Kansas City Chiefs (4-2) at Indianapolis Colts (3-4)
KICKOFF: Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, Lucas Oil Stadium. TV: CBS, Spero Dedes, Solomon Wilcots.
SERIES HISTORY: 21st regular-season meeting. Colts lead series, 12-8. They also have a 4-0 edge in the playoffs (1995, 2003, 2006 and 2013.) The last time they faced each other was the first round of the 2013 AFC playoffs, when the Colts were 17 points down with 19 minutes to play. Led by quarterback Andrew Luck, Indianapolis fought back and won 45-44 in one of the biggest comebacks in postseason history. The most recent Chiefs victory came in 2011.
KEYS TO THE GAME: Last week, the Kansas City defense played with a bend-don't-break attitude and allowed the Saints a lot of yards but just three touchdowns. The same approach would serve them well on the road against the Colts. The Indianapolis offense is ninth in the league at 372.4 yards per game. The Chiefs lead the NFL with 10 interceptions, but they rank among the league's least productive pass rushes with only eight sacks.
The Colts have 31 passing plays of 20 yards or more, with Luck connecting with nine receivers on those plays. The Kansas City defense has given up 20 pass plays of 20 yards or more. A balanced offense and ball control will help the K.C. defense when facing Luck. They know what is possible from the Colts' offense. The last time the teams met, Luck threw three second-half touchdown passes and Indianapolis overcame a 17-point deficit with 19 minutes to play.
The Colts have to figure out a way to be more consistent with their pass rush and to force more turnovers. Indianapolis has recorded just 11 sacks while coming up with two interceptions and recovering five of the 11 fumbles that have been forced.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH:
--Chiefs RT Mitchell Schwartz vs. Colts OLB Erik Walden and DE Robert Mathis. Kansas City's pass protection group has improved in recent games. They gave up 13 sacks in the first four games, but just one in the last two outings. The highest-rated blocker in five of the six games has been Schwartz, who turned in two of his best K.C. performances in the victories over Oakland and New Orleans. He should see plenty of Walden (five sacks) and Mathis (119 career sacks). Schwartz and his blocking mates must first create running room for K.C. rushers and then protect Smith from Walden and Mathis.
--Chiefs DT Dontari Poe vs. Colts C Ryan Kelly. The Kansas City defense lost defensive end Allen Bailey before last Sunday's game, and the absence of the veteran appeared to affect Poe. The big tackle played 62 of 74 defensive snaps and was not credited with a tackle, assist, sack or quarterback pressure. That is not the type of afternoon he can have against the Colts and Kelly, the first-round rookie. Kelly has been the Indianapolis starter since the preseason and he's frequently one of the highest-rated offensive players for the Colts. A big mauler (6-4, 313), Kelly has the body type to battle Poe (6-3, 346) in the middle, whether in pass protection or the run game.
PLAYER SPOTLIGHT: Chiefs LB Dee Ford. Last week, the Chiefs defense produced one sack against New Orleans and that was from blitzing safety Daniel Sorensen. Ford had two sacks in the victory over Oakland, but did not get New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees on the ground last Sunday. Rehabbing starter Justin Houston is likely just one more week from being activated from the physically-unable-to-perform list. Ford's production has been up and down in the first six games. Against the Colts, he needs pass rush production.
INJURY REPORT: Kansas City -- Out: RB Jamaal Charles (knee), G Jordan Devey (ankle), CB D.J. White (hand). Questionable: T Mitchell Schwartz (ankle). Indianapolis -- Out: TE Dwayne Allen (ankle), DT Henry Anderson (knee), DE Kendall Langford (knee), LB Curt Maggitt (ankle), G Jack Mewhort (tricep), WR Chester Rogers (hamstring, foot). Questionable: WR Donte Moncrief (shoulder).
FAST FACTS: In the 2013 wild-card meeting at Indianapolis, Chiefs QB Alex Smith threw for 378 yards and four TDs. ... Colts QB Andrew Luck threw for 443 yards and four TDs in that game. He has thrown for 300 yards in five of his past six home games, with 15 TDs. His 31 completions of 20-plus yards this season are tied for second in the NFL. ... Colts WR T.Y. Hilton had 224 receiving yards and two TDs in the wild-card meeting. He has been hot in the past two games at home, with 345 yards and two scores. ... Colts LB Robert Mathis had two forced fumbles and a sack in the last meeting. He scored on a fumble return last week. ... Colts K Adam Vinatieri's 43 consecutive field goals are the most in NFL history.
PREDICTION: The Colts have been much better at home than on the road this season, and Luck should be able to hit enough big plays to offset any turnovers.
OUR PICK: Colts, 24-21.