The Chiefs face the Indianapolis Colts at Arrowhead Stadium in Saturday's Divisional Playoff contest with much more at stake than just an appearance in the AFC Championship game on the line.
Quarterback Patrick Mahomes guides an explosive Chiefs offense against a solid all-around Colts defense. Indianapolis typically favors a cover-two defensive look in the secondary, which the Chiefs expect to test with wide receiver Tyreek Hill and tight end Travis Kelce. Running back Damien Williams should also find room to maneuver on screens and sweeps.
Linebackers Justin Houston and Dee Ford along with defensive end Chris Jones and Dee Ford lead a balanced yet aggressive pass rush that tied for the league lead with 52 sacks. They matchup against a Colts offensive line that yielded just 18 sacks on the season against quarterback Andrew Luck.
When the Colts have the ball, watch for tight end Eric Ebron and wide receiver T.Y. Hilton to serve as Luck's go-to targets. Don’t count out Dontrelle Inman, however, who remains familar with the Chiefs from his time with the Chargers.
Running back Marlon Mack leads a rushing attack that ranked 20th in the league, yet he ranked sixth in the regular season in rushing yards per game and posted five 100-yard rushing games. Running the ball effectively allows the Colts to keep Mahomes on the sideline, a strategy that worked well for both the Seahawks and the Chargers. The Colts use a variety of rushing attacks, and the weather should favor their ball-control approach.
The importance of this game for the Chiefs goes beyond the opportunity to host next week's AFC title game. The Chiefs haven't won a home playoff game since January 1994, a streak of six games including two to the Colts.
**Statistics via Pro Football Focus - Used with PFF permission