KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Indianapolis Colts take on the Kansas City Chiefs in one of the biggest matchups of the 2018 NFL Divisional Round of the playoffs today at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City.
It pits two of the league's most explosive offenses led by two of its most exciting quarterbacks against each other, and there is far from a consensus for what people think will happen in this game.
Here is what people across the country are saying about this matchup.
Colts defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus about what he sees in Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes:
“Yeah, the first thing that jumps out to you is arm talent. The great quarterbacks of the game, if you go all the way back to the beginning and watch those guys, the two things they have is timing and accuracy. They have varying degrees of arm strength, but man, the timing at which they throw the ball and it gets there on time and the accuracy which they have. This is what this young man has. Then it’s been obviously talked about a lot – his athletic ability to escape, him throwing from different arm angles and all those things, he certainly has that. But he has the attributes you want in terms of timing and accuracy.”
Colts head coach Frank Reich on what makes Kansas City's offense unique:
“I just think that they do a great job of being very multiple and very diverse. They keep offenses guessing. I think Coach (Andy) Reid, that’s been is M.O. for a long time. He’s very good at being creative and using the weapons that he has. They do have great weapons and he knows how to use them and spread the ball around. Then having a quarterback like that who is a playmaker, he’s had a tremendous year.”
Eberflus on the challenges that Kansas City's offense pose:
“Yeah, I mean just their weapons. They’ve got several All-Pro players on their squad. They have a lot of good players that didn’t get that recognition. There’s a lot of skill on that side of the ball for them. The scheme is a little bit unique too in terms of what they do and how they do it. It’s going to be a big challenge for our defense.”
Reich on how the Colts can control the ball while still putting points on the board:
“Yeah, that’s it. If it’s running it for 200 (yards) or throwing it for 400 (yards), I am always going to say the same thing. We are trying to score every time we touch the ball and we are going to game plan and call the game in a way to score points. We are really not trying to think so much about, ‘Well let's hold the ball and keep it from them.’ We want to run it, there’s no secret about that. That does keep them off the field, that would be great but at the end of the day the primary goal is score points.”
Colts offensive coordinator Nick Sirianni on how the Colts can control the ball while still putting points on the board:
“You always think about how you are going to win the game as a team. I really believe that it’s our job to go out there and score as many points as we possibly can. If that’s passing it, if that’s running it, we got to score and that’s always our goal is to go out there and score. I don’t think we can play the game that way. I think we got to play the game the way we think is best to win the game. We always feel like we have to run the football to set up our run and play-action and we have to be successful in situational football, third-down red zone, which we had been in this past 11-game stretch. The goal and the strategy remains the same – run the football and set up our other things by running it and then be successful in situational football.”
Reich on how the Colts may have to adjust their gameplan for the Chiefs' potent offense:
“I really trust Matt (Eberflus) and the staff and the players to continue to keep building on what we do. This is certainly the best offense obviously statistically in the NFL this year. Certainly, the biggest challenge that we’ve faced. It’s really about what we do and believing in our players and staying true to what we do. Being disciplined and playing together and I trust Matt will have the best game plan for that.”
Eberflus on what the Colts defense's primary focus is on facing the Chiefs' offense:
“Yeah, I think it’s us oriented. I really do. I think when you play a squad like this that the focus goes more to you then it ever should. I know that might sound backwards, but it’s not to me and our staff. We have to focus on our fundamentals, on what we do and how we do it. That’s the most important thing when you play a team of this caliber... Well, they really spread the field horizontally and vertically with your defense and make you tackle in space. That’s what they do. Again, our fundamentals of the cup, our fundamentals of setting up and breaking, tackling and striking – those are going to be the big things for us that we want to make sure that we handle in terms of just our basics of our system.”
Sirianni on playing in a hostile environment like Arrowhead Stadium:
“I think we just have to prep for the noise and prep for the hostile environment. It’s nice when you are on the home sideline that’s for sure because you don’t have to worry about that noise. Yeah, we definitely just have to prepare our snap counts to handle the noise, prepare our guys to go when the ball is snapped, prepare us for not having to hear that tomahawk chop song all game – we will try to quiet that down early. Just prepare for the noise and the communication that it requires. We always focus on our communication and always being on the same page. It’s obviously more challenging when it’s loud. So we’ll definitely rep that this week with, you can’t really simulate it because it’s so loud there but we’ll do the best that we can and really work our communication while we are doing it.”
Colts wide receiver T.Y. Hilton on how his and quarterback Andrew Luck's chemistry helps in a loud stadium environment:
“It’s mainly just me and him, we know each other pretty well so we look to each other after every play. On the field, off the field, on the sideline we are always communicating, whether it’s a head nod, a thumbs up or something. We always seem to know what each other is thinking.”
Reich on former Colts head coach Tony Dungy visiting and speaking with the team this week:
“He did. He just said a few words to us afterwards. It was great to have him out there. For me personally, obviously, him being the coach that gave me my first job. His words to the team were just, 'proud of you guys, just have enjoyed watching you, have enjoyed watching you get better the whole year and just keep it going.'”
Chiefs head coach Andy Reid on the Colts' offensive line:
“They’re arguably the best in the business at what they do. I mean they’ve had a good year. They are well-coached and Chris (Ballard) has done a nice job of putting those guys together. He made that a point of emphasis.”
“The only quarterback who threw more touchdown passes this season than the Colts' Luck (39) was the Chiefs' Mahomes (50). Both of these teams are capable of explosive plays downfield, but with Colts wideout T.Y. Hilton battling an ankle injury, the Chiefs should be the more explosive team in this matchup. Indianapolis' impressive defensive front is going to have to play as well as it has all season to both confuse and contain Mahomes. No one has done that all season.”
“With the Chiefs likely to get speed receiver threat Sammy Watkins back from a nagging foot injury that never goes away, that means it’s going to be an interesting race: Can the Colts’ rush get to Patrick Mahomes before he can find an answer in his five-across receiver sets? I can’t wait to see how the Chiefs try to block this Indianapolis front, and whether Andy Reid will just keep his aggressive downfield spread ethos and trust Mahomes to get the ball out quick. This game would be great strategic fun on that alone. Now add in the Luck factor, and coach Frank Reich’s ability to free up a variety of receivers weekly, and the fact that someone named Marlon Mack rushed for 148 yards, most in Indy team history, and the Chiefs have allowed 164 rushing yards a game over the last five games.
This looks nothing like a 6 versus 1 playoff game. This looks like a pretty even ballgame with great storylines.”
"All four of this weekend’s games have interesting storylines going in, but only this one has the two quarterbacks that led the league in passing touchdowns this season. Given how good these two offenses are and the instant classic that came in their last postseason showdown, there should be plenty of fireworks to start off this weekend’s NFL action in Kansas City."
"The Colts have a clear advantage over the Chiefs defense, though — and it’s not just Luck. The Colts’ run game thrives when they pull one or more offensive linemen, averaging 4.8 yards per carry and 47.4 yards per game. Kansas City’s defense struggles in these scenarios, giving up 5.5 yards per carry against run plays with pulling blockers. The avenue for a Colts’ victory is to straight up steamroll the Chiefs’ defense on the ground — which is entirely possible.
Leaning on a running game to outpace the Kansas City Chiefs might not lead the Colts to victory, but it should provide the viewers with a few touchdowns."
"Tadd Haislop: As SN's Vinnie Iyer has pointed out, the Colts present the Chiefs a handful of issues. Indianapolis' pass protection has been money, and Luck's decisiveness as a passer, combined with his top-notch pocket presence, will be a challenge for Kansas City's pass rush.
Further complicating matters for the Chiefs: They gave up a full five yards per rush in the regular season, second worst in the league. The Colts ran all over the Texans, and they know it’s a good way to control the clock and keep Mahomes off the field in the divisional round.
But Indianapolis' young defense has not seen an offense quite like the one it will see in Kansas City. Technically nobody has, as the Chiefs boast the NFL's No. 1 offense with 35.3 points per game in the regular season.
If Mahomes plays up to his potential, or close to it, the Colts can’t stop him.
Pick: Chiefs, 35-24
Vinnie Iyer: The Colts, armed with Luck and powered by Mack, can definitely put up some points in Arrowhead, and they won't be intimidated by the raucous playoff atmosphere with Luck and Reich keeping them cool through four quarters.
The rested Chiefs, however, will exploit the holes in the Colts' promising young defense — something the Texans could not do. Mahomes will see big plays open up because of good protection and his ability to extend plays outside the pocket.
This feels like a 'last possession wins; game, and Mahomes will begin his playoff legend with a successful game-winning drive.
Pick: Chiefs 38-34"
"Since Week 7, Indianapolis has allowed less than 15.5 points per game, but to whom? Not one of the Colts' opponents since their bye boasted a threatening, multi-dimensional attack even close to resembling that of Kansas City's. (Dallas, perhaps, but barely.) The Chiefs, meanwhile, are battle-tested, losing two of three to playoff defenses (BAL, LAC, SEA) by a margin of five points in December. Some clubs have the ability through skill and will to disregard superstition and the gravity of history. This Chiefs team, young and weightless, loose and free, is one of them.
Kansas City Chiefs 34, Indianapolis Colts 29"