A week after Jamaal Charles ran rampant on the Raiders, KC comes home for their last regular season game at Arrowhead. In what is probably a playoff matchup preview, the Chiefs welcome Andrew Luck and Indy to the snowy wasteland of Kansas City. Both teams say they won't save anything for the playoffs, and both teams are justified in their lies. Nonetheless, this game still has a chance of affecting playoff seeding for KC and Indy, so both teams will be going 100%.
For a division champ, the Colts are unremarkable. They rank 22nd in overall offense and 19th in defense league-wide, but Andrew Luck's 21/9 TD/INT ratio has helped to keep them in games, and his prowess as a comeback cultivator pushed them to a 9-5 record. Only five teams in the NFL have given up less sacks than Indy, which has allowed the talented youngster to stay accurate and smart in the pocket. Although he's harder to hate than any Raider, forcing Luck to fail today is historically relevant in a way that a win against Oakland could never be.
Not since the Montana years have the Chiefs won a playoff game, and today they're matched up against their probable opponent in this year's first round. A win today encourages a team and a fan base enough to think a deep playoff run is possible and a win in the first round is probable. Just try to wrap your head around how big a difference that is from how you felt as a fan this time last year. It looks like KC's Santa Claus is actually a Mormon with a walrus-style mustache.
Here are today's five predictions:
1- Indy upgraded their core of offensive skill players this offseason, but they're still mediocre at best without Reggie Wayne. T.Y Hilton will be today's biggest threat, and the Chiefs know it. KC will force Luck to beat them by spreading the ball around or running through them. Expect Luck to give four Colts not named Hilton at least two receptions each today.
2- Robert Mathis is the only linebacker in the league with more sacks than Tamba Hali or Justin Houston. Look for Smith to get dropped by this beefy, underrated vet at least once today.
3- Although Luck's been well-protected and kept picks to a minimum, he still fumbles the ball too often. In 30 NFL starts, he's fumbled the ball 15 times. Look for DC Bob Sutton to send a blind-side blitz that causes a key turnover today.
4- Because of Indy's familiarity with Donnie Avery, who played with the Colts last season, his production will be limited. The entire passing game, in fact, will be stymied by today's snowy, icy conditions in Kansas City. That leaves the door open for 25 to strengthen his bid for Offensive MVP. The Colts have the league's 27th ranked rushing defense, so look for Jamaal to average more than 6 yards per carry in this game.
5- Thanks to favorable weather conditions, a fantastic home field advantage and an offense that's finding its stride, the Chiefs should come out with a win today. KC wins 30-24 in a gritty, exciting ball game. At least that's what I'm hoping, since only a Broncos loss to Houston or Oakland can make next week anything more than a meaningless scrimmage in San Diego.