SERIES: 18th meeting. Indianapolis leads the series 10-7, including a 7-1 advantage in the postseason. The Colts ended two of the Chiefs' last three playoff appearances, the most recent coming via a 38-31 win in Kansas City in 2003, a game in which neither team punted.
2006 RANKINGS: Chiefs: offense 16th (9th rush, 22nd pass); defense 16th (18th rush, 18th pass). Colts: offense 3rd (18th rush, 2nd pass); defense 21st (32nd rush, 2nd pass)
PREDICTION: Colts 27-20
KEYS TO THE GAME: Chiefs RB Larry Johnson set an NFL record with 416 carries during the regular season, and he can expect another busy day against the league's worst run defense. The Colts have struggled with missed assignments and poor tackling throughout the season, and the Chiefs will pound away on the ground until they're forced to do something else. Not only could that wear down Indianapolis' defense, but it would also keep Peyton Manning on the sideline as much as possible. The key for the Colts offensively is to get off to a quick start and build an early lead. The quicker they can put the Chiefs in a hole, the quicker Kansas City has to rely more on its passing game. If Chiefs QB Trent Green struggles again, don't be surprised to see backup Damon Huard. He led a touchdown drive last Sunday in one series in relief of Green, who is still bothered by a sprained ankle.
FAST FACTS: Chiefs: Herman Edwards is the fifth coach in league history to lead two different teams to the postseason in his first season with both teams. ... Johnson had an NFL-record 416 rushing attempts during the regular season. Colts: Were undefeated at home during the regular season for the first time since 1958. ... Manning's 89.3 postseason passer rating is eighth all-time among players with at least 150 attempts.
--QB Trent Green, who participated in only a limited workout Wednesday while resting a sore ankle, took his regular complement Thursday and pronounced himself ready to play Saturday in Indianapolis. Not getting a full turn of repetitions for just one day shouldn't be a factor - not even in a short work week - at this time of the year, Green insisted.
--CB Benny Sapp remains questionable for the Colts with a hamstring injury. Sapp, a key player in the nickel and on special teams, would be replaced by practice squad Michael Bragg if he cannot suit up against the Colts, Herm Edwards said Thursday.
--CB Michael Bragg was activated to the 53-man roster. He signed a three year deal with the Chiefs on Friday. Bragg might see action on Saturday if Benny Sapp is unable to play.
--CB Ty Law, who intercepted Colts QB Peyton Manning three times in the 2004 AFC Championship Game, has become something of a special tutor to the Chiefs secondary in the days leading up to this week's playoff games in Indy. Law has been especially helping in talking about things he has seen Manning try to do in specific situations over the years.
--DE Jared Allen has been ordered to serve 48 hours of jail time this February after being convicted of a second drunken driving offense in a four-month period. Allen was in a diversion program that would have expunged his first offense last May from his record. But when he was arrested again in September, an Overland Park, Kan., judge found that Allen had violated terms of the agreement and ordered him to serve "shock" time beginning Feb. 16.
--S Bob Sanders (knee) was held out of Thursday's practice but is expected to start Saturday against Kansas City. Sanders practiced Tuesday and Wednesday and will participate in the team walkthrough on Friday. He has only played in four games this season after undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his right knee in late September. Sanders will be monitored during the game for any signs of fatigue since he hasn't had much practice or playing time this year.
--CB Nick Harper (ankle) was held out of Thursday's practice but is expected to start against the Chiefs on Saturday. Harper has been limited work this past week.
--LB Keith O'Neil (knee) returned to practice on Thursday and will be available for the Chiefs game on Saturday. O'Neil suffered a sprained knee against Miami last Sunday. He did not practice Tuesday and saw limited work on Thursday.
--WR Ricky Proehl (hamstring) has not practiced this week and is not expected to be available for the Kansas City game on Saturday. Proehl has been bothered by a strained hamstring for the past two weeks.
--WR Aaron Moorehead will most likely see increased playing time this week in the Colts' three-wide set. Moorehead stepped in two weeks ago against Houston and has been seeing more work since the Texans game.
--OG Ryan Lilja (knee) has not practiced this week and most likely won't be available to play against the Chiefs on Saturday. Lilja suffered a strained right knee against Houston two weeks ago and has not practiced or played since he incurred the injury.
--With Lilja expected to be sidelined, second-year OG Dylan Gandy will get the start. Gandy started 10 games for the Colts this year and split time with Lilja for most of the season.
INSIDE THE CAMPS:
In their last three playoff appearances (1995, 1997 and 2003), the Chiefs were top dogs, the No. 1 seed in the AFC with 13-3 records, a first-round bye and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.
They promptly lost their first game all three times. Two of those losses (1995 and 2003) were to the Indianapolis Colts, their opponent in Saturday's first round of the AFC playoffs.
This year, however, Kansas City goes into the post-season as a decided underdog, the 9-7 sixth seed that gets no time off and is guaranteed to be on the road for as long as it survives.
Who knows? Maybe things will be different this time.
Quarterback Trent Green already senses a different mood in the team's locker room.
"It's quite a bit different," said Green, recalling the days leading up to Kansas City's 38-31 shootout loss in '03 in which neither the Chiefs nor Colts punted.
"Back then everybody was feeling good about everything. We had the home game, there was a much different feel in the locker room.
"Now we're the sixth seed, we're on the road, there are not a lot of believers in what we've got. Maybe there's a better sense of urgency now that we're not in the position we were a couple years back.
"Who knows? Maybe it's better that we're going on the road."
Actually, the last time Kansas City won a playoff game, it did so on the road, and in a dome. The Joe Montana-Marcus Allen team of 1993 defeated Houston in the AFC semifinals at the Astrodome before losing the following week in the AFC championship game in Buffalo.
Defensive end Dwight Freeney got a close up look at Kansas City running back Priest Holmes the last time the Indianapolis Colts and Chiefs matched up for an AFC postseason game.
Indianapolis won the divisional playoff game, 38-31, at Arrowhead Stadium nearly four years ago but Holmes ran over, around and through the Colts defense for 176 yards on 24 carries and scored a pair of touchdowns.
Freeney and Co. will get to face another Kansas City workhorse Saturday as Larry Johnson, the NFL's No. 2 rusher with 1,789 yards and 17 touchdowns, will get to try and see what he can do against the league's worst run defense.
"If I was on the other team and I watched the games, I would say the same thing, 'Oh yeah, we can run on the Colts.' It's up to us to step up to the plate," Freeney said. "It's up to us to go out there and answer all those critics and just play how we know how to play."
That being said, the Colts' career sack leader knows it won't be easy trying to slow down the hard-running Johnson, who set an NFL single-season record this year with 416 carries.
"Larry is an Eddie George type of runner when Eddie was in his prime," Freeney said of the former Titans running back. "He is a down-hill slasher. He can make a guy miss and he can also run away from you. He's going to be a tough back to stop."
Freeney also compared the ex-Penn State runner to the elusive Holmes (who is out for the season with a neck injury).
"Obviously, Priest has been doing it for years. He can blaze you around the corner and you think you got him and, all of a sudden, he makes three or four guys miss and then he's running down the sidelines."
The key, according to Freeney, is to not allow Johnson to break a long run.
"You want to prevent the big play. But you also want to get the ball back to the offense. Like I have said before. The main thing is just winning the game, whatever it takes," he said.
"If it's making a big play or making somebody fumble, if it's a couple of three-and-outs, whatever it is. It's all about getting to next week (in the playoffs). We're going to do whatever we have to do in our game plan to get there."
Game Snapshot: Chiefs vs. Colts
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