Stats & Info: Donald Brown

Matchups to watch: Chiefs at Colts

January, 2, 2014
Jan 2
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.

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.

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.

Super Bowl statistical sleeper: The Colts

January, 1, 2014
Jan 1

Andrew CutraroAndrew Luck hopes he has a few fist-pumps left in the 2013 season.
Are the Indianapolis Colts Super Bowl contenders?

The Colts’ season took an interesting turn following Reggie Wayne's ACL injury. Andrew Luck and the offense struggled despite going 6-3 over the last nine games, and the Colts were actually outscored by a point in those games.

Prior to Wayne’s injury though, the Colts beat three teams that would eventually finish with 12 wins: the San Francisco 49ers, Seattle Seahawks and Denver Broncos.

Although the Colts did struggle down the stretch, it’s hard to ignore the three wins against the league’s elite. Winning is one thing, but it was the manner in which the Colts won that should legitimize their status as contenders.

Week 3 at 49ers, 27-7
The 49ers have boasted one of the best rush defenses in the NFL in recent years, leading the league in yards per rush allowed since the start of 2011 (3.7). The 49ers allowed 618 rushing yards fewer than the next best rush defense during that span.

Despite this, the Colts went into San Francisco in Week 3 and rushed 40 times, gaining 184 yards (4.6 average) and scoring three rush touchdowns in the process. No team in the last three seasons has rushed for more yards or more touchdowns in a game against the 49ers. It was also the Colts’ best rushing performance of the season.

Week 5 vs Seahawks, 34-28
The Seahawks excel in pass defense like the 49ers excel in rush defense. The Seahawks’ 38.1 Total QBR the last two seasons is second in the NFL and no team has intercepted more passes (46).

Luck didn’t seem to have too much trouble passing against Seattle though.

In the first quarter, Luck connected with T.Y. Hilton for a 73-yard touchdown, the longest pass play allowed by the Seahawks since Week 16 of the 2007 season. It was the first of two touchdowns by Luck in the game that were thrown more than 20 yards beyond the line of scrimmage. Luck was the first quarterback to throw multiple touchdowns on such passes against the Seahawks since Drew Brees in 2010.

Week 7 vs Broncos, 39-33
Amazingly, the 33 points scored by the Broncos were their fewest of the season at the time.

The feat pulled off by the Colts that game wasn’t holding the Broncos to 33 points, it was pressuring Peyton Manning.

Manning was sacked four times against his former team, and was put under pressure (sack or duress) on 32 percent of his dropbacks, both highs against Manning since he joined the Broncos. Manning was sacked a total of five times in the six games prior to playing the Colts.

What about Wayne?
Luck did struggle in the wake of losing Wayne, but a demotion to Darrius Heyward-Bey and the emergence of Griff Whalen and Da'Rick Rogers has brought some stability to the receiving corps.

In the first six games after losing Wayne, Luck completed only 52 percent of his passes to wide receivers and had only three plays of 30 yards or more. In his last three games, Luck completed 69 percent of his throws to wide receivers and had three plays go at least 30 yards.

What else bodes well for the Colts?
There are other statistical factors that would seem to be positive indicators for the Colts heading into the postseason. Here are three others to keep in mind:

• The Colts have committed a league-low 14 turnovers this season. Luck threw nine interceptions this season after throwing 18 last season.

• Donald Brown has averaged 2.7 yards per rush after contact, best in the NFL.

• Robert Mathis led the NFL with a career-high 19.5 sacks this season.