It seems like just yesterday that Week 16 was here and the Kansas City Chiefs were getting ready to face the Indianapolis Colts at Arrowhead Stadium. The Chiefs were coming off of two huge wins against the Washington Redskins and the Oakland Raiders which snapped their three game losing streak.
Emotions were high, especially since the Chiefs had just clinched their first playoff spot since winning the AFC West in 2010. Of course, we all know how the game ended up. After Jamaal Charles scored his 19th — and final — touchdown of the season on the opening drive of the game, the team took the rest of the day off. The allowed the Colts to run all over them and embarrass them in their own house.
Fortunately for the Chiefs, they had already secured their post season berth before that game.
Now, the stakes are much different. They’re much higher. It’s win or go home. This isn’t double elimination. This is the reason they play the game. Let’s get to it.
Key #1: Start Fast
The Chiefs had the right idea the last time these two teams met. Starting fast is the way to put momentum on their side. This time, the Chiefs will be playing in hostile territory so it’ll be even more important to start fast and take the crowd out of the equation early on. The game plan shouldn’t change a whole lot from the last time, at least as far as the first drive goes. The Chiefs have done well in this category the second half of the season and this needs to continue.
Key #2: Pressure Luck
For the first time since Week 12, the Chiefs will have both of their All Pro pass rushers on the field. Linebacker Justin Houston will be back from his ugly dislocated elbow injury and Tamba Hali will return after re-tweaking his sore knee. The Colts are one of the worst quarterback protecting teams in the league. The Chiefs have been — at least during the first half of the season — one of the best quarterback harassing teams. If the Chiefs have any dreams of playing next week, they need to knock Andrew Luck off of his spot.
Key #3: Somebody NOT Named Jamaal Charles Must Step Up
The Colts defense will key on Jamaal Charles. In case you’re wondering, it’s one of their “Keys to Victory.” If that’s the case, another player on the Chiefs will have to step up and make some plays. That guy’s name might be Alex Smith. It might be Knile Davis. It could be Dwayne Bowe or Dexter McCluster. It should happen sooner rather than later so that the Chiefs have time to suck them one direction before moving in for the kill.
Key #4: An Appearance by Special Teams
The shorter the field the Chiefs start with, the better. McCluster, Davis and Quintin Demps need to be on their “A” game today. A return to the house would definitely help the cause and allow the Chiefs to have one more week of employment during the 2013 season. This has been one of the best return teams all season. There is no reason this can’t continue.
Key #5: Shake Off the Week 16 Loss…and the last three playoff losses to the Colts…and the fact that Alex Smith is 0-3 lifetime against the Colts…and the 20 year playoff drought…and…well, you get the point
Here’s the deal. There are a lot of reasons the Chiefs should lose this game. Sports are full of superstitions and there enough of them in this rivalry to go around. The bottom line is while there a hundred reasons the Chiefs should lose this game, I’ll give you one why they should win. They’re a better team. The quarterbacks match up equally, but the Chiefs have a better defense, a better receiving corps, and a running back who is light years above anything that the Colts have. The Chiefs are better. They should win this game. They just need to shake off all the monkeys on their back and get it done.
There it is Addicts. It’s two hours to game time and the Chiefs first playoff game in three years. Let’s see if these guys can get it done!