When your favorite NFL team needs to win one of their last two games, there isn't a much better team for them to play than the 2012 Chiefs. As luck would have it, the Colts will be traveling to Kansas City Sunday, looking for a win to clinch the fifth seed in the AFC playoffs.
The Colts will be visiting Arrowhead Stadium for the first time since 2004, which was one of those games that was exciting to watch if you love Offense, a 45-35 shootout win for the Chiefs. The two teams combined for nearly 1100 yards, including 472 passing from Peyton Manning, and 143 yards and 3 TDs from Fantasy Football Champion Priest Holmes. The last four meetings between the two teams have been in Indianapolis, including the 2007 Playoff game won by the Colts. Overall the Colts hold a 13-8 record against the Chiefs including the Playoffs, and since moving to Indianapolis the Colts are 10-3, including winning ten of 11 until last season's 28-24 loss. You remember that game, right? Curtis Painter's one game where he looked like an NFL Quarterback, and the Defense played the worst game of any team the entire season. Ugh.
The 2012 Chiefs are playing a lot like the 2011 Colts, with virtually no offense and no defense, coming into this week at 2-12. Their two wins? They won in New Orleans without holding a lead at any time other than when they won the game, and they beat the Panthers 27-21 three weeks ago, just a day after the tragedy with Jovan Belcher. Since then they've been outscored 45-7 by the Browns and Raiders, which isn't the best indication of a good team. They've also lost one of their playmakers recently, WR Dwayne Bowe, who most likely has played his last game in KC. Like I said, if there's a team you want to play when you need a win, this may be the team.
How do these two teams match-up? You'll be surprised how even they are in certain areas. Let's take a look at the numbers and find out:
Statistical Comparison between the Colts and Chiefs:
|Orange Zone Eff||49.5%||23||60.4%||31||30.8%||32||58.1%||24|
|Avg Start Pos||26.9||32||28.3||5||28.5||24||31.4||26|
|3 and Outs||3.20||8||2.96||30||3.96||22||3.16||26|
|Penalty Yds / Play||0.729||6||1.198||1||0.716||5||0.694||27|
Keys to the game:
- I've talked a lot this season about how Andrew Luck hasn't put up great passing numbers, especially with all the interceptions (18). Last week was the first time in six weeks he didn't throw an interception, and it looks like we might see his break-out game this week against the worst pass defense in the NFL. I'm really hoping he can have a huge day, because it's right there for him.
- The Chiefs have been right around league-average when it comes to the drive stats, so we probably won't see the struggles we saw against the Texans, who are the league's best team, but we definitely could see some bad series. It'll be one of the ways the Chiefs can stay in the game.
- As I've already said, Turnovers have been a problem for the Colts this season. This week they'll be playing against the 30th ranked team in causing Turnovers, so what better time than this week to not turn it over.
- The Chiefs rank 30th in Yards per Carry, so we might see another very successful week for Vick Ballard. Let's hope a good chunk of those yards come with the Colts nursing a two TD lead.
- On the flip side, the Chiefs Offense and Colts Defense match up rank-wise exactly with each other on the three most important stats, and that is by no means a compliment to either unit. They both rank 30th in Drive Success Rate, 31st in Adjusted Net Passing Yards per Attempt, and last in Turnovers. It's tough to say which unit will be more successful, but my guess is which ever side is more successful will win Sunday.
- The Colts have stayed in games the past month or so by forcing field goals by their opponent once they got down close to their goal line (12 times in past 3 weeks). The Chiefs are dead last in both Orange and Red Zone Efficiency, which looks to be an advantage for the Colts. If the Chiefs are scoring TDs inside the 35, it'll be a bad sign for the Colts.
Jamaal Charles is the same type of running back as Chris Johnson, who the Colts did a really good job against two weeks ago. The Colts are prone to giving up the big run, which Charles can certainly do as seen by the rushing stats favoring Yards per Carry over Success Rate.
- Brady Quinn has started six games this season, and has played well in one of them. It pains me to see him struggle this much, but the data doesn't lie. The Colts will need to put pressure on him and force him into mistakes, something he's done week in and week out this season. If the Colts allow him to play mistake-free, it tells me a lot more about the Colts Defense than it does Quinn. I'm rooting for the guy, but he just hasn't shown anything.
We've all seen the road woes of the Colts this season, so winning in Kansas City isn't going to be a cakewalk, even with how bad these Chiefs have been this season. The Colts have played quite a few bad teams this season, and with the exception of the game in Jacksonville, they've played right down to the level of those teams, only winning late in all those games. I really want to think the Colts will jump out early (which we've seen at times) and hold the lead (haven't seen that nearly as often), rather than get down big early (seen too many times) and hope for a comeback late (they're quite good at this).
Even though I expect the Texans to win this Sunday and rest starters next week, and the fact that all signs point to Chuck Pagano coming back next week, so a win at home in Week 17 looks quite possible, it'll be much, much better if the Colts will just get the one win they need to avoid the Patriots or Broncos. I think they'll do that this Sunday, it'll just take a while until it's out of reach.
Colts 31, Chiefs 20