Weather forecast: Cloudy, with a high near 24. Northwest wind 10 to 13 mph. Chance of precipitation is 20%.
Line: Chiefs -7, Over/Under: 46.5
The Chiefs are 8-6 ATS.
The Chiefs are 2-5 ATS at home.
The Chiefs are 7-4 ATS as the favorite.
The Chiefs are 2-4 ATS as a home favorite.
The Colts are 7-7 ATS.
The Colts are 3-4 ATS away.
The Colts are 3-2 ATS as the underdog.
The Colts are 1-2 ATS as an away underdog.
Chiefs: One thing the Chiefs want to continue doing as the regular season winds to a conclusion is score touchdowns. (DUH!) They've been doing so at quickened pace. Over the first 10 games, the Chiefs offense scored 37 touchdowns. Over the last four games they've scored 19, including seven rushing and receiving touchdowns against Oakland last Sunday. Throw in four touchdowns from the kicking game and defense and they have averaged 41.8 points per game in the last month. In the first 10 games they averaged 23.2 points each game. That increase of nearly 20 points per game has created confidence within the Chiefs locker room that they can go out and play any type of game that develops.
Colts: The Chiefs under Andy Reid are similar as they were in the best years of Marty Schottenheimer in that they live and breathe with turnovers. The Raiders call plays designed to take occasional shots but most important have Matt McGloin avoid risky plays which could result in interceptions. They'll look to run the ball with Rashad Jennings and Marcel Reece to maintain good down and distance to avoid the kind of 10-sack disaster that doomed the Raiders in Kansas City. Defensively, the Raiders have looked like a tired team for the past two games, with little ability to generate either natural pressure or with the blitz. They'll continue to play as they have, mixing coverages and sending varying blitzes -- only they'll have to do it much better.
Chiefs: "Three touchdowns on screen passes? I've never seen anything like it, and I certainly have never been part of something like that. Jamaal was simply amazing on those plays. There isn't much he can't do with the ball in his hands." Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith talking about teammate Jamaal Charles and the three touchdowns they connected on against Oakland via screen passes.
Colts: "Play smart. Limit turnovers offensively. Be aggressive on defense.
The Colts got off to a good start on offense in last week's home-field win over Houston by going uptempo and by spreading out the Texans defense. Look for more of the same on Sunday against Kansas City.
Communication will be the key. It will be very noisy at Arrowhead Stadium, so everybody being on the same page will be important. Keeping the focus when things get crazy, and it will get crazy at Kansas City, is paramount.
Defensively, the Colts have to be able to play fast but also play under control. Don't try to do anything out of their comfort zone. Containing the run and the screen pass are crucial. Kansas City likes to catch defense out of position and then go for the big play. Can't allow that to happen on Sunday.
-- Chiefs CBs Brandon Flowers and Sean Smith vs. Colts WRs T.Y. Hilton and Darrius Heyward-Bey -- In recent weeks the Chiefs defense has had problems stopping the passing game of opponents and they've been giving up a lot of big yardage plays. For instance last Sunday against Oakland, they gave up eight completions of 20 yards or more. Defensive coordinator Bob Sutton has sprinkled in more zone coverages in the last few weeks, but it will likely be Flowers covering Hilton and Smith on Heyward-Bey. Smith has struggled in the last few games.
-- Chiefs pass protection vs. Colts OLB Robert Mathis -- It's been quite a season so far for Mathis, who leads the NFL with 16 sacks in 14 games. That's a career-high number for him, coming in the first season where he did not have to share the pass rushing limelight with Dwight Freeney. Indy's defensive coaching staff led by former Chiefs LB Greg Manusky likes to move Mathis all over the place when he's coming after the quarterback. He's likely to go head-to-head at one point with all five K.C. blockers. Most of the pressure will be on the tackles Eric Fisher, Donald Stephenson and possibly Branden Albert returning from a knee injury. The protection for quarterback Alex Smith has improved recently, as he's been sacked twice in the last three games with 92 total passing plays.
--Colts QB Andrew Luck vs. the Chiefs pass defense -- Luck has only been sacked once in the last two games while throwing six touchdowns and only one interception. Kansas City has recorded 20 interceptions and 43 sacks so far this season.
--Chiefs RB Jamaal Charles vs. the Colts defense -- Charles has rushed for 1,181 yards and 11 touchdowns while also catching 65 passes for 655 yards and seven touchdowns. Yes, he's that good and he's a candidate for NFL Offensive Player of the Year and MVP awards. The Indianapolis defense has been hot and cold so far this year. They need to step up in a big way on Sunday.
ESPN Game Preview:
Because of some surprising results last week, both the Indianapolis Colts and Kansas City Chiefs still have an outside shot at earning a first-round bye in the AFC playoffs.
There's also a decent chance Sunday's matchup at Arrowhead Stadium won't be their last this season.
Already in the postseason, both the Chiefs and Colts will have their minds set on improving their seeding in what could wind up as a preview of an AFC wild-card matchup.
The South champion Colts (9-5) benefited greatly from the results in Week 15, which saw the AFC's three other division leaders -- Denver, New England and Cincinnati -- all lose. Because of that, the Colts will claim a first-round bye if they are able to win out, and Baltimore -- which faces the Patriots and Bengals during the final two weeks -- also wins its final two games.
Indianapolis closes the season against Jacksonville.
"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."
To win out, the Colts must show better consistency than they have over the past six weeks. Since Nov. 10, the team has alternated wins and losses every week, most recently beating Houston 25-3 last Sunday. However, Indianapolis' inability to string together impressive performances could be costly come playoff time.
Coach Chuck Pagano said he is not worried about the team's streaky play.
"I just think these guys are able to move on, win or lose," Pagano said on his weekly radio show. "They are able to put the last game behind them, make corrections that you always have and stick to the process. It's the next game. Stick to the process. Our guys do a great job of that."
The Chiefs (11-3) have bounced back from their three-game losing streak by scoring a combined 101 points in two road wins. Running back Jamaal Charles had 195 yards receiving and accounted for five touchdowns in last Sunday's 56-31 rout of Oakland.
The win sealed a playoff berth for the Chiefs, an impressive accomplishment after last season's 2-14 finish.
"Anytime you can clinch a playoff spot, it's special," quarterback Alex Smith said. "Obviously, there's still some left to go here, in the division, but yeah, it's special. It's what you're playing for, it's what you worked for all offseason to get to the postseason."
The Chiefs will need Denver to lose at least one of its final two games in order to earn a first-round bye. If they are unable to pass the Broncos, the Chiefs will be the AFC's fifth seed and could well face the Colts again in two weekends in Indianapolis.
"I'll probably tell you the same thing that I told you when we played Denver, you give it the best shot your first time and then you come back, two weeks later, and give it your best shot then," coach Andy Reid said of the possibility of facing the Colts twice. "That's how we'll approach it."
Charles leads the AFC in rushing yards with 1,181 -- he's also hauled in a team-high 65 receptions -- and a Kansas City offense that's averaged 5.3 yards per carry the past five weeks figures to be eager to run this week. Indianapolis lost middle linebacker Pat Angerer for the season due to a knee injury suffered against the Texans.
Charles nearly single-handedly took down the Colts last Dec. 23, rushing for 226 yards and a touchdown on 22 carries. But the Chiefs turned it over three times and Andrew Luck's fourth-quarter touchdown pass to Reggie Wayne gave the Colts a 20-13 win at Arrowhead.
Though Kansas City has won by a combined 60 points the past two weeks, there are still issues to fix on the defensive end. Over their past eight games, the Chiefs have allowed 47 plays of 20 or more yards, the most in the NFL.
"Yeah, we have to cut down on that," Reid said. "Big plays can hurt you, obviously. We're addressing that and we'll get that worked out. I wouldn't get hung up on it, too much now. The final score is what you're looking at, that and turnovers.
The Chiefs have been quite good in that regard, producing an NFL-best plus-21 turnover differential and a league-high 35 takeaways after getting seven against Oakland.
Turnovers might be hard to come by in this game. Indianapolis and Kansas City are tied for the fewest turnovers in the league with 14, and the Colts have only given it away three times in seven road games.