The Indianapolis Colts and Kansas City Chiefs are two of three NFL teams that have already clinched a playoff berth. In Week 16, they’ll both try to improve their seeding when they meet at Arrowhead Stadium.
The contest means more to the Chiefs, who are in a battle for the AFC West. They both sit at 11-3, but the Denver Broncos have the advantage with victories in both head-to-head-meetings. The winner of the division is also likely to have home-field advantage throughout the postseason. The two clubs are tied for the best record in the conference, but the one who finishes in second place will be relegated to the wild card and a road game in the first round.
The Colts are the only team in football to have wrapped up their division. They have a chance of playing for a bye, and possibly the No.1 seed. However, they currently hold the No.4 spot and trail the Broncos and Chiefs by two games. Even though the Colts don’t have much to play for, they insist that they will treat this game like any other.
"Regardless of what happens with anyone else, we want to win the rest of our games and kind of be catching fire here at the right time going into the playoffs," left tackle Anthony Castonzo said. "We want to be playing our best ball regardless of what happens with any other teams."
The two teams had similar paths to where they are now. The Chiefs had the better start by going 9-0, but the Colts went 6-2 with wins against the likes of the Broncos, San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks. Since the middle of the season, though, they’ve just been average.
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The Chiefs look to be getting out of their funk. After three straight losses, including two to Denver, they’ve beaten the Washington Redskins and Oakland Raiders by a total of 60 points. The Colts, on the other hand, have continued to alternate wins and losses. They’ve done so since Week Nine, and are on pace for a defeat on Sunday.
Neither team has gotten to this point by putting up big offensive numbers, with neither the Chiefs nor Colts ranking in the top 10 in passing or rushing. Both are headed to the playoffs, in large part, because of their ability to hold onto the ball. The two teams are tied with 14 turnovers, which is the fewest in the league. Thirty quarterbacks have thrown more interceptions than Alex Smith’s six, and Andrew Luck is tied for 20th with nine picks.
The Chiefs do have the one playmaker on either side that should make the Pro Bowl. Jamaal Charles has accounted for a major portion of Kansas City’s offense. Not only does he lead the AFC with 1,181 rushing yards, but he’s first on the team with 65 catches and 655 receiving yards. He’s reached the end zone 18 times, including five in the team’s Week 15 victory.
"The guy is and has been a game wrecker for a long time and is having an unbelievable season of course," Indianapolis head coach Chuck Pagano told the media. "The numbers speak for themselves. (He's) just a rare, rare athlete. He's somebody that is running the football, catching the ball in the backfield, whatever, spread out as a wide receiver, it doesn't matter.”
The Colts are very vulnerable against the run, and haven’t held a team below 100 yards in two months. They will face an even bigger challenge when they play without Pat Angerer. The middle linebacker saw his season come to an end against the Houston Texans because of a knee injury.
Most Las Vegas casinos have Kansas City as 6.5-point favorites. The Chiefs have covered the betting line in eight of 14 tries. The Colts are 7-6-1 against the spread.
Betting Odds: Kansas City -6.5, 45
Prediction: Kansas City 30, Indianapolis 20