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The NFL Wildcard round of the playoffs starts this weekend and only the 12 best teams survived the regular season to make it to the playoffs. Two of those teams are the Kansas City Chiefs and the Indianapolis Colts and they will match up in Indianapolis in the AFC Wild Card game. This is a rematch from a few weeks ago when the Colts beat the Chiefs in Kansas City. Andrew Luck and the Colts will hope to repeat that performance if they hope to make it to the next round of the playoffs. Read Full Preview Here
Check back all week as this thread will be updated on a regular basis with information on this game and a free pick by gameday!
Chiefs at Colts minus-2.5: Sportsbook opened the Colts minus-1.5, but BetOnline and 5Dimes went as high as 3. Those didn't last long, and, when the LVH posted the Colts minus-2.5 around 7:30 p.m. PT, that was the consensus number, and it has stayed there overnight, although some books are dealing heavier juice on the favorite, so we'll see whether it gets back to 3 anywhere. The over/under was bet up at the LVH from 46 to 46.5.
Andy Reid's Kansas City Chiefs enter the playoffs coming off a virtual Week 17 bye when the coach rested 20 of 22 starters in the regular-season finale.
Few would argue Reid's wisdom in protecting banged-up playmakers such as pass-rushing dynamo Tamba Hali (sore knee) and receiver Dwayne Bowe, who is recovering from a concussion. Quarterback Alex Smith, multi-purpose back Jamaal Charles and defensive stalwarts Derrick Johnson and Dontari Poe were also in street clothes Sunday.
Locked into the AFC's fifth playoff seed before kickoff, it seemed the Chiefs (11-5) had nothing at stake against the desperate San Diego Chargers. But did Kansas City possibly lose a touch of focus, or maybe some momentum? Will that day of rest raise its ugly head in some early form of rust during this Saturday's wild-card visit with Andrew Luck and the suddenly surging Indianapolis Colts (11-5)?
Though the junior varsity Chiefs pushed the Chargers into overtime before falling 27-24, Reid's approach will be judged on how his team responds against a Colts squad that whipped the Chiefs 23-7 on Dec. 22 in Kansas City.
Not everyone would have followed Reid's plan.
Old school New York Giants coach Tom Coughlin had nothing to gain at the end of the regular season in 2007 but opted to play his starters against the undefeated New England Patriots. Coughlin's team lost a 38-35 battle that day but seemed to gain empowering confidence against a New England squad that overwhelmed so many foes on its way to the NFL's only 16-0 regular season.
The Giants, 10-6 that year, stunned the Patriots in Super Bowl XLII five weeks later.
"I remember Tom walks into our meeting — he's got his old Tom Coughlin way, going through paperwork — and he's like, 'Oh yeah, guys, we're playing. We're trying to win this game,' " former Giants receiver Amani Toomer recalled Tuesday. "I just remember everybody got charged up because we felt we could beat that Patriots team.
"Our team gained a lot playing on that stage. That propelled us to the Super Bowl title."
The Giants won all their playoff games on the road that postseason, first vanquishing the Buccaneers in Tampa Bay. New York may not have been rested but, unlike the Bucs, the Giants weren't rusty, either.
"The Bucs had rested their guys a couple of weeks," says Toomer, now a SiriusXM NFL Radio analyst. "They weren't crisp and we were. ... The playoffs are so close with teams so evenly matched, you can't overcome those type of things.
"You start slow, you give up a turnover — that can be the difference in a playoff game."
NFL postseason history is littered with well-rested backfires.
Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy sat quarterback Aaron Rodgers in the 2011 regular-season finale after the team had already secured the NFC's No.1 seed on its way to a franchise-best 15-1 record.
But Rodgers hadn't played for three weeks before facing the Giants in that season's divisional round. He was intercepted that day (he threw only six other picks during that MVP season), his receivers dropped six passes and Green Bay committed three more turnovers in a stunning 37-20 loss at Lambeau Field.
The Giants went on to win the Super Bowl that season, too.
"It's a very slippery slope. I just think you want to play it all out," Toomer said. "I've never been an advocate of resting. Football players are creatures of habit. We want to keep on playing."
Reid pushed plenty of the right buttons in 14 years with the Philadelphia Eagles, reaching five NFC Championship Games and one Super Bowl. Now he's guided Kansas City back to postseason one year after a 2-14 debacle.
But Reid is still chasing his first Lombardi Trophy as a head coach. He'll have to hope a fresh band of Chiefs can make progress toward that goal in Indianapolis against a team that also had little to play for down the stretch but won its final three games decisively with the starters playing significant snaps.
"The Colts are going to win," said Toomer. "Andy Reid's doing a hell of a job. But the physical nature of the Colts — they've knocked down every good team this year — the Broncos, Chiefs, Seahawks. This is a very scary team, especially playing at home."
Toomer doesn't believe in the Chiefs — rested or restless — who created many doubters by losing five of their final seven games.
"How poorly they've played since their 9-0 start, they're not the same team they were earlier this year," Toomer said. "Their sacks are down, exposing their defense. ... Without their pass rushers, Justin Houston and Tamba Hali, playing 100%, they're just an average team."
Andy Reid has made five NFC Championship appearances and one Super Bowl appearance as an NFL head coach. Saturday's game will be his 10th playoff appearance in 15 seasons as a head coach.
It's the Chiefs first postseason appearance since 2010 and they're seeking their first playoff win since 1/16/94 at Houston.
In his career, Chiefs QB Alex Smith has a 1-1 postseason record, with 5 TDs, 0 INTs and a 101 passer rating. On the road in 2013, Smith completed 134 of 222 passes (60.4 pct.) for 287 yards with 11 TDs, 1 INT and a 94.6 passer rating. Smith had a career-high 3,313 passing yards in 2013, as well as 431-rushing yards, the most ever in a single-season by a Chiefs QB. Since 2011, Smith is 30-9-1 (.763) as starter.
Chiefs Pro Bowl RB Jamaal Charles rushed for 82 yards on 9 att. (9.1 avg.), including a 41-yard rush TD, in his only career postseason game (vs. Bal. on 1/9/11). Charles (1,287) led the AFC in rushing for the second-consecutive season in 2013. He had an NFL-best 19 total TDs (12 rush, 7 rec.) and averaged 132 scrimmage yards per game, the best in the AFC. He totaled 144 scrimmage yards (106 rush, 38 receiving) in his last regular season game against Indianapolis.
Chiefs WR and Pro Bowl PR Dexter McCluster had a career-best in catches (53), receiving yards & TD catches (2) in 2013. He posted 2 PR-TDs this season, the most in the NFL.
The Chiefs defense allowed 19.1 points per game in 2013, tied for the AFC-low. Bob Sutton's defense had 11-return TDs in 2013, the most in the NFL.