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Chiefs-Colts AFC playoff scouting report

Updated: 2014-01-04T14:29:45Z

By TEREZ A. PAYLOR

The Kansas City Star

When the Chiefs run

EDGE >> CHIEFS

Jamaal Charles should be rested after sitting out Sunday, and that could spell trouble for the Colts. Charles had a respectable performance when they met two weeks ago, rushing 13 times for 106 yards despite the offense’s general struggles in that game. Indianapolis features a solid run stuffer in end Cory Redding, but the Chiefs’ offensive line has jelled well in recent weeks and it’s safe to say a burner like Charles could be even more dangerous on Indianapolis’ turf.

Chiefs’ top rusher No. Yds. Avg. TD
Jamaal Charles2591,2875.012

128.5: Chiefs’ rush yards per game; 125.1: Colts’ rush yards allowed per game

When the Chiefs pass

EDGE >> COLTS

The Colts thoroughly controlled this battle the first time around. Quarterback Alex Smith was sacked five times, and the Chiefs struggled to block star outside linebacker Robert Mathis. Linebacker Jerrell Freeman was also a general pest, while cornerback Vontae Davis was solid in coverage. The return of left tackle Branden Albert from injury could lead to better pass protection, which is a must, but the Chiefs really need Dwayne Bowe (or Charles, as a receiver) to get it going if they hope to move the ball through the air.

Chiefs’ top QB C A Yds. TD-I
Alex Smith3085083,31323-7
Chiefs’ top WR No. Yds. Avg. TD
Dwayne Bowe5767311.87

208.8: Chiefs’ pass yards per game; 231.9: Colts’ pass yards allowed per game

When the Colts run

EDGE >> CHIEFS

It’s tempting to give the edge to the Colts here, especially after the embarrassing 51-yard touchdown run the Chiefs gave up to Donald Brown in the first matchup. But outside of that play, the Chiefs held the Colts to only 84 yards in 33 carries. That, plus the motivation they have to redeem themselves after the Brown run, and it’s not hard to see the defense really turning the screws on the Colts’ running attack Saturday.

Colts’ top rusher No. Yds. Avg. TD
Donald Brown1025375.36

108.9: Colts’ rush yards per game; 120.2: Chiefs’ rush yards allowed per game

When the Colts pass

EDGE >> COLTS

The Chiefs had an embarrassing number of blown coverages in their first matchup against the Colts, including one that directly led to a 33-yard touchdown catch by Brown. Quarterback Andrew Luck patiently dissected the Chiefs with a variety of short passes and patiently directed the Colts’ no-huddle attack, one that should be even stronger at home. To win, the Chiefs must eliminate the silly mental errors and hope for a reinvigorated pass rush, which just might happen thanks to the return of star outside linebacker Justin Houston.

Colts’ top QB C A Yds. TD-I
Andrew Luck3435703,82223-9
Colts’ top WR No. Yds. Avg. TD
T.Y. Hilton821,08313.25

232.8: Colts’ pass yards per game; 247.6: Chiefs’ pass yards allowed per game

Special teams

EDGE >> CHIEFS

In Adam Vinatieri, the Colts feature one the best postseason kickers in history. Punter Pat McAfee is also respected. The Chiefs’ kicking is a tad iffy right now, as Ryan Succop has made only two of his last five field goals, but Dustin Colquitt has been consistent while the Chiefs have a clear edge in the return game with Dexter McCluster (right) handling punts and Quintin Demps and Knile Davis handling kicks.

Coaching

EDGE >> CHIEFS

The Chiefs were thoroughly dominated here in this area two weeks ago but the playoffs are a different animal. Andy Reid knows how to guide a team in the postseason, while Chuck Pagano is a second-year coach still searching for his first playoff victory. Plus, the Chiefs’ coaching staff has had ample time to make adjustments after their original beatdown.

X-factor

EDGE >> COLTS

The Colts lost on the road to the Ravens in this round of the playoffs last year and now have the benefit of playing a home game in the same round. Meanwhile the Chiefs feature several players who haven’t been to the playoffs in four years. Throw in home-field advantage, which is always a factor in domed stadiums in January, and the Colts certainly have a lot going for themselves.

Bottom line: Colts 23-20

Seriously, flip a coin. The Chiefs are way better than they showed against the Colts a few weeks ago and they’ll be very eager to show it. They’ve seen the film of how Indianapolis attacked them on both sides of the ball and will make adjustments. These football teams are fairly even, talent-wise, so as always in the postseason, the team that takes care of the football best will win. Indianapolis probably has a better chance of doing that at home.

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