AFC’s Defensive Player of the Month Robert Mathis and fellow sack artist Dwight Freeney
This game could come down to the wire because Kansas City can control the clock by running the football.
Five things to keep an eye on for Week five’s game of the week between the NFL’s lone unbeaten and the Colts:
- Dexter McCluster is being utilized more: It’s been known that McCluster’s involvement in the offense has been increased. It may have gone unnoticed up until now, but it will be clearly recognized after this week, as he will become a household name to many by the end of this game. Consider Indy’s secondary is banged up. Also, keep in mind Kansas City’s knack for trick plays, exhibited against San Francisco in Week 3. Chiefs and OC Charlie Weis had an extra week to prepare, so you know they are going to bring out the bag of gadget calls in a game that will certainly call for them in order to pick up a win. McCluster is too skilled to slow down one-on-one and can be used in a variety of ways, lining in a slew of different spots on the field. Lucas Oil Stadium will be in awe watching this sensational kid. He’s definitely a momentum changer.
- Colts home dominance: Peyton and pals haven’t lost a home game at “full strength” since the third week of the 2008 season against Jacksonville. Scobee snacks did his thing with a game-winning 51-yard FG with four seconds left to do in the Colts on that day. You are going to have to be nearly flawless in all aspects of the game to defeat Peyton Manning’s boys. They will not go down easily. I don’t see the Chiefs winning this game without dominating the special teams department. They have to make at least two or three game-altering returns to become victorious. You know the Colts are going to be upset coming off an upset loss to division rival Jacksonville. A key to the success at home for Indy has been attributed to two things: Early scoring, first possession on offense, and rushing the passer. Watch out for the Colts to land their best knockout punch to Kansas City. Let’s see if the Chiefs can withstand the early blow, because it could be a killer. If not, they will be down for the count. The only way to fight the Colts, is to have a puncher’s chance mentality. That means, they have to counter their attack with running the football, wearing out the defending AFC heavyweight champs.
- Significance of the game different for both teams: The meaning of this contest is not the same for both teams. You have to understand that the Chiefs are playing with “house money” and could be happy to ultimately come away with a “moral victory”. Beating the Colts at their palace would be indescribable, but losing the game by less than a score would actually be a win for the K.C. even though they obviously wouldn’t admit it. This game is a testing point for the Chiefs, whereas this game for the Colts is almost like a must-win. If they win, the two losses will still be talked about. They are expected to win, whereas the Chiefs are expected to show up and lose. It’s a bounce back game for the home team, so expect Peyton’s club to come out with a sense of urgency to prove why they are the AFC’s finest. Kansas City is trying to work its way into the “contention discussion”, the Colts already know what they’re capable of. They are the model franchise, a team that has won 12 or more times in an NFL record seven consecutive seasons. A loss for the Chiefs would be different than a loss for the Colts, and likewise a win for either team would be different. You’ll see the difference in how the teams approach the opening quarter. The Chiefs will be trying not to lose, while the Colts will come knowing they have to win, and will win. Confidence will be crystal clear for the defending AFC representatives. The Chiefs are still trying to get there, the Colts have already been there, done that. Big difference.
- Jamaal Charles is the key on both sides: If Charles breaks off of a few of his patented big-time runs that he has the ability to do so often, this game will be broken wide open. It will change the whole complexity of the afternoon. The thing is, will the team give him the ball enough? Will they stick with him long enough even if he’s unproductive in the beginning? I understand Thomas Jones is a solid option, and he will get his. But you have to play Jamaal more in this game to set the tone early. Once the Chiefs establish that they will be in the game, then they can go back to Jones to wear down the Colts defense. But until then, Charles will have to be given every opportunity to pull off the big play, the big play he’s so capable of pullin off. No one other than Chris Johnson can do it like Charles can from the running back position. Indy’s vulnerability against the run is well-documented, so you have to realize Charles is the Chiefs best bet to tell the Colts they came to win, not just play conservative and all safe and not to lose. There will be a time in the game to control the clock and go Jones, but Charles is the prerequisite to that point, and only through #25 can they reach that point. Charles is 1a and Jones is 1b. The Chiefs will only go as far as Charles takes them, and the Colts better recognize they have to prevent him from the big play in order to win. Understand that the Chiefs are the road underdog, and they know they will have to make a play that separates them from the Colts if they want to shock the world.
- Peyton on 3rd down: The Chiefs defense, as good as they have been playing, cannot stay on the field for long letting Manning pick them apart. So it will be in their best interest to hold the potent Colts passing show to under 50% on 3rd down attempts. If they convert better than half their opportunities, the Chiefs will be hard-pressed to win. To overcome a bad third-down defense, they will have to force the NFL’s best QB to turn the ball over. Good luck with that, as Peyton has only completed one pass to the opposing team through four games. With that said, you will need to play physical and jam the Indy receivers and stay at home on the play-action. Those are the two things the Kansas City defense needs to do to accomplish the impossible. Crennel’s crew has a super-talented and extremely athletic set of ball hawking defensive backs, so I believe they can get the job done. However, the super young secondary, is one mistake away, one error to many, away from Manning and the Colts capitalizing off the potential letdown. #18 will find the weak spot and pounce on it right away. One little, albeit costly gaffe, could go a long way for the Colts. A possible miscue could translate into a possible touchdown, and all it takes is one play for the Chiefs to go from possibly winning to possibly being out of the game. In a blink of an eye.
- Prediction: Kansas City Chiefs 23 Indianapolis Colts 27