NFL wildcard weekend: Indianapolis Colts v Kansas City Chiefs at Lucas Oil Stadium
By Paul Higham Twitter: @SkySportsPaulH. Last Updated: 04/01/14 1:55pm
We take a look back at the The Indianapolis Colts' season and their route to the Super Bowl playoffs.
Wildcard weekend starts with a bang as the Colts welcome the Chiefs to Indianapolis in the second meeting between the two in three weeks - with Kansas City looking to gain revenge by ending the home side's season.
Both teams finished the season 11-5 but it is the Colts who have home field advantage and also the psychological edge from their 23-7 victory just 13 days prior to this match-up, but this game promises to be much tighter, so what will be the keys to victory?
Big game Colts
Indy have beaten two teams that ended up with 13 wins - Seattle and Denver - and the 12-win 49ers this season, along with their victory in Kansas City. They outscored Peyton Manning, evaded Seattle's Legion of Boom defence and ran all over the Niners - in San Francisco - to showcase their all-round abilities.
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- January 1, 1970 1:00am
Only two other teams in the last decade have beaten three 12+ win teams - the Pats won the Super Bowl and Ravens lost the AFC title game - so the Colts are well equipped in big-game atmospheres. The Chiefs, by contrast, lost to Denver and San Diego twice and have only beaten one play-off team - the Eagles - this year.
All-important when it comes to play-off games, the Colts have won three straight entering the post-season conceding just 20 points in the process - while the Chiefs lost five of their last seven although that final game came when they put out the reserves.
In the play-offs, Indy have lost their last three including last year against eventual champs Baltimore, but they are sure to improve from that experience. Kansas City have not won a play-off game since 1994 when Joe Montana was their quarterback.
You can look all over the field for individual match-up keys, but the winner of this game will be the team that takes care of the football - it's almost always the case in big games but with these two teams it's even more vital.
The Colts have committed an NFL-best 14 turnovers this season - QB Andrew Luck has thrown just nine interceptions - while the Chiefs are tied for second with only 18, and four of those came in their last game against Indy. With both teams securing the ball well, any turnover almost counts double in this one.
Linebacker Justin Houston's return for the Chiefs will help them try and exert some pressure on Luck, wide receiver Dwayne Bowe has recovered from concussion and left tackle Branden Albert is back from a knee injury. Tamba Hali and Eric Fisher are in danger of missing out though. The Colts are getting healthy just at the right time.
Andrew Luck is the obvious one, if his offensive line continues to protect him well he has all the ability to win the game for the Colts. Losing star receiver Reggie Wayne was a big blow, but the second-year QB has started to develop Da'Rick Rodgers, LaVon Brazil and Griff Whalen - they need to step up in the unfamiliar surroundings of a play-off game.
With Alex Smith keen to protect the ball, a large portion of Jamaal Charles both in the running and receiving game will be the order of the day for the Chiefs offence. Charles ran for 106 yards but was largely contained by the Colts last time out, but anyone with 1,287 yards rushing, 693 yards receiving and 19 touchdowns has to be feared.
It should be a close one, but Luck has more game-winning drives (10) than anyone else in the NFL since he entered the league, and in a tight one he again can be the difference between success and failure.
Don't miss Sky's coverage of the NFL play-offs. Kansas City face Indianapolis on Saturday, live on Sky Sports 1 from 9pm followed by New Orleans v Philadelphia