By the Numbers, Matchups, Fantasy Picks and More for Colts-Chiefs
There is no hotter team in the league right now than the Colts, who have won 10 of their last 11, including their Wild Card Round victory. They are 3-3 against playoff teams, but have won their last three against such opponents, with two of those wins coming over Houston and the other being a Week 15 shutout of Dallas.
Andrew Luck has won three of his last four postseason matchups, accumulating five TD passes and five interceptions in those games. Andy Reid lost his first playoff game as a Chiefs coach to Luck in 2013, as Indianapolis beat Kansas City 45-44. Luck threw for 443 yards, four touchdowns and three interceptions in that game, which was his first postseason victory. The Colts overcame a 21-point deficit in that game, the second-biggest playoff comeback in NFL history. Indianapolis has never lost to Kansas City in four postseason meetings. The Colts are one of two teams (Philadelphia is the other) looking to become the first No. 6 seed to reach a Conference Championship Game since 2010.
The Chiefs have lost 10 of their last 11 postseason games dating back to 1994 and have not won a postseason home game since the 1993 Wild Card Round. They have lost four of five playoff games under Andy Reid, who has an 11-13 postseason playoff record. Reid has lost six of his last seven postseason games over the past decade.
Patrick Mahomes threw for 50 TD passes during the regular season, and Luck was second with 39. Their combined total of 89 is the most ever for two QBs facing each other in a playoff game in the Super Bowl era. The Chiefs were 7-1 at home this year and the Colts are 5-4 on the road including the postseason. They have won four of their last five on the road. Kansas City lost four of five games to playoff teams after their Week OneDee win over the Chargers.
The Chiefs were first in points scored this season, and their 35.3 points per game was the third-highest total in NFL history. The Colts ranked 10th in points allowed, as their defense was more respectable than some may have thought coming into the season. Kansas City ranked third in passing yards per game, and the Colts were 16th against the pass defensively. The Colts ranked fifth in points scored and the Chiefs were 24th in points allowed. Indianapolis was sixth in passing yards per game and the Chiefs ranked 31st against the pass.
Luck was sacked a league-low 18 times during the regular season, and was not taken down by Houston in the Wild Card Round. Kansas City tied for the league lead with 55 sacks as LDE Chris Jones led Kansas City with 15.5 sacks and ROLB Dee Ford had 13. Colts rookie RT Braden Smith against Ford will be a key matchup and may present the best chance for the Chiefs to pressure Luck.
The Chiefs allowed the second-most receptions (229) and yards (2,782) among AFC teams to wide receivers this season, so this should be another promising outing for T.Y. Hilton, who had less than 75 receiving yards just once from Week 10 on. Dontrelle Inman has scored in three consecutive games. The Colts also led the league in TD catches by tight ends (21), the most by any team since 2011. The Chiefs allowed an NFL-high 10 TD passes to the position, so Eric Ebron is the spotlighted Player to Watch this week.
Kansas City allowed the fifth-most rushing yards to RBs (1,816) and Marlon Mack is looking for his fifth consecutive game with a TD run. He could be a very important key to Indianapolis trying to control the clock and win the time of possession battle. If the game becomes a passing battle, though, Nyheim Hines could get into the mix. Kansas City’s 895 receiving yards allowed to RBs were the third-most among AFC teams.
As noted by the Colts official site, Indianapolis has allowed an AFC-best 15.5 points per game over its last 11 outings, so if one team has to get a key defensive stop in this matchup when it matters, the Colts would seem to be the better bet in that regard. The Chiefs, however, had the edge in takeaway differential, plus-10 to the Colts’ plus-two.
Mahomes was sacked 26 times this season, the fifth-lowest mark in the league. The Colts allowed the most receptions (103) and receiving yards (1,194) to tight ends, so the Mahomes/Travis Kelce connection is going to seize the stage here. Despite playing through some injuries, Tyreek Hill finished the regular season with three 100-yard games in his final four outings. The Colts, however, did limit opposing receivers to 21 TD receptions, tied for third-best in the NFL. CB Pierre Desir did an admirable job of holding DeAndre Hopkins in check last week, and he has allowed just two receptions of 30-plus yards this year as outlined by Yahoo Sports. But he may not see Hill exclusively, as the Chiefs will create many ways to get him open.
Indianapolis allowed an AFC-high 110 receptions to opposing running backs, so that bodes well for Damien Williams, who appears to have taken control of the lead running back role. Spencer Ware may be back in action this week, but he has not looked as dynamic as Williams, who can make the most of every touch, even if Ware does cut into his workload a bit.
FANTASY TAKES: I am liking the Colts to win, so I would stick with Luck and Hilton here as must-starts if you are looking for guys that will advance. Ebron is obviously an outstanding play in any format, but in any non-DFS type of league he is hard to use over Kelce, especially in one-and-done scenarios. Mack is a strong bet to score but could come out for some reps in favor of Hines if the Colts start trading passing punches to keep pace. I would opt for Williams over Mack in PPR formats because of his versatility. Mahomes/Kelce is a super stack in any Fantasy postseason league.
DFS VIEWS: On the FanDuel Saturday slate, Luck ($8,500) is 500 less than Mahomes and it is worth saving whatever you can to get key picks at other positions. But you must have one of the two in your lineups. Williams is a terrific value lock at $6,100. He is actually 400 dollars cheaper than Ware. Hilton ($7,900) is 500 cheaper than Hill but offers less TD promise. Yet you have to stack Luck with him and this could be a week where Hilton makes an end zone visit. Inman will be a popular play at $6,200. Ebron ($6,600) is $900 cheaper than Kelce, but if you have to spend up for any Chief over a Colt, this is where you must do so. On the full DraftKings weekend slate, Luck is the third-highest priced QB at $6,200 and Hilton is the third-highest price WR at $6,700. Inman will be heavily owned at $4,800 and Chester Rogers is a nifty punt play at $3,700. Ebron ($5,500) is $1,500 less than Kelce, but I still want to spend up for the latter. Williams is a lock on DK as well at $5,100, but he’s not cheaper than Ware on DK. Mo Allie-Cox is a daring dart at $2,500.
GAME PREDICTION: There are all the obvious narratives about how this will be a shootout, but I believe the game will come down to who can make a stop defensively, and I have already indicated I prefer the Colts there. Luck also has playoff experience over Mahomes, plus Andy Reid does not inspire any postseason confidence. The Chiefs have home-field advantage and a great offense, but the Colts can match their high-flying attack, and K.C. has not been clutch enough this year against playoff teams. I am going with the Colts (+5) to cover and I’ll take the over (57.5). Colts 38, Chiefs 34.