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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
Eagles took them to the canvas. They need to show that tough-guy image that was promised when they signed
Ndamukong Suh and
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.
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.
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.
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
Justin Houston and
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.
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.