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Wild Card Weekend preview: Chiefs-Colts

The NFL regular season is history, and now it's time for teams to enter the playoff fray for Wild Card Weekend, with trips to Divisional Round Weekend on the line. Let's take a closer look at all four games.

Kansas City Chiefs at Indianapolis Colts, Saturday, 4:35 p.m. ET, NBC


The backstory


Playoff schedule
The first two rounds of the NFL's postseason schedule for the 2013 season were released Sunday night. More ...

These teams squared off in a Week 16 blowout win for the Colts at Arrowhead Stadium. Nothing went right for the Chiefs that day. To say Kansas City, losers of five of their past seven games, stumbled down the stretch is putting it nicely. Meanwhile the Colts have rebounded from a midseason swoon following the loss of Reggie Wayne. Pep Hamilton's newfound quick passing attack diced up the Chiefs' defense in the last meeting. If Andy Reid's defense can't get pressure on Andrew Luck once again it could be a long day for the Chiefs at Jim Irsay's playground.

Under pressure


Alex Smith, ChiefsEarly in the season Smith was praised for the Chiefs' impressive start. He won but was content to check down and avoid turnovers. Then the second half of the season began and Reid opened up the offense a bit as the defense trended downward, but the losses were piled up.

The last time we saw Smith on the field was against these Colts and he reverted back to check downs and allowed the pass rush to affect him. He committed 30 percent of his turnovers for the season that Sunday. Smith started the season looking like a quarterback who might get the opportunity to silence his critics by guiding the Chiefs on a playoff run. The early season optimism isn't there, but Smith has a chance to get the proverbial monkey off his back and prove to doubters -- especially those residing in the Bay Area -- he can be a playoff-winning quarterback.

Matchup to watch


Chiefs pass rush vs. Colts offensive line: The Chiefs got next to no pressure on Luck in their Week 16 meeting. That must change Saturday. Getting Justin Houston back in the mix is an immediate boost. The outside linebacker had 11 sacks before missing the past five games with a dislocated elbow. If the Chiefs don't get Luck off his spot it will be a long day for the defense's secondary.

The Colts' shuffled offensive line has given up just one sack per game during the team's three-game winning streak. The move toward a quicker passing game has helped keep Luck clean. The line allowed only 32 sacks this season (sixth best), but gave up 107 quarterback hits (third most) - a testament to Luck's ability to shed tacklers and make throws under duress.

Mindblowing stats


The Chiefs had the second-most takeaways in the NFL this season (36). The Colts had the fewest giveaways in the NFL this season (14)... The Chiefs went 0-5 against all AFC playoff teams this season. They were 11-0 against the rest of the NFL, including 1-0 against an NFC playoff team, the Eagles... Andrew Luck has the most game-winning drives in the NFL since he entered league in 2012 (10). Alex Smith has one game-winning drive since 2012...In the final six weeks of the season, KC scored 33.0 PPG (third-most in NFL).

Prediction


Alex Smith won't turn the ball over like he did in the previous meeting, meaning this game will be much closer. However, Andrew Luck at home against a struggling defense will be too much for the Chiefs to avenge the Week 16 loss. The second-year quarterback will add to his game-winning drive legacy, helping the Colts eke out a close win.

Indianapolis Colts 20, Kansas City Chiefs 17

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