AFC divisional spherical
Who:
Indianapolis Colts (10-6) at Kansas Metropolis Chiefs (12-4)
When: Saturday, 4:35 p.m. ET
The place: Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas Metropolis, Mo.
TV: NBC
Odds: Chiefs -4.5
Over/Below: 56

Story of the tape

2018 Stats Colts Chiefs
Factors Per Recreation 27.1 (5) 35.3 (1)
Factors Allowed/Recreation 21.5 (10) 26.3 (24)
Rush Yards/Recreation 107.4 (20) 115.9 (16)
Cross Yards/Recreation 279 (6) 310 (3)
Whole Yards/Recreation 386.2 (7) 425.6 (1)
Rush Yards Allowed/Recreation 101.6 (8) 132.1 (27)
Cross Yards Allowed/Recreation 238 (16) 273 (31)
Whole Yards Allowed/Recreation 339.4 (11) 405.5 (31)
Third-Down Offense 48.6% (1) 47.2% (2)
Third-Down Protection 41.0% (23) 41.5% (25)
Group Sacks 38 (T-19) 52 (T-1)
Turnover Differential +2 (T-13) +9 (T-6)

(Common-season rank in parentheses)

Recreation-breaker

Can the Colts’ Cowl 2 survive Mahomes’ magic?

After beating the Houston Texans within the wild-card spherical, the Colts journey to Kansas Metropolis to tackle the Chiefs and their explosive passing sport. However whereas the Colts now sit simply three wins away from an inconceivable Tremendous Bowl title, there is a totally different quantity that may pose a major problem for them on Saturday: 59.

That is the share of performs when the Colts used zone protection this season, the very best within the league. Their most well-liked zone protection is Cowl 2, and as you may see beneath, whereas that protection does present security assistance on all sides of the sphere, it has weaknesses.

Word the areas shaded in orange:

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Cowl 2 has three predominant mushy spots: The “Turkey Gap,” situated deep outdoors to every facet of the sphere, and the house between the safeties within the center.

Cowl 2 was as soon as a favourite setup for NFL defenses, however then tight ends and slot receivers who can stress the center of the sphere between the safeties entered the league. Defenses responded with the Tampa 2, which asks a center linebacker to drop into the center to assist:

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Nevertheless, because of the rising athleticism of at present’s tight ends and slot receivers, offenses can nonetheless discover a bonus. And the Chiefs have a couple of mismatch creators.

Patrick Mahomes has been extremely environment friendly in 2018 in opposition to groups that use zone protection. He is Professional Soccer Focus’s highest graded quarterback this 12 months in opposition to that defensive look, and in Kansas Metropolis’s 5 video games in opposition to groups that primarily use zone he accomplished 64.1 p.c of his passes, averaged 7.99 yards per try, and threw 14 touchdowns in opposition to no interceptions.

Listed below are two examples of Mahomes slicing aside Cowl 2. First, this landing to Travis Kelce when he attacked the weak spot between the Steelers’ safeties:

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The Chiefs may use Kelce to focus on the surface space of a Cowl 2 scheme, as they did on this play in opposition to the Baltimore Ravens for a landing:

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The Colts have been spectacular this season whereas making the playoffs and advancing to the divisional spherical. However that magic would possibly finish on Saturday due to their reliance on Cowl 2.

Largest mismatch

Colts WR T.Y. Hilton vs. Chiefs CB Orlando Scandrick

Colts large receiver T.Y. Hilton can create a mismatch in opposition to any Chiefs cornerback, however he ought to actually be capable of make the most of Orlando Scandrick.

Listed at 5-foot-10 and 183 kilos, Hilton can produce from a wide range of alignments. Regardless of his diminutive body, the veteran is simply as efficient outdoors – the place Scandrick usually traces up – as he’s within the slot.

Hilton has dependable fingers and does not battle to increase outdoors his body to grab balls. He is a implausible route runner with a singular capability to speed up out of his breaks to create separation, which is how he can exploit Scandrick’s weak point.

As Scandrick ages, he’s turning into much less explosive in his transitions. That hurts him in press protection, which is when he permits a 133.Eight passer score, in line with The Quant Edge. Making issues worse, Scandrick performs press protection on 24.1 p.c of his defensive snaps, and Andrew Luck has a 115.1 score when focusing on Hilton in opposition to press protection.

Hilton is superb at getting open in opposition to a wide range of coverages, however he’s at his finest with the ball in his fingers. The four-time Professional Bowler ranked seventh amongst large receivers in yards after catch in 2018.

Right here’s an amazing instance or him including useful yards:

Hilton traces up with a plus cut up to the large facet of the sphere and runs a easy six-yard in lower in opposition to off-coverage, turning it right into a 21-yard achieve. The Miami Dolphins cornerback makes the error of attacking Hilton’s inside hip, and the wideout turns to the surface and sprints to an space the place the nook does not have assist.

Sadly for Kansas Metropolis, Scandrick has displayed related tackling points, as he’s been one of many worst cornerbacks at limiting after-the-catch yards. Scandrick pursues the improper hip too typically and fails to wrap up, which is the worst downside to have in opposition to an elusive runner like Hilton.

Three Keys to the sport

The Tyreek Hill plan: How will the Colts comprise Tyreek Hill? Ideally, Indianapolis desires to restrict the harm he causes and concede a 20-yard move, however not a 50-plus-yard landing. Thankfully, the Colts have some items in place to suppress Hill’s affect. They play a ton of spot-dropping zone protection, retaining the play in entrance of their defensive backs as a lot as attainable.

Defending Mahomes’ off-script performs: What makes Mahomes so particular is that he is higher throughout off-script performs than when taking part in inside head coach Andy Reid’s fastidiously constructed system.

The Colts want a plan as soon as the preliminary motion breaks down and Mahomes does his personal factor, and their zone protection ought to maintain eyes on the quarterback always. Nevertheless, having eyes on Mahomes typically doesn’t matter, as he’ll simply chuck a no-look move.

Can the Chiefs cease the run in any respect? The Chiefs’ protection isn’t horrible, regardless of the favored narrative. The unit ranks 26th in defensive DVOA, which appears depressing, however the group additionally ranks 12th in move protection DVOA.

Kansas Metropolis’s move protection is frisky, however its run protection is laughably dangerous. Throughout the common season, the group ranked final in rush protection DVOA, 31st in yards per carry allowed, final in common yards after contact, and final in first-down proportion. You virtually need to attempt laborious to be that dangerous.

The Colts posted 200 dashing yards final week in opposition to a Houston group that ranked 1st in rush protection DVOA. This might get ugly.

Betting motion report

Oddsmakers began throwing out numbers for the Indianapolis-Kansas Metropolis matchup throughout the Colts’ rout of the Texans final weekend. Cash coming in on the Chiefs and the over instantly pushed the numbers from -4.5 to -5.5 and from 56 to 57, respectively.

Whereas 60 p.c of the overall tickets had been guess on Indianapolis as of Friday night, 68 p.c of the cash was coming in on the underdog, in line with The Motion Community.

The Colts are additionally a well-liked moneyline guess across the +195 vary, garnering greater than 75 p.c of the overall cash. The Chiefs are 0-6 straight up of their earlier six postseason house video games, and Reid has posted solely a 1-Four playoff file in opposition to the unfold with Kansas Metropolis.

Predictions

Mark Schofield: The Chiefs’ offense has too many weapons and is completely designed to assault the Colts’ protection. Kansas Metropolis ought to put up sufficient factors to beat Luck and Co. Chiefs 31, Colts 20.

John Proudly owning: Luck outduels Mahomes, and the Colts’ protection will get sufficient stops for the victory. Colts 31, Chiefs 28.

Oliver Connolly: If any group has the scheme and personnel to comprise Mahomes and the Chiefs’ offense, it is Indy. However I am nonetheless taking the Chiefs. Chiefs 34, Colts 31.

Alex Kolodziej: Mahomes has torn zone defenses aside and the Colts cannot match up with Kansas Metropolis’s talent gamers. The Chiefs will finish their postseason woes at Arrowhead and win comfortably. Chiefs 35, Colts 24.

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