Oct 20, 2013; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Chiefs outside linebacker Tamba Hali (91) celebrates after sacking Houston Texans quarterback Case Keenum (7) in the second half at Arrowhead Stadium. The Chiefs won 17-16. Mandatory Credit: John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

The Chiefs’ Game-Planning Edge

AA - Crowd Noise final

Remember Week 11 of the NFL season, when the Chiefs were traveling to Denver to play the Broncos? The discussion leading up to that game not only in Kansas City but across the country orbited around one question and one question only: “How will the Chiefs defend against Peyton Manning and his receivers?”

The Chiefs lost that game 27-17, starting a three-game skid. Fast forward five weeks as the Chiefs prepare to take on the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday.

For Addicts, we spend each week game planning in our own heads about next Sunday’s game. In Week 11, all of my waking hours were consumed by that singular question. In fact, until this week, my frame of mind for Chiefs games has been the same: worrying about how to stop the other team.

But after the Raiders game, something clicked. It wasn’t the fact that the Chiefs blew out Washington and Oakland, because most good teams would have done the same. It was more that over the full body of this season, we have seen each unit of the Kansas City Chiefs operate at the highest levels. In the first half of the season, the defense was literally tops in the NFL. Since the bye week, the offense and special teams have been among the highest rated units in the league. For the first time in my four decades of being a Chiefs fan, we have all of the ingredients for a top notch team, without an achilles heel.

As I now spend every waking minute thinking about Sunday’s game against the Colts, my thought pattern has changed. Instead of brainstorming how we can stop Andrew Luck or Robert Mathis, I find that my first thoughts are how the Colts can possibly stop Alex Smith, Jamaal Charles, Dwayne Bowe, Tamba Hali, Justin Houston, Derrick Johnson, Dontari Poe, Eric Berry, Dustin Colquitt and the kick return game.

It’s not an enviable position for the Colts. There are four teams that right now, other teams would hate to see in the playoffs: Denver, the Seattle Seahawks, the Cincinnati Bengals and your very own Kansas City Chiefs. All of these teams have two things in common. First, they are peaking, riding a tidal wave of momentum. Second, they have strong units across the board, with offense, defense and special teams.

If you are Colts defensive coordinator Greg Manusky (a former Chiefs linebacker), you’d certainly expect the Chiefs to run Charles and Knile Davis all day long behind an offensive line that is reaching road-grader status. But you also know that your defense ranks 27th against the run. And if you stack the box, how do you defend against the screen pass or quick slant to Bowe?

Similarly, if you are Colts offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton, how do you account for Poe, Hali and Houston at the same time, knowing that Berry can also attack from multiple positions?

And if you’re head coach Chuck Pagano, what’s your overall gameplan? You’ll want to run a time-consuming offense to keep Alex Smith and company off the field. But can you count on your 21st ranked running game? Can you count on Andrew Luck consistently making plays against  a ball-hawking defense and a special teams unit that may well score a touchdown or two (coincidentally, the Colts’ special teams coach, Tom McMahon, also has roots with the Chiefs, serving as special teams coach in Kansas City last year).

Andrew Luck, a revitalized Trent Richardson and Robert Mathis lead a talented and strong Colts team. But playing at home with all cylinders clicking, the Chiefs have a greater chance of imposing their will on this game than do the Colts. For the first time for this Addict, that perspective feels great.

Addicts, which team do you think will impose their will on the other?!

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Tags: Kansas City Chiefs

  • micah stephenson

    We gon beat the beep out Colts.

  • Jason Seibel

    Miles I think this is the best piece you’ve ever written.

    • Miles Yi

      Very nice of you to say, Jason!

      • JDInOregon

        Indeed, nice job. Your bio cracks me up…a frosty malt in 20 degree weather. I remember one insanely cold game in the late 1970′s against Denver where your hot chocolate WAS a frosty malt by the time you got back to your seat. ;-)

      • Calchiefsfan

        I agree with Jason, well done!

  • Stacy D. Smith

    I think the key for the rest of the season is putting all three phases together. Getting to luck is also going to be important. If he has all day to throw, he’s going to pick on the secondary. The Colts just aren’t the same without Reggie Wayne, but they’re still a good football team. The Chiefs can’t afford to get sloppy here.

    Matt Schaub will play Sunday’s game with the Broncos. That, I think, improves Houston’s chances of winning that football game dramatically. The AFC West is within reach if we first take care of business.

    • Calchiefsfan

      Pressure on Luck is the key. The Chiefs D hasn’t been doing a very good job of that lately. Getting Houston back will help but it doesn’t solve the problem completely. Sutton needs to dial up the pressure more than he has recently if our 4 man rush isn’t getting it done. More contact with the receivers at the line of scrimmage would help too. Giving any QB in the NFL all day to through will result in big plays against the D.

      • toperspective

        The key to the whole defense is pressure and you’re right, they aren’t getting it done. Unless Houston can come back and pressure like he did early in the season it’s going to be tough to beat good QB’s.

        • Calchiefsfan

          Sutton needs to dial up more blitzes.

    • toperspective

      Dramatically because of Matt Schaub? That’s your inner and outer Chiefs fan talking.

      • Stacy D. Smith

        Don’t let that early stretch of games fool you into believing he’s not the same Matt Schaub that posted a passer rating of 90 or better five straight seasons prior to 2013. He is better than Case Keenum. Houston has a better chance of winning now.

        • toperspective

          He’s not that guy anymore. I think Schaub is a broken man. He is done in Houston and it could get ugly when the boos begin raining down. Not only did he look horrible early in the season but also later when he filled in for Keenum. Plus it looks like Houston has just quit.

          • Stacy D. Smith

            I’m not convinced he’s a bum yet. Every QB has rough stretches.

        • berttheclock

          You do realize both of their top RBs are out?

          • Stacy D. Smith

            Yes, but they would’ve been out had Keenum gotten the start.

  • berttheclock

    So, Miles, do you believe the Colts only just signed Shaun Draughn to learn something about the offense of the Chiefs? You really don’t need to reply, as I was just playing.

    • Miles Yi

      I was thinking about that, but Draughn was cut so early – in August I think. And, the Colts need a reliable back. I actually always liked Draughn. I hope he does great, except this Sunday and Jan. 4-5!

  • berttheclock

    Yeah, it should be an interesting chess match between coordinators, especially, considering the Chiefs and Colts will probably meet again in the playoffs.

    However, factor in the return of several Chiefs for the game. It is going to take Houston some time to get up to full speed. The same with Fasano.

    Yesterday, Laddie wrote a great thread about the Chiefs offense moving too fast which left more time for the defense to be on the field. That was the case against the Raiders, but, that fast moving offense was the result of playing against a team which loves to both rush the passer with their front four and to heavily blitz. Those screen passes and even the wheel route on 3rd and one from the 29 yard line negated that, but, as a result of quick scores, it left far more time for the defense to remain without enough rest. This upcoming game may well put more balance into the Chiefs units, with the upside of returning Chiefs working out the kinks of their respective time off. Off topic, but, the local CBS affiliate in Portland, has just switched the Chiefs to the Sunday time slot and removed the Broncos-Texans.

    • JDInOregon

      Yeah! We get to see the Chiefs this week! Spouse was so bummed the KC-Oakland game wasn’t on. Maybe by next year we ditch the dumb cable company…

      As for the Colts, I’m hopeful Luck gets picked off a few times. As most have stated, pressure on him will be essential.

      The Chiefs offense is blowing my mind. A few games does not a season nor playoff run make, but I’m hard pressed to recall a Chiefs offense being this explosive. The Montana and Dawson eras featured some very good offenses, but if the current unit keeps this up watch out NFL! Remember, the KC offense only blossomed AFTER the first Denver game, although that is where it started. Good gravy it would be nice to see a re-match with the Broncos.

      Charles is clearly league MVP, too bad that decision has already been predetermined, but what a season for him, absolutely remarkable. You just can’t say enough about his toughness and skill level, fighting through those awful blisters to keep KC winning. No matter what happens in the playoffs his season is one for the ages, and I mean in NFL terms, not just KC terms. Good luck getting more than a handful of national sports journalists to even mention that.

      • Calchiefsfan

        Just an fyi, here is a link to a website that carries all the games. http://www.wiziwig.tv/competition.php?part=sports&discipline=americanfootball
        I use an HDMI cable from my computer to the flat screen and it works great. You have to test a couple of the links to get the best reception but once you get used to it you’ll find good quality streaming of almost every game. It took my a couple of weeks to figure everything out. You have to close all the stupid pop up adds, (and they hide the close box, very sneaky), which can be annoying. Once they are closed they don’t pop up again. Hope it helps. I haven’t missed a Chiefs game all year.

        • berttheclock

          Great info.

      • toperspective

        I’m in Los Angeles and I’m struck with the f’ing Raiders almost every week…..except the week that they play the Chiefs. Then I’m left with the Redzone channel who genuinely seem to hate the Chiefs. Instead of showing the Chiefs in the red zone, they’ll show the crappy Cowboys who are 70 yards from a score. One game early in the season I think they showed 3 plays from a Chiefs game.

  • Chris Tarrants

    Hopefully Charles explodes again and we can get the W without having to use any more plays that Reid may be holding close to his chest ” lots of rooms for plays there btw” . We will meet the guys again in the first round unless all the stars align perfectly and Denver trips over its own ego and finds itself playing in Indy!

    • JDInOregon

      “unless Denver trips over its own ego….” LOL. I think there is some chance of that happening, actually. They’re just not that great.

  • Tristian Shelley

    Highly disagree with the 4 teams no one wants to play. Seattle for sure. But Denver? Have you been watching that defense all year cause I have. Its swiss cheese and if san diego can power run on them I dont worry about us. Cincinnati? Andy Dalton is colin kapernick. If your defense is weak he looks good. If not he’s a bum. Major weak link. After Geno Atkins got hurt they aren’t the same. One and done just like Denver and New England. The AFC is KC’s to lose even if they are a 5 seed

  • Priest4Prez

    I’m just worried about playing the Colts the second time around; historically we haven’t been able to beat any QB in a Horseshoe helmet come playoff time. If we keep winning and the Broncos trip up on a bad bounce or two; the number one seed is ours and rightfully so. Let em come to Arrowhead I say

  • Jim Harper

    You are closer to my age (65) than I had thought. I always thought you wrote with a much wiser pen. Nice job here. I know I am getting ahead of myself but I am far more concerned about the SD game than the Colts, but that said we cannot afford to take the foot off the gas at any point the rest of the way. Our only chance of winning the west is by winning out.