The Divisional Round weekend starts strong with a matchup that epitomises what the NFL playoffs truly are about; the Kansas City Chiefs who have completed a very successful regular season under Andy Reid’s renown strong starts (5-0), and the Colts. The Colts being the red hot team that makes it into the playoffs against expectations and now is a fearful foe to confront in January football.
If this wasn’t attractive enough as storyline there are more to talk once we scratch slightly the surface.
The Kansas City Chiefs are the seed 1 in the AFC, a team that has completed an outstanding 12-4 season, featuring an extraordinary aerial offensive display, with an impressive first starting season for QB Patrick Mahomes. Severe criticism has focused on the Chiefs defense, specially on the run defense, legitimately. But the Chiefs have always competed every single game of the season down to the wire, including defeats at Patriots and Rams. Interestingly, the Chiefs always gave the impression that they were the strongest team on the field despite the loss.
The Colts, instead, are a team that at the end of 2018’s coach hiring period were a mountain of question marks. Frank Reich wasn’t the initially chosen candidate (Josh McDaniels even had the contract signed and left the Colts unexpectedly), and he even had to take some personnel from the coaching staff that McDaniels had already hired. Currently praised Matt Eberflus is one of them. Andrew Luck’s health was also uncertain, after one and a half seasons sidelined and running questions about whether he’ll even make it back to the gridiron again.
Indianapolis features a very well coached team, disciplined and all rounded, compact group. They possess an extraordinary offensive line, with talented players other than Quenton Nelson,…although Nelson’s highlights on his rookie season have shadowed his linemen peers. (See below)
Andrew Luck is a strong asset at QB even though he’s not completely healed yet. I have seen him hesitate to do long balls, and his accurate range is limited to everything under 30 yards. Still, the receiver corps is perfectly optimised for this kind of play, where TE Eric Ebron is a great help.
The Colts defense has received spread applause over the last weeks when the Colts have made a run of 5-0. However not all opinions are so positive about them, looking at strenght of schedule.
But those numbers are not so important to me as much as the fact that they grind. This Colts team know how to deal with hard moments and keep calm to overcome them. They are a fierce competitors and they feel they have nothing to lose. And that is a scary thought for a Chiefs team that under Reid, has only produced one playoff victory. Despite the statline about Reid’s effectivity after a bye week, I don’t trust the Chiefs tonight.
My verdict is that tonight we are going to watch a great game, fiercely competed from both sides, where minor details will turn the tide. In a game like this, I’d chose the Chiefs to win in Regular Reason. In the Playoffs I can’t trust them.