Week 16 Preview: Colts @ Chiefs

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Sunday’s game at Arrowhead Stadium is potentially a playoff preview.

The Chiefs (11-3) are currently locked in at the No. 5 seed and the Indianapolis Colts (9-5) holding at No. 4 with two games remaining in the regular season.

December 23, 2012; Kansas City, MO, USA; Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck (12) is hit by Kansas City Chiefs inside linebacker Derrick Johnson (56) while throwing in the second half at Arrowhead Stadium. The Colts won 20-13. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

December 23, 2012; Kansas City, MO, USA; Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck (12) is hit by Kansas City Chiefs inside linebacker Derrick Johnson (56) while throwing in the second half at Arrowhead Stadium. The Colts won 20-13. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Chiefs coach Andy Reid said Monday the potential matchup won’t affect how the team approaches the game and re-emphasized that point Wednesday.

“l think you prepare yourself the same way,” Reid told reporters during Wednesday’s media session. “We respect the heck out of the Colts, they’re a playoff team and are very worthy of that.

“Now you go get yourself ready to play four quarters of good football. If you play them again, you get yourself ready again.”

Colts quarterback Andrew Luck had a familiar tone during his media conference call.

“We’re not worried about that,” Luck said about potentially facing the Chiefs in the first round of the playoffs. “We understand that is a possibility, but I think we’re focused on this game versus the Chiefs. I don’t think there’s really any other way to approach it.”

Still, the Colts are in a different position than the Chiefs.

While the Chiefs are still alive for the AFC West and No. 1 seed – depending what happens with the Denver Broncos – the Colts have already clinched the AFC South and are in a position to potentially hold back.

Then again, the Colts are currently tied at 9-5 with the Cincinnati Bengals, who hold the lead in the AFC North, making the No. 3 and No. 4 seeding relevant.

No matter what the Colts have in mind for Sunday, the Chiefs won’t change their approach from what they’ve done all season.

“We approach it like we do every other week and take it one week at a time,” Chiefs left guard Jeff Allen said. “Our philosophy this year has been go 1-0. So far it’s worked for us, our record shows it and we’re going to take it one game at a time, no looking too far ahead.”

Tale of the tape

Offense

• The Chiefs rank 11th in rushing (125.6 yards per game) and 23rd in passing (215.6 yards per game).
• The Colts rank 21st in rushing (109.1 yards per game) and 21st in passing (228.1 yards per game).

Defense

• The Chiefs rank 18th against the run (114.4 yards allowed per game) and 20th against the pass (250.8 yards allowed per game).
• The Colts rank 27th against the run (128.9 yards allowed per game) and 14th against the pass (233.6 yards allowed per game).

The last time

The Colts defeated the Chiefs 20-13 at Arrowhead Stadium in Week 16 of the 2012 season.

The Chiefs and Colts have met 22 times in regular and postseason play, with the Colts holding a 14-8 all-time edge.

In regular season action, the Colts hold an 11-8 edge against Kansas City. Additionally, the Colts are 6-4 at Arrowhead Stadium.

The Colts have won all three postseason meetings against the Chiefs.

How to stop No. 25?

Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles comes off a record-setting five-touchdown performance and has been on a tear in the past four games with 10 total touchdowns.

So how do you stop him?

“If you have any ideas for us we’ll certainly take all of the help we can get,” Colts coach Chuck Pagano said during Wednesday’s media conference call. “The guy is and has been a game wrecker for a long time and is having an unbelievable season of course. The numbers speak for themselves.”

Pagano raved about Charles during the conference call, calling him a “rare, rare athlete” while pointing out Charles’ versatility out of the backfield as a receiver.

And the Colts defense should expect plenty of Charles.

The Chiefs coaching staff has done a good job of exploiting an opponent’s weakness and are sure to notice the Colts rank 27th against the run this season, allowing on average 128.9 yards per game.

Pagano appeared to know what’s coming Sunday.

“Coach Reid is doing a great job and that offensive staff in getting him the ball and rightfully so,” Pagano said. “We certainly have our hands full.”

Facing a sack machine

The league’s sack leader, Indianapolis Colts defensive end Robert Mathis (16.5), has Chiefs offensive coordinator Doug Pederson’s full attention.

“Give him his respect, he’s a great player,” Pederson said of Mathis during Thursday’s media session. “You’re going to have to put two hands on him or four hands on him and just obviously know where he’s going to line up.”

Still, the Chiefs have fared well in recent games against some of the league’s elite pass rushers.

While the Buffalo Bills recorded two sacks in Week 9, the Chiefs offensive line shut out primary sackers, defensive linemen Mario Williams and Kyle Williams.

In Week 14, Washington Redskins defensive end Brian Orakpo also didn’t register a sack.

All three players currently rank among the league’s sack leaders, with Mario Williams third (12).

The Chiefs are accustomed this season to facing some of the league’s best pass rushers, and that should help game plan against Mathis.

Home cooking

Sunday’s game marks Fan Appreciation Day at Arrowhead Stadium.

And coach Andy Reid knows how important fan noise can be when the team plays in front of the die-hard fan base, especially against a playoff bound team like the Colts.

“We do need that 12th man, the support of the fans and again, we do appreciate everything they’ve done for us to date,” Reid said earlier in the week. “We look forward to bringing the Colts in here for this home game, which potentially is our final home game.”

Reid followed up on Friday by once again acknowledging the fans.

“It’s Fan Appreciation Day,” Reid told reporters. “I know our fans will be out of their minds, that’s just how they roll. It will be nice and loud.”

The Chiefs are 5-2 at home this season.

The weather outside is frightful

Saturday’s forecast calls for an 80 percent chance of ice pellets, and then a 100 percent chance of snow overnight with an accumulation of 3-to-5 inches.

The snow clears up by Sunday morning leading to noon kickoff, but temperatures will be in the low 20s.

“Great football weather,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said during Friday’s media session. “It will be a little bit cold and two good football teams playing each other.”

Plan B

Chiefs starting left tackle Branden Albert (knee) and starting outside linebacker Justin Houston (knee) are officially listed as questionable, but the prospects of seeing them on the field Sunday didn’t sound promising.

“It’ll be a stretch for them to make it,” coach Andy Reid said.

Reid said Houston did more in practice this week compared to last week, but a determination on his playing status remains in the air.

“He did some good things,” Reid said. “He moved around well, looked better than he did last week. You know, we’ll just make a decision later here on it.”

If Albert and Houston can’t go Sunday, look for Donald Stephenson to draw the start at left tackle, while linebacker Frank Zombo continues to fill in for Houston.

Meanwhile, wide receiver/punt returner Dexter McCluster appears set to return to the field after missing Week 15 with an infected ankle.

The same applies for tight end Anthony Fasano, who’s missed two straight games since suffering a concussion and knee injury in Week 13.

McCluster and Fasano join right tackle Eric Fisher (shoulder), linebaker James-Michael Johnson (shoulder), linebacker Nico Johnson (ankle), tight end Sean McGrath (knee) and cornerback Ron Parker (shoulder) as probable.

Quotable

Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles on what’s more fun between running, receiving or screen passes:

“The most fun is winning,” Charles said.

Chiefs safety Quintin Demps said the team must take care of business first in the final two games, but when asked if there will be any scoreboard watching with the Denver Broncos:

“Absolutely,” Demps said with a grin. “Go Texans.”

Chiefs coach Andy Reid on why the team has been practicing indoors in recent weeks:

“I spent a few years up in Green Bay and heck if it got below 50, we were inside,” Reid said.

Prediction

The field should be cleared of snow and debris well before kickoff, so inclement weather won’t be a factor outside of the cold.

The Chiefs have been on a scoring binge the past two games, scoring a 101 total points in that span. In the past four games, the Chiefs have totaled 167 points.

Of course, some of the touchdowns have come from special teams and defense. But the team has fired on all three areas of offense, defense and special teams, making the Chiefs a very dangerous team.

Ultimately, the game hangs on one simple question: Can the Colts stop Jamaal Charles?

The Colts will find what most teams already figured out entering Week 16.

It’s virtually impossible to do.

When it’s all said and done Sunday against the Colts, look for the Chiefs to continue the pressure on the Broncos.

Outcome: Chiefs 31, Colts 23

——-

Friday’s official NFL Injury Report, as released by the league:

Indianapolis Colts

Doubtful: S Sergio Brown (groin), DT Montori Hughes (knee), DT Ricky Jean Francois (foot), T Jeff Linkenbach (quadricep), G Joe Reitz (concussion)
Questionable: LB Daniel Adongo (hamstring), WR T.Y. Hilton (shoulder), G Hugh Thornton (neck), CB Gregory Toler (groin)
Probable: WR LaVon Brazill (foot), RB Donald Brown (neck), DT Aubrayo Franklin (not injury related), RB Stanley Havili (knee), LB Robert Mathis (not injury related), C Samson Satele (elbow)

Practice Report

Did not practice

Wednesday: LB Daniel Adongo (hamstring), S Sergio Brown (groin), RB Stanley Havili (knee), DT Montori Hughes (knee), DT Ricky Jean Francois (foot), T Jeff Linkenbach (quadricep), LB Robert Mathis (not injury related), G Joe Reitz (concussion), G Hugh Thornton (neck)
Thursday: LB Daniel Adongo (hamstring), S Sergio Brown (groin), DT Aubrayo Franklin (not injury related), WR T.Y. Hilton (shoulder), DT Montori Hughes (knee), DT Ricky Jean Francois (foot), T Jeff Linkenbach (quadricep), G Joe Reitz (concussion), G Hugh Thornton (neck)
Friday:: S Sergio Brown (groin), DT Montori Hughes (knee), DT Ricky Jean Francois (foot), T Jeff Linkenbach (quadricep), G Joe Reitz (concussion), G Hugh Thornton (neck)

Limited participation

Wednesday: C Samson Satele (elbow)
Friday: LB Daniel Adongo (hamstring), WR T.Y. Hilton (shoulder), CB Gregory Toler (groin)

Full participation

Wednesday: WR LaVon Brazill (foot), RB Donald Brown (neck), CB Gregory Toler (groin)
Thursday: WR LaVon Brazill (foot), RB Donald Brown (neck), RB Stanley Havili (knee), LB Robert Mathis (not injury related), C Samson Satele (elbow)
Friday: WR LaVon Brazill (foot), RB Donald Brown (neck), DT Aubrayo Franklin (not injury related), RB Stanley Havili (knee), LB Robert Mathis (not injury related), C Samson Satele (elbow)

Kansas City Chiefs

Questionable: T Branden Albert (knee), LB Justin Houston (elbow)
Probable: TE Anthony Fasano (concussion, knee), T Eric Fisher (shoulder), LB James-Michael Johnson (shoulder), LB Nico Johnson (ankle), WR Dexter McCluster (ankle), TE Sean McGrath (knee), CB Ron Parker (shoulder)

Practice Report

Limited participation

Wednesday: T Branden Albert (knee), LB Justin Houston (elbow), WR Dexter McCluster (ankle)
Thursday: T Branden Albert (knee), LB Justin Houston (elbow), WR Dexter McCluster (ankle)
Friday: T Branden Albert (knee), LB Justin Houston (elbow)

Full participation

Wednesday: TE Anthony Fasano (concussion, knee), T Eric Fisher (shoulder), LB James-Michael Johnson (shoulder), LB Nico Johnson (ankle), TE Sean McGrath (knee), CB Ron Parker (shoulder)
Thursday: TE Anthony Fasano (concussion, knee), T Eric Fisher (shoulder), LB James-Michael Johnson (shoulder), LB Nico Johnson (ankle), TE Sean McGrath (knee), CB Ron Parker (shoulder)
Friday: TE Anthony Fasano (concussion, knee), T Eric Fisher (shoulder), LB James-Michael Johnson (shoulder), LB Nico Johnson (ankle), WR Dexter McCluster (ankle), TE Sean McGrath (knee), CB Ron Parker (shoulder)

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