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?!

Next Chiefs Game Full schedule »
Sunday, Oct 2626 Oct12:00St. Louis RamsBuy Tickets

Tags: Kansas City Chiefs

comments powered by Disqus