Take Five: Indy

Posted Oct 10, 2010

Five focal points for Chiefs vs. Colts

Finding a winning solution in Indianapolis hasn’t come easy for teams visiting the RCA Dome/Lucas Oil Stadium over the past decade. Since Tony Dungy became head coach and passed the torch to Jim Caldwell, the Colts have lost just 13 regular season games at home (2002-present). The victory total stands at 52.

Here are five areas to key if the Chiefs are going to hand Indy home loss number 14 this afternoon.

1)   Reverse Red Zone

The Chiefs will need to turn their Red Zone trips not only into points, but also into sixes rather than threes. That goes without saying for any team facing Peyton Manning. Another key, however, is defensive Red Zone efficiency.

Manning is going to move the football. He’s one of the best-ever, and that’s just what he does. When the Colts do reach the Red Zone, however, taking advantage of the shrunken field will be a priority. Holding Indy to three points during Red Zone visits is victory. The Colts are currently scoring touchdowns in 73.3% (11 of 15) of their Red Zone trips this season.

2)   Stop The Run

The Colts offense is one of the NFL’s best, averaging 411.0 yards per contest. They are one of the few teams that, at least statistically, can win even when they’re one-dimensional. If Indy’s run game becomes a steady option (currently outputting just 75.5 yards per game), the results typically aren’t pretty for the opponent.

3)   The Numbers Split

Something has to give here. This is one of those matchups that plays into the strengths and weaknesses of both squads. The Chiefs run the ball (3rd in NFL) and the Colts have had trouble stopping the run (29th in NFL). The Colts pass the ball (2nd in NFL), and the Chiefs rank in the lower half of the league in stopping that type of play (25th in NFL). While the Chiefs don’t give up many points (2nd in NFL), the Colts can match scores with virtually anyone (2nd in NFL).

An ability to counter just one opponent strength could be all it takes for either side to achieve victory.

4)   Negative Plays and Penalties

A year ago, Todd Haley continually harped on the Chiefs inability to avoid negative plays. The statistic became a talking point nearly every week when he pointed to sacks, penalties and other minus-yardage plays as major contributors to Kansas City’s losses. This year, the Chiefs have all but eliminated the negatives and the win/loss record reflects.

Thus far, Kansas City has been penalized just 14 times, which represents the 2nd-fewest flags in the NFL (the Colts aren’t far behind with only 18). Matt Cassel has only been taken down twice, while he was sacked nine times prior to his fourth start in 2009. In fact, left tackle Branden Albert has yet to allow a sack or be flagged for a penalty (knock on wood). He, and the rest of the offensive line, will have their hands full with Indianapolis’ defensive ends, which is a perfect way to shift into our fifth and final area to watch.

5)   On The Edge

The Colts boast a pair of elite rush ends in Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis. Add in a deafening road crowd and the task gets even more difficult for those along the offensive edge. How Albert, Barry Richardson and Ryan O’Callaghan handle the Pro Bowlers, and the crowd factor, will be one of the deciding factors in Kansas City’s final offensive tally.

All that’s left to do is snap the football…enjoy the game.

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