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2011 NFL Week Five Preview: Indianapolis Colts Vs. Kansas City Chiefs

The Colts will look to notch their first win of the season when they welcome in the Kansas City Chiefs Sunday afternoon to Lucas Oil Stadium. You'd never know by their combined 1-7 record that these two teams both won their respective divisions in 2010, both finishing at 10-6. They also met in Week 5 last year, a 19-9 Colts win that statistically, wasn't that close. The Colts dominated the Chiefs on both sides of the ball, but couldn't find the end zone, having to settle for four Adam Vinatieri field goals. The Colts moved the ball between the 20s practically at will, and couldn't figure out the last 20 yards until the fourth quarter.

The Colts have had great success with the Chiefs over the past 20 years, winning 10 of those 11 meetings, including three playoff wins. The only loss came in 2004, a 45-35 Chiefs win that saw almost 1100 combined yards, five Peyton Manning TD passes, and Priest Holmes having a huge fantasy day for me (40 points). I remember those days when the defense was so bad even when Manning was unstoppable, you only had to stop him once to build a lead. I'd like that Manning back, please...

This year's matchup between the Colts and the Chiefs looks to be a battle for draft position, thanks to major injuries to both teams. The Chiefs have lost both their best Defensive player (Safety Eric Barry) and their best offensive player (Jamaal Charles) for the season, along with their starting TE Tony Moeaki, who hauled in 47 catches and three TDs a year ago as a rookie. The Colts are their usual M*A*S*H unit, with 11 players showing up on the first injury report Wednesday. The good news is we may see Fili Moala and Ernie Sims back this week, a welcome sign indeed to an injury-ravaged team.

After the jump we'll get into comparing the two teams so far in 2011, give some keys to the game, and make a prediction...

Adjusted Statistical Comparison for the Colts and Chiefs:

Statistic Colts Chiefs
Offense Rank Defense Rank Offense Rank Defense Rank
DSR 60.4% 29 70.1% 20 55.6% 32 75.5% 31
ANPY/A 4.072 24 6.890 25 3.672 27 6.879 24
Turnovers 2.05 20 1.63 17 2.06 21 1.85 11
Yds/Drive 20.99 30 30.47 20 23.46 26 30.58 21
ToP/Drive 1:58.0 32 3:00.0 28 2:33.0 19 2:55.0 23
Yds/Play 4.443 27 5.293 22 4.561 24 5.201 20
First Downs/Drive 1.15 30 1.67 17 1.06 32 1.66 15
3rd/4th Down 28.6% 29 47.2% 26 25.4% 31 50.0% 30
Avg Start Pos 29.6 22 34.8 29 30.1 18 37.5 32
3 and Outs 4.98 28 3.30 22 5.00 29 2.89 27
RZ Eff 35.4% 31 64.2% 15 47.1% 27 71.8% 23
Plays/Drive 4.880 28 5.692 21 5.045 24 5.938 24
Penalty Yds / Play 0.573 4 0.675 22 0.887 23 0.395 32
RB Success 49.3% 15 37.6% 5 37.7% 27 50.4% 28
Yds/Carry 3.97 16 3.40 9 5.38 5 3.02 4
Net Punts Yds/Game 34.14 29 37.19 10 37.81 19 37.16 9
Overall 31 22 30 29

Some keys to the game:

  • These numbers are not pretty by any stretch of the imagination. Yeesh. Overall I have the Colts at #30 in the league, and the Chiefs at #31, so at least they match-up fairly well, even if they are at the bottom of the league.
  • The Chiefs defense looks like it could create turnovers, and Curtis Painter, who all signs point to him starting again, has shown a bad habit of fumbling when sacked. This task gets much, much tougher if OT Anthony Castonzo can't play (looking likely), meaning Jeff Linkenbach will be trying to slow down one of the best pass rusher in the NFL, Tamba Hali. Linkenbach struggled with the Buccaneers DEs last week, so Painter will have to protect the football, and be on the lookout for those pass rushers.
  • The Colts might be able to sustain a few more drives longer than 5 plays this week, as the Chiefs have had difficulty getting teams off the field so far this season. My only concern is Tampa Bay wasn't much better than the Chiefs are, and they still couldn't move it effectively, so it might be wishful thinking. A couple long, touchdown drives would be nice. I'm sick of seeing long drives end up with #4 trotting out onto the field.
  • Don't expect any long runs by the Colts either, but expect them to gain good chunks of yards when needed. The Chiefs RB Success Rate isn't very good, but they have a low Yards per Carry, which means they give up a lot of those third/fourth and short conversions. Time for Delone Carter to show his stuff.
  • On the flip side the Colts defense looks to be the best unit of the four playing Sunday, which is a rare feat. Playing at home will also help, as they seem to play better inside Lucas Oil Stadium. The Chiefs have really struggled putting drives together, so it will be imperative for the Colts to get them off the field as quickly as possible.
  • The Chiefs offense is actually worse on third/fourth down than the Colts are, which is also amazing to think about. If we start seeing third down conversions by Matt Cassel, it's going to be tough for the Colts to win.
  • The Chiefs running game is very boom or bust, witnessed by their very high Yards per Carry, but low Success Rate, which plays right into the Colts hands. Last week against Tampa, they bottled up Buccaneer RBs, but allowed a couple long 30+ yard runs that skew the YPC stat. The Colts can't let Thomas Jones or Dexter McCluster break long runs on them.
  • Neither team is really adept at passing the ball, and neither team is really adept at stopping the pass, so whichever team can have some success through the air will probably win. I can't tell you who it is going to be, however.

The Winning Stats Predictor has the Colts as six-point favorites, which I think it too high. I think the Offensive Line injuries, especially to Castonzo, really hurt the Colts chances, especially if they can't run the football, which they couldn't do after Castonzo left the game Monday night. I think the Colts will look to hit a big play or two on a Chiefs blitz (because they'll be doing it a lot), and it will be enough for the Colts defense to hang on at the end. If the Colts can't win this one, I'm not sure I'll be able to find another win on the schedule. The Colts should be the better team on the field Sunday, but they have to prove it on the scoreboard.

Colts 24, Chiefs 20