The 2019 NFL Divisional Playoff round kicks off with the Indianapolis Colts visiting the Kansas City Chiefs. Indianapolis comes in with a record of 10-6 and fresh off a dominating playoff victory over the Texans. Kansas City, on the other hand, has arguably been the best team all season sitting at 12-4 and the number one seed in the AFC. Kansas City is favored in this game by 5.5 points.
I’m so excited about this one. The last time these two teams met in the postseason, the Colts won 45-44 in what turned out to be the greatest comeback in postseason history. However, things are different. Andy Reid has Patrick Mahomes this time. It’s our first taste of Andrew Luck vs. Patrick Mahomes and it likely won’t be the last time we see these two battle. Here we go. Here’s why each team can win their divisional round playoff showdown!
Indianapolis AT Kansas City (KC -5.5): Saturday, January 12th, 2019 – 4:35 ET (NBC)
WHY THE INDIANAPOLIS COLTS WILL WIN
1: Indianapolis Is Playing With House Money
Kansas City is dealing with all the pressure in the world. The Chiefs have not won a home playoff game since Joe Montana. Think about how long ago that was. Fair or not, Andy Reid has always been known for coming up short in the big game. Alex Smith couldn’t win with him. For years Donovan McNabb always came up short. Number one seed? Best quarterback Andy Reid has ever had? Big Red needs to win this game.
Flip that to the Colts who are playing with house money. This entire year is gravy. No one saw the Colts being this good, this fast. This was supposed to be a transition year for Andrew Luck. Get him healthy and build chemistry with Frank Reich. Even the Colts roster is young and needs improving. After Indy started 1-5, the Colts have won 10 of 11. No team has more momentum going than the Colts and have zero pressure on them. I think that means something.
2: Kansas City Hasn’t Been The Same Without Kareem Hunt
Kansas City has been a juggernaut all year but did you know they are just 3-3 in their last 6 games? You know what’s really killed them down the stretch? The absence of Kareem Hunt. Kansas City released their star running back late in the season after a domestic violence scandal. Losing Hunt is a HUGE deal. He led the NFL in rushing as a rookie a year ago. IF the Colts can turn the Chiefs into a one-dimensional team, that bodes well for success.
In five games without Hunt, Kansas City has had just one 100-yard rusher in a game (Damien Williams). That came in a loss to Seattle. Spencer Ware also hasn’t played in weeks because of an injury. Damien Williams has to be the guy that touts the rock. Williams has had his moments but he is no Kareem Hunt and has really never been a starter. Williams isn’t the pass catcher Hunt is either. Indianapolis ranks 8th in the NFL in run defense as it is. Want to slow down down the Chiefs? Stop the run first and make Patrick Mahomes throw the ball 800 times to win.
3: Andrew Luck Can Outscore Patrick Mahomes
Andrew Luck is arguably the best quarterback in the NFL. It’s not arguable. Patrick Mahomes put up more points than anyone by a country mile. However, since Week 7, the Colts are the best team in the NFL. Since Week 7, the Colts have the number one scoring defense in the NFL. Not to also mention the fact that since Week 7, the Colts are the best team in the NFL owning the number one scoring differential.
Andrew Luck has returned to his old MVP form. Luck has always been good but now he has a real play caller with Frank Reich who has done an amazing job. The difference this year has been Luck’s ability to get the ball out fast resulting in fewer hits. Luck has attempted 639 throws this year. 331 of them came out in fewer than 2.5 seconds which is by far the most of his career. Add in a much improved offensive line with Quenton Nelson and Braden Smith up front and you start to realize why the Colts have been so good lately. No quarterback has been sacked fewer times than Luck.
Patrick Mahomes may have thrown for 50 touchdowns but Luck threw for 39. You know what else? Kansas City’s defense is ass. KC ranks 31st in total defense. KC ranks 24th in scoring defense. The Chiefs don’t have a reliable corner on the roster. You can talk about the Chiefs offense all you want but Indy can outscore them.
WHY THE KANSAS CITY CHIEFS WILL WIN
1: Patrick Mahomes Can Put Up 50 Any Given Week
Patrick Mahomes has been the best quarterback all year. He’s going to win the MVP for a reason. 50 touchdowns! 50. The Colts are up and coming but they aren’t ready for prime time! You know what else? Show me the pass rusher that’s going to bother Mahomes? I’ll wait.
Here’s the deal with Mahomes. So far, there has been one way to beat Mahomes. Pressure the hell out of him and play great man coverage. Andy Reid has always been the ultimate scheme lord. Reid has scripted the most open throws in the NFL by a country mile. Patrick Mahomes has a 134 passer rating while kept clean. He also threw for 41 touchdowns and 4 interceptions while facing no pressure. Mahomes is also nasty against the zone. His passer rating of 113 against zone coverage is the best rating ever since the stat was recorded. He’s also completing 9.4 yards per pass against zone coverage. Sometimes styles make fights and if Indy just sits back and plays their style, KC could run up the score quickly.
The problem is the Colts play style will play right into the hands of KC. No team plays more cover 2 snaps then Indy. They have taken thought process out of the players. Play your zone and fly to the ball. That’s it. With a team like the Chiefs with Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce, and others… you’re not out running the Chiefs to the ball. I would be shocked if Mahomes doesn’t put up huge numbers in this one.
2: There Is NO Answer For Tyreek Hill
This game could very well come down to who makes more plays. Will that man be T.Y. Hilton or Tyreek Hill? While Hilton is awesome, I’m not betting against Hill. Tyreek Hill can pick this zone defense a part. The Colts have no chance to win this game if Hill consistently beats Indy.
Do you trust Pierre Desir to stop him? How about Kenny Moore? You’re asking a lot of a group that really has overachieved all year. How about Quincy Wilson? Tyreek Hill is the fastest player in the league. You can’t really double him either because of Travis Kelce. Who are you taking? Eric Ebron or Travis Kelce? In a battle that may come down to offensive weapons, the Chiefs have the edge.
3: Kansas City Can Create A Pass Rush To Bother Andrew Luck
Andrew Luck was playing 7 on 7 last week. I don’t think he got touched once. The Colts offensive line has improved by leaps and bounds. No question about it. They allowed the fewest sacks in the NFL. However, the praise over the Colts offensive line has become a bit nauseating. Indy ranks 15th in the NFL in allowing pressure. It’s the quick passing game that has limited those pressure into fewer sacks.
Last week, Houston generated virtually zero heat on Andrew Luck. The Chiefs have a better pass rush than Houston does as hard as that is to believe. Chris Jones, Dee Ford, and Justin Houston
I think this game could really go either way. I’m expecting a shoot out. At the end of the day, I’m going to go with the Colts in a close one. I don’t trust the Chiefs defense. It’s swiss cheese all day. If the game comes down to the wire, I just have a feeling Patrick Mahomes makes one of those stupid mistakes. The Chiefs are one of those teams that may suffer from the extra rest. Indy comes in as hot as a firecracker. Give me the Colts.