Colts vs Chiefs : The last time the Indianapolis Colts and Kansas City Chiefs faced off in the NFL postsesason, Colts quarterback Andrew Luck delivered a memorable second-half comeback. Luck and the Colts came back from 28 points down to defeat Andy Reid’s team in the 2014 Wild Card Round.
While another double-digit point comeback is unlikely Saturday, the 2014 meeting serves as a good reminder of what Luck is capable of in the postseason.
Opposing Luck in the latest playoff showdown between the Colts and Chiefs is first-year starter and Most Valuable Player favorite Patrick Mahomes, who is attempting to make his own imprint on the playoffs.
It’s easy to get caught up in the hysteria surrounding Mahomes going into Saturday, but we need to temper our expectations a bit.
After all, this is the first NFL playoff game for an up-and-coming star of the league, and he’s going to experience some nerves on his first few drives.
Once Mahomes settles into a rhythm in the pocket, he’ll be his normal self, but the Colts won’t make life easy for the second-year player.
Indianapolis comes into Arrowhead Stadium with the 16th-ranked passing defense in the NFL, but it’s only given up 21 passing touchdowns, which is tied for the third-best total in the league.
With the Colts secondary standing firm in and around the end zone, the Chiefs will have to rely on their ground game to put a few touchdowns on the board.
Mahomes will eventually throw for two scores in the air, but those will be on longer plays where Tyreek Hill can stretch the field and Travis Kelce exploits a mismatch.
Because his touchdowns will be of the longer variety, Mahomes comes close to hitting the 300-yard mark for the 11th time this season.
Luck will be the more successful quarterback in the offensive statistical categories Saturday, but that doesn’t mean he’s worlds better than Mahomes, it just means he’s facing a weaker defense.
Kansas City ranks 31st in the NFL in passing defense, with only the Cincinnati Bengals producing worse numbers in the regular season.
Luck should have an easy time spreading the ball around to his receivers against Kansas City’s below-average defensive unit.
Even if the Chiefs come up with a few early stops on third down, Luck will eventually find success because he’s been able to hit players other than T.Y. Hilton in the passing game over the last few weeks.
By relying on Hilton, Chester Rogers, Dontrelle Inman and Eric Ebron, Luck will rack up the fourth 300-yard performance of his playoff career.
Luck is 2-1 in the previous three playoff games in which he threw for over 300 yards, with one of those victories being the come-from-behind triumph over Kansas City in 2014.
The development of a balanced offense is one of the main reasons why the Colts are one of the eight teams still alive in the postseason.
In three of his last four games, running back Marlon Mack eclipsed the 100-yard ark, with his latest strong performance coming in the Wild Card Round against the Houston Texans.
Mack has also scampered into the end zone on five occasions in the last four games, and he’ll take the pressure off Luck in red-zone situations once again Saturday.
The combination of Mack’s terrific form and Kansas City’s brutal rushing defense, which is almost equally as bad as its passing defense, allows the Colts running back to produce another triple-digit showing.
Kansas City ranks 27th in rushing defense, as it gives up 132.1 yards per game and five yards per attempt.
In their five regular-season games in December, the Chiefs allowed an average of 164.2 rushing yards and conceded over 200 yards on the ground in their Week 16 loss to Seattle.
Since we don’t see the Chiefs cleaning up their defense by leaps and bounds before Saturday, we expect the Colts to put up impressive numbers that challenge Mahomes and Co. to match.