INDIANAPOLIS – As the playoff scenarios are being crunched around numerous NFL cities, Chuck Pagano and the Colts are sticking to the process.
Yes, Pagano briefed his team Wednesday morning of what the possibilities are if the Colts win their final two regular season games.
Then it was back to business in preparing for a team tied for the AFC’s best record in the Kansas City Chiefs.
“If we take care of business, we don’t have to stay at number four. I guess there’s a scenario where you could get even higher than that,” Pagano said earlier this week.
“But again, our total focus, our guys know it, they understand it, but our total focus is on just preparing this week and try to play the best we can and go win this football game.”
Sunday’s task is one of the stiffest the Colts will see in 2013.
The Kansas City Chiefs have the best ball-hawking defense in the NFL with a plus 21 turnover margin.
It’s that turnover margin that is the most important factor in the Chiefs having a nine-win turnaround from last season.
Combine that margin and 43 sacks on the season and you have
“Coach Pagano preaches turnover margin is a greater indicator of win-loss. Obviously, I think Coach (Andy) Reid is doing the same to them,” Luck said earlier this week.
“They do a great job of creating tough plays for offenses (with) their defense. It will be a great challenge.”
While the Chiefs defense has dealt with some significant injuries over the past few weeks, it’s the other side of the football that is playing at a playoff clip in December.
The Chiefs offense has scored 101 points in back-to-back road wins by a combined 60 points.
Running back Jamaal Charles has firmly entrenched himself in the MVP race and is averaging 8.9 yards per touch over the last month.
“He’s everything. He drives the bus. Quarterback is the guy, but everything goes through him. As he goes, they go,” Pagano said this week. “The guy is first and foremost public enemy No. 1. We got to do a great job and we better know where he’s at at all times.”
Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith is coming off a perfect passer rating last week when he completed 17-of-20 passes for 285 yards and five touchdowns.
On a weekly conference call, Smith spoke very highly of his running back pointing to his unique ability.
“I think the thing that’s special about him, and I’ve said this, he doesn’t come out of the game,” Smith said of Charles.
“The guy’s out there for every situation. You don’t find that very often in the NFL. A guy who can be out there on first and second down. He can be out there on third down. He can be out there on short yardage and goal line. And he’s valuable in all of them,”
Sunday’s matchup pits two teams that will see their seasons continue in the month of January.
Andrew Luck listened to Pagano earlier this week but the wise beyond his years quarterback knows the importance of Sunday, first.
“You’re sort of aware of it, about the different possibilities,” Luck says. “That takes a backseat to this game this week and what it means. We understand we have to go out there and take care of business and other things will take care of themselves.”
Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles versus the Colts defense: For the most part, the Colts have done a very solid job against some of the game’s elite backs in 2013. However, Charles is on another level. He’s scored 10 touchdowns over the last four weeks and is averaging nearly nine yards per touch. Charles’ 66 catches should be the biggest worry for the Colts knowing that any linebacker matching up against the Chiefs running back will have a difficult time in the open field.
Colts offensive line versus the Chiefs front seven: The Colts offense line has allowed just one sack for one yard over the last two weeks. That protection has come against two of the better defensive fronts but this week will be the stiffest challenge they’ve faced perhaps all season. Throw in the elements of Arrowhead Stadium, the uncertainty in the interior of the offensive line and a Chiefs defense that is third in the NFL with 43 sacks and the Colts offense line will be tested in numerous ways come Sunday.
-The Colts are looking to beat their fourth team on the year that is currently in the NFL playoff picture.
-Colts quarterback Andrew Luck is 248 yards short of setting an NFL record for the most passing yards in a player’s first two seasons.
-Colts outside linebacker
-Kansas City is tied with the 2008 Dolphins and 2012 Colts for the most wins by a team that won 2 or fewer games the previous season.
-The Chiefs lead the NFL with a plus 21 turnover ratio.
-Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles has an NFL-best 18 touchdowns (11 rushing and 7 receiving) this season.
Colts Head Coach Chuck Pagano (on if Andrew Luck is being coached more to run this year):
-“No, I think that’s just instincts. That’s just Andrew being Andrew and being the athlete he is. He gives you that dimension at the quarterback position. He’s able to create his own yards and get you first downs when they got everything else covered, especially on third downs. It’s great for us and it’s something else that our opponent defenses have to worry about when you’ve got an athletic guy back there that’s strong and can shrug off guys and get yards.”
Colts Head Coach Chuck Pagano (on using the no-huddle offense and if he would consider that moving forward):
-“Obviously we can, it gives us an opportunity to get started, keep them in certain packages, keep them from substituting, however you want to look at it. Again, we’ll factor in being on the road, crowd noise, communication, all those things factor in. It was good to see us get going first and foremost. However we got to get the job done, we’ll utilize what we have to utilize.”
Colts Tight End
-“I hope so. I don’t know exactly what we’re going to do, I think we’ll get more into that as we go on throughout the week. But it was effective for us and we needed a little, again, rejuvenation and it seemed like that helped.”
Chiefs Head Coach Andy Reid (on if turnover margin has been the biggest reason for the turnaround this season):
-“I’d tell you turnovers, giveaway takeaway and points are the biggest, primary stats that I ever look at. If you score enough points to win the game, that’s important. It doesn’t matter if it’s one point or 10 points. It doesn’t matter. Normally, there’s a correlation between points allowed and scored with giveaway/takeaway ratio.”
Chiefs Head Coach Andy Reid (on the play of Jamaal Charles this season):
-“First of all, he’s a great kid. Loves to play the game. Plays it well. He can really play all the phases of the game that you need. He can run the football, he can block and he can catch. You try to utilize all those talents the best you can without absolutely wearing him out. You love what he brings to work every day. He comes every day ready to go. He loves playing the game.”
Chiefs Quarterback Alex Smith (on the confidence the offense receives from a stout defense and special teams):
-“I think it gives our entire team confidence. But certainly, on our side of the ball, when you have a defense like ours and the way special teams is playing, we’re getting such good field position, sometimes getting more opportunities, and that’s the name of the game. I think when you have all three phases playing well and playing together, it’s tough to beat. And I certainly think we all help each other the better we’re all playing.”