It's no secret that the Kansas City Chiefs are 3-0 going into their biggest challenge of the season—Peyton Manning's Indianapolis Colts. Peyton Manning has a history of carving up young defenses by picking out the most vulnerable and inexperienced players in the unit and exploiting them by keying in on them for the entire game.
The Chiefs have a lineup loaded with these types of players. To the naked eye, this may seem like Peyton's dream matchup. That's good news for the Chiefs going into this contest.
While the Colts are going into a tough division matchup against the Jacksonville Jaguars this week, the Chiefs get the week off to do nothing but focus on beating the Colts in Week 5 and getting to 4-0. Romeo Crennel has had Manning's number for most of Manning's career. During Romeo's stint as the defensive coordinator in New England, his defenses owned Manning.
Peyton never really could figure out Romeo's defensive schemes. No other defense has ever frustrated Manning quite like that Patriots defense did. Chiefs LB Mike Vrabel was also a key contributor in that New England defense. Now Romeo and Vrabel get two full weeks to gameplan for the Colts.
While Vrabel may no longer possess the physical tools to reek the havoc on the Colts that he once did, he has more than enough knowledge to teach the Chiefs talented younger LBs just how to neutralize the Colt's offensive attack. The Chiefs have a speedy, aggressive defense that has proven to be effective at getting to opposing QBs this season.
Tamba Hali and Glenn Dorsey will have to play big rolls in this game if the Chiefs are to pull off the upset. They'll need to be effective getting pressure on Peyton so that LBs Derrick Johnson and Vrabel will be free to cover the middle on short pass plays and keep Colts RB Joseph Addai to minimal gains.
Peyton historically has the trouble when he's pressured. If the Chiefs can get to him early and set the tone by trolling the Colts backfield, the Colts will have a long day of watching Peyton's passes sail out of bounds. Crennel is great at disguising blitz packages to keep his opponents guessing, which will be key in this game.
The Colts are one of the worst teams at running the ball in the NFL, making them one-dimensional right off the bat. This does half of the Chiefs defense's work for them. If they don't have to make the Colts one-dimensional, they can focus on the one dimension that the Colts do well, passing
As long as the Chiefs front seven does their job well, rookie safety Eric Berry will be able to focus more on coverage resulting in him not getting burnt on big plays as easily as he has so far this year. With Berry and CB Brandon Flowers able to put the majority of their focus on the Colts' Lego board of wide receivers, Peyton should have a hard time finding anything deep.
The Chiefs' offensive responsibilities are far less complex. They need to run, run, pass, and run some more. RBs Thomas Jones and Jamaal Charles are tops in the league in yards per game right now. The Chiefs are getting 160 yards per game, almost exclusively from these two backs.
They are the leagues best one-two punch from the backfield. If they can get going downhill from the start of the game, play action passes will keep the Colts' pass-rush at bay. DE Dwight Freeney is one of the leagues best pass-rushers, and MLB Gary Brackett is equally as effective in that department.
If those two have to focus on the two-headed monster that is the Kansas City backfield, Chiefs QB Matt Cassel should be able to get some breathing room in the pocket. He'll be able to find his favorite target, rookie TE Tony Moeaki, over the middle to set up WR Dwayne Bowe deep in one on one coverage a couple of times throughout the game.
Bowe will have to be sure-handed in Week 5— something he hasn't always been—for the Chiefs to come out on top. Also, it wouldn't hurt for the big play dynamo that we know as Dexter McCluster to work a little magic as only he can with a big play or two.
In the return game, Javier Arenas needs to spend some time practicing the art of the fair catch during the team's bye week. He is as risky as he is explosive. He has been rung up more than a handful of times already this year. If Arenas doesn't start doing a better job of taking care of the ball, it will eventually result in a costly turnover at a key time somewhere down the road.
The Chiefs will need to play mistake-free football if they plan to beat the Colts, but they have an extra week to figure out how to do that. The Chiefs are on a roll right now, and they are probably on an emotional high. That could lead to a big let-down if they had to ride it right into a Week 4 matchup with the Colts.
Luckily for them, they won't have to do that. The extra week will give head coach Todd Haley, offensive coordinator Charlie Weis, and defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel the luxury of bringing this young, hot team back down to Earth in time for their next game.
Also, Charlie Weis is recovering from emergency gall bladder surgery, and gets an extra week to heal. The bye week means that he won't miss the game against his rival Colts—Weis was the offensive coordinator opposite Crennel on the Patriots Super Bowl winning staff.
I wish Charlie a speedy and complication-free recovery, and not just from a fan's viewpoint. Weis put off the surgery so that he could coach in the Week 3 win against the San Francisco 49ers. He's a real "trooper," and a big part of the Chiefs' recent success.
All of the pieces are in place for the Chiefs to successfully get a win in Indianapolis. All that's left is to play the game. Study hard, prepare well, and get some rest young Chiefs—you'll need to for this one.
Chiefs fans haven't forgotten who the team is that knocked the out of the playoffs in their last two playoff appearances. Hopefully the Chiefs can get a little redemption in Week 5. I feel it is necessary to give a prediction for this game's outcome for it to truly be a complete preview.
Chiefs 24, Colts 20
However, regardless of how this contest turns out, this game will mark the first time since 2005 that the majority of Chiefs fans can truly say for a game of this magnitude the following statement:
We are ready for some football.