INDIANAPOLIS – So much for Frank Reich fielding many questions on facing the four-time defending AFC finalist in this Sunday’s home opener.
Given the state of the Colts, Reich’s Wednesday press conference was much more big picture focused than specifics on facing the Chiefs.
Which is saying something when you consider as a 5.5 point underdog, it’s the biggest home underdog the Colts have been in Reich’s 5 seasons as head coach.
Patrick Mahomes will make his Lucas Oil Stadium debut this Sunday afternoon.
And the Colts are desperate to pull of a near touchdown underdog upset. It would be their first win in 5 straight games and their first September victory since the 2020 season.
Honestly, like the Colts had in their road 2019 upset of the Chiefs, they have some (on-paper) blueprint elements to try and make things interesting on Sunday.
That starts with Jonathan Taylor and playing a ball control afternoon against Mahomes and the Chiefs.
When the Colts beat the Chiefs on Sunday Night Football in ‘19, it came behind a 45-carry night (for 180 yards) with Reich’s visiting bunch winning the time of possession by 15 minutes.
If the Colts are to have a chance this Sunday, the feeling is Taylor must crack the century mark.
While some confidence could be there in Taylor and the run game checking this important blueprint box, belief can’t be as strong for the defensive side of things.
Ideally, a four-man pass rush would lead to some consistent disruption of Mahomes, therefore allowing the Colts to routinely drop 7 guys into coverage and force Mahomes into being methodical in his decisions.
Remember in that 2019 win over the Chiefs, the Colts hit Mahomes early and often, with this being a huge factor in Kansas City scoring just 13 points that night (tied for the fewest points Kansas City has scored at home since 2017).
But the Colts have been terrible early this season in creating any pressure from a four-man rush.
Despite facing young quarterbacks in Davis Mills and Trevor Lawrence, the Colts heavily invested defensive line has yet to have a single sack in their 8 quarters of regulation this year.
Plus, Mahomes has tossed 15 touchdowns to 2 interceptions in 7 prior contests against Gus Bradley coordinated defenses.
Anything close to a repeat of this on Sunday and the blueprint for trying to stymie the Chiefs will be gone.
The Chiefs are coming off a 10-day break heading into this week 3 matchup.
While much has been made about the difficulty of Kansas City winning another AFC West title this season, everyone has seen the statement Buffalo has made in these first two weeks. If the Chiefs are going to get that coveted No. 1 seed this year (and remember, the 1 seed is the lone bye in the recently expanded playoffs) they can’t afford to lose any ground to the Bills.
Therefore, Sunday shouldn’t have as much of a trap game feel as one might think.
It’s not often you see the Colts as a near touchdown underdog at home, but welcome to the reality of the current situation.
Is there any hope to replicate that 2019 blueprint against one of the game’s most dynamic talents?