last 5 meetings, including their last playoff match, which was a Wild Card game in January, 2014, the score Indianapolis 45, Kansas City 44.

Whoever wins this matchup will go on to the Conference Championships.

They’ll play the winner of the other AFC Divisional Round matchup, either the fifth seeded 12-4 (2-0) Los Angeles Chargers or the number two seed, the 11-5 (1-0) New England Patriots on Sunday, January 20 at either 2:05 pm or 5:40 pm.

And of course, whichever team loses this one goes home, their 2018 season finally over.

Questions to answer…

Who’s favored to win this NFL Playoffs Divisional Round Colts-Chiefs matchup?

Which team has a better offense? Defense? Special teams?

Which team’s quarterback is more likely to lead his team to victory?

We’re going to compare the Colts and the Chiefs and attempt to answer those questions and more.

The 2018 Colts offense ranked 7th in the NFL

Quarterback Luck has a 7th ranked offense that scores 27.1 points per game while moving the ball 386.2 total yards each game, but offensive coordinator Nick Sirianni will have to game plan for much more output than that if the Colts want to keep up with the Chiefs.

Luck threw for a fifth ranked 4,593 yards, 25 touchdowns and just two interceptions while completing 67.3 percent of his passes this season, up from 63.5 last season.

Wide receiver T.Y. Hilton had a decent game against the Texans, catching 5 balls for 85 yards, while Dontrelle Inman caught four balls for 53 yards and a touchdown.

Colts’ rushing attack ranked 20th overall

Running back Marlon Mack leads the postseason rushing totals right now, having run the ball 24 times during Wild Card Weekend against the Texans for 148 yards and a touchdown.

Mack also caught two balls for six yards.

Indianapolis offensive Injuries

Currently no Indianapolis offensive players are listed as questionable for the Divisional Round.

The 2018 Chiefs offense ranked first overall

There is no NFL offense ranked higher than the well-rested Chiefs, who scored 35.3 points per game and move the ball 425.6 yards each outing.

Mahomes is the second highest ranked quarterback in the NFL with a regular season quarterback rating of 113.8 and pass completion percentage of 66.0.

Kansas City’s two main offensive weapons are tight end Travis Kelce (103 catches, 1,336 yards, 10 touchdowns) and wide receiver Tyreek Hill (87 catches, 1,479 yards, 12 touchdowns).

Kansas City’s run game 16th in the league

Kansas City’s best running back, Kareem Hunt, was released after 11 games for violent off-the-field behavior, and the Chiefs rushing attack has been fairly weak ever since.

Spencer Ware (hamstring) didn’t play in Week 17, but he could be ready for the playoffs, which is a good thing because backups Damien Williams and rookie Darrel Williams were not exactly getting the job done.

Kansas City offensive Injuries

Currently no Kansas City offensive players are listed as questionable for the Divisional Round.

Colts Defense ranks 11th in the league

Indianapolis flexed their defensive muscles against the Houston Texans during Wild Card Weekend, holding them to just one touchdown and basically shutting down their non-Watson run game to just 24 total yards.

During the regular season, the Colts allowed their opponents to score an average of 21.5 points and move the ball a total of 339.4 yards each game, their rushing defense ranked 8th and their passing defense ranked 16th.

The Colts’ 15 total interceptions are tied for 9th most and their 38 sacks are tied for 19th most.

Colts Defensive Players to watch:

The best tackler against the Texans last week was weakside linebacker Darius Leonard, who had 5 tackles with 8 assists, and then strong safety Clayton Geathers, who had 5 tackles with 4 assists.

Not only did cornerback Kenny Moore sack Watson once, he also picked him off and had 5 tackles and an assist.

During the regular season, Moore not only has 3 interceptions, but also 77 combined tackles, 14 passes defended and a forced fumble.

Colts defensive injuries

Listed as questionable for NFL Playoffs Divisional Round: safety Mike Mitchell (calf).

Safety J.J. Wilcox is listed as inactive for the Divisional Round.

Chiefs Defense is 31st overall

Kansas City’s defense is their Achilles heel, and after watching Luck’s offense tear up a Texans defense that’s a whole lot better than KC’s, this looks to be a huge hole that head coach Andy Reid’s squad will have to find a way to cover.

In the regular season, the Chiefs allowed opponents to score an average of 26.3 points per game and move the ball 404.5 yards each game with a rushing defense ranked 27th and a passing defense ranked 31st.

Chiefs Defensive Players to watch:

The Chiefs’ best tackler is inside linebacker Anthony Hitchens, who had 135 combined tackles in the regular season.

Defensive end Chris Jones had the third most sacks in the league during the regular season with 15.5, along with 6 passes defended, two forced fumbles and a 20-yard pick-six against the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 5. 

Tied for seventh most interceptions in the regular season is cornerback Steven Nelson, who had 4, along with 19 passes defended and 68 combined tackles.

Chiefs Defensive Injuries

Currently no Kansas City defensive players are listed as questionable for the Divisional Round.

Special Teams Stats Comparison

Punters:

Indianapolis’s punter, Rigoberto Sanchez, was a 2017 All-Rookie, and in the 2018 regular season he punted 57 times for a net average of 42.7 yards per punt, T-3rd best in the league.

During the postseason, Sanchez has punted 4 times for a net average of 37.0.

Kansas City’s 14-year veteran punter, Dustin Colquitt, has been a Chief his whole career and during the regular season he punted 45 times for a net average of 40.5 yards per punt, ranked 14th in the league.

Placekickers:

Indianapolis’ veteran placekicker Adam Vinatieri is a 4x Super Bowl Champion, a 3x Pro Bowler and a 3x First-team All-Pro.

Vinatieri was 23-for-27 in the regular season, his longest a 54-yarder, and he missed three extra point attempts (44/47).

During the postseason, Vinatieri is 0-for-0 and he’s missed no extra point attempts (3/3).

Kansas City’s placekicker, Harrison Butker, was an All-Rookie last season and so far he’s 24-for-27, his longest was a 54-yarder.

Butker has missed four extra point attempts (65/69).

Punt Returners:

Indianapolis’s punt returner, wide receiver Chester Rogers, is ranked T-25th in the league.

During the regular season, Rogers returned 23 punts for 215 yards and no touchdowns, averaging 9.3 yards per return, his longest for 51 yards.

In the postseason, Rogers has returned 2 punts for 20 yards and no touchdowns, averaging 10.0 yards per return, his longest for 14 yards.

Kansas City’s punt returner, wide receiver Tyreek Hill, was ranked 20th in the league in return average during the regular season.

Hill returned 20 punts for 213 yards and a touchdown, averaging 10.7 yards per return, his longest a 91-yard return for a touchdown against the Los Angeles Chargers in Week 1.

Colts–Chiefs prediction and odds

The odds makers have the Chiefs favored over the Colts by 5.5 with an over/under of 57.0.

CBSSports.com has this final score prediction:

John Breech takes the underdog and the over and predicts it Colts 37, Chiefs 34

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