A divisional playoff matchup featuring the Colts and Chiefs seemed impossible a couple months ago given the status of what was considered a rebuilding Indianapolis team. As hard as it is to remember now, the same can be said for Kansas City, which before the season was breaking in what amounted to a rookie quarterback.
Yet here we are, with Andrew Luck and Patrick Mahomes providing the NFL playoff QB matchup we never knew we needed.
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The passers will be the focus of the hype leading into the divisional playoffs for good reasons — Luck’s comeback story and Mahomes’ historic numbers. But the keys to victory for both teams are embedded deeper.
For example, the Colts are here thanks to a revived rushing attack around Marlon Mack and what feels like an unstoppable third-down offense. Their defensive revival behind rookie linebacker Darius Leonard can’t be understated; the Texans, who scored just seven points in the wild-card round, would agree.
In Kansas City, hiding behind the glare of Mahomes is an underrated rushing attack, even without Kareem Hunt, and arguably the NFL’s best set of mismatch creators in Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce. The star of the Chiefs’ defense, tackle Chris Jones, finally will have some help on the back end with safety Eric Berry healthy enough to play.
Below are Sporing News’ picks and predictions for the Colts vs. Chiefs divisional playoff game.
NFL playoff picks: Colts at Chiefs
- Date, time: Saturday, Jan. 12, 4:35 p.m.
- Location: Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City, Mo.
- TV: NBC
- Odds: Chiefs -5; Total: 57.5
Tadd Haislop: As SN’s Vinnie Iyer has pointed out, the Colts present the Chiefs a handful of issues. Indianapolis’ pass protection has been money, and Luck’s decisiveness as a passer, combined with his top-notch pocket presence, will be a challenge for Kansas City’s pass rush.
Further complicating matters for the Chiefs: They gave up a full five yards per rush in the regular season, second worst in the league. The Colts ran all over the Texans, and they know it’s a good way to control the clock and keep Mahomes off the field in the divisional round.
But Indianapolis’ young defense has not seen an offense quite like the one it will see in Kansas City. Technically nobody has, as the Chiefs boast the NFL’s No. 1 offense with 35.3 points per game in the regular season.
If Mahomes plays up to his potential, or close to it, the Colts can’t stop him.
Pick: Chiefs, 35-24
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Vinnie Iyer: The Colts, armed with Luck and powered by Mack, can definitely put up some points in Arrowhead, and they won’t be intimidated by the raucous playoff atmosphere with Luck and Reich keeping them cool through four quarters.
The rested Chiefs, however, will exploit the holes in the Colts’ promising young defense — something the Texans could not do. Mahomes will see big plays open up because of good protection and his ability to extend plays outside the pocket.
This feels like a “last possession wins” game, and Mahomes will begin his playoff legend with a successful game-winning drive.
Pick: Chiefs 38-34