Colts-Chiefs Betting Preview: Will K.C.’s Playoff Woes Continue?
USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Colts QB Andrew Luck (12), Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes (15).
Betting odds: Indianapolis Colts at Kansas City Chiefs
- Spread: Chiefs -5
- Over/Under: 57
- Time: Saturday, 4:35 p.m. ET
- TV channel: NBC
>> All odds as of Friday morning. Download The Action Network App to get real-time NFL odds and track your bets
When the Chiefs opened at -4 they were the choice of early bettors. From Sunday night to Monday morning, they moved from -4 to -6 and at one point had more than 60% of bets.
Since then, it’s been all Colts. They now command 57% of bets and nearly 70% of the money, which has helped drive the line back down to +5 as of Thursday (check out the live odds here).
The over was also a popular choice early on. After opening at 55.5, it had moved to 57 by Tuesday morning behind about 70% of bets and 80% of dollars. It has remained at 57, but more support has come in on the under to push those percentages down to about 65% and 60%, respectively. — Mark Gallant
Initially, snow in New England was expected to be this weekend’s weather storyline. The forecast in Foxboro is dry now, but Kansas City is trending in the opposite direction.
Snow in the morning will simmer down by gametime, but snow (maybe even rain), squalls and showers will be in the area for the rest of the day.
Snow is probably the ficklest of things to predict so I would check to see the latest forecast on Saturday morning. — Gallant
Trends to know
Since the NFL-AFL merger in 1970, the Chiefs are 4-16 straight up and 3-17 against the spread in the playoffs, including 0-9 against the spread at home. — Evan Abrams
This will be the ninth time Andy Reid has led a team to the playoffs since reaching the Super Bowl with the Philadelphia Eagles in the 2004-05 season.
Reid’s teams have gone 4-8 straight up and against the spread, according to our Bet Labs data.
Reid has gone one-and-done in five of his past nine playoff appearances — John Ewing
The Colts, a dome team, will be playing outside on Saturday. Since 1990, dome teams are 12-44 SU and 18-36-2 ATS in outdoor playoff games. — Ewing
The over/under for Chiefs-Colts opened 56.5 and has been bet up to 57 at the time of writing.
Since 2003, there have been four playoff games with a total of 57 or more points. The over went 4-0 in those games going over by 6.5 points on average. — Ewing
Three teams enter the playoffs this year averaging at least 30 points per game: Chiefs, Rams and Saints.
Since 2003, teams averaging 30 PPG or more, facing a team averaging fewer than 30 PPG are 13-21 (38.2%) against the spread, failing to cover by 3.4 PPG.
When the prolific offense has more than a week to prepare for their opponent, which all three of these teams do, they are 7-17 (29.2%) ATS. — Abrams
When the Colts have the ball: Colts run-blocking vs. Chiefs front seven
Saturday will mark just the seventh game that the Colts have had all five of their starting offensive linemen this season.
The previous six games went spectacularly, as they posted a 5-1 record, averaged 33.5 PPG and allowed zero sacks.
There isn’t a single weak link on this unit:
- LT Anthony Castonzo (ranked No. 17 at his position by Pro Football Focus)
- LG Quenton Nelson (No. 4)
- C Ryan Kelly (No. 11)
- RG Mark Glowinski (No. 13)
- RT Braden Smith (No. 27)
The Chiefs’ pass rush has certainly been solid this season, as they rank seventh in adjusted sack rate and have the 10th-best pressure rate in the league.
Still, defending the run has been a different story for Kansas City. It has allowed league-worst marks in both adjusted line yards per rush (5.28) and yards per carry (4.97).
Marlon Mack & Co. should be able to find some running room on the ground. The question is whether or not the Colts will have the luxury of not playing from behind against Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs’ top-ranked scoring offense. — Ian Hartitz
When the Chiefs have the ball: Travis Kelce vs. Colts Secondary
Kelce is fresh off of posting one of the best regular seasons the tight end position has ever seen. Up next is the Colts’ 29th-ranked defense in DVOA against tight ends that has yielded a league-high 76.2 receiving yards per game to the position.
Second-year stud Malik Hooker is PFF’s No. 13 overall safety, but his range is typically utilized as the middle-high safety.
We can expect Kelce to instead spend most of his time across from both safety Clayton Geathers (No. 46) and slot corner Kendall Fuller.
This hasn’t worked against tight ends for the better part of the season, as Dallas Goedert (7-73-1), Evan Engram (6-87-0), Rob Gronkowski (6-76-0), Jordan Reed (6-55-0), Jonnu Smith (6-44-0), Ryan Griffin (5-80-0), Zach Ertz (5-73-0) and freaking James O’Shaughnessy (5-46-0) were all able to catch at least five passes against the Colts.
Don’t expect things to be any different for the league’s best tight end. — Hartitz
Luck ranked second in the league in touchdown passes with 39, and yet he still finished 11 behind Mahomes’ 50.
The only thing that gives you pause about Mahomes is seeing the quarterbacks who made their first postseason starts — Deshaun Watson, Lamar Jackson, Mitchell Trubisky — struggle to varying degrees last week, with none leading their team to more than 16 points.
Even so, it’s still tough to go against Mahomes. Both of these quarterbacks were below-average against pressure this season, with Luck ranking 19th in passer rating under pressure (73.4) and Mahomes clocking in at 22nd (70.4), but a Chiefs defense ranked seventh in adjusted sack rate (8.0%) is more likely to get pressure than Indianapolis’ 29th-ranked unit (5.3%). — Chris Raybon
Andy Reid’s experience should give him the edge here, but his previous postseason failures and questionable late-game clock management allows Frank Reich and his staff to draw even.
In Reich’s first postseason appearance since overseeing an Eagles offense that piled up 513 yards and 41 points Super Bowl 52, he entered Houston with a balanced game plan that netted his team 422 total yards, including 200 on the ground, and a 9-of-14 third-down conversion rate.
On the other side of the ball, Chiefs defensive coordinator Bob Sutton has led his defenses to above-average finishes in points allowed and takeaways five times each in six seasons
Sutton’s defenses play especially well in Arrowhead, which is a big reason the under has hit at a 65.3% rate in the Reid-Sutton era, per Bet Labs.
But Colts defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus is a rising star who perfectly defended Deshaun Watson with Cover 2 looks, and though that won’t be as easy against Mahomes, who destroys zone coverage, Eberflus has earned plenty of respect by taking the Colts defense from 27th to 10th in DVOA in Year 1. — Raybon
Special teams: Chiefs
Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri went just 23-of-27 on field goals and missed three extra-points during the regular season.
Harrison Butker finished the 2018 regular season with slightly better stats for the Chiefs, making 24-of-27 field goals and a tad higher XP percentage.
I still trust Vinatieri and his track record, but given their respective performances this year, I have to give a slight edge to the Chiefs at kicker.
Both teams have had solid production in the punting game, although Indy has the better net numbers and inside 20/touchback numbers.
The Colts’ 44.5 net punting average ranked third in the NFL, while the Chiefs came in at a respectable 42.8 (ninth).
Also, while the Colts don’t have the best punt returner in all of football in Tyreek Hill, they did finish with the top-ranked punt coverage unit in the NFL, as opponents average only 4.4 yards per return. The Chiefs don’t trail too far behind at 5.7 (fourth).
Two solid overall teams in this department, but Hill gives KC a small advantage.
Thanks to the electric Tremon Smith, the Chiefs average nearly five yards more on average per kick return than Indy.
Smith’s 26.8 average ranks second in the NFL, trailing only Jets Pro Bowler Andre Robers (min. 25 attempts).
It’s also worth noting the Colts only returned 17 kicks during the regular season, the second-fewest in the league. Both teams are similarly below average in kick coverage, but Smith, like Hill, gives the Chiefs the edge here as well. — Stuckey
Which team is healthier? Chiefs
The Chiefs are tentatively expected to welcome back wide receiver Sammy Watkins (foot), who has been reportedly planning on a playoff return since re-aggravating his injury in Week 11.
The return of all-world safety Eric Berry (heel) looks less certain after he was downgraded to a DNP on Wednesday.
It’s also unclear if running back Spencer Ware (hamstring) or linebacker Dorian O’Daniel (calf, ankle) will suit up, although linebacker Reggie Ragland (hip) is fully expected to play.
Meanwhile, the Colts have already ruled out wide receiver Ryan Grant (toe) and safety Mike Mitchell (calf, IR).
Defensive end Tyquan Lewis (knee) and difference-making free safety Malik Hooker (foot) should each be considered questionable.
Wide receiver T.Y. Hilton (ankle), tight end Eric Ebron (hip), and wide receiver Dontrelle Inman (shoulder, finger) are far from 100%, but they’re each fully expected to suit up with the season on the line.
Colts: Andrew Luck will be tested on the road at Arrowhead, but his offensive line is allowing him to be pressured on just 29.3% of his dropbacks and he’s getting sacked on 8.6% of those pressures.
Also, the Chiefs defense can be exploited as they’ve allowed the fifth-highest scoring rate to opposing offenses along with 273.4 passing yards per game.
The Colts own the sixth-highest scoring rate this year and Luck’s Projected Plus/Minus on DraftKings and FanDuel trails only Patrick Mahomes this weekend.
Pairing Luck with Inman could be a way to differentiate in tournaments with Hilton expected to be popular.
Inman has cleared 45 receiving yards and scored a touchdown in three-straight games. — Justin Bailey
Chiefs: Speaking of Mahomes, he should likely be the preferred option in cash games since his Median Projection and Projected Plus/Minus in our FantasyLabs Player Models leads all positions.
Mahomes averaged an absurd 8.8 yards per attempt and 318.6 passing yards per game, while the Chiefs led the league in scoring rate (52.6% of their drives).
Nobody can stop him. — Justin Bailey
Bet to watch
It’s basically automatic for me to bet the Arrowhead under. With coach Reid, no home team has been more profitable for under bettors than the Chiefs, who have a 32-17-1 record to the under since 2013 (including playoffs), good for a 27.2% return on investment (per Bet Labs).
The outdoor elements and raucous environment inside Arrowhead Stadium makes it a hard place for visiting offenses to play, especially once the weather is cold.
And it’s not just road teams that have played worse in Kansas City this season (per the RotoViz Game Splits App):
- Home Games: 52.81 total | 50.38 points scored | Chiefs 32.38 | Opponents 18
- Road Games: 55.19 total | 72.87 points scored | Chiefs 38.25 | Opponents 34.62
Throughout the Reid era, the Chiefs have scored 3.08 fewer points at home and opponents have scored 6.25 fewer points in Kansas City.
It’s just an added bonus that the Colts are a dome team that could struggle outdoors. — Matthew Freedman
Editor’s note: The opinions on this game are from the individual writers and are based on their research, analysis and perspective. They are independent of, and may not always match with, the algorithm-driven Best Bets from Sports Insights.