Sunday’s first NFL Wildcard Playoffs match is between Kansas City Chiefs and Indianapolis Colts. The opening kick-off is set to commence at 08:36am with the game to be played at Lucas Oil Stadium. The home team Kansas City Chiefs are the favourites for the match. View our preview and teams for the game between Kansas City Chiefs and Indianapolis Colts.
When: 08:36 | Sunday 05/01/2014
Where: Lucas Oil Stadium
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Kansas City Chiefs:
With the 2013 regular season now in the books, it is time for the Kansas City Chiefs to cash in on their rapid turnaround from just a season ago and try to win their first playoff game since January of 1994.
Still with plenty to play for — a small chance at winning the AFC West and ending up as the conference’s top seed — the Chiefs played an uninspired brand of football in a 23-7 loss to the Colts, fueling the naysayers’ previous notions that this team was not quite ready to live up to the hype surrounding its 9-0 start.
But with the slate now wiped clean for every team, Kansas City has a shot at making this season even more of a success than it already has by further distancing itself from the previous failed regime.
Here are a few things to follow during Saturday afternoon’s contest:
When: Saturday, January 4 at 3:35 p.m. EST on NBC
Where: Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Indiana
Fun Fact: Three of the Chiefs’ last five playoff losses have come to the Colts (2006, 2003 and 1995)
Key Matchup: Chiefs’ pass rush vs. Colts’ pass protection
Players to Watch: Justin Houston and T.Y. Hilton
Chiefs Bold Prediction: Kansas City Scores on Offense, Defense and Special Teams
The Chiefs returned two punts and two kickoffs for touchdowns this season, in addition to taking five interceptions and two fumbles in for scores as well — finishing 2013 as the only team in the NFL with multiple touchdowns in each category.
Indianapolis allowed just one punt, one interception and one fumble to be returned for a touchdown this season, however. But the Chiefs have the talent on the field and experience on their coaching staff to continue producing across the board, even on the road in the playoffs.
Kansas City’s offense has also come on of late, averaging 33 points over its last six games — though that included just seven points in the loss to the Colts in Week 16. With the heightened atmosphere, expect much more scoring this time around.
With the return of Justin Houston, the Chiefs should be able to create more pressure up front against the Colts. This will increase the chance of Andrew Luck having to improvise and force more plays, which will amplify Kansas City’s opportunities to come up big on defense.
Colts Bold Prediction: T.Y. Hilton and Griff Whalen Combine for 15 Catches and 180 Yards, But Do Not Find the End Zone
The added pressure the Chiefs expect to create in their pass rush will affect Luck’s timing in the passing game. This will force the Colts to either hit the hot route or call more plays in the first and second level of the defense, as opposed to plays that need time to develop.
The beneficiaries: T.Y. Hilton and Griff Whalen, who combined for 132 yards on 12 catches in the Week 16 win over the Chiefs. Though neither found the end zone, their ability to dominate the middle of the field allowed the Colts to stretch out drives, and keep Kansas City’s defense moving around a lot.
Luck should again rely on his smaller targets to keep the chains moving. But with the Chiefs bringing more pressure, their chances will increase on Saturday.
The key for the Chiefs will be to not let either Hilton or Whalen break free on a big play, which has been their defense’s Achilles heel this season. But as the Colts inch toward the end zone, look for Coby Fleener or one of the running backs to gobble up the looks.