Wild Card Weekend: Kansas City Chiefs At Indianapolis Colts
- QuarterbackThe Chiefs rested Alex Smith in the season finale so he could be healthy and ready for this game. Smith understands what head coach Andy Reid wants to do with the gameplan and he stays calm while executing. While he is best at short- and medium-range passes, Smith can go downfield on occasion. Smith completed 60.6 percent of his passes and had a 23-7 TD-interception ratio.Andrew Luck appears to be ready for a solid postseason run after completing 26-of-37 passes for 282 yards in the season finale. Luck has all the measurables needed to be a big-game quarterback. He has the arm strength, quick release and accuracy, and he also has the intelligence, courage and toughness to make big plays at key moments. Luck had a 23-9 TD-interception ratio this season.
- OffenseThe Chiefs are dependent on running back Jamaal Charles for a big portion of their offense. Charles rushed for 1,287 yards and 12 touchdowns and also caught 70 passes for 693 yards and seven touchdowns. He is both explosive and dependable. Wideout Dwayne Bowe has speed, but lacks dependability. Donnie Avery and Dexter McCluster may be better options than Bowe.The Colts have not had much of a running game all season, but they will ask Donald Brown (537 yards, 5.3 yards per carry) to take some of the burden off of Luck. T.Y. Hilton has moved into the No. 1 receiver role with 82-1,083-5. Tight end Coby Fleener has become a dependable receiver who can keep drives alive on third-down plays. Griff Whalen could be an X-factor at the WR position.
- DefenseThe Chiefs ranked 24th in yards allowed, but the main reason they got off to a sensational start was the big-play ability of their defense. Outside linebackers Tamba Hali and Justin Houston combined for 22.0 sacks during the season. Middle linebacker Derrick Johnson led the team with 107 tackles and is a hard hitter. Strong safety Eric Berry had 13 passes defensed and three interceptions, including two returned for TDs.The Colts ranked 20th in yards allowed this season, but they also made a lot of big plays. Defensive end Robert Mathis led the league with 19.5 sacks, and he can turn a game around by himself if he makes a big play early. Free safety Darius Butler had 19 passes defensed, four interceptions and a fumble recovery. ILB Jerrell Freeman had a team-high 126 tackles, 5.5 sacks and six forced fumbles.
- Special TeamsThe Chiefs have perhaps the best special teams in the league. The Chiefs returned two punts and one kickoff for scores, and did an excellent job in coverage. Ryan Succop made 22-of-28 FG attempts this season, which is just slightly better than average.The Colts had a few issues with their punt coverage during the regular season and that could cause a big problem against the Chiefs. Hilton has the speed to break a big play, but his long return was 34 yards. Adam Vinatieri is one of the best clutch kickers in the history of the league.
These two teams are fairly even, but Luck has the talent to carry his team with a great game if offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton doesn’t get in his way. Luck and the homefield advantage should be enough for the Colts to outlast the visitors. -Steve Silverman, CBS Local Sports contributor