INDIANAPOLIS — It won't take long for the Indianapolis Colts to get a rematch in what was one of their biggest games in nearly a decade.
The Colts made an improbable late-season run to the playoffs last year which culminated in a loss in the Divisional Round to the Kansas City Chiefs, a team that was exacting its own revenge after a lowly playoff history against the Colts.
The Chiefs would prevail earlier this January, sending the Colts home. Now, the Colts get the Chiefs early in the season with a (hopefully) healthier roster and better weather. It's no surprise that this matchup is on NBC's Sunday Night Football docket, as all the eyes of the football world will be looking to see Andrew Luck vs. Patrick Mahomes.
- Sunday, Oct. 6 at 8:20 p.m. ET
- Kansas City, Mo.; Arrowhead Stadium
- TV: NBC (Sunday Night Football)
- Colts lead, 12-9 (4-1 in the playoffs). The Chiefs have won the last two games dating back to 2016.
- Last game — Divisional Round of 2018-19 NFL Playoffs. Chiefs won, 31-13.
- HC Frank Reich
- OC Nick Sirianni
- DC Matt Eberflus
- STC Bubba Ventrone
- HC Andy Reid
- OC Eric Bieniemy
- DC Steve Spagnuolo
- STC Dave Toub
KEY NEW FACES
- DE/LB Ben Banogu
- WR Parris Campbell
- WR Devin Funchess
- DE Justin Houston
- CB Rock Ya-Sin
- CB Bashaud Breeland
- DE Frank Clark/Emmanuel Ogbah
- WR Mecole Hardman
- LB Darron Lee
- S Tyrann Mathieu/Juan Thornhill
- DT Khalen Saunders
OTHER SIGNIFICANT CHANGES
- Overall, this was a pretty quiet offseason for the Colts for a change. It was about building onto and shaping the current roster rather than shaking things up or making sweeping changes. Former starting receivers Ryan Grant and Dontrelle Inman both departed in free agency, and veterans Mike Mitchell and Al Woods also were not re-signed by the team. Offensive lineman Matt Slauson retired following a 10-year career.
- The Chiefs are going to look much different on defense in 2019. Gone are defensive ends Justin Houston (thanks, Chiefs) and Dee Ford, and in are Frank Clark, Emmanuel Ogbah and Alex Okafor. The secondary also has some talented new faces with cornerback Bashaud Breeland and safeties Tyrann Mathieu and Juan Thornhill.
- Many of the new faces in Kansas City replace some longstanding or prominent pieces to Chiefs teams of the past, including Houston and Ford (as mentioned), defensive lineman Allen Bailey, safety Eric Berry, wide receiver Chris Conley, running back Kareem Hunt, cornerback Steven Nelson, safety Ron Parker and running back Spencer Ware (another new Colt).
- Another change is on the coaching staff as Steve Spagnuolo comes in to replace Bob Sutton as defensive coordinator. With this change, the Chiefs will be switching to a 4-3 base defense from the former 3-4.
EARLY STORYLINES/THINGS TO WATCH
- Redemption — As previously mentioned, the Colts were sent home by the Chiefs in last year's playoffs, and that's sure to be on the forefront of many Colts players in this matchup. A win by the Colts here would also go a long way toward building an entertaining rivalry in the AFC.
- The Next Chapter In A New Rivalry? — Continuing on the last point, 10 years from now, we could look back at this game as a memorable piece in a long rivalry similar to what the Colts shared with the New England Patriots in the 2000s.
- Patrick Mahomes vs. Andrew Luck and Darius Leonard — It's easy to connect the dots between quarterbacks here as Luck and Mahomes are two of the league's elite signal-callers. However, remember the impression that Colts' reigning Defensive Rookie of the Year Darius Leonard left on Mahomes in the playoffs. "You're a hell of a player," the NFL's MVP told Leonard. "Keep your head up, baby. I'm gonna be playing you a long-ass time."
- Tyreek Hill's Availability — Chiefs All-Pro receiver and return man Tyreek Hill is currently away from the team as the NFL conducts an investigation regarding Hill and a possible violation of the league's personal conduct policy. Will Hill be available for this game? After all, he played an important part in the Chiefs' victory over the Colts in January, compiling 114 all-purpose yards and a touchdown.
- Colts RB Nyheim Hines/TE Eric Ebron vs. Chiefs S Tyrann Mathieu — When Mathieu was a member of the division-rival Houston Texans in 2018, both Hines and Ebron had their successes against him in the passing game. Mathieu is one of the league's top defensive backs, but if the Colts know a way to exploit the field in his area, then they'll take advantage of it.
- Colts WR Parris Campbell vs. Chiefs CB Kendall Fuller — Fuller is truly a talented nickel defender, so it's likely we'll see him matched up with Colts rookie slot receiver Parris Campbell. Campbell's speed and elusiveness will be tough for any defender to deal with, but he has just as tall of a task against someone with the skill set of Fuller.
- Colts LT Anthony Castonzo vs. Chiefs DE Frank Clark — The Chiefs did part ways with both Houston and Ford this offseason, but acquiring Clark was a big deal. He's likely to be a 10-plus sack defender, so Castonzo will have his hands full, but the Colts are fortunate to have a left tackle who can handle those duties.
- Colts DE Justin Houston vs. Chiefs OT Eric Fisher — There's probably no tackle that Houston knows better in this league than Fisher, and vice versa. The two went against each other every day in practice while Houston was in Kansas City for the last six years, so it'll be interesting to see how this one pans out.
- Colts S Malik Hooker vs. Chiefs TE Travis Kelce — The Colts were forced to face the league's most potent pass attack without their most dangerous defensive back last time, but hopefully the presence of Hooker this time around will keep Kelce from exploiting the Colts downfield. Having Hooker on the field can be the difference between an errant or tight-window throw going for 30 yards or being an interception.
- Colts HC Frank Reich vs. Chiefs HC Andy Reid — One of the most intriguing battles in this one won't take place on the field, rather it will be on the sidelines between the two head coaches. While both Reich and Reid are their respective teams' offensive playcallers, this will be a football nerd's dream to watch the things these two cook up on offense.
- Favorite: Chiefs (-4.5)
- Over/Under: 56
- Passing — QB Andrew Luck (4,593 yards)
- Rushing — RB Marlon Mack (908 yards)
- Receiving — WR T.Y. Hilton (1,270 yards)
- Touchdowns — TE Eric Ebron (14)
- Tackles — LB Darius Leonard (163)
- Sacks — DL Denico Autry (9.0)
- Interceptions — CB Kenny Moore II (3)
- Passing — QB Patrick Mahomes (5,097 yards)
- Rushing — QB Patrick Mahomes (272 yards)
- Receiving — WR Tyreek Hill (1,479 yards)
- Touchdowns — WR Tyreek Hill (13)
- Tackles — LB Anthony Hitchens (135)
- Sacks — DL Chris Jones (15.5)
- Interceptions — CB Kendall Fuller (2)
COMPARING 2018 STATS
- Total offense — 7th (386.2 YPG)
- Scoring offense — 5th (27.1 PPG)
- Passing offense — 6th (278.8 YPG)
- Sacks allowed — 1st (18)
- Running offense — 20th (107.4 YPG)
- Third down offense — 1st (48.6%)
- Red zone offense — 5th (67.1%)
- Total defense — 11th (339.4 YPG)
- Scoring defense — 10th (21.5 PPG)
- Passing defense — 16th (237.8 YPG)
- Sacks — Tied-19th (38)
- Running defense — 8th (101.6 YPG)
- Third down defense — 23rd (41%)
- Red zone defense — 11th (55.1%)
- Time of possession — 18th (30:05)
- Turnover differential — Tied-13th (2)
- Total offense — 1st (425.6 YPG)
- Scoring offense — 1st (35.3 PPG)
- Passing offense — 3rd (309.7 YPG)
- Sacks allowed — 5th (26)
- Running offense — 16th (115.9 YPG)
- Third down offense — 2nd (47%)
- Red zone offense — 2nd (73.1%)
- Total defense — 31st (405.5 YPG)
- Scoring defense — 24th (26.3 PPG)
- Passing defense — 31st (273.4 YPG)
- Sacks — Tied-1st (52)
- Running defense — 27th (132.1 YPG)
- Third down defense — 25th (42%)
- Red zone defense — 29th (70.8%)
- Time of possession — 26th (29:11)
- Turnover differential — 6th (+9)