GAMETIME: 12 p.m. CT on Sunday, October 30LOCATION: Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Ind.HOW TO WATCH:KCTV5HOW TO LISTEN:101.1 The FoxGAMCENTER: Chiefs.com
When the Kansas City Chiefs (4-2) last played the Indianapolis Colts (3-4) at Lucas Oil Stadium, circumstances were very different.
Andy Reid and John Dorsey were in their first year with the organization, and the Chiefs had clinched a playoff berth for the first time in three years. What followed was the Wild Card round in Indianapolis, in which the Chiefs lost to the Colts, 45-44.
On Sunday, the Chiefs will return to the site of that playoff loss, but as is such with the National Football League, there is no looking back.
"I remember the outcome and being pretty disappointed with the way the game turned out," quarterback Alex Smith said. "It was a long time ago though too. When you start thinking about it, one year is a long time in the NFL, let alone a couple of years. A lot has changed since then."
Smith is right.
Jeremy Maclin and Spencer Ware weren't on the team for that game, and Travis Kelce was inactive due to injury. Now all three are household names.
Ware, in particular, is on pace for the best season of his career.
"Ware [is] coming in and he's top five in three different categories in the National Football League as far as rushing and yards from scrimmage and receiving yards, running really hard," Colts head coach Chuck Pagano said this week. "The offensive line is excellent. They're playing really good winning football."
With running back Jamaal Charles ruled out for the game due to complications with his surgically repaired knee, Ware will be of even greater importance to Kansas City's chances Sunday. Starting right tackle Mitch Schwartz is questionable.
On the Colts side of things, their best player is QB Andrew Luck, and he's already off to one of the best starts of his five-year career.
"I think Andrew [Luck] has improved, which from our game (in 2013) would be hard to believe, but he really has," Chiefs defensive coordinator Bob Sutton said. "He's just a better quarterback than what he was, which I think is a tribute to his work ethic and his talent. He's been an outstanding quarterback since the day that he's come in. I just think he looks in complete command of the offense out there. He's making great decisions and protecting the ball. He's doing the things that all of the elite guys do."
Luck has targeted wide receiver T.Y. Hilton 76 times this season, which shares a tie for the league lead in the category. Hilton has a team-leading 45 receptions for 689 yards receiving and four touchdowns. Tight end Jack Doyle also has four touchdowns and is a player to watch.
WR Donte Moncrief, who has been out since Week 2 due to a shoulder injury, is officially listed as questionable and could provide a boost to the Colts lineup with his return.
In the run game, the 33-year-old Frank Gore continues to turn back the clock. His yards per carry statistic is up to 4.2 after finishing last season at 3.7.
"He's a warrior, that one," Chiefs head coach Andy Reid said this week. "Tough guy. Runs hard, a physical runner, and to last as long as he has is a tribute, probably, to his offseason work program and how he goes about the game. I think once you get to know him a little bit, he's a kid that loves to play. He's kept himself in good shape."
The Colts offense will be without offensive lineman Jack Mewhort for the second game in a row on Sunday.
Defending Luck and company will be up to a Chiefs defense without cornerback D.J. White, who had surgery on his hand this past week. The Chiefs were already missing defensive lineman Allen Bailey (shoulder) and linebacker Justin March (hand) last game, but Chris Jones and Ramik Wilson did a nice job filling in.
Wilson got the call up to play the Saints last week after spending time with the practice squad early in the season.
"It was just a big wakeup call," Wilson said of his brief time down. "I had a whole bunch of mixed emotions, but it's part of the game, so I went back to work. I hit the weight room five times a week, I was doing extra running, I was in the film room more with coach Mark (De Leone) and I was just waiting on my second chance, my second opportunity and I made the most of it."
Wilson had eight tackles (five solo) in the 27-21 victory.
"I thought he did a really good job for his first game this season," Sutton said. "Good job with the communication and no major busts or anything like that, which sometimes happens when you haven't played in a while. I think everybody was pretty pleased with his performance. He's got a ways to go, obviously, like most of our guys. I thought for the first time out, pretty good showing."
On defense, the Colts rank 28th in the league based upon yards per game (399.7). They rank 25th in yards passing allowed per game (281.1) and yards rushing allowed per game (118.6). The Colts have allowed 28.6 points per game, which is the No. 28 mark in the league.
Defensive linemen Henry Anderson and Kendall Langford, among others, are not expected to play.
The Chiefs are looking to win their third consecutive game, while the Colts are looking to put two wins together for the first time this season.
Three years ago, the season ended in Indianapolis, but that wasn't this Chiefs team.
This Chiefs team hopes its trip to Indianapolis serves as a springboard for what's to come.