Strategy Session: Colts vs. Chiefs

Middle linebacker Mike Maslowski will be out for Sunday's game but linebacker and special teams standout Monty Beisel will be back as will cornerback Eric Warfield.

LB Mike Maslowski likely will miss a seventh straight game against Indianapolis. Maslowski, a starting middle linebacker who reinjured the knee that knocked him out for eight games in 2001, tried to practice last weekend, but had to sit down after experiencing ongoing pain.

LB Monty Beisel, a kick coverage specialist, appears ready to return to action after missing the final four games of the regular season with a groin injury.

K Morten Andersen won't be called upon to try many 50-yard field goals in January as his distance at age 43 isn't what it was in 1995 when he hit 8 of 9 kicks from 50-plus. But the Chiefs profess to be content with Andersen's accuracy from 42 in. Andersen hit all 11 field goals of under 40 yards this season, but was 5-of-9 from 40-plus with only one attempt of 50.

GAME PLAN:
Peyton Manning and his receivers are going to make their plays, especially against the porous Chiefs defense. So, the Chiefs offense -- No. 1 in the league in scoring -- better plan on outscoring the NFL's No. 2 scoring unit. This one may take 35 to win, but the Chiefs have averaged 34 during their 13-game home winning streak. KC needs a strong ground game from Priest Holmes; ball control is essential to keeping Indy's potent offense off the field.

Defensively, few teams get to Manning, but the Chiefs will try with a front-four package that at times will include two speeds rushers -- Gary Still and R-Kal Truluck -- playing at the same time at different ends. They need to limit Edgerrin James early. If he starts running free against KC's 30th-ranked rushing defense, Manning's play-action passing game could go crazy.

MATCHUPS TO WATCH:
Colts DE Dwight Freeney vs. Chiefs LT Willie Roaf. An up-and-coming young star against one of the best tackles in recent NFL history. Does youth or experience win out here?

Colts WRs Marvin Harrison, Reggie Wayne and Brandon Stokley vs. Chiefs CBs Dexter McCleon, Eric Warfield and nickel William Bartee. McCleon might hold his own with this group, but no way can the Chiefs contain all three.

Chiefs TE Tony Gonzalez vs. Colts LB Marcus Washington and SS Mike Doss. The Chiefs like the matchups here, especially if they get Gonzalez on rookie safety Doss.

INJURY IMPACT:
LB Mike Maslowski, a starter at the Mike position, will likely miss a seventh straight game with a knee injury. Rookie LB Kawika Mitchell continues to start in his absence, but he's not the player Maz was. LB Monty Beisel, a key special teams contributor, is expected to come back from a four-game absence with a groin injury. His addition should help kick coverage that has been leaky in his absence. The Chiefs are otherwise in good physical health.


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