What a story Saturday will be, no matter the outcome. It is the story of an unlikely meeting between a team who few thought would even make the playoffs versus what was the season-long consensus top team in the AFC. There is no doubt that what the Chiefs have been able to accomplish this year will go down in the record books as one of the most dominant seasons, particularly on offense, in NFL history.
Patrick Mahomes? In 2017, some evaluators questioned whether he had a cannon arm but little else. My word do those concerns look ridiculous. He is more than the quarterback with the strongest arm, who can throw the hardest fastball. He has been Houdini, a true showman at the quarterback position throughout the season. His no-look highlight is ridiculous.
It is borderline unfair to think that Mahomes was gifted an offense that includes superstar players like perhaps the most dangerous deep threat in the NFL, Tyreek Hill, perhaps the best tight end in the game, Travis Kelce, and one of the most feared backfields (early in the season) in the NFL.
When you dream up a dangerous, high-powered offense that will score points — the Chiefs offense is so ridiculously stacked with skill players that you would be forgiven if you couldn’t come up with a team that could match it in your head.
This ought to look somewhat familiar to Colts fans. During the Peyton Manning era, there were numerous years where Indianapolis was at or near the most dominant offense in the NFL in just about any measure. Rarely did they have the run game that the Chiefs had early in the season but putting up points was almost never a problem.
Chiefs fans have every excuse to believe that their offense will score points.
If Colts fans honestly believe that the defense is going to shut down or shutout this offense, they should honestly return to reality. The defense in Indianapolis is definitely a different animal. It can produce stops, create turnovers, and limit big plays. Of that, there is no doubt. However, the Chiefs are going to get theirs on Saturday and the Colts are going to have to be prepared to consistently counter-punch or they will risk falling behind — a really poor choice if Indianapolis has any hope for an upset.
It is true, the Colts have not faced off against anything like the Chiefs in 2018. Mahomes is the best quarterback the team will have seen. The Chiefs have the best collection of offensive weapons the Colts will have seen all year — even if Sammy Watkins doesn’t play. Matt Eberflus will have his hands full trying to slow down the offensive machine Kansas City has been fine-tuning all season long.
Having said that, the Chiefs are about to run into something they haven’t seen this season either. The games that prepared them best for what they are about to see are the ones they played against the Los Angeles Chargers. They are going to play a team that has ridiculous balance and is near the top of the league in every category that should concern them.
The offensive line the Chiefs are about to face will absolutely get overlooked by many of their fans. With the full complement of starting offensive linemen healthy this season, the Colts haven’t allowed a sack. With the full complement of starting offensive linemen healthy this season, the Colts have been able to efficiently run the football.
This team will punch the Chiefs defense in the mouth in the trenches and grind out long, clock-eating drives on the ground — leaving Mahomes and his offensive skill players to freeze on the sideline — if Kansas City isn’t careful. The Colts also have Andrew Luck, a tight end with the most touchdowns in the league, a bevy of options out of the backfield, and T.Y. Hilton.
Don’t get confused, the Colts offense isn’t anywhere as dominant as the Chiefs. However, it is certainly more balanced and far more smashmouth. In the cold, in the playoffs, if the Colts offense can control the ball and sustain drives, young Mahomes is going to get tested.
The game has the makings of one that could go any direction. It could be a shootout for the ages with Andrew Luck forced to play catch up against the best offense in the NFL. It could be far more pedestrian on the scoreboard in elements that are surprisingly worse than what is currently forecasted.
It wouldn’t shock me if the Chiefs ran away with the game and left the Colts realizing that they are still a season away from being a truly nasty playoff team. It also wouldn’t shock me if the Colts stunned Kansas City, pounced on their opportunities on defense and left Chiefs fans disappointed once again in the playoffs.
No matter the outcome, it should be a good game and will likely include elements that surprise fans for both teams.