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Week Three Colts vs. Chiefs: What to Watch For

NFL: Los Angeles Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

Leading up to week one, we were talking about the Colts breaking an opening-day losing streak. In week two we were talking about the Colts winning for the first time in Jacksonville in 8 years. In week three we’re talking about another season full of early disappointments.

Week one didn’t go the way anyone expected.

Week two was an absolute disaster.

What will we see in week three? Here’s what to watch for this week.

  • Will Shaquille Leonard will play in his first game of the season?
NFL: Indianapolis Colts at Houston Texans Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports

At the time of this writing, we don’t know if Shaq Leonard will be making his 2022 debut in week three, but fans have speculated that a big week three game against a great Kansas City Chiefs offense might be his target to return.

He practiced fully all week leading up to the Colts week two game before being declared out. So far, he has practiced fully this week. The issue for Leonard no longer seems to be about his physical health as much as his conditioning following an off-season that limited what he could do.

After watching the first two games of the Colts season, the defense sure could use him, and this writer thinks he’ll be a game-time decision, come Sunday.

  • Can the Colts beat an Andy Reid-coached team after a mini-bye having played last Thursday?
NFL: Kansas City Chiefs at Arizona Cardinals Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Andy Reid is a very good head coach. Andy Reid is legendary following a bye week; his teams almost always win if coach Reid has extra time to prepare, so should the Colts worry, given that the Chiefs played on Thursday Night Football in week two?

Despite Reid’s success post-bye, since 2013 with the Chiefs, Reid is just 4-5 in the week that follows his Thursday night game. The Chiefs won in 2013, 2017, 2020, and 2021. His current two-year win streak is his longest post-TNF win streak he has had with the Chiefs.

You won’t find many people who watch football who believe the Colts have much chance in this game, but superstition tells me Andy Reid is due for a post-TNF loss. We’ll see if Andy Reid has shaken off his post-TNF demons or if the Colts can pull off the upset.

  • Jonathan Taylor’s Usage
NFL: Indianapolis Colts at Jacksonville Jaguars Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

In week one against the Texans, Jonathan Taylor touched the ball 35 times, racking up 175 all-purpose yards. In week two, we saw those numbers drop to 10 touches for 63 total yards. Even with the tremendous drop-off from weeks 1 to 2, Taylor is still on pace for more than 380 touches this season.

That number of touches is nowhere near historic, even for the Colts. Back in 2000, Edgerrin James touched the ball 450 times as a 22-year-old, which is fifth most all time. But 380 touches are still far too many if we hope to have Jonathan Taylor play injury-free football for more than the next two seasons.

With that said, can the Colts win a game against a very good opponent without giving Taylor the ball 30+ times? From my perspective, it seems unlikely. Until the rest of the offense looks cohesive, the Colts will have to lean on their talented back, and all we can do is hope he doesn’t break down along the way.

  • Patrick Mahomes is on pace to throw for 5,050 yards, 59 touchdowns, and 0 interceptions, completing 73% of his throws. Can anyone slow down this passing attack?
NFL: Los Angeles Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

I have an inside source to help me answer this question:

  • How Will the Colts Respond to Getting Shut Out in Jacksonville?
Syndication: Florida Times-Union Corey Perrine/Florida Times-Unio / USA TODAY NETWORK

Frank Reich isn’t a popular guy amongst Colts fans now, and I don't mean to pile on. Still, it’s hard to overlook that a long-standing criticism (fair or not) of his teams is that they tend to play to their level of competition or don’t seem to be “up” for lesser opponents.

After not only losing to a seemingly bad Jacksonville Jaguars team but getting shut out by them, will Frank Reich have his boys up and ready to play against possibly the best team they will face all season long? And if the Colts come out and play extremely well, what does that say about their week two performance?

  • Injuries

The injury report looks a little rough at the time of this writing (Wednesday evening, if you want to know how the sausage is made) Deforest Buckner, Michael Pittman Jr., Shaq Leonard, and Alec Pierce have all been dealing with their injuries for weeks.

The most concerning names on this list are Yannick Ngakoue and Bernhard Raimann. Ngakoue, like most of the team, has yet to impress in his first season with the Colts, but a back injury for a guy in the trenches is never a small problem. The team will need all hands on deck on Sunday to get after Mahomes.

Raimann didn’t participate, and while he isn’t playing most of the team's snaps at left tackle, he is rotating in and looking better than a third-round rookie left tackle should. It’s also worth pointing out that without Raimann, the Colts may be limited by how many six offensive lineman formations they can use to pound the ball with Jonathan Taylor.

Final Thoughts

On paper, there is no way the Indianapolis Colts should win against the Kansas City Chiefs in week three. No one should be surprised or upset if the home team comes away from this one with a loss, but in 2019 I walked into Arrowhead Stadium with a friend. I was the only guy in my section wearing blue- similar to Frank Reich; I was not very popular. Even though the Colts were sure to lose to the team that would go on to win the 2019 Super Bowl, I was happy to be at a game in a historic stadium, watching my favorite team as a fan.

But the strangest thing happened, the Colts came out and punched the Chiefs in the mouth with physical play, and they did it for four quarters, and when the final whistle was blown, I had just watched the most improbable Colts win in years.

This Sunday, the Colts shouldn’t win, but never say never.