Chiefs Get Perfect Matchup
Monday morning I still wasn't sure. The first thing I did when I woke was get online to see if indeed the Chiefs were playoff bound. As it stands, the Chiefs will travel to Indianapolis to take on the Colts on Saturday. I say "as it stands" because I'm still waiting on some statistical technicality to be discovered that keeps the Chiefs out. This just can't be. Whether my mind can fathom it or not, the Chiefs will play on. The matchup against the league's worst run defense in the Indianapolis Colts makes the lucky hand the Chiefs were dealt on Sunday look even better.
Larry Johnson's mouth must have been watering just seconds after San Francisco's Joe Nedney kicked the Broncos out of the playoffs and ushered the Chiefs in. The Colts are letting opponents run on them to the tune of 173 yards per game. This season alone they afforded career best rushing totals to Mike Bell, Maurice Jones-Drew, and Ron Dayne.
Johnson will by far be the toughest test yet for the Colts. The game plan for the Chiefs would obviously appear to be Johnson, Johnson and more Johnson. While LJ should be mandated to get at least 30 carries in this game, the big plays and ultimately the potential upset lies on the arm of Trent Green.
After Green put on his best impersonation of what a rattled, post-concussive player should look like against the Jaguars, I'll be the first to admit that trotting Damon Huard out there against the Colts might just be the best thing. However, after sleeping on it I've come to the conclusion that Green is still the man to lead these Chiefs in the postseason.
While he still appears shaky on his timing routes, Green still has the ability to make tougher throws than Huard. This was no more evident than when Green connected with Eddie Kennison for a 35-yard touchdown on a flea flicker in the second quarter on Sunday. Jacksonville's defensive backs didn't bite on the play but Green used that laser-like accuracy to make the play a success.
For the most part it would appear the Colts will try to stack eight in the box and try to make Johnson a non-factor. This will essentially leave man-to-man coverage on the outside and leave some room for Tony Gonzalez to operate down the deep middle.
The Chiefs could actually make things easier for Johnson if they come out throwing against the Colts. If the pass is successful, Indy's defense will be forced to respect it, thus creating more running lanes for Johnson.
I'm not saying that Green has to go out there and pass the ball 40 or even 30 times. I am saying that if the Chiefs do anything but come out on the first drive and go run, run, run, the Colt defense will be very confused. Confusion on the defense leads to mistakes. Mistakes lead to big plays. Big plays lead to points and points lead to long-awaited playoff wins.
The X-factor in all of this operates on the defensive side of the ball. Peyton Manning's playoff nightmares in his career have long been haunted by cornerback Ty Law. In 2003, Law intercepted Manning three times in the conference championship en route to winning a Super Bowl with the New England Patriots.
Law is now twelve years in, but still showed that ungodly instinct he has for the ball when he intercepted David Garrard's screen pass on Sunday. Law, along with Patrick Surtain, will certainly have their hands full with Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne, who are no longer No. 1 and No. 2 receivers but rather two receivers would be No. 1's on nearly every team in the league.
As much as Herm Edwards would love to have this be a 30 to 40-point game it's simply just not going to happen. Manning and his Colts will get theirs. The bigger question is can the Chiefs defense manage more than the zero stops they had against them in the playoff game three seasons ago?
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