One of the benefits of not having a “dog in the fight” when a big game comes up is having the luxury of viewing it with a little less bias than some other games. So as to not fly under false colors I am not a Kansas City Chiefs fan to say the least but I am also no fan of the Indianapolis Colts. One of our loyal readers directly asked me for a game prediction so I am happy to share my impressions and predictions.
Quarterback: Andrew Luck vs Alex Smith offers and interesting match up. Luck is a very good quarterback considering he really does not have very much NFL experience compared to most of the other quarterbacks in the playoff field.
Strong armed and a quick release serve Luck well but he does seem to have happy feet at times and will make throws that show his relative inexperience. Still Luck is very good and I think the Colts record is largely to his credit.
One of my criticisms of Alex Smith early in the season was that he was not much more than a game manager. If your name is Peyton Manning that is a compliment but most of the time it is knock on a quarterback. Think Trent Dilfer. Smith is more than that.
He is not only a better athlete than I gave him credit for, but he has a better arm and amazingly deceptive running skills. I think however, his best asset over Andrew Luck is that he does not seem to get rattled or baited into bad decisions.
Andrew Luck may end up being the next Manning but he not anywhere near that yet, and I give the quarterback advantage to the Chiefs.
Running Backs: There cannot possibly be any serious debate at this position. Jamaal Charles is simply one of the top running back in the NFL today and Donald Brown and Trent Richardson don’t even belong in the same discussion with Charles.
Eagles fans might want to talk about NFL rushing leader LeSean McCoy, and without question he is great, but in my view Charles is the best all around running back in the NFL right now.
Jamaal Charles has surprising power for a small back, and his speed and hands are exceptional. In my opinion he is a vastly underrated blocker as well. Advantage Chiefs is an understatement.
Wide Receivers: I hear a lot of Chiefs fans defend Dwayne Bowe but I have said since the day he was drafted he is not a number once receiver. He has not done much to change my mind. He does not have NFL speed and his hands are questionable at best.
He will tease fans with the impossible catch from time to time but his lack of concentration hurts him and his numbers are very pedestrian this season to say the least.
He is a good blocker for a receiver which is a good quality but it should not be your number one receivers best attribute. T.Y. Hilton is having a really good season for the Colts and he will be the best true receiver in the game.
The wild card here is Jamaal Charles who might be the best receiving back in the NFL and is the best receiver in the Chiefs offense when they line him up wide.
The Colts Coby Fleener is solid but Kansas City can counter with the serviceable Donnie Avery. The X factor could possibly be Dexter McCluster. Cheifs fans do have a tendency to get down on him some but I think he is very dangerous out of the backfield or the slot and has big play ability. Still due to Indy’s big play capability I give a slight advantage to the Colts.
Offensive Line: The Colts line is rather makeshift ,and I am not sure even the Indy coaches knows who is starting from week to week at a couple of spots. Andrew Luck seems to spend a lot of time on the ground as he is one of the most sacked quarterbacks in the league.
This is a recipe for fumbles and cheap interceptions which in the playoffs can be disastrous.
The Kansas City line has its holes but on the whole they are very consistent, and are above average run blockers. Aided by the good decision making of Smith the line adequately defends the pass. Advantage Chiefs.
Defense: Statistically speaking these teams appear to be very similar. The Chiefs defense looked better than the 85 Bears early in the season but due to injuries and a harder second half schedule they came back to earth some.
When healthy up front the Chiefs are among the best in the NFL, but they are not healthy, and this could pose a serious problem for Kansas City.
The Chief linebackers, especially the underrated Derrick Johnson, are solid to say the least. The problem is the Chiefs secondary as they simply are not very good. In my observation they have benefited the most from the pass rush and linebacker play but have been badly exposed in the second half.
The Colts do not have the overall standouts on defense that the Chiefs do but they appear fairly solid everywhere without any one glaring weakness. They are also on the whole healthier than the Chiefs. I give a slight advantage to the Colts.
Coaching: This is the one area my bias will probably show through but I am not an Andy Reid fan.
He is a good coach but as a fan of the NFC East I watched him closely for many years, and I think he is an awful in game strategist and a worse clock manager. On the plus side for Kansas City I do think he prepares a team about as well as anybody in the league.
Chuck Pagano is an inspirational story but he is also a very good coach. In my opinion he is one of the better defensive minds in the NFL. What he lacks in overall playoff experience as a head coach compared to Reid he more than makes up for as member of the Ravens staff during their glory years. Advantage Colts.
Special Teams- In my opinion Kansas City has the best punter in the game in Dustin Colquitt. It is a rare occasion when a punter can give a team a noticeable advantage but Colquitt does that for the Chiefs. I confess I have seen a lot more of the Chiefs special teams than I have the Colts this year overall.
I found and interesting site that indicates that headed into the playoffs the Chiefs are statistically the best special teams unit in the NFL and the Colts are very average. Advantage Chiefs.
Final Analysis: History does not seem to favor the Chiefs, and the Colts, despite a bit of late season swoon, are very good at home and are very tough to beat in the dome. However, the games of the past really don’t matter very much, and honestly I still cannot believe how easily Kansas City was manhandled in Arrowhead earlier this year by the Colts.
I know the consensus nationally is the Colts will win because of the earlier game this season, being at home, and of course the media loves Andrew Luck. I don’t see it that way.
I think this is a very hungry Kansas City squad and with the better than expected Smith at the helm and the best running back int he NFL in Jamaal Charles I see a Kansas City victory.
Final: 27-24 Chiefs.