2019 NFL Divisional round – Game 1 Colts @ Chiefs

Sexy Quarterback play doesn’t usually mean much in January but with Andrew Luck and Patrick Mahomes meeting in this game you get the feeling that there will be some pretty football on show. The weather in Kansas City won’t make it easy to throw the ball a long way through the air though as it may snow and the temperature doesn’t look to be moving above freezing all day.

If this game is affected by weather and Mahomes no look passes are replaced by a battle between the big guys at the line of scrimmage then the Running Back’s will be as important as the Quarterbacks and there could be a Kareem Hunt sized whole in the Chiefs line up. Just when it looked like Andy Reid was rolling toward a successful playoff run TMZ release a video of the Running Back’s behaviour that leads to the end of Hunt’s Chiefs career. Hunt’s release changed the balance of Reid’s Offence at the most vital part of the season. When Hunt was playing he scored 7 rushing Touchdowns and another 7 recieving, since his departure the Chiefs have struggled to find such a potent pass catching threat out of backfield and if the conditions dictate a game plan involving a lot of running and short passes the Colts defence should be able to keep a lid on the home team. For their part the Colts have actually been running an Offence which values short passes and relies on Marlon Mack and the Offensive line to tire out opposing Defensive fronts, Mack averaged 4.4 yards per carry in the 12 games he played in 2018 and last week he rattled up 148 of the Colts 200 yards on the ground!

The Colts physical Offensive line play combined with the Chiefs poor run defence is why a lot of experts are backing a road win for the Colts and that certainly seems to be a logical conclusion. The bookmakers have the Chiefs as short oddd favourites probably as they finished the regular season with the best Offence in the league and with only 1 defeat at home. I think the weather will be the big winner in this game and while I’d expect the Colts Offensive line and platoon of Running Back’s to keep score a few Touchdowns and the ball away from Mahomes last week proved that logic doesn’t always apply to playoff games. I’m hoping the Colts continue their playoff run because its about Adam Vinatieri appeared in another Super Bowl, but I’m definitely expecting something screwy to happen in this game.

NFL Playoffs – Wildcard Weekend. Game 1 – Colts @ Texans

Playoff games between divisional rivals are usually slightly disappointing because both teams are so familiar with each other. However this meeting promises to be a very even matchup as the aggregate score in their divisional meetings this season is 58-58 and in an interesting twist both teams won in their opponents’ stadium! The Texans kick-started their season with a week 4 win in Indianapolis, an overtime victory that began their 9 game winning streak. They didn’t lose again until the Colts visited NRG Stadium in week 14 a game which would launch the Colts current 4 game winning streak.

Since their last meeting the Colts have scored 84 points (an average of 28 a game) and conceded just 44 (about 15 a game). The Texans on the other hand have scored 79 (almost 27 per game) and they’ve only conceded 57 (19 per game) so all indicators point to another close game.

Turnovers have been a problem for the Colts in the last 3 games, they’ve given the ball away 4 times, twice as many times as the Texans in the same period of time. In their 2 games this season the Texans just edged the battle of the turnovers with 3 takeaways compared to the 1 the Colts managed in both games. The Colts displayed a clear advantage in terms of pass rush though as they sacked Deshaun Watson 12 times, 5 times in the last meeting at NRG.

The porosity of the Texans Offensive line could be the deciding factor in this game and while a heavy dose of Lamar Miller and Alfred Blue out of the backfield would take the steam out of the Colts pass rush I’m not sure Bill O’Brien, who made rose to prominence as a Wide Recievers and Quarterback coach in New England can talk himself into playing smash-mouth football against a divisional rival. The Colts seem to have a new found resilience and they’ve cultivated the useful habit of winning games that they look set to lose whilst never really playing very well. O’Brien’s playoff history is a source of concern too, he has only beaten the Raiders in the postseason and that was a Raiders team shorn of a starting Quarterback and it’s best Offensive lineman, when O’Brien’s Texans have faced team’s close to full strength they’ve lost (34-16 to the Patriots in 2016 and 30-0 to the Chiefs the previous year). It’s not beyond the realms of possibility this one is decided by a field goal, or a missed field goal similar to the one that handed the Colts victory on their last visit to NRG, sometimes history does repeat itself.

AFC Wildcard Game 2 Cincinnati Bengals @ Indianapolis Colts

Theoretically this a matchup of a team who pride themselves on having a strong defence; the Bengals, against a team who have one of the best passing attacks in the NFL with the Colts’ Andrew Luck leading the NFL in touchdown passes this season, breaking Peyton Manning’s franchise records for pass yards in one season and in doing so breaking the Colts record for consecutive games with 300 or more yards passing. However when the teams met at Lucas Oil Stadium in week 7 the Bengals defence was treated with serious contempt as the Colts rushed for 171 yards on their way to a comprehensive 27-0 victory!
It’s being billed as a clash of 2 Pro Bowl Quarterbacks but apart from sharing a Christian name there’s nothing really comparable about them, mainly due to the ways both teams go about their business. Luck and the Colts offence lead the NFL in pass yards this season while Dalton’s Bengals were 21st in that category a full 1473 yards behind. Dalton was also 21 touchdown passes Luck, this is largely due to the Bengals reliance on their run game, they were ranked 6th in the NFL with an average of 134.2 yards per game on the ground and only Seattle scored more rushing touchdowns with rookie Jeremy Hill’s total of 9 only being bettered by Marshawn Lynch and DeMarco Murray. The one similarity both Luck and Dalton both have is neither of them have performed to their potential during the postseason, in the 6 games they’ve appeared in between them they have combined for 1,780 yards, 7 touchdowns and a mesmerising 14 interceptions! In Luck’s favour he has actually won 1 playoff game and he’s responsible for 6 of those touchdowns and 1,062 of the 1,780 yards.
This season the Bengals pass defence was ranked 20th in the league after allowing 243 yards per game but the 18 touchdowns they allowed through the air was the 3rd fewest in the NFL, they did allow the 4th most rushing touchdowns though so the reason not many touchdown passes were scored on them may have been because teams didn’t feel the need to pass in the redzone. The Colts had the 12th best pass defence in the NFL this season and the 18th best rushing defence but their redzone defence as hardly been earth shattering just 1 playoff team (the one with the losing, the Panthers) have conceded more points than the 369 points they have allowed.
Dalton and the Bengals have racked up an impressive 5 road wins this season but the Colts haven’t lost on their home field since week 2 and while neither quarterback is exactly reliable when it comes to the playoffs Luck and the Colts have their astonishing 45-44 win in last year’s Wildcard game when they scored 35 points in the 2nd half to inspire them and propel them toward a Divisional Championship game in Foxboro next weekend.