In what turned out to be a very entertaining game on Saturday Night, Chiefs fans had to be disappointed that the Patriots held off the Titans. But at least the Chiefs know if they win today, they'll go to New England and face red-hot Patriots team that will enter the game with a 13-game winning streak.
But first things first, as Kansas City must first play the Colts in their first playoff game at Arrowhead in six years. The Colts come into this game 6-0 against the Chiefs the last 10 years. In fact Manning has won all three of his starts against the Chiefs and is coming off a five touchdown performance against the Broncos.
But the Chiefs are coming off a strong win in their season finale where they unveiled a new aggressive defense that gives them confidence going into today's playoff match-up with the Colts.
Kansas City will need its defense, offense and special teams to play at a high level today. I've said it before and I'll say it again. The Colts and Chiefs are the two best AFC teams left in the playoffs. They are far superior on offense then the Patriots and the winner of this game will represent the AFC in the Super Bowl.
Chiefs quarterback Trent Green coming off a 4000 yard passing season; makes his playoff debut as a starting quarterback. Green has managed to lead the Chiefs offense into the leagues top scoring team. Green is the leader of the Chiefs on offense and though he's inexperienced as a playoff quarterback that should faze him very little today.
Green is not facing a very strong Colts defensive unit today. The Colts secondary and defensive lines do very little to stop the run or pass. Kansas City will probably establish the run by using Priest Holmes to keep time of possession on their side. Holmes has been under-utilized in some games this season but that won't happen today. They'll run Holmes to the right, the left and throw him screen passes.
The Chiefs receivers should get plenty of open looks and I expect wide receiver Marc Boerigter will have a big game. He's due. Speaking of due, Dante Hall has not returned a punt or kick-off for a touchdown since week #5 against the Broncos. Today he could do just that.
Defensively the Chiefs need to be very aggressive in trying to control the effectiveness of Manning. The Colts only chance of winning today is if Manning leads them with his right arm. The Colts have not run the ball well this season averaging less than 100-yards per game rushing Edgerrin James has not had a great season.
But the Chiefs will have to control wide receivers Marvin Harrison and Brandon Stokley Both had career games last week against the Broncos in their wild card match-up so the Chiefs corners will need to play a lot of bump and run. If that happens, then the Chiefs defensive line and linebackers need to get in the face of Manning.
If that happens, the Colts offense will be ineffective. If they don't, this game will be a shoot out.
A lot of demons can be exercised today with a Chiefs victory. But the team took a huge step toward changing their playoff fortunes with an outstanding week of preparation. In addition, when Dick Vermeil announced he'd return for another two years as the Head Coach, the team responded in practice this week.
Kansas City should win this game as the players are strutting a quiet confidence. They know that they can't play poorly or their season will end. But this team does not feel pressure. They expect to play well and win and that's a direct result of the preparation that Vermeil has laid out for them.
All the past playoff failures of the Chiefs can be attributed to one primary thing, bad playoff coaching. That won't happen today. Vermeil is a playoff coach. The regular season is used to get into the tournament and Vermeil has taught his players well.
They'll be ready. If they can win the next eight quarters, they'll make it to the Super Bowl; the first four starts today against the Colts.
Injury Notes :
Starting middle linebacker Mike Maslowski will miss his seventh game in a row. A bone bruise on his knee has kept the Chiefs linebacker from getting back on the field.
Reserve and special teams stud Monty Beisel should be able to go today. He's recovering from a strained groin and the Chiefs need him on the field.