Kansas City Chiefs: 10 Keys to Victory Against the Indianapolis Colts
“The most valuable commodity I know of is information”—Gordon Gekko (Wall Street 1987)
This week the Kansas City Chiefs will face off against the Indianapolis Colts and rookie quarterback Andrew Luck. On paper it is a 2-12 team with no incentive to win, facing off against a 9-5 team that is in the thick of a playoff race.
In such a scenario the Chiefs might do well to follow Gordon Gecko’s advice from the movie Wall Street (1987). On paper Kansas City looks outmatched, but a deeper look at the stats shows how the team might carve out a victory. Indeed information is the most valuable commodity to the Kansas City Chiefs this week if they hope to come out on top.
So what can the Chiefs learn from the information out there?
Here are 10 key points to consider while planning their way to victory.
1. Give Andrew Luck a Proper Arrowhead Stadium Welcome
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Andrew Luck may be the most talented rookie quarterback in some time, but he is not completely invincible. Nearly all quarterbacks play better at home, but Luck has looked especially rookie-like on the road this year.
Thirteen of Luck’s 18 interceptions this season have been in road games. This week Arrowhead Stadium needs to be as loud as possible. If the fans can make Arrowhead fulfill its full potential this Sunday, they might be able to force Luck into making a few more bad decisions than usual.
Since Luck has already struggled on the road this year, that might be enough to tilt things the Kansas City Chief’s way on Sunday.
2. Get Out to an Early Lead
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This seems obvious since no team desires to fall 14 points down right out of the gate, but it is especially important for Kansas City. Not only will this keep the crowd in the game, but it will make the Indianapolis Colts offense one dimensional.
What effect does this have?
Fourteen of Andrew Luck’s 18 interceptions have come with the Colt’s trailing. This is the case with most NFL quarterbacks, but jumping out to a lead on the Colts puts Luck in a position where he is most likely to make mistakes.
3. Pressure, Hit, and Sack Andrew Luck Early and Often
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Stopping this Andrew Luck guy seems to be a big priority, huh?
Last week we saw the Houston Texans thrash the Indianapolis Colts by constantly hitting Luck and applying pressure with playmakers such as J.J. Watt. The Kansas City Chiefs are fortunate to have a couple of pass rushers that are among the best in the NFL. The Colts have given up the 9th most sacks in all of football, and Justin Houston (10 sacks on the season) and Tamba Hali (eight sacks on the season) seem primed to take advantage of this.
A rattled Andrew Luck is good news for the Chiefs, so they must get to the quarterback. If they are not able to do so, Luck could have a field day against the Chiefs coverage challenged secondary.
4. Follow Football 101 and Win the Turnover Battle
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The most obvious advice in all of football still applies here.
The Colts (-17) and Chiefs (-22) have the two worst giveaway/takeaway ratios in the AFC. This game likely comes down which of them manages to hold onto the ball the best.
The teams got to this point by being the most incompetent in their respective areas. Kansas City paces the AFC with thirty-four turnovers, while Indianapolis has the least amount of takeaways with 10.
This weekend’s game is truly a match-up contrasting styles in giveaway/takeaway incompetence.
5. Keep Brady Quinn's Jersey Clean
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Last week the Kansas City Chiefs patchwork offensive line allowed Brady Quinn to take a Manny Pacquiao level beating.
If the Chiefs hope to win this week, that can’t happen again. The team has given up the 10th most sacks in all of football at 35. Not only does Quinn need the extra protection to produce this week, but also to stay healthy. Quinn injured his ribs last week, and too many hits this week may see him knocked out of the game.
6. Let Dexter McCluster Build on Last Week's Performance
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Dexter McCluster’s seven catches for 59 yards were perhaps the only bright spot in last week’s 15-0 drubbing at the hands of the Oakland Raiders.
In order to move the ball against the Indianapolis Colts, McCluster needs to come up big again. If he is able to be effective out of the slot, the Kansas City Chiefs will be able to move the chains, and perhaps more importantly slow the Indianapolis pass rush.
Giving Brady Quinn that hot route could mean the difference between Dwight Freeney being held in check or Dwight Freeney wreaking havoc.
7. Get Jamaal Charles the Ball Early and Often and Stay with Him
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It may be number seven on the list, but it likely is the most important key for the Kansas City Chiefs offense.
Jamaal Charles is the only remaining potent offensive weapon the Chiefs have with Dwayne Bowe.
Consider that Charles has rushed for 1,230 yards and 4.9 yards per carry despite all the Chiefs offensive struggles and injuries. It is hard to see a scenario where the Chiefs win without a big game from Charles. Luckily the Indy’s 23rd ranked run defense should provide an opportunity to do this.
8. Jonathan Baldwin Must Stretch the Field from Early in the Game
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No Kansas City Chiefs player has disappointed quite like Jon Baldwin has this year. Despite have the speed and leaping ability of an elite receiver, Baldwin has only 18 catches for 261 yards this season.
While some of this is due to the quarterback issues in Kansas City, Baldwin’s poor route-running and inability to get off the line of scrimmage have not helped. His poor performance has allowed teams to stack the box against Charles and limit the effectiveness of the offense as a whole.
If Baldwin can haul in a couple deep passes, it would go a long way towards helping the Chiefs offense.
9. Make the Most of Red Zone Opportunities
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The Kansas City Chiefs offense has struggled in general, but they have not helped themselves out even on sustained drives. The Chiefs rank 30th in red zone offense having only converted on 76 percent of their trips to the area. Even worse the Chiefs have settle for three points on 15 of their 25 scoring trips.
If this trend keeps up, it will make it hard to keep a lead against the Indianapolis Colts.
10. Make No Mistakes on Special Teams
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The Kansas City Chiefs can ill-afford the special teams meltdowns that have happened to them in the past few weeks. Missed field goals have taken points off the board. The punt return touchdown given up against Cleveland was a backbreaker.
Luckily for Kansas City they have one of the best punters (Dustin Colquitt) in football. They need to use this to their advantage and force Andrew Luck to make long drives in order to put points on the board. They will also need their kicker, Ryan Succop, to put points on the board when given the chance.
If they succeed in these areas, they will put themselves in a great position to win.