<
>

Matchups to watch: Chiefs at Colts

The Kansas City Chiefs and Indianapolis Colts meet Saturday afternoon in an AFC wild-card game.

This is the fifth playoff game in the Super Bowl era between quarterbacks who were drafted No. 1 overall. All five of those games have taken place since the Chiefs last won a playoff game on Jan. 16, 1994.

Andrew Luck and the Colts hope to improve to 4-0 all-time against the Chiefs in the postseason. The Colts beat the Chiefs after the 1995, 2003 and 2006 regular seasons.

Here are three key matchups to watch Saturday:

Jamaal Charles versus the left side of the Colts' 3-4

Jamaal Charles rested in Week 17 but still finished with an NFL-high 35 percent of Kansas City's offensive yards from scrimmage this season. The next closest was Chicago’s Matt Forte at 31 percent.

Charles led the Chiefs in rushes, rushing yards, rushing touchdowns, receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns.

Charles only needed two rushes to get the Chiefs on the board when the teams met in Week 16. Charles took a pitch left for 6 yards and followed that with a 31-yard score on a handoff to the right.

The Chiefs should continue to run to the right Saturday. They rank in the top five of the NFL in yards per rush, yards after contact per rush and rushing touchdowns when running to the right.

The Colts' defense ranks in the bottom five in rush yards, yards per rush and rushing touchdowns allowed when offenses ran right.

Andrew Luck versus Tamba Hali and Justin Houston

Tamba Hali and Justin Houston are expected to be available for Saturday’s game. The two outside linebackers tied for the team lead with 11.0 sacks during the regular season.

Chiefs Pass Rush This Season

Can the return of both stars reignite a Chiefs pass rush that was dominant early in the season?

The Chiefs led the NFL with 35 sacks through seven games, the most by any team through seven games since the 2000 Buccaneers. Over their last nine games, the Chiefs had just 12 sacks, fewest in the NFL.

If the pass rush with Hali and Houston can return to its early-season form, they have a great opportunity to get to a quarterback who has been under pressure since the day he was drafted by the Colts. Luck has been pressured an NFL-high 376 times since the start of 2012.

The Chiefs pressured Luck just six times in Week 16, Luck’s lowest single-game total of the season. On those pressures, they had one sack while Luck completed one of five passes for a single yard.

Chiefs tackling versus Colts yards after contact

The importance of this matchup can be summed up in one play from Week 16.

The Colts had the ball on their own 49-yard line and called a draw play to Donald Brown. Brown shed one tackle from Brandon Flowers at the Kansas City 40, then another attempt by Kendrick Lewis a few yards later.

Brown broke free for a bit before stiff-arming Dunta Robinson from the 15 to the 5. Robinson fell to the ground as Brown tip-toed down the sideline on his way to the end zone.

Most Yds/Rush after Contact
This Season

Brown has been breaking tackles all season, leading the NFL in yards after contact per rush.

The Brown touchdown was one of many tackling issues for the Chiefs late in the season. Through Week 7 the Chiefs allowed 1.3 yards after contact per rush (11th). That number spiked to 2.0 from Week 8 on, second-worst in the league.

Though Trent Richardson has not been the ground threat the Colts hoped for when they gave up a 2014 first-round pick in a trade with the Cleveland Browns, Richardson has been effective making defenders miss in the passing game. Richardson led the NFL in yards after contact per reception at 2.9 during the regular season.