The improbable run of the Indianapolis Colts continues at Arrowhead against the Kansas City Chiefs on Saturday. Andrew Luck and the Colts bested the Houston Texans on the road in the Wild Card Round. The Texans were overwhelmed by the Colts’ defense, yes, the defense. This season has been a totally new defense for the Colts, just in time for the resurgence of Luck under center.
Including their win last week in Houston, the Colts have won nine of their last ten games. Luck will get a ton of credit for this, and he certainly plays the most important role, but this has been a total team effort. From the offensive line making great strides from what used to be a dumpster fire.
Remember that the Colts initially wanted to bring in Josh McDaniels as their head coach. He declined and they ended up going with Plan B and Frank Reich. It’s clearly been a booming success in Indianapolis. Their greatest challenge this week is going to be going into an even more hostile environment than last week to play the most dynamic quarterback in the NFL. Patrick Mahomes will play in his first ever NFL playoff game on Saturday. It’s likely to be the first of many for Mahomes.
The first-year starter shattered all expectations in 2018. After the Chiefs said goodbye to the Alex Smith era, they ushered in the Mahomes which has been nothing short of spectacular. The playoffs are a different beast, though. Mahomes has never experienced anything like this, but he does have the benefit of playing at home. Also, Mahomes played with plenty of confidence this season and never seemed bothered by the big stage. He has looked like a player that has the ability to numb his nerves, so we’ll see if that continues in the AFC Divisional Round. Head below for our free Colts vs. Chiefs pick.
Indianapolis Colts vs. K.C. Chiefs AFC Divisional Round Betting Odds:
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Colts vs. Chiefs Pick:
Mahomes appears to be a lock to win the NFL MVP award and rightfully so. His numbers back it up, as he’s thrown a staggering 50 touchdowns and just 12 interceptions. He also ran for 272 yards and an additional 2 touchdowns on the ground. There are other quarterbacks who are deserving of the MVP award, but I think it’s pretty clear who it should be going to. The Chiefs had drama this season with the Kareem Hunt situation.
Hunt was released which hurt, but Damien Williams seized the opportunity and has been filling in nicely. Williams posted a 5.1-yard per carry, along with 256 yards on 50 carries. He was also beneficial in the passing game, with 160 yards on 23 receptions. To be a running back in this system, it’s imperative to be able to execute it properly. It’s still a loss without Hunt in the offense, though.
Were the Chiefs starting to slow down towards the end of the season? I’d say so. They lost two of their last three games, with their only victory over the Oakland Raiders to wrap up the season. Their win before losing two in a row came in overtime to the Ravens, 27-24. Four of their last six games were either decided by 3 points or a loss. The Chargers knocked the Chiefs off on Sunday Night Football, so it’s possible to go into Arrowhead and beat the Chiefs. The Chiefs were outgained by 113 yards and the Chargers’ defense held Mahomes to 243 yards passing.
The Colts dissected that film and studied how the Chargers were able to slow the Chiefs down. In previous years, I’d say it wouldn’t matter, they don’t have the talent to counter a talent like Mahomes. However, the defense has surprised and been the bright spot of the team. They finished 11th in the league with 339.4 yards allowed per game and 10th with 21.5 points allowed. Deshaun Watson and the Texans must have underestimated them, because the Colts frustrated the Texans all game long. Watson was held to 235 yards with a touchdown and interception.
Luck passed for 222 yards and 2 touchdowns, but the real star of the offense was running back Marlon Mack. Mack rushed for 148 yards and a score. He’s been a secret weapon of the Colts, who often gets overlooked for T.Y. Hilton in the offense. Mack was proficient this season with 908 yards on a 4.7-yard per carry average.
The Colts will attack a Kansas City defense that got better as the season progressed, but are still certainly prone to getting exploited by a capable Indy offense. The Chiefs finished the regular season in 31st with an average of 405.5 yards allowed per game. While they got better, that was mainly because of the return of Eric Berry. Berry is unlikely to play in this contest, which will open up deep balls for Hilton. I have a feeling this game is going to be a thriller. It’s likely going to be a game that comes down to the 4th quarter, so the points with the Colts look mighty attractive.