INDIANAPOLIS — The Indianapolis Colts (2-2) travel west for a huge Sunday Night Football showdown this weekend with reigning NFL MVP Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs (4-0).
This is a chance at redemption for the Colts, who fell to the Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium in last year's Divisional Round of the playoffs. They will also look to right the ship after losing at home last week to the Oakland Raiders.
It's no secret that the Chiefs are one of the NFL's best teams, if not the best, as they sit with an undefeated record and a quarterback who is still playing as hot as ever.
The Chiefs open the week as 11-point favorites in this matchup, so let's find out a bit more about them.
The Chiefs came out on top last week in a wild one over the Detroit Lions, 34-30. It extended Kansas City's streak to four consecutive wins to start the season while also introducing the Chiefs to a little adversity, which they don't often face because of how much they smother their opponents.
The first four drives of the game got things off to a productive start, as Detroit got a field goal and a touchdown on its first two drives, and Kansas City had both a missed and a made field goal in its first two.
To begin the second half, five of the first six drives ended in a lost fumble for either team. That's not something you see very often in an indoor game in perfect atmospheric conditions.
The fireworks continued in the final few minutes of the fourth quarter. With just more than two minutes remaining, the Lions scored the go-ahead touchdown on a six-yard pass from quarterback Matthew Stafford to receiver Kenny Golladay to go up 30-27. On the ensuing drive, the Chiefs went on a 13-play, 79-yard drive that took more than two minutes off the clock, punctuated by a one-yard Darrel Williams touchdown run to retake the lead at 34-30. Detroit then took over for the final time with just 0:20 left at its own 25-yard line and with one timeout remaining. The Lions were unable to score again, unsuccessfully attempting two Hail Mary passes at the end of regulation.
Chiefs' Passing Game
Considering his normal brilliance, Mahomes had one of his more "off" games in Detroit. He went 24-of-42 passing (57.1 percent) for 315 yards and threw no touchdown passes for just the third time in his career. He also threw no interceptions and was not sacked.
Mahomes' leading receiver was a familiar group in the absence of the injured Tyreek Hill (shoulder). Tight end Travis Kelce caught 7-of-8 targets for 85 yards and had one of the biggest heads-up plays of the young season (below). Receiver Sammy Watkins caught 3-of-6 targets for 54 yards and receiver Demarcus Robinson caught four of his team-leading nine targets for 35 yards.
Chiefs' Run Game
On the ground, newcomer LeSean McCoy ran the ball 11 times for 56 yards (5.1 avg.) and a touchdown while Williams had a modest stat line considering he did some goal line work, running eight times for 13 yards (1.6 avg.) and two scores. Mahomes even took it himself six times 54 yards (9.0 avg.).
Lions' Passing Game
Under duress much of the contest, Stafford had an overall solid game passing, going 21-of-34 (61.8 percent) for 291 yards and three touchdowns. He didn't throw any interceptions, but he was sacked four times (DT Chris Jones, S Tyrann Mathieu, DT Derrick Nnadi and DE Alex Okafor).
Receiver Marvin Jones caught 3-of-5 targets for 77 yards while up-and-coming receiver Kenny Golladay caught five of his nine targets for 67 yards and two big touchdowns. Rookie tight end T.J. Hockenson — who was knocked out of the game and evaluated for a concussion after a scary fall — caught all three of his targets for 27 yards and a touchdown.
Lions' Run Game
Second-year Lions running back Kerryon Johnson had one of the bigger games of his career against Kansas City, toting the rock 26 times for 125 yards (4.8 avg.) while change-of-pace back J.D. McKissic ran it four times for 30 yards (7.5 avg.).
Chiefs' Passing Game
Even in what we described as an "off" game last week, Mahomes threw for more than 315 yards. Simply put, it's incredibly unlikely to think that he's not going to make plays and pick up yardage.
This will be a huge test for the Colts and their young defense, especially in the secondary. The Chiefs may not have Hill out there, but they do still have Kelce, and guys like Watkins, Robinson and rookie Mecole Hardman have been making plays. The Colts currently rank 13th against the pass (230.5 YPG), but they have allowed two opposing passers to go over 300 yards, and all but one opposing quarterback threw for multiple touchdowns. With starters cornerback Pierre Desir, strong safety Clayton Geathers and free safety Malik Hooker recently banged up, there's a lot of guys (such as rookies Khari Willis and Rock Ya-Sin) who have had to step up and play larger roles, and this week may be more of the same.
- QB Patrick Mahomes — 67.9 percent completions, 1,510 yards, 9.7 YPA, 10 TD, 3 sacks
- WR Sammy Watkins — 23 catches (38 targets), 365 yards (15.9 avg), 3 TD
- TE Travis Kelce — 24 catches (33 targets), 369 yards (15.4 avg), 1 TD
- WR Demarcus Robinson — 14 catches (21 targets), 250 yards (17.9 avg), 3 TD
- WR Mecole Hardman — 8 catches (17 targets), 167 yards (20.9 avg), 2 TD
Chiefs' Run Game
The Chiefs' run game is able to be corralled, as they rank 20th (101.8 YPG), but at the end of the day they do have a dynamic, incredibly skilled runner like McCoy leading their backfield. With that said, the Colts have some work to do against opposing runners as they've been susceptible to giving up some big gains. All-Pro linebacker Darius Leonard has been sidelined the last couple weeks with a concussion, and Geathers, also in the league's concussion protocol, plays a key role against the run as well. That has moved Willis and fellow rookies Bobby Okereke and E.J. Speed up the ladder. If last year — with so many of the same players — is any indication then the run defense will improve, and this would be a good week for it.
- RB LeSean McCoy — 40 carries, 214 yards (5.3 avg.), 2 TD
- RB Damien Williams — 22 carries, 34 yards (1.5 avg.), 1 TD
- RB Darrel Williams — 17 carries, 75 yards (4.4 avg.), 2 TD
Colts' Passing Game
The Colts have been efficient overall in their passing game as Jacoby Brissett has picked up the offense really well. However, the issue they've had to deal with is leading receiver T.Y. Hilton's recent quad injury that kept him out of last week's contest. It's been a little bit of everyone picking up the slack in his absence. Regardless, Brissett has been lights out in the red zone, even when Hilton was out, so the passing game is capitalizing in the money area.
The Chiefs rank 20th against the pass, and they've been especially susceptible to chunk plays. While the Colts have been able to make plays closer to the line of scrimmage, they've yet to capitalize on the downfield passing game, so this could be the week for it. If Hilton is able to return this week, look for the Colts to potentially be able to make some plays downfield.
- QB Jacoby Brissett — 65.2 percent completions, 911 yards, 6.6 YPA, 10 TD, 2 INT, 6 sacks
- WR T.Y. Hilton — 20 catches (25 targets), 195 yards (9.8 avg.), 4 TD
- TE Jack Doyle — 11 catches (17 targets), 109 yards (9.9 avg.), 1 TD
- RB Nyheim Hines — 14 catches (16 targets), 74 yards (5.3 avg.)
- TE Eric Ebron — 8 catches (16 targets), 128 yards (16.0 avg.), 2 TD
Colts' Run Game
The Colts' run game might just be the backbone of their team, as they never look better than when Marlon Mack and the offensive line are running on all cylinders. They currently rank seventh in the league in rushing (132.5 YPG), and they've had four run plays of 20-plus yards. The Chiefs, meanwhile, have been near the bottom of the league against the run so far, ranking 31st overall and 32nd in yards per carry allowed. It's no layup, though, as teams have been loading up to stop the Colts' run game including the Chiefs last season in the playoffs (they ranked near the bottom of the league in run defense then, too). Because of playing from behind for much of the game, the Colts weren't able to run much in Kansas City in the playoffs (just 12 designed runs), but they were able to average 5.8 yards per carry from their running backs.
- RB Marlon Mack — 72 carries, 338 yards (4.7 avg.), 2 TD
- QB Jacoby Brissett — 18 carries, 57 yards (3.2 avg.)
- RB Jordan Wilkins — 12 carries, 97 yards (8.1 avg.)
- RB Nyheim Hines — 11 carries, 31 yards (2.8 avg.)
CHIEFS' 2019 KEY STATS
- 1st in passing (373.0 YPG)
- 1st in passing yards per attempt (9.6 avg)
- 1st in pass plays of 20-plus yards (22) and 40-plus yards (8)
- 1st in passer rating (119.7)
- Tied-1st in scoring (33.8 PPG)
- 2nd in overall offense (474.8 YPG)
- Tied-2nd in passing touchdowns (10)
- Tied-2nd in third-down conversions (52%)
- Tied-2nd in sacks allowed (3)
- 6th in passing attempts (39.2 avg)
- Tied-24th in pass plays of 20-plus yards allowed (17)
- Tied-27th in fourth-down conversions (80%)
- 30th in overall defense (408.5 YPG)
- 31st in run defense (149.8 YPG)
- 32nd in yards per carry allowed (5.9 avg)