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NFL Divisional Playoffs: Indianapolis Colts @ Kansas City Chiefs
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10 Jan 2019 02:21 PM EST

-by Daniel Mogollon, Staff Writer; Image: Indianapolis Colts running back Marlon Mack. (Image Source: Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Here’s a look at the matchup between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Indianapolis Colts:

Series: Colts lead 16-9; Streak: Colts have won three of the past four; Last Meeting: Chiefs 30, Colts 14 (10.30.16)

Time: Saturday | 4:35 PM ET; TV: NBC (Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth, Michele Tafoya

How They Got Here:

The Colts won nine of their last ten regular season games, including four-straight down the stretch to clinch the final AFC playoff berth. Their hot streak continued with an impressive 21-7 win at Houston in the Wild Card round in a game they led from start to finish in Frank Reich’s postseason debut. With the best record in the AFC, the Chiefs won their third-straight AFC West title. Their 12 regular-season wins gives them 65 since 2013, which is second in the NFL, all under Andy Reid (11-13 in the playoffs).

When the Colts Have the Ball:

With the return of Andrew Luck and a much-improved offensive line the Colts finished fifth in the NFL in points per game (27.1). Luck threw for 222 yards with two touchdowns last week and the last time he traveled to KC for a playoff game he led Indy back from a 21-point deficit (443 yards). On the season, Luck finished second in the league with his 39 TD passes. Tight end Eric Ebron caught a TD pass in their Wild Card win to follow up on his breakout season where his 13 touchdown grabs where second among all players and led all tight ends. Indy’s 21 TDs by their tight ends was the most since 2011. Ebron was joined by rookie lineman Quenton Nelson as their two Pro Bowl selections. Nelson leads an offensive line that allowed the fewest sacks in the NFL (18) and opens up holes in the run game. Second-year man Marlon Mack rushed for 908 yards (9 TDs) on the season and 148 yards (TD) in his postseason debut against the Texans. This offense is balanced.

KC’s defense hasn’t gotten much love but they have some playmakers that need to be accounted for. Defensive lineman Chris Jones had a streak of 11-straight games with a sack, which is the longest such streak since the sack became a stat in 1982. He led them with 15.5 sacks on the season. While he didn’t make the Pro Bowl, edge rusher Dee Ford did. The combo of Ford (13 sacks) and Justin Houston (9 sacks) gives them a pair of dangerous bookends that will challenge Indy’s potent O-line.

When the Chiefs Have the Ball:

KC’s offense was the league’s best as they led all teams with 35.3 points per game (third-highest in NFL history) and 425.6 yards per game. In his first year as the starter Patrick Mahomes led the NFL in touchdown passes and became just the third passer in NFL history to throw 50 (50) in a season.  He finished second in passing yards (5,097 yards) and rating (113.8) with seven games of four-plus touchdowns, which is the second-most in a season in NFL history. He’s one of five players on the KC offense to make the Pro Bowl, joined by Travis Kelce, Tyreek Hill, Eric Fisher, and Anthony Sherman. With 103 receptions and 1,336 receiving yards (second-most by a TE in NFL history), Kelce became the first tight end in the history of the league with 80-plus catches and over 1,000 yards in three-straight seasons. Not to be overlooked, Hill set career highs with 87 catches and 12 touchdowns grabs on his way to a franchise-record 1,479 receiving yards.

The Indy defense is led by a rookie who had an All-Pro season. Linebacker Darius Leonard led the league with 163 tackles on the season and did so again in the Wild Card playoffs with 13 stops last week. He was the only player in the NFL with seven-plus sacks, at least four forced fumbles, and multiple interceptions in 2018. A legit three-down player. The Colts drafted Leonard in the second round and a few selections later they called the name of edge rusher Kemoko Turay who has chipped in four sacks as a rookie. Their best pass rusher is defensive end Denico Autry (9 sacks) who was signed as a free agent. Second-year man Kenny Moore has been big in the secondary and last week he become the first Colt with a sack, as well as an interception in a postseason game.

Score: Colts 34, Chiefs 30

Daniel Mogollon is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America and the Football Writers Association of America. He is also a voter for the Thorpe and the Rotary Lombardi Award, as well as the Latino Sports MVP Awards.

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