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Colts face tough task in slowing Chiefs

Oakland Raiders v Kansas City Chiefs Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

If you’ve read anything I’ve written prior to now, you’ll notice I don’t pull punches and when I’m trying to pump up Colts fans. I don’t feel the need to tell them all the ways we could lose and give the one troll from the opposing team’s website something to look forward to. If you’re looking for film or game analysis, we have that elsewhere on this website. If you’re looking for fair and balanced reporting without any bias, hahaha you and me both, my friend.

The Kansas City Chiefs are the top seed in the AFC and Arrowhead Stadium is one of the premier football venues in the United States. In fact, Arrowhead is so awesome that my wife and I are literally thinking about driving out there to just soak it all in. Bucket list stuff, you know how it is.

The Chiefs bring to the table the NFL’s top offense in just about every category. They lead the league in total yards and touchdowns scored on offense, for example. Sure, the Colts are right behind them in offensive excellence and I’m sure mostly what you’ll hear from major media outlets is something along the lines of “H-h-how can the Colts beat the Chiefs?”

Let me count the ways.

First, if you pay attention to the little things (like time of possession), you’ll notice that lately, the Colts have spent the first half of games with the ball in their possession on long scoring drives. That’s one way to beat a great offense, right? Keep them cold on the sideline like teams used to try to do to Peyton Manning.

My question would be, is time of possession relevant to the quality of defensive play for the team that possesses the football the majority of the game? I doubt it, because teams take different approaches to scoring. Some teams, like the Colts, are methodical and use the game clock, meaning the defense is getting some rest. The Chiefs go for the quick strike and tend to have shorter bouts of possession on offense, leaving their defense on the field most of the game. You don’t have to eat clock when you can just score at will, right?

Second, Colts GM Chris Ballard was once a chief of the Chiefs, so you’ve got to think he knows a thing or two about the team he helped build, right? One question I’d have about this game will be “How does familiarity help you plan for an opponent?” Much of the league has failed to deal with Patrick Mahomes’ unorthodox approach to playing quarterback up to this point and it’ll be interesting to see how this game unfolds.

Andy Reid is also an offensive mastermind of a head coach, and it’ll be interesting to see who wins this battle of wits between he and our defensive coordinator Matt (Please don’t leave us!) Eberflus. Certainly, if Matt’s able to put together a gameplan that puts the Colts over the top, a head coaching opportunity will follow.

Third, this Colts defensive secondary is making waves lately, and another important question coming in to this game will be “How effective will the Colts’ secondary be against the likes of Tyreek Hill, Damien Williams and Travis Kelce?” Frankly, I’m not sure. Lately, the Colts have struggled to apply pressure on opposing quarterbacks up front via a consistent pass rush and have played bend-don’t-break defense in the secondary while allowing catches at a high rate.

I’m not sure how this will play out on Saturday, but in order for the Colts to win, they’ll have to continue to put the Chiefs offense in 3rd down and long yardage situations and then win those downs. As we’ve seen this year, Andrew Luck is incredible on 3rd down. Mahomes and the Chiefs offense have been even better.

The most important question that will ultimately determine the outcome of the game will be “Can this Chiefs defense stop the Colts on offense?” The Chiefs are 31st in yards allowed and 24th in takeaways, but are tied for the lead in the NFL in total sacks. There isn’t a defensive metric to sell the Chiefs on outside of the pressure they generate up front, and frankly Kansas City should worry that the Colts may very well be built to beat teams just like this and have no problem doing it in your back yard, either.

Recent trends say the Colts are on the upswing and the Chiefs have leveled off based on the outcome of their recent games. Look back, the Colts are coming in to this game having gone 11-1 since Week 6 and have won their last 5 games in a row. The Chiefs are coming in to this game having gone 3-2 in their last 5 games (2 of those 3 wins were against the Raiders) and have also been sitting around waiting without playing a game in two weeks leading up to this contest, which makes me wonder if the long layoff will have a negative impact on Kansas City’s offensive continuity.

Much of what you’ve read here is basic data backed up with questions that will be answered on the field Saturday. That said, what questions do you have about the game? Let me know in the comments below!