Despite all the injuries to the Colts, this man is still throwing passes for them. Thank God. (Photo by Marc Serota/Getty Images)
You would have won quite a bit of money in Vegas had you bet on the Chiefs being the last undefeated team in the NFL, or even if you'd bet on having only 1 undefeated team going into Week 5. Last season, five teams were still undefeated at this point in the season (including the Colts, duh). This season, the Colts get the first opportunity to "pop the corks" for the '72 Dolphins, as they host the 3-0 Chiefs Sunday afternoon in Indianapolis.
The Chiefs are coming in off of a bye week, which is always an interesting proposition for the opposing team, who actually played last week. Add to that the Offensive and Defensive Coordinators, Charlie Weis and Romeo Crennel, have had success against the Colts, and there's the potential for another long week for Colts fans. They are 3-0 with wins over the Chargers, Browns, and 49ers.
Since 1990, the Colts are 9-1 against the Chiefs, including 3 memorable playoff games:
- A 10-7 Divisional Round win against the 13-3 and #1 seed Chiefs (this game sealed my Colts fandom).
- A 38-31 slugfest in the 2003 Divisional Round, which I think was Manning's best playoff game.
- The 23-8 victory that catapulted the Colts to Super Bowl XLI.
The last time the Colts and Chiefs met was 2007, where the Colts won 13 - 10. The Colts were coming off of 2 straight losses to the Patriots and Chargers (remember that 6 INT game?), and won at home against a stingy Chiefs team.
Enough about the past, let's see how the 2010 matchup will play out on Sunday:
For the rest of the season, I'm going to give you the Adjusted Stats in game previews, as I think it paints a much better picture of how good the teams actually are. Remember the adjusted stats are how each team would have done against an average NFL team. It creates a level playing field and allows for better comparisons. Here are the stats:
|Avg Start Pos||27.7||27||29.6||15||33.2||8||28.6||11|
|3 and Outs||2.50||6||4.38||12||4.64||23||6.20||1|
|Penalty Yds / Play||0.607||9||0.809||20||0.492||3||1.090||6|
|Net Punts Yds/Game||40.22||13||42.80||29||40.92||9||38.49||18|
Some statistical keys:
- Turnovers were a big key in the Colts loss to the Jaguars last weekend, but don't expect many turnovers this week. Both offenses are doing a very good job holding onto the ball, and both defenses haven't been that great getting takeaways.
- The Chiefs defense has been fantastic in pretty much every drive-related statistic, ranking in the top 2 in all of them. The Colts offense has been equally fantastic in drive-related stats, which creates a great match-up. Whoever gets the upper-hand here will surely win the game.
- There are two chinks in the Chiefs defense so far...ANPY/A and Red Zone Effieciency. Look for the Colts to exploit both of these weaknesses.
- On the flip side, the Chiefs Offense and Colts defense also look pretty evenly matched. Most of the stats at the top of the chart favor the Colts defense, but there is a giant gap in the two rushing stats. Stopping Jamaal Charles and Thomas Jones, or at least containing them, will be a necessity for the banged up defense.
- Overall, I have the Colts at #2 in the league, and the Chiefs at #5. The stats certainly aren't underrating the Chiefs.
Some other notes:
- Clearly the health in the Colts Secondary is in shambles, with the loss of Melvin Bullitt for the season. Whoever is the starter should expect balls coming in his direction. I'm thinking the Colts are going to try and compensate by keeping Brandon King / DaJuan Morgan / Aaron Francisco in the box to help with the run, and not expect them to defend the pass often. Keeping 7 in the box should happen on every play.
Dallas Clark vs. Eric Berry. Berry has kind of had
death-trial-by-fire in his early career, already having to play against Antonio Gates and Vernon Davis. I expect Manning to go to Clark early and often, testing the rookie.
- I haven't watched much of the Chiefs yet this season, but with Weis calling plays for them, expect a heavy dose of screens and draws, especially on 3rd Down. Get ready to start pulling your hair out after a 3rd and 5 draw play goes for 7 yards, as it's going to happen.
- The Offensive Lines seems to slowly be getting better week after week, although they still aren't at the level they should be. Another week of improvement (and good health) should help get Joseph Addai some running room, and some time for Manning. I'm expecting lots of disguised coverages and delayed blitzes from the Chiefs, as that's what I remember from those awful playoff games against the Patriots.
- A fast start by the Colts is vital. Jumping out to a 10-14 point lead puts the Chiefs in catch-up mode, something they haven't had to do yet this year. Put the game in Matt Cassel's hands, and it should be a good day for the Colts.
I'm not going to lie, before the season started I thought this was a gimme for the Colts. At home, against a team who drafted in the top 5, against a team they've dominated as of late. However, that simply is not the case. Don't let any TV coverage sway your opinion: the Chiefs have played really, really well so far this season. Their schedule has not been as easy as people have said, and they're coming off of a bye. All recipes for disaster.
With all that said, these are the kind of games that the Colts always seem to win, even if it isn't pretty. I think it'll be a fairly low scoring game, coming down to the 4th quarter. In a close game in the 4th, I'm really glad I'll be rooting for the team with Peyton Manning.
Colts 27, Chiefs 23