Published: Jan. 11, 2019 at 12:57 p.m.
Updated: Jan. 11, 2019 at 05:46 p.m.

Which high seed is most vulnerable in Divisional Round? Chiefs in trouble

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The Divisional Round welcomes four teams we have not yet seen this postseason -- the Kansas City Chiefs, New England Patriots, New Orleans Saints and Los Angeles Rams. All with first-round byes, they have each played quite well at home this season, with the Saints having the "worst" home record at 6-2.

But winning at home won't be a walk in the park this weekend, as all four top seeds are set to host hot teams: Colts at Chiefs, Cowboys at Rams, Chargers at Patriots and Eagles at Saints.

That said, which high seed is most vulnerable in this weekend's Divisional Round?

Chiefs in trouble
You could make a case for several teams, for decidedly different reasons, but my pick is Kansas City. For all the talk about Arrowhead Stadium being an imposing venue for opposing teams, the Chiefs have lost their last six postseason games at home, including each of the past two seasons under coach Andy Reid. The X-factor this year could be quarterback Patrick Mahomes, but I'm not convinced his amazing talents will be enough to slow the Colts, who I consider to be most dangerous team in the playoffs.
K.C. could be in for rude awakening
The Kansas City Chiefs are the most vulnerable top seed because they have an inexperienced quarterback and a leaky defense. Patrick Mahomes has played at an MVP level this season, but this is his first start in the postseason, and the speed of the playoffs is much different than that of the regular season. Defensively, the Chiefs haven't been good all season; I worry about them stopping the run and being able to hold up against Indy's pass game. The Colts are more physical and could give the Chiefs problems with the way they've played of late.
Don't sleep on Dallas, Rams fans
This might not be the most popular choice, but I'm going with the Los Angeles Rams. They struggled early in December -- and on Saturday, they'll host the Cowboys, who are playing some of the best football on offense and defense right now. And we all know Dallas fans will show up in full at the L.A. Coliseum.
Upset alert at Arrowhead
Of all the teams still in contention, the Chiefs have the most questions. Their defense has been shaky all season -- ranking 24th in scoring (allowing 26.3 points per game) -- and nothing makes me think they will turn that around in the playoffs. And, believe it or not, Patrick Mahomes concerns me. This is his first playoff game, and young quarterbacks have struggled so far this postseason, with Mitchell Trubisky, Deshaun Watson and Lamar Jackson bowing out in the Wild Card Round. The playoffs are a whole new ballgame, and players must bring a different mindset to the field. It's not a coincidence that experienced teams tend to do better than the inexperienced in January.
Andrew Luck can outduel Patrick Mahomes
It has to be the Chiefs, based on how well the Colts are playing. Frank Reich's team is so well-balanced -- as it proved in last weekend's wild-card victory over the Texans -- and can score a lot of different ways. With one of the best offensive lines in the league, a solid run game and a supreme QB in Andrew Luck, Indianapolis can limit the Chiefs' offensive opportunities. That will be the biggest key for the Colts in this game. Although their defense has played well, I don't think it can stop Patrick Mahomes for 60 minutes.
Rams must beware of the Cowboys' stingy defense
This is a huge opportunity for the Los Angeles Rams to make a statement, including the fans. We've heard a lot of talk this week about the potential for Cowboys fans to show up in full force for this game, and it's really going to hurt my feelings if 75 percent of the crowd is rooting for Dallas. They have been hibernating since Troy Aikman retired, but don't let them take over the L.A. Memorial Coliseum. Make that crowd blue and GOLD.

And then the team needs to make a statement, too. The Rams struggled against the Falcons in last year's playoffs. Took one to the chin at Detroit, but stood for the standing eight-count before the Bears and Eagles took them to the canvas. They need to show that tough-guy image that was promised when they signed Aqib Talib, Ndamukong Suh and Marcus Peters.

But it won't be easy. The Cowboys have the best remaining scoring and total defense in the playoffs. The Cowboys have allowed the second-fewest points per game and fewest total yards per game to top-five scoring defenses this year. I'm very concerned for the Rams this weekend.
History a warning sign for Chiefs
The Chiefs have consistently been a team that plays great in the regular season before quickly exiting the postseason. In the team's last two playoff games, which were at Arrowhead, they lost both contests by a combined three points. There's a lot of pressure on Kansas City to do well -- and it will only build if the Colts, the hottest team in the league, keep it close.
Indy might be too hot for K.C.
The Indianapolis Colts are the worst possible matchup for the Chiefs. Kansas City has gone 2-4 this season against Pro Bowl-caliber quarterbacks and Indianapolis has Andrew Luck playing like his old self. The Chiefs rank 27th in the NFL in rushing defense and the Colts have arguably the best offensive line in football, a unit that just helped Indianapolis run for 200 yards in a wild-card win over Houston. Throw in tight end Eric Ebron (who should exploit Kansas City's lousy safety play) and a stingy defense (that could slow down Kansas City All-Pro quarterback Patrick Mahomes), and it doesn't look good for the Chiefs. It's easy to say the Chiefs are scarier at home. The reality is that the Colts are the hottest team in football for a reason.
Colts pose a tough matchup for Andy Reid's Chiefs
Of the top seeds, I would say Kansas City is the most vulnerable. The first thing you do to beat K.C. is keep Patrick Mahomes on the bench by winning time of possession. The Colts can do that. They have a strong running game. They can block the Chiefs' pass rush, which features Chris Jones, Justin Houston and Dee Ford. Andrew Luck will help that by getting rid of the ball quickly. Kansas City has a weak secondary, and T.Y. Hilton and Eric Ebron are major problems to cover. The Colts are very good at excecuting pick/crossing routes, which are hard to cover, and this is a subpar K.C. defense. As good is Mahomes is, Luck is just as good.

Stopping the Chiefs starts with keeping Mahomes in the pocket. And if you can take away his first read, the second-year pro will hold the ball too long at times -- this can lead to sacks or fumbles if you can keep him in the pocket. You must take away the deep ball to Tyreek Hill, and I think the Colts' zone defense should be able to do that. Plus, Indy's pass rush will give the Chiefs' offensive line trouble. Overall, the Colts are a tough matchup for Kansas City and have a great chance to pull off the upset.
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