The NFL spotlight will be focused on Kansas City quarterback Patrick Mahomes Saturday afternoon.
The second-year phenom out of Texas Tech is participating in his first postseason contest after turning in an MVP-caliber regular season.
Mahomes leads the Chiefs against the Indianapolis Colts. who are one of the hottest teams in football entering the divisional round.
The Colts, who knocked off Houston in the Wild Card Round, have four playoff victories over the Chiefs, with the latest coming in 2014 behind an Andrew Luck-led comeback at Lucas Oil Stadium.
If Kansas City reverses its playoff fortune against the Colts, it will host the AFC Championship against either New England or the Los Angeles Chargers.
Colts vs. Chiefs Information
Date: Saturday, January 12
Start Time: 4:35 p.m. ET
In addition to NBC, the game can be viewed on FuboTV.
Mahomes Shakes Off Any Nerves, Shines In Playoff Debut
It's understandable if Mahomes deals with nerves on the first few Chiefs drives because this is his first postseason appearance.
Eventually, the nerves will dissipate, and Mahomes will produce yet another memorable performance out of the pocket.
Mahomes marveled throughout the regular season by throwing for 5,097 passing yards and 50 touchdowns, and he threw for at least two scores in all but two games.
In Kansas City's regular-season finale against Oakland, Mahomes threw for 281 yards and two touchdowns to secure the Chiefs' spot atop the AFC.
Expect to see similar numbers out of the first-year starter Saturday as he navigates through the pressure created by the Colts defense.
The reason why Mahomes won't put up astronomical numbers is Indianapolis' 10th-ranked defense led by Defensive Rookie of the Year favorite Darius Leonard.
It would be wise of the Colts to have Leonard, or another linebacker, keep eyes on Mahomes when he matriculates out of the pocket to throw on the run in attempt to contain his advances.
By keeping a close eye on Mahomes, the Colts limit the Kansas City signal-caller to under 300 passing yards, but he's still going to make a few big plays.
With wide receiver Tyreek Hill and tight end Travis Kelce in his possession, Mahomes should be able to create a few long gains in the passing game.
When those big plays occur will be huge for the Chiefs, who would prefer to set the tone as early as possible with Mahomes offsetting whatever defensive deficiencies are to follow.
Kansas City Defense Plays Well Enough To Win
The standard we're holding the Kansas City defense to is remarkably low.
The Chiefs rank 24th in total defense, but they're 27th in the league defending the run and have the second-worst passing defense.
All of those numbers should add up to Luck and Colts torching the Chiefs on a consistent basis Saturday, but the home side will muster up enough strength to pick up a few key stops over the course of four quarters.
Make no mistake about it, Luck will find a way to carve up the Chiefs secondary on a few occasions, but the Chiefs must have a bend-don't-break mentality.
If the Chiefs are able to get enough pressure on Luck, they'll force the Colts to leave the field earlier than expected, which would allow Mahomes to drive down the field and create separation on the scoreboard.
If the combination of Jones, Ford and Houston pressure Luck, it could lead to an interception or two, with Steven Nelson, Ron Parker and Kendall Fuller the leading candidates to come up with a pick.
Putting in a decent performance has been hard all year for the Chiefs defense, but they are coming off a Week 17 win over Oakland in which they forced four turnovers.
The Colts are obviously a step up in competition from the Raiders, but the Chiefs will bank off the confidence gained from Week 17 to put in a solid performance and stay alive in the postseason for another week.
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