Colts Game Previews Divisional Playoff @Chiefs

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Jan 5, 2019; Houston, TX, USA; Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck (12) scrambles away from Houston Texans defensive end D.J. Reader (98) in the second half in a AFC Wild Card playoff football game at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

I feel like a broken record saying this but, man, does it feel good typing out that title. The Colts storybook season continued last Saturday, handily defeating the Texans on the road. In Deshaun Watson’s first playoff game, the bright lights were too much for him. Now, the Colts head to snowy Arrowhead to battle the nuclear Kansas City Chiefs, whose offense is nothing like the Colts have seen this season. Strangely, the mainstream media has hopped on the Colts bandwagon after years of ripping on the organization. The hype for this Colts team is admittedly getting a bit out of hand; I hope the team is still staying focused amidst it. Maybe I am just a pessimist (I am just a pessimist) and I should take a step back and admire the magical 2018-19 Colts for (maybe) the last time.

Colts

Out

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WR Ryan Grant (Toe)

DT/DE Tyquan Lewis (Knee)

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Questionable

DT/DE Denico Autry (Shoulder)

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S Malik Hooker (Foot)

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T Anthony Castonzo (Knee)

TE Eric Ebron (Rest)

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S Clayton Geathers (Knee)

WR T.Y. Hilton (Ankle)

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WR Dontrelle Inman (Shoulder/Finger)

LB Darius Leonard (Ankle)

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DE Jabaal Sheard (Knee)

S J.J. Wilcox (Ankle)

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Chiefs

Doubtful

LB Dorian O’Daniel (Calf/Ankle)

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Questionable

DB Eric Berry (Heel)

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RB Spencer Ware (Hamstring)

WR Sammy Watkins (Foot)

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Also listed

DB Kendall Fuller (Thumb)

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WR Tyreek Hill (Heel)

DB Jordan Lucas (Shoulder)

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DL Derrick Nnadi (Concussion)

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LB Reggie Ragland (Hip)

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DB Chavarius Ward (Hip)

DL Xavier Williams (Back/Ankle)

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Key Matchups

Tyreek Hill vs The World

Tyreek Hill is a matchup nightmare. Sans maybe prime Deion Sanders, nobody is touching Tyreek in a footrace. Combine this with the strides he has made technically and you have the most uncoverable receiver in the NFL. Simply put, any Colts cornerback matched up one on one with Hill is a death sentence. Kenny Moore and Pierre Desir are solid players but aren’t on the same stratosphere athletically as Hill.

This is where Malik Hooker comes in. Acting as the boogeyman hiding in your closet, his presence scares off quarterbacks from throwing into his airspace. Because of his presence alone, the Colts have been able to neutralize multiple top receivers, from Amari Cooper to DeAndre Hopkins (x2), the best receiver in the NFL for what my money is worth. Hopefully, the Colts’ scheme, which so well negates the deep ball, can keep the Mahomes-Hill connection to the sticks or hope Mahomes chucks an errant nuke or two, giving the Colts more much needed possesions.

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Colts’ Offensive Line vs Chiefs’ Defensive Line

If the Chiefs defense is a stick of hot butter, their defensive line is that darn piece of the butter stick that didn’t melt and is still frozen, no matter how many times you put it through your crappy microwave from the 1970s. The Trio of Dee Ford, Justin Houston, and Chris Jones is one of the best in all of football. Ford and Houston aren’t on the level of edge dominance as Watt and Clowney but they aren’t far away either. Chris Jones is a one man wrecking crew up the middle and him vs Quenton Nelson will be a heavyweight fight and must see TV.

The Chiefs, despite their souped-up pass rush, have one of the worst run defenses in the NFL. It’s like having a tricked out Lamborghini that tops out at 45 miles per hour. Per DVOA, the Chiefs grade as the worst run defense in the NFL. Facing a Colts’ line that can maul and move, combined with a surging Marlon Mack, could spell for a bad day for the Chiefs. Establishing the run and keeping Patrick Mahomes on the sideline singing Sweet Caroline will be key to keep the scoreboard from spiraling out of control.

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Prediction

Once again, cue the broken record, but this could be my last preview of the year. This the third week in a row I have written that sentence and at this point, it might just be a good luck charm. In life, I like to think of myself as an optimist. But when it comes to the Colts, I default to pessimism. I take pride in my work being unbiased. My head says to pick the team playing at home with the best offense in the NFL. But my gut and my heart pull the needle the other way. This storybook very well may not be in its final chapter. For all of the factors going against the Colts, quite a few go in their favor. My gut is typically right, so we’re listening to it today.

35-29 Colts

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Ben Pfeifer is the Managing Editor of the Colts for Full Press Coverage, the AFC South Division Editor, and head NBA editor. Want to continue the discussion? Contact Ben Pfeifer on Twitter @Ben_Pfeifer_, @FPC_NBA and @FPC_Colts.

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