12 Things to Watch For in Sunday's Colts-Chiefs Game
She's the Chief's best option at quarterback
Last week, the Colts got smacked around by the Texans, but their dream season can get back on track with a win in Kansas City. The Colts have owned the Chiefs for almost two decades now, and the dominance should continue this year. Here's what to keep an eye on...
1. Watch the bounce back. The pendulum has swung on Andrew Luck. A few weeks after he was anointed Moses on the mountain top, everyone just as suddenly wonders why he's "regressed". The truth is that there's nothing wrong with him. For all our justified focus on rate stats, it's easy to forget this kid will pass the 4,000 yard mark and will likely finish the year with 30 combined passing and rushing touchdowns. In some ways, Luck's 2012 reminds me a lot of Manning's 2010 season. High volume passing leads to supressed rate totals. That's just how football works. Luck will come out and have a nice game and remind everyone exactly why he's such a big deal.
2. Watch his back. The Chiefs only real strength is their dual pass rushers of Justin Houston and Tamba Hali. As long as the motley crew that makes up the Indy offensive line can get a hand on them once in a while, the Indy offense should operate with impunity. At some point the Colts simply have to start blocking for Luck. Look for it to start this week. Of course, it's possible that line will still be exhausted from not sleeping all week. Word has it they were up all night with Watt related nightmares.
3. Watch for the flashback. The 2012 Chiefs are bad, historically bad. If that doesn't sound familiar you should be sending Ryan Grigson a nice Christmas present. Just a year ago the Colts were attempting to find any way to get a win. This year's Chiefs are doing the same and essentially coming up short each week. In many ways they are a mirror of the 2011 Colts. Expect big changes in Kansas City after the "bring New England west" plan didn't work.
4. Watch for turnovers. The Colts haven't excelled at forcing turnovers but the Chiefs spent much of the year exchanging gifts with their opponents. They've recently been better but the team isn't great at ball control. In fact the Chiefs give up the ball more than anyone in the league and boast a horrifying -22 turnover differential. The Colts could have a much easier day if they win the turnover battle.
5. Watch the best worst defense in history. The Colts D is ranked 32nd in DVOA, but a hilariously easy schedule of opposing quarterbacks means that they are just 24th in points allowed. They've played Christian Ponder, Blaine Gabbert (twice!), Brandon Weeden, Ryan Tannehill, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Jake Locker and now Brady Quinn. You couldn't knock over more soup cans in a Campbell's factory. The Colts will likely hold the Chiefs to around their average (13.9 points) and once again put up a "strong" defensive performance against a lousy opponent.
6. Watch for the auditions. Romeo Crennel and Scott Pioli must find a way to instill some confidence if they are to keep their job. That means they need a win and to find a few gems buried on the roster. That could be a headache for the Colts coordinators. Building a game plan around guys who haven't seen much time is difficult and a wild card could change the game.
7. Watch for red. The Chiefs are absolutely horrible in the red zone--the worst in the league to be exact. The Colts stiffen up in the red zone which should be an encouraging matchup. Much of that lies on the shoulders of Chiefs offensive coordinator Brian Daboll but QB play in scoring situations has been pretty poor. If this becomes a shootout then plan on a rough day.
8. Watch for wholesale ownership. The Colts have simply dominated the Chiefs since 1990, going 10-2 against Kansas City. Even last year, Curtis Painter almost managed to hang a loss on the Chiefs before morphing back into, well, Curtis Painter. This matchup has been entirely one-sided for years including huge wins in Arrowhead Stadium in 1995 and 1996. For all it's culture and amazing barbecue, you might as well start referring to Kansas City as Fort Wayne because it has become Naptown's baby brother.
9. Watch for the rookie record. Andrew Luck hasn't been hot or cold as portrayed in the media--he's been a rookie and in fact a pretty good one. With just 74 passing yards Luck will pass Cam Newton for the most passing yards by a rookie. While the media will continually debate the 2012 Rookie of the Year award they'd never second-guess Newton in his first year. In fact, Newton only lead the Panthers to a measly 6-10 and still won the award collecting all by three votes along the way. He even went to the Pro Bowl! Yet for some reason the quacks that vote for these awards don't see Andrew Luck for what he is: the best rookie quarterback in NFL history.
10. Watch for crow-eating. Many of us didn't expect for this team to visit the playoffs so quickly following a massive rebuild. There's so crow to be served and I suppose there'll be enough to go around. That said, it should be noted that this kind of turnaround is historic. In fact with just one more win the Colts could become just the second team in NFL history to win 10 games the season after losing 14 or more games. This turnaround is nearly on par with that of the 2004 Steelers as well who improved 9 games behind a rookie--another occurrence that was incredibly unlikely. In short this kind of success behind a rookie quarterback after a horrible year is a statistical anomaly and something fans should treasure.
11. Watch for the big payoff. Reggie Wayne came back. We don't know exactly why although we believe it had something to do with heart. Despite not understanding his motivation entirely the results are clear. With just three more catches Wayne will have, at the age of 34, just netted another 100 catch season. He's a virtual lock for another Pro Bowl appearance thanks to appearing in the top 5 for nearly every receiving category. Reggie Wayne: still good at football.
12. Watch for the clinch. The Colts are too good, too focused to lose to the Chiefs. Don't overthink this one. Indy wins in a walk and locks down 10 wins. Colts 24 Chiefs 13
Eyes the Backfield is a collaboration of Nate Dunlevy, Kyle Rodriguez and Todd Smith.
I'm a huge Colts and Luck fan, but I would vote rookie of the year as follows: RG3 1st, Wilson 2nd, and Luck 3rd. ROTY is a stat award and those guys easily have the best stats. When people argue "well his team is better, so...." they are trying too hard to justify a vote for Luck. Accept the fact somebody else deserves ROTY, and just be thankful we have Luck for the next 15 years.
@Johnny_Socko ROTY is a stat award? News to me.
@Johnny_Socko I've been trying to find the definition or qualification for RotY. I think it's subjective. This happens to be a year where any of the three could or should win. I wouldn't trade Luck for any player in the league right now. Skins fans probably feel the same way. Not too sure about Hawks.
@Johnny_Socko I'm mostly with you Johnny. I'd still take Luck #1 in a redraft by a wide margin, but I think I'd take Wilson for ROY for the reasons you mentioned.
Not sure who wrote that point, but I have to disagree. The reason that Cam won the OROTY award last season so easily was that there was no competition. Andy Dalton got the other three votes, but was worse in every category and went to a better team (and had another high production rookie in AJ Green).
Luck may be better than RGIII and Russell Wilson, but it is definitely more debatable than saying that Andy Dalton (or any other rookie) was better than Cam last year.
Personally, I would go with Luck because RGIII missed some games (which should count for something), and Russell Wilson went to a dramatically better team (the Seahawks were 8-8 last season, and deservedly so, and have a lot of talent everywhere).
@dmstorm22 Both of those QBs succeed because of the PA pass. While recently, Vick Ballard has been running quite well, he's not a back that you have to gameplan against like Lynch or Alfred Morris (having as impressive of a rookie year as RGIII, imo, the guy runs like a hoss). Certainly a case can be made for either RGIII or Wilson over Luck, but neither of them is required to carry the offense in the same manner that Luck is.
#5 - A perfect example of how stats don't tell the true story. I'm not saying the defense is much better than average, but they're certainly not the worst in the league. We play basically the same teams as the Titans and Jags, and they've given up more points. And when it comes down to it, that's the stat that really matters. We're skewed by a several big losses, and the Detroit game. The D gave up one TD to a pretty good Houston Offense. We must have pretty good DB coaches this year. Except for Davis, there's probably not one guy who could make most teams, much less start. And they're playing pretty well.
@smonroe Look at the drive stats though, the Colts are awful.
@Kyle Rodriguez @smonroe We all knew going in to the season that the defense was bad. Football Outsiders has the #1 defense as the bears. How can anybody in their right mind say that the Bears are #1 in defense. Sometimes you have to actually look at the games with own two eyes to make a determination. The Colts have played horribly coach teams this year. Detroit, Tennessee, Buffalo, Jacksonville. Detroit is the prime example of a teams that wins the stats but loses the game. Stats don't tell the entire story.
@Nate Dunlevy @Kyle Rodriguez @smonroe most former and current NFL players say that pressure is real. I would take their word over any writer/blogger. Peyton has wilted under the pressure in his career.
I guess it was random when the Colts won the Super Bowl in 2006. It will always be more random than Baseball or Football. In theory if you home field advantage you should win the game. The Colts were to dependent on one player.
Peyton is probably more relaxed knowing that he finally has a defense.
Actually the NFL playoffs have become much more random since the early 2000s. Yes, it is a change. No it didn't always used to be that way.
@Nate Dunlevy @Kyle Rodriguez @smonroe The league changed in 2002 when the Colts were moved to the AFC south. I'm sure they would not have success if they were facing the Patriots twice a year. Simple mathematics would tell you that it is more random than a NBA basketball format. That's the way football has been from the beginning is and it's not going to change.
any serious football analyst would say that pressure is real. The problem is that Peyton had to play a great game every time since the rest of the team was mediocre. Ironically, the 2012 Denver Broncos may be TEAM he has played on.
However, there's a big difference between "finding a way to win" over another top team and "finding a way to win" over Kansas City.
If the Colts were nipping the Texans and Pats despite getting outplayed, it would inspire a lot more confidence than just being a titch better than the Browns and Bills and Chiefs.
@Nate Dunlevy @silentkmantab @Kyle Rodriguez @smonroe I am very much a realist. I know the colts defense has not played well, the team overall has only played marginally. The thing is, the only thing that matters is the score at the end of the game. Now the stats you mention show how much is luck/fluke/big plays versus solid consistent play. Honestly, I really don't want to consider how much the current colts season reminds me of the eagles from a couple of years ago. Heavily dependent on getting big plays on either offense or defense.
I guess in my viewpoint a realist can accept the facts when they are presented, a pessimist looks at the facts and then tries to twist them with a negative spin. My personal motto that i live by is "prepare for the worst and hope for the best".
Side Note: I have seen a similar mindset in Alabama fans this year. Most clearly during the LSU game. Alabama got outplayed all game but somehow pulled out the win. I couldn't believe how quickly a fan can change from believing to complete doubt of their team's abilities.
Winning is fun. I went to 2 games last year. Tampa Bay on monday night and the Texans at Indianapolis. The Texans game was one of the best and most fun football games i have been to. I live in Alabama so i mostly see Bama games.
Go Colts and Roll Tide
Sorry, I can't root for Notre Dame when they play Bama.
@silentkmantab @Nate Dunlevy @Kyle Rodriguez @smonroe I think you guys are looking at this all wrong. We had a team that was bad top to bottom last year. This year we have a team that has outplayed expectations and all i hear is how bad we really are. When you should just be excited by how well we are playing. All those stats mean diddly as long as you win games. If i wanted to constantly read negative articles i would have gone to stampedeblue.
The playoffs are random luck. The measure of a team is found in making the playoffs every year. You can't control what happens when you get there. The team that wins the Super Bowl isn't the best. It's just hottest/luckiest.
We 100% absolutely complete totally and in every possible way disagree about "underachieving". I don't think it's possible to me more wrong than you are about that.
@Nate Dunlevy @Kyle Rodriguez @smonroe Stats should use an an additional tool. Everybody has certain stats that they prefer over others. Football Outsiders has Carolina and Detroit 13th and 14th respectively. The Bears are 6th. The are the 28th most efficient team.
I hope Grigson is smarter than that. I hope Ballard continues to play well. The Colts best YPG since 2007. In today's NFL the one man team won't fly. To have the greatest regular season quarterback of all time and win only one Super Bowl is to underachieved. The off season will be interesting again this year.
Why don't you want another one man team? The last decade was amazing. That's why the Colts were so stable and able to win every year. They were smart enough to build a one-man team. It's absolutely the way to go.
I'm thrilled because it looks like they are doing the exact same thing all over again and it was amazing.
@Nate Dunlevy @Kyle Rodriguez @smonroe The Bears have been struggling for 5 weeks not a couple. Detroit has gained 1,000 yards more than its opponents this year. I guess the Lions should be 11-4. The Packers have only gained 200 more yards than their opponents.
Stats only tell part of the story. I love stats as much as the next guy, but teams have to pass the eye test also.
I'm getting concerned that the Colts are turning into the Andrew Lucks. I don't want another one man team again.
@smonroe I love a testable theory. Against common opponents the Titans have given up 265 points in 9 games. Indy has given up 272 in 9 games.
Indy's defense is obviously worse.
Jaxsonville has given up 243 in nine common games. Indy has given up 231. Though, in fairness, that doesn't count returns, and Indy has a much better offense.
So, in this case, the stats are telling the cold hard truth.
The Colts' D is absolutely just as bad if not worse than the Titans or Jaguars.
If you actually line up the point totals, there's nothing skewed about it.
The Colts have one of the five worst defenses in football, and arguably the worst.
@Nate Dunlevy Love the way you use stats! The NFL is saying we're 9th, but I didn't bother to subtract KR, PR, and pick 6s. You know that stats tell the story of the past, not the present. Tou have to admit, the D hasn't played like the worst in the league the last two weeks. It really doesn't matter how game one stats alter total stats for game 16, it stands on its own. Again, I'm not saying the D is anything more than average. But by no means are they playing like the worst in the league - right now. Hope I'm somewhat clear...
@Nate Dunlevy @smonroe @Nate I believe he's saying (or maybe this is just the way I feel), that although talent-wise our D is undoubtedly one of the worst in the league, and quite often they look like it, they can also play with so much heart that they overcome their deficiencies and play some surprisingly solid football. Of course, this is probably true of a lot of terrible defenses, but hard not to see it through a fan's shaded lenses.
@Nate Dunlevy @Nate Well, you're forgetting the blocked punt for a TD. Can't count that against the D. But I get your point. I don't think I'm being generous, I'm just saying it doesn't look like we're the worst D in the league. One TD against the Texans, three points in the second half against the Titans. I'm just saying that overall stats don't tell the true story of where we are right now. The team that played Chicago is not the team that played Houston. I'll concede that statistically we are one of the worst, but right now, we are not. (However, if Brady Quinn puts up 30 points I'll accept all the ridicule you want to dish out)
That was a clean give up to, no big returns or turnovers to bolster the total.
They gave up 16 to Tennessee. That was a bit better than average, but they gave up 33 the week before that and two weeks before that, they gave up 45 to New England (less two pick sixes).
I don't see why you are being so generous. This is how a bottom 5 defense plays.
Check out the drive stats:
Indy has the 7th best defensive starting field position, but in almost every other stat, they are bottom five or six. Those aren't even opposition adjusted.
So when you take a D that is bottom 5 in raw production and add an easy schedule (31st toughest defensive), that's a bad combination.