Sep 19, 2013; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Kansas City Chiefs running back Anthony Sherman (42) prior to playing the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field. The Chiefs defeated the Eagles 26-16. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Four Men And A Chiefs Victory

AA - Crowd Noise final

Happy New Year, Addicts! Let’s hope 2014 starts off with a bang, particularly this Saturday when our Kansas City Chiefs play the Indianapolis Colts in the NFL’s first game of the playoffs.

This game will come down to the play of four specific men, who have the power to bring home a playoff victory for the Chiefs. These four men – if they play to their ability – can bring to life a truism of any winning strategy: apply the greatest amount of force on the weakest possible target, over and over again.

Let’s first take a look at how the Colts might apply that same strategy against the Chiefs.

The Colts Strategy: Passes Passes Everywhere

On offense, the Colts have made a key switch over the last four games. After trying, rather poorly, to be a power running team (see “Richardson, Trent”), the Colts moved to a no huddle, pass-first offense. Quarterback Andrew Luck has thrived. Even with star wideout Reggie Wayne lost for the season, second year player T.Y. Hilton has become a clutch receiver. Against the Chiefs two weeks ago at Arrowhead, Luck absolutely picked apart Kansas City’s secondary, throwing for 241 yards, including three passes for 20+ yards. The Colts win when Luck spreads the field and throws, which then opens up lanes late in the game for running back Donald Brown. Since reeling off nine straight wins, the Chiefs’ passing defense has been atrocious. It would make sense that the Colts will try to apply their greatest force – their passing game and Andrew Luck – against the weak leak of the Chiefs defense: the secondary.

On defense, the Colts have a no-brainer here. Two weeks ago, Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith was just 16-28 for 163 yards. That’s just 5.5 yards per attempt. His longest completion was for 19 yards, to a tight end. Smith had zero completions over 20 yards and wide receivers Dwayne Bowe and Donnie Avery had a whopping total of six catches off of fourteen targets for 78 yards. The Chiefs’ weakest link, on offense, is their passing game. The Colts will assuredly stack the line to stop the run and screen pass and force Smith to throw down the field. And the Colts have a good unit to do so. The Colts’ run defense has improved dramatically, anchored by defensive end Cory Redding (Pro Football Focus’ sixth best defensive end against the run), inside linebacker Jerrell Freeman and outside linebackers Erik Walden and Robert Mathis (Mathis, the NFL’s sack leader, has been surprisingly stout against the run).

Let’s recap, Addicts. The Colts will pass a lot against the Chiefs’ suspect secondary. On defense, the Colts will stack the line to stop Charles and force Smith to pass the ball downfield, which has been the Chiefs’ greatest offensive weakness.

Chiefs Strategy: Steamroll, Smashmouth and Stomp the Colts

The Chiefs have a similar strategic challenge. What irresistible force can they apply to a Colts weakness? And who are the four men who will step up to this challenge and bring playoff victory to Kansas City?

There are two specific matchups involving four men that not only pair a Chiefs strength with a Colts weakness, but also have the ability to blunt Luck’s passing game, mask challenges in the Chiefs’ downfield passing game.

Let’s start with the Chiefs defense. The interior of the Colts’ offensive line played well against the Chiefs two weeks ago, but guards Hugh Thornton and Mike McGlynn aren’t going to be making a Pro Bowl anytime soon, and center Samson Satele is the weakest link by far. Satele is a journeyman center who couldn’t even hold down his job in Oakland. There’s even a chance that McGlynn will slide over to center because Satele has been so inconsistent this year.

Nov 24, 2013; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Indianapolis Colts center Samson Satele (64) against the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium. The Cardinals defeated the Colts 40-11. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Of course, lining up over Satele/McGlynn will be the first of our four men: Dontari Poe. In order to give the Chiefs a shot at winning, Poe must repeatedly mow over Satele/McGlynn and get in Luck’s face. With pass rushers Tamba Hali and Justin Houston back, Poe should have a direct path to Luck without any double teams. The pocket collapse from the center position is the fastest way to rush and hurry Luck, disrupting the Colts entire gameplan. That’s why Poe is our first key to a Chiefs victory this Saturday.

From an offensive standpoint, two weeks ago, the Chiefs had success running the ball on the Colts defense. This Saturday, I think we do the same. The question is: where is the favorable matchup?

From the NFL’s statistics, it’s clear that the Chiefs run better when going to the left:

Type

Left

Middle

Right

Rushes of 10+ yards

24

16

19

Rushes for first down

43

35

32

Total

67

51

51

That means the three other men key to a Chiefs victory will be left tackle Branden Albert, left guard Jeff Allen and fullback Anthony Sherman.

When the Chiefs get the ball to open the game, I want to see Andy Reid run Jamaal Charles and Knile Davis five times in a row behind these three guys. Why? Because the only thing standing in their way will be the Colts’ right defensive end, Ricky Jean Francois. In addition to sharing a name with just about every major character in Talladega Nights, Francois is probably the Colts’ worst defensive starter. While this strategy also runs you into Robert Mathis’ normal side, you avoid running at left defensive end Redding, one of the best run defenders in the league. By attacking Francois ruthlessly, the Chiefs can consistently grind out 4 yard runs or more, with an occasional long gain to boot, and force Mathis to respect the run before he tries to bull rush Alex Smith.

At this point in the season, we know who the Chiefs are, and the Colts do too. I don’t see the Chiefs discovering their medium and long-range passing game all of a sudden. Nor do I see the secondary going back to lock-down mode, particularly against a quarterback as talented as Luck is.

Let’s play to our strengths: running the ball behind Albert, Allen and Sherman against a weak defensive end, and letting Poe collapse the pocket against a suspect center.

Branden, Jeff, Anthony and Dontari, it’s time to lift this Chiefs team on your shoulders and carry us to our first playoff win in twenty years.

Addicts, what’s your gameplan against Indy?!

Tags: Kansas City Chiefs

  • berttheclock

    Excellent reasoning about running the ball. The Indianapolis Star Colts section suggests the Colts will still treat Charles as “Public Enemy Number One” in their defensive scheme. Sort of a Stop Charles and Make Smith Have to Throw theory.

    • Chris Tarrants

      For the life of me I don’t know why Reid will not run a wishbone with Charles running left and Davis running right? Fake once here and same play fake to the other. They can only stack the box on one side. If the send the guys to stack both then play action to which ever WR they decide to let run wide open

    • DieHard_ChiefsFan

      I would love to see Charles and Davis on the field together as well. Maybe line Davis up at wide, hand off to Charles to Davis side and reverse back to Davis, the guy has the speed and the defense will be so focused on Charles they will cheat to that side/get blown out by Davis. All of these posts are good points. Im just hoping that with Lewis playing with our 2nd unit against the chargers, that was Sutton saying he is replacing him for the playoffs. That would make quite a few fans happy, and maybe we wont get burned over the top as much with a good safety replacing him out on the field.

  • bill w

    You know AR isn’t gonna run it five times in a row especially in the same area….thats what HE would do. I think in this playoffs the only thing we can hope for is the offense being able to score points. I think we need to score at least 28 points to win this game. The defense isn’t magically gonna have a pass rush all of a sudden. I don’t think the players fit the defensive scheme. The corners aren’t physical enough to play man to man to allow the rush to get to the qb, nor is our pass rush good enough to let the corners play man to man. The secondary gets beat short and long. I hope things are different in the playoffs but I don’t see the defense being that much better even with Houston back

    • Gene Haigler

      just don’t agree

    • Chris Tarrants

      It’s not just having Houston back but these boys have all had an extra week to heal and get healthy and I look for a dominating game from our defense. The only thing worse than Hali after a week off to get his legs back, is Justin Houston coming back from a month off to get his legs back healthy and strong. He hurt his elbow but the added time off to get everything back to 100% should scare luck and the entire oline because that dude is gonna be a runaway freight train

  • berttheclock

    The biggest question for myself going into this game is which Bob Sutton will show up? Will it be the fellow who let his DBs play aggressive jamming defense early in the season or the fellow who had his DBs back off after teams started using slant passes against us. Marcus Cooper showed he can be very aggressive and was disrupting routes until he was picked off on slants. Then, Sutton made him back off where he ended up trying to run wind sprints. Sutton did the same with the other DBs. Sutton’s call on having his DBs back off was infuriating. The winning drive in the first SD game was a result of those ridiculous calls by Sutton. The Chiefs do have the right DBs to jam the Indy receivers, but, they must be turned loose by Sutton. For some reason, Sutton has become overly cautious. If he has had problems with being able to sack the opposing QB, then, he should have let his DBs become far more aggressive. Jamming upsets the rhythm and timing of QBs. Sutton, as he coached at West Point, reminds me of Generals of old who had the bad habit of trying to fight the last war. Sutton, play with Elan and passion. Don’t become passive. Attack and conquer.

    • John Bartram

      Sutton has been a constant source of frustration for me over the last six weeks. Look how he played the back-ups last week. That was what he was doing early in the year. Had he applied the same defense in that game with the starters out there, I believe KC would have flattened the Chargers, as they would have had Hali and Houston not gone out in the first game.

    • freshmeat62

      Ooooo, attack and conquer – I like it! Bring the house!

      It looked to me like the Chiefs were trying to pressure more the last couple of weeks, but they didn’t have the guys to do it, although Rivers was hurried some last week.

      I agree they need to jam the Colts receivers at the line and throw their timing off. That gives the d-linemen more time to pressure. Bring DJ or a safety on more blitzes. Maybe they need to bring Lewis on the blitz instead of Berry. We know Lewis can’t cover or tackle, so maybe the site of him blitzing will be enough to hurry Luck some. Lewis needs to do all he can to give away that he’s blitzing, so a defender will try to block him, leaving another defender w/ one less guy to rush thru. Bluff is about all Lewis is good for since we all know, of course, that if Lewis does get to Luck, he’ll miss the tackle.

      • Chris Tarrants

        Hahaha that’s awesome! I laughed so hard I thought I was gonna pee

    • Rob Ross

      I agree completely. We need to go back to that agreesive defensive approach that made us 9-0. Now that we have the pass rush back. Let her rip! GO CHIEFS!!!

  • GDL40

    This game reminds me a lot of the playoff game against the Colts in, ’06 I think, we had one of the best running games in the league, Colts were one of the worst run defenses in the league, everyone said the Chiefs would run all over the Colts, Colts came out determined to stop the run, they did, they beat us. I feel the same will happen this time around if we insist on running. I say we come out with 2 back formations (JC-K.Davis) maybe run a screen to knile first, pick up decent yardage, run it with knile a few times after faking to JC….and of course get the ball to JC a lot on the ground and through the air..keep them guessing… On defense, we have to get to Luck somehow, disguise blitzes, hit luck hard a few times even if its not a sack, make him uncomfortable…. Tough game for sure, but we can do it, GO CHIEFS!!!!

  • Gene Haigler

    I must said, when I started reading I didn’t have no idea you would have these as your big 4.
    Not Houston, who is coming off missing several games.
    Not Lewis, who everyone is blaming almost every yard other teams get.
    Not AS11, who can’t throw down field.
    Not Bowe who can seem to get this season together.
    Not even Sutton who can’t get the backs to cover or the front seven to rush.
    After the chiefs first drive, the Colts owned the Chiefs. Almost looked like last year and year I mean season.
    This is a new year and season (0-0) I hope we can come out of last week’s rest like we did after our bye week.

  • sidibeke

    I have a little more confidence in the passing game and hope to see them take some shots down field. Given a little protection, AS can make those throws. I also don’t think Reid will abandon the pass. That said, I like KC’s chances.