Kansas City Chiefs (11-5 SU, 9-7 ATS) vs. Indianapolis Colts (11-5 SU, 9-6-1) ATS)
NFL Football AFC Wildcard Week
Date and Time: Saturday January 4th, 2014. 4:35PM Eastern
Where: Lucas Oil Stadium Indianapolis, I.N.
by Jay, Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: KC +2/IND -2
Over/Under Total: 46
The first game of the NFL playoffs will kick-off this Saturday inside Lucas
Oil Stadium when the Indianapolis Colts attempt to defend
their home turf against the Kansas City Chiefs. Just a few weeks ago, the
Colts defense contributed in an impressive outing by punishing the Chiefs
23-7 at Arrowhead. As most are aware, the Chiefs and new Head Coach Andy
Reid highlighted the first half of the season by matching a franchise best
9-0 SU record. However the Chiefs finished the season by losing 5 of their
last 7 games. To make matters worse if Indianapolis assembles an encore
performance to their week 16 victory, the Chiefs 20 year postseason victory
drought will continue.
In defense of the Reids late season collapse, the Chiefs had one of the toughest schedules in the NFL during the 2nd half of the season and the team could quickly turn things back around with a win this Saturday. So where did things go wrong for Kansas City? It really boils down to the defense. The Kansas City offense has consistent with quarterback Alex Smith and running back Jamaal Charles. Charles is the only running back in the NFL that not only leads his team in rushing with 1,287 yards but also leads his team in receiving with 70 catches for 693 yards. Charles has combined for 19 total touchdowns and has been absolutely outstanding as the focal point for the Chiefs offense.
Still, the problems surround the defense during the 2nd half of the year. Kansas City did not allow more than 17 points in any of their first 9 games that helped lead to a franchise best 9-0 SU start. During the latter part of the year, the Chiefs gave up a minimum of 23 points in 6 of their last 7 games. Statistically Kansas Citys defense went from being one of the best in the NFL to finishing the regular season as the 23rd ranked total defense. Obviously the competition with playing both the Broncos and Chargers twice will inflate those statistics but the Chiefs defense has to play better as well. The return of linebacker Justin Houston should help the defenses cause but will it be enough to get the team back to early season form?
The Colts closed out the season by winning 4 of their last 5 games and will be slight 2 point favorites at home again this Saturday. During that time, the Colts have been equally impressive on both sides of the ball. If that type of play continues, Indianapolis will be a tough out this postseason. Quarterback Andrew Luck has been rock solid this year with 23 touchdowns and 9 picks. Additionally the ground game has picked up in recent weeks with both Donald Brown and Trent Richardson. I believe the running game holds the key to the Colts success during the playoffs. The Colts can win football games with Luck and their solid defense. However if they are able to run the football effectively, they could be a Cinderella story in the making in terms of the NFL playoffs.
From a betting standpoint, this is a rather tough game to predict. Both the Colts and the Chiefs rank as the top two teams in turnover margin in the AFC. Both teams have offenses that can move the football consistently and have defenses that can play extremely well. The problem is both teams have had consistency issues at times this season which is always a scary angle for bettors. So what happens this weekend?
Jay’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: I am sticking with my instincts and backing the Chiefs despite their subpar finish this season. The Chiefs have the talent to turn it up a notch and I think that is exactly what happens this week as they regain momentum. Kansas City has also been impressive on the road covering the spread in 7 of their 8 games this season. Expect that trend to continue. Take Kansas City +2!