The Colts go to Kansas City to try and clinch a playoff spot. The Chiefs always give the Colts a tough time, so even though the Chiefs have the worst record in the NFL, it should be an interesting matchup. They always play hard at home. Andrew Luck looks to return to his good ways after 2 mediocre performances. Brady Quinn of the Chiefs looks to prove that he is an NFL starter. Should be an interesting matchup.
What the Colts Need to do to WIn
Well, the Colts' offense are most effective when operating a balanced attack.
The facts don't lie. When the Colts throw a lot, Luck is prone to make more mistakes, and in some cases, cost the Colts some games.
As for the running game, Vick Ballard needs to continue his hot streak. He's been hot recently, and this offense has a new look when they run well. They move the ball more effectively and get more first downs when they run well. Now, of course, the running back can't do it all. The running game also includes blocking from the O-line and the proper play calling. The Colts run it well to the outside, and they should continue to run it to the outside, perferably away from Derrick Johnson, but that shouldn't be a huge deal. The Texans' 3-4 defense couldn't stop Ballard, and I doubt the Chiefs' 3-4 defense could stop it. Expecting another 105 yard performance is a bit far fetched, but it's definitely possible. The Colts run well against 3-4 defenses. So, run to the outside, out-muscle their weak D-line and let Ballard do the best.
The O-line is my biggest worry. The good news is their defensive line is very weak when it comes to pass rushing, and shouldn't be a huge problem. The problem should come from the edge rushers, Justin Houston and Tamba Hali, two very skilled rushers. Both rushers have combined for 18 sacks, and have caused a lot of trouble this year. Hali has had very good performances against star tackles like Joe Thomas and Michael Oher. Houston, is a Hali's clone and has reached double digits in sacks. Anthony Castonzo, who's having a nice season will have his hands full with Hali, but I don't believe he'll need extra help. I expect Justice to play, and if that's the case, he'll also have his hands full with Houston, although he's done well against speed rushers this season. If anything, the Colts can put a running back in the backfield to help Luck, or maybe put a tight end in there for some extra help on some plays. Bottomline, the Colts' O-line matches up very well against the Chiefs' D-line, and even though the Colts' O-line has been bad recently, they shouldn't have a tough time against the Chiefs.
Then, we go to the defense.
The goal should be to completely stop the run, so that they are forced to pass the ball a lot. The Chiefs thrive when the running game is on, so if you stop the run, you pretty much stop their offense. How do you stop the run? Stack, the box, and because Charles is fast as heck, you have guys that play contain and have safeties playing "extra" contain. The Colts must go in a run-stop mode, so they stop Jamaal Charles. Now, you must be wondering about the passing game? Brady Quinn is not the type of guy that will pick apart a defense. He never has. Football wise, he isn't really smart. The only thing he really has going for him... well, is his looks. With Dwayne Bowe out, the Colts can play man-to-man coverage and be completely fine. Because Jon Baldwin is a deep threat, safety help will be needed on 3rd downs. The passing game should not have a big game, even with their dismal secondary.
For the defensive line, they should just try and get some inside penetration. They shouldn't try and do much, they should just try and make it tough to run it on the inside. Try and make it running up the gut hard, that's it.
As for the linebackers, they are going to have to be in run-stop mode. That means that they'll have to make the majority of the tackles on Jamaal Charles. They shouldn't be in coverage too often, except maybe on 3rd downs. They need to shut down Charles. At the end of the day, both should combine for at least 18 tackles. Robert Mathis and Dwight Freeney need to focus on rushing the passer, and also play contain. Don't expect tackles, but they should at least slow him down a bit.
The secondary should operate a man coverage, safety deep system. It doesn't allow the deep pass, and it means that the play must develop, and because of Quinn's below average reading skills, he may not be able to find a receiver right away, especially with his top receiver out for the season. Vontae Davis excels in man coverage too, and Butler has done well in it too. They shouldn't have a very busy afternoon. In the running game, they need to use their great tackling skills to get to Charles early so that he doesn't get any big runs. They did it perfectly against Chris Johnson, a running back similar to Charles.
So, to recap, stack the box, focus on stopping the run, and play man to man with the safeties deep. That should stop them.
The Colts need to take their crazy crowd out of it early. That could be done with them getting the ball first and slowly driving down the field. Usually, I always like to kick the ball first, but in a stadium like this, you need to get the crowd out of it. To give you an idea of what they are like, they are still selling out with the worst record in the NFL.
What the Chiefs Need to do to WIn
The biggest problem for the Chiefs on offense this year has been turnovers. That's the most important thing they must do tomorrow: avoid turnovers. The Chiefs either win or barely lose when they don't turn the ball over. The Chiefs must have a run heavy attack. I said the Texans should have a run heavy attack and run the ball "a little less than 30 times." They did that, and had a great running attack. The Chiefs also have a great running game and should follow that exact gameplan. They should run the ball at least 25 times, and try to get it around 30 carries. He's run for over 30 carries twice this year. Give that man the ball. Then, in a limited role, Brady Quinn should make safe throws. That means not many deep shots, but passes that are guaranteed to get a few yards. Just slowly move the ball, and keep the Colts' offense off the field.
On defense, they need to almost copy what the Texans did. What the Texans did last week was the perfect way to play the Colts. Get 5, sometimes 6 guys pressuring Luck, press cover Reggie Wayne with safety help, and take away the deep ball. To put it in simpler terms, blitz Luck, focus on Reggie, and play the safeties deep. Believe it or not, the Chiefs have the perfect defense to do that. Eric Berry is a great safety, and could be the perfect guy to help cover Reggie. Have Travis Daniels, play deep. Have Brandon Flowers cover Reggie, and Arenas (who's great against deep threats) cover Donnie Avery. That's how you at least contain the Colts' vertical passing game. However, the most important thing is to stop Reggie Wayne. You shut down Reggie Wayne, you really hurt their passing game, even if the deep passing game is somewhat there.
Then, the Chiefs must be able to slow down their running game. The Colts have been running it more recently, and running more successfully too. The Colts love running to the outside and in between the guard and tackle. So, the thing the Chiefs shouldn't do is stack the line. They should play in their base defense for most of the time, and let their linebackers take care of the outer gaps. Make the Colts go pass heavy, and then try to take advantage of Luck's mistakes.
The most intriguing matchup has to be Jamaal Charles vs the Colts' Linebackers. Jamaal Charles has been one of the few bright spots on a bad Chiefs team, and has been running very well recently. Jerrell Freeman has been a great find this year for the Colts and is in the top 5 for tackles in the NFL. He can make plays all over the field. Pat Angerer is also a tackling machine, and not too many people break out of his tackles. It should be interesting to see who wins this battle, as it will dictate how the Chiefs perform on offense.
Both quarterbacks combine for less than 450 total passing yards (Luck = 230, Quinn = 215).
Indianapolis Colts 21 vs Kansas City Chiefs 13