Week 16 in the NFL is full of vitally important games for a number of teams. Division titles are at stake, playoff spots are at stake, and playoff positions are at stake. In the case of the Indianapolis Colts going on the road to take on the Kansas City Chiefs, it’s a little bit about division titles and playoff positions. Currently, the Colts have already clinched the AFC South, but can still reach the number two seed in the AFC playoffs while the Chiefs are currently tied with the Denver Broncos for the AFC West lead and need to win their final two games to have any shot of winning the division.
The biggest problem plaguing the Colts these days is the fact that their defense appears to have died. Over the last two months, the Colts have allowed less than 22 points once and that was to the Houston Texans last week. During this stretch of games, the Colts’ defense allowed the offenses of the St. Louis Rams, Arizona Cardinals, and Cincinnati Bengals to have their way with them, resulting in humiliating losses. Even in games the Colts have won during the last two months, their offense has had to bail out the defense every time; they only beat the Broncos by six, the Tennessee Titans and Texans (the first time they played them) by three, and the Titans by eight the second time the Colts played them.
This should be a major concern for the Colts because the Chiefs have been dominating defenses that play poorly as of late. Just last week against the Oakland Raiders, Jamaal Charles and the Chiefs went wild to the tune of 56 points. The week before, the Chiefs dropped 45 on the Washington Redskins during a very cold and snowy game in Washington D.C. And before that they scored 28 and 38 in close losses to the Broncos and San Diego Chargers respectively.
Part of the success of the Chiefs’ offense as of late has been the play of Alex Smith getting more and more efficient with each game. This creates confidence in a player and Smith with confidence could be a very scary thing for the Colts. Smith has always been surrounded by doubt from the outside as to whether he can play good in more than just a game here and there. The fact that this season has proven that Smith can produce on a weekly basis is one thing, but the fact that is winning on a regular basis and has the Chiefs, a 2-14 team last season, in position to potentially win the AFC West shows that Smith’s potential as a player is finally coming out.
Some weeks Smith has completed a lot of passes and others he hasn’t. However, those few games recently where he has completed less than 20 passes have been during very accurate games through the air for Smith.
The key to this game is injuries, specifically injuries to the Colts. They are already missing Reggie Wayne, their best receiver, they are missing multiple running backs to the point that their running game has been virtually non-existent since October, and now their offensive line has fallen victim to the injury bug that has plagued this team all season.
It came out on Friday that Colts offensive linemen Hugh Thornton, Jeffrey Linkenbach, and Joe Reitz are all out for Sunday’s game in Kansas City. While Thornton was the only regular starter of these three, it’s still a big hit to the depth of the Colts’ offensive line, and a hit like this to the depth of any part of the roster is something to be concerned about this late in the regular season.
The Chiefs are rolling while the Colts are in a pattern of winning one week and losing the next. The Colts have played its poorest football in the last two months on the road and while the Chiefs have had their losses at home recently, those losses came against teams that were far less vulnerable on game day than the Colts are heading into Sunday.
It may be close and it may show the Chiefs still have their issues when playing against teams that aren’t among the NFL’s worst, but they will come out of this game with the win.
My Prediction: Kansas City (-6.5) 31, Indianapolis 23
Straight Up: 8-7