NFL Nation: 2014 Chiefs-Colts Quick Take

Quick Take: Chiefs at Colts

December, 29, 2013
12/29/13
11:00
PM ET
Three things to know about next week's Kansas City Chiefs-Indianapolis Colts wild-card playoff game at Lucas Oil Stadium:

1. Containing Jamaal Charles. The Chiefs running back finished with 106 yards on 13 carries in the first matchup between the two teams on Dec. 22. But those yards don't tell the whole story. Charles gained 37 yards on Kansas City's opening series. That means the Colts held one of the NFL's premier all-around players to only 69 yards the rest of the game. Indianapolis will have to do the same again because Charles has proved that he can run the ball -- he ran for 226 yards against the Colts in 2012 -- and he had 195 yards receiving against the Oakland Raiders in Week 15 this season. Charles finished the season with 1,287 yards rushing, 693 yards receiving and 19 touchdowns.

2. Do it on defense. Yes, Andrew Luck is the Colts' most valuable player, but they'll need their defense to play well. They're heading into the playoffs with the defense getting 11 sacks and forcing eight turnovers during their three-game winning streak. The Colts sacked Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith four times to go with four turnovers in the game. Indianapolis held Kansas City to 287 yards of total offense.

3. Continue to protect the quarterback. The offensive line has done a good job protecting Luck. He was sacked only three times in the final three games of the season. The ability to keep the young quarterback on his feet has helped the Colts' passing game, as he was 26-of-37 for 282 yards in the season finale against Jacksonville on Sunday. Luck also completed 67 percent of his passes to receivers with six touchdowns and only one interception in the final four games of the season. He had completed only 50.5 percent of his passes to his receivers in the first five games without Reggie Wayne.

You know what you're going to get out of receiver T.Y. Hilton. But fellow receivers Da'Rick Rogers, LaVon Brazill and Griff Whalen are about to step into unfamiliar territory. The three have developed a nice continuity with Luck. The playoffs aren't the time for them to have a setback by showing their inexperience. The Colts won't be able to run their no-huddle offense if Luck can't depend on them to get open and catch the ball.

Quick Take: Chiefs at Colts

December, 29, 2013
12/29/13
9:10
PM ET
SAN DIEGO -- Three things to know about the Kansas City Chiefs’ matchup against the Indianapolis Colts in an AFC wild-card playoff game at 4:35 p.m. ET Saturday at Lucas Oil Stadium:

1. Road warriors. The Chiefs certainly would prefer to be playing at home, but they actually have been a better team on the road this season. They finished 6-2, with one of the losses coming Sunday in San Diego with all but a handful of starters on the bench, and the Chiefs still took the Chargers to overtime. No NFL team finished with a better road record. For at least part of the season, the Chiefs fit the profile of a team that should play well on the road. They were playing great defense and creating a massive number of turnovers while not committing many turnovers themselves. Before Sunday’s loss, the Chiefs had won their two previous road games by a combined score of 101-41. The Chiefs were 5-3 at Arrowhead Stadium, with three consecutive losses, including a 23-7 defeat against the Colts on Dec. 22.

2. The all-important turnover battle. The Chiefs thrived during the first half of the season on forcing opponents into turnovers and limiting their own. They ran into problems about midway through the season when they stopped consistently winning the turnover battle. The issue was particularly obvious against the Colts in Week 16. The Chiefs were minus-4 in turnover ratio that day, eliminating any realistic chance they otherwise might have had to beat the Colts. Quarterback Alex Smith committed just 10 turnovers all season, but three of those came against Indianapolis. So ball security will be crucial in this one.

3. The well-rested Chiefs. The Chiefs played on Sunday, but the game felt like a bye to Smith, running back Jamaal Charles and most of the other starters. Because their playoff seeding already had been decided, coach Andy Reid kept all but two out of the starting lineup. Some starters were worked into the game as reserves, but the list of players who didn’t get into the game included Smith, Charles, offensive linemen Branden Albert and Rodney Hudson, tight end Anthony Fasano, defensive linemen Dontari Poe, Mike DeVito and Tyson Jackson, linebackers Justin Houston and Derrick Johnson, and defensive backs Eric Berry and Brandon Flowers.

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