**A Capsule Look at the Colts' Sunday Showdown against the Chiefs
**Kansas City Chiefs (3-0) vs. Indianapolis Colts (2-2)
Sunday, October 10, 2010 (1:00 p.m. ET)
Lucas Oil Stadium (63,000 capacity) – Indianapolis, Indiana
Television/Radio: CBS Sports and 1070-The Fan/HANK-FM 97.1**
The Colts and Chiefs last played each other in November of the 2007 season.
While three years does not seem like a long time, in the NFL, three years can bring a lot of changes.
And the Chiefs have changed.
On Sunday, the Colts probably will not recognize a lot of the visitors wearing the red and white.
"I mean it's a different coaching staff, a different general manager, it's really a totally different deal," Peyton Manning said. "You get a new coach, a new general manager, you're going to get some high draft choices, and they've done all that.
"It's a lot of different players. They have a lot of new guys. They have some rookies playing, they've got some guys that are in their second and third years, but they are all playing well. They are all talented guys. They've had some high picks in the draft the past few years, and they've used them well and drafted good players."
Good players, indeed. The Chiefs are undefeated and the lone remaining undefeated team in the NFL.
"We're excited about that," Cassel said. "All it is, (though), is 3-0. We're coming off a bye week and now we're in it for the long run. We have 13 more. As you see across the league, there is a lot of parity. We're the last unbeaten team, but that really doesn't mean anything right now."
The Colts were the NFL's last remaining unbeaten team in the 2005, 2006 and 2009 seasons, starting all those seasons 9-0 or better, but have started this season 2-2.
Colts Head Coach Jim Caldwell understands that people are used to seeing the Colts get off to fast starts, but he still believes his team will continue to grow.
"I mean we're a .500 team (right now), but I don't believe that's who we are," Caldwell said. "I think that you find that teams throughout the year just continue to develop, and we have to be one of those teams that continually improves. We have the opportunity to do so. We just have to come back out and go right back to work and see if we can put it all together. I think overall, we just have to continue to get better, continue to improve and become the team we know we can be."
Chiefs Head Coach Todd Haley said one of the last things people should be worried about is the Colts.
"I think, whether they are accustomed to it or not, they've been around and the core of this team has been around long enough to weather some early hiccups," Haley said. "Something Peyton Manning said has always stuck in my head, and I think (Senior Offensive Assistant) Tom Moore said it first, 'Just get a little better every day.' I think they understand that. Like I said, the core has been around long enough to understand that there are going to be some ups and downs. Not very often, but occasionally somebody is going to hit a 59-yard field goal on you, which throws things a little out of whack. But that is just the way the league is, it's hard to win. To win as many times as the Colts have over the last eight years, they know how to win and they know how to survive the ebb and flow of the season."
Haley is ready for his young team to see the Colts and the different challenges that facing them presents.
"There is no way around it, this is a very good team, a great team, proven to be great for an extended period of time, and to me that is how you measure greatness, when you win year-in and year-out and you're in the Super Bowl multiple times and you win one, which they've done," Haley said. "They are a great team. We haven't seen a team like this. We really haven't, no disrespect to any teams we've played over the last year and a half. We are a young, developing team playing an ultra-talented team that knows what it is all about and we are still learning it. We are foundation-building right now, so part of our foundation will be built on this game, and that is the ability to go on the road into a hostile environment, handle some adverse situations and at least try to be competitive; and I'm not patronizing or doing anything like that, we're just a young team trying to become a good team here sooner rather than later, and we can learn a lot from this team that we are playing."
FOCUS ON THE COLTS
The Colts offense had a good first quarter of the season. The team ranks third in the NFL in total offense, averaging 411 yards per game. The club ranks second in passing offense, averaging 335.5 yards per game, and also is second in scoring, averaging 29.3 points per game.
Manning has been at the top of his game as well, leading the league in touchdown passes and quarterback rating, while ranking second in completion percentage and yards.
Wide receivers Austin Collie and Reggie Wayne and tight end Dallas Clark have benefited from Manning's passing prowess this season. The three players rank 1-2-3 in the AFC in receptions this season.
Wayne leads the league in receptions (33)\ and receiving yards (456) this season. The 10th-year player set new career-highs for receptions (15) and yards (196) in last week's game at Jacksonville.
Collie ranks second in the league in receptions (32), third in receiving yards (398) and tied for second in touchdown receptions (5). Collie began the season with 11 catches for 163 yards and one touchdown at Houston. The receptions and yards were career-highs that lasted all of two weeks until he set new career-highs with 12 receptions for 171 yards and two touchdowns at Denver. He also became the third player in club history to record a touchdown reception in the first four games of a season.
Clark is third in the AFC and fifth in the NFL with 28 receptions. The eighth-year player from Iowa leads all tight ends in receptions and ranks fourth among all tight ends with 275 receiving yards.
The receiving trio has helped make the Colts one of the most efficient units in the NFL, particularly in the red zone. The Colts have scored on 14 of 15 red zone opportunities this season, including 11 touchdowns. The Colts had scored on 26 consecutive red zone trips dating to 2009, but the streak ended in last week's game at Jacksonville. The Colts still have scored touchdowns on 23 of their last 29 red zone drives.
Manning is aware of the high marks the team has in the red zone, but still feels that they have more work to do to clean up mistakes.
"That's something that we are always striving for from the get-go," Manning said. "Last week, we got off to a really good start and would like to keep that going all the way through. We felt like the drives that we've been stopped on, certainly the defense has done their part, but we've also had some self-inflicted wounds. So, we're trying to eliminate those. Whether it's penalties or mistakes or missed assignments, those are all drive-stoppers, as we call them, and we'd like to eliminate those."
A CLOSER LOOK AT THE CHIEFS
The Chiefs roll into Indianapolis as the NFL's last remaining undefeated team. Kansas City defeated San Diego, Cleveland and San Francisco to start the season and come off their bye weekend looking to extend their great start.
The Chiefs are not surprised by their success, and neither are the Colts, but the Chief players said they understand why some people are when you consider that the team as it heads into its fourth game of the season, it needs only one more win to equal its win total from last season.
"It is pretty crazy to think about," quarterback Matt Cassel said. "I know how long last year was for a lot of us and to win only four games was very difficult. To think about the fact that we're already one game away from totaling our win record from last year is pretty crazy. We're excited about our start but at the same time, like I said, we understand all it is right now is a good start and we have 13 more games."
The Chiefs are actually on a four-game winning streak currently, as they won their final game of the 2009 season. Caldwell says the Chiefs have been improving steadily since Haley took over.
"I think it is probably one of those things that even during the course of last year they were honing their skills, getting a little bit better, but what I see this year is that they are a talented group that's playing well together," Caldwell said. "They have a real fine offensive line that's certainly blocking extremely well, backs that are running the ball, (Jamaal Charles) averaging seven yards a carry, (Thomas) Jones is obviously up over four and they are doing a lot of things well, throwing the ball well, returning it well. Their defense is certainly holding teams to fewer points than anyone in the AFC, so I think they are doing a lot of things extremely well. The other thing, too, is they are talented."
Cassel was the Chiefs' hand-picked quarterback to lead the offense. The team traded for him in February 2009 after General Manager Scott Pioli and Haley were hired. He was a seventh-round selection by New England in the 2005 draft and studied under Tom Brady until Brady was injured at the beginning of the 2008 season. Cassel stepped in and threw for more than 3,600 yards before being traded to the Chiefs in the offseason.
"I've seen nothing but real positives from Matt Cassel," Haley said. "Matt is a guy that we were very excited to come in early in my arrival. Matt had to live through a pretty hectic year, which I think anytime something is starting from ground zero there is going be some hectic-ness and chaotic-ness and not a lot of things not going smoothly. Matt was able to get through last year in a fashion that I thought, number one, he improved along the way, every step of the way, again in some pretty tough times. He never showed any signs of cracking. He's a tough-minded guy that's passionate about football, passionate about being good. He came back in this offseason and really took charge of everything, took charge of his teammates, and kind of jumped to the front of the line as far as being one of the leaders of this team. He's continued that through the offseason, training camp, preseason and into this year."
While Cassel is in his sixth year in the league, he is only in his third year of starting, and the 28-year old quarterback is just starting to scratch his potential, Haley said.
"I think that is what is most important to me with Matt, is that he wants to be good," Haley said. "I think he can be a real good quarterback in the league. He's just a guy that hasn't played a whole bunch and every game is a new bit of experience that he gets to add to his resume. He's working hard and making progress consistently. (Our) relationship has really grown and developed here through the last year and a half and it's a relationship that is very much like some relationships I've had in the past with some real good quarterbacks, just in a different way because I'm the head coach, but whether it's Kurt Warner, Tony Romo, Vinny (Testaverde), Jim Miller, that relationship and that demeanor is real important, and he matches up with a lot of those guys. That's why I feel really good about the direction that he and we are going."
Haley has a clear picture of where he wants his team to go and is excited that his team is on the right path.
"You do what you can do, and first is figuring out what you have on your roster and then developing those that you think can be a real part of your team as you go forward, and then continuing to bring in free agents that you know can still play and that are the types of guys you want and draft class being very critical to that also," Haley said. "We haven't wavered, we have stayed with the plan, and that is what we are doing. We've happened to win three games here out of our first three in the first quarter of the season, but we are clearly, and make no mistake, we are still in the foundation-building process of this young, developing team."
The Colts released their game status/injury report on Friday with the following players listed as out for Sunday's game against Kansas City: LB-Kavell Conner (foot), WR-Anthony Gonzalez (ankle) and DB-Bob Sanders (biceps). Listed as questionable are RBs-Joseph Addai (knee), Donald Brown (hamstring) and Mike Hart (knee), DBs-Antoine Bethea (hamstring), Brandon King (hamstring) and Jacob Lacey (foot), WRs-Austin Collie (foot) and Pierre Garcon (hamstring), OT-Charlie Johnson (foot) and OG-Jamey Richard (shoulder), while LBs-Gary Brackett (back) and Clint Session (hamstring), DB-Jerraud Powers (foot) and WR-Reggie Wayne (knee) are listed as probable.
"The speed is off the charts, especially (when they play) in Indy. It's off the charts. I was sitting with my wife a few weeks ago when the Colts were playing Sunday night against the Giants, and the food wasn't going down too easy when you're watching (Robert) Mathis and (Dwight) Freeney rip around those ends and the linebackers run and chase. It is a fast defense, a tough defense, a run-and-hit defense, and one that we will have our hands full just trying to compete and trying to make it a game."-Chiefs Head Coach Todd Haley on the Colts' defensive speed.
"He's excellent. You saw some great examples over the weekend. That is certainly a big part of what we do. You have to be able to do more than one thing. You can't be a one-dimensional player and play back in our backfield, simply because of the fact that oftentimes a lot of the plays are audibles that are checked into, so you really don't know if it is going to be a pass or a run until the defense deploys. A guy has to be versatile in that regard and pass protection is extremely important."-Colts Head Coach Jim Caldwell on RB-Joseph Addai's ability to pass block.
"The big thing is that we do not necessarily harp on guys that get injured, bellyache about a 'woe is me' kind of attitude when we do have a bit of a challenge. We embrace it. Whoever is next in line to step up and do the job, we expect them to do so, and we've gotten that for the most part."-Colts Head Coach Jim Caldwell on what the team's 'Next Man Up' philosophy means to him.
STORYLINES TO WATCH FOR… 1. Chiefs have had success running and stopping the run this season
The Chiefs, behind veteran Thomas Jones and youngster Jamaal Charles, have been one of the league's best rushing teams through the first quarter of the season. The Chiefs are averaging 160.7 yards per game on the ground this season, which ranks third in the NFL. In their last game against the 49ers, Kansas City rushed for 207 yards on 39 carries. Jones rushed 19 times for 95 yards and one touchdown, while Charles carried the ball 12 times for 97 yards.
On defense, the Chiefs have been stingy against the run, allowing only 225 yards on the ground through three games. The team's 75 yards rushing allowed per game rank as the fifth-best mark in the league. In their last game against San Francisco, the Chiefs held the 49ers to 43 yards on 15 carries.
2. Colts Offense vs. Chiefs Defense on Third Down
The Chiefs come into the game allowing their opponents to convert third downs into first downs only 26.7 percent of the time, ranking fourth in the league. The Colts, though, have converted their third-down opportunities 44.7 percent of the time, which ranks seventh in the league. Last week against Jacksonville, the Colts offense converted 7-of-10 third-down opportunities into first downs. Since 2002, the Colts have converted 776 out of 1,626 third down attempts, a 47.7 percent success rate, which is the best in the NFL in that time span.
3. Colts at home coming off a loss
The Colts are 52-13 at home since the 2002 season, the second-best mark in the league.
But the team that is already tough to beat at home becomes even tougher to beat when they are playing a game at home coming off a loss.
The Colts have won the last 10 games they've played in Indianapolis when they are coming off a loss the game before. The Colts' first home game this season was the latest time the Colts played a home game after a loss. After losing the season-opener to Houston, the Colts came back to Lucas Oil Stadium to defeat the New York Giants, 38-14. The last time the Colts extended a losing streak with a home loss was November 3, 2002.