Last Two Years: Road Teams 3-1
Indianapolis vs. Kansas City
I have to reiterate what I said going into Wild Card Weekend last season: Since the NFL switched to its four-division format, Wild Card road teams are much more likely to win. Last year, three Wild Card teams won their games. One eventually won the Super Bowl.
That's two years in a row that road teams went 3-1 on Wild Card Weekend. AFC teams' cumulative records: 43-21; NFC teams': 36-28.
Here are the picks (tonight's and tomorrow's games to be posted separately):
Saturday, Jan. 6
Kansas City (9-7) at Indianapolis (12-4), 4:30 p.m.
There's no secrets here. It's Kansas City's running attack against the worst in the league Indy rushing defense, and Indy's passing offense against K.C.'s underachieving defense. This should be a high-scoring affair. Peyton Manning will huck the ball downfield looking for big plays by Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne and a few gift pass interference calls -- look for the latter especially when the Colts are inside the 10. Kansas City has some good d-backs, but they haven't approached how they look on paper. The Indy rushing defense is bad in seldom seen capacities: almost 3,000 yards allowed, 173.0 yards per game, 20 touchdowns, 150 first downs and 18 runs of 20 yards or more. K.C. will probably give Larry Johnson the ball about 35 times. The question for me remains whether K.C. QB Trent Green is healthy and is Herman Edwards's best choice at the position. I'm no Edwards fan, and I lack confidence in his ability to coach in a big game, though his New York Jets beat Indy in the 2002 playoffs, 41-0. Neither team has been particularly inspiring the last couple months, Kansas City losing three in a row before backing in with a couple wins and some help, Indy losing four of their last seven. Ultimately, K.C. has a more balanced team, but Indy has a more balanced offense, and it's going to be too difficult for a team like Kansas City to stop them.
Prediction: Colts, 35-31.
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Who will win the KC @ Indy Wild Card game?
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Kansas City Chiefs