The team that started 11-2, boasts the NFL’s most dynamic young quarterback and, for so long, seemed like the obvious favorite to go to the Super Bowl? Or the team that started 1-5, only to win 10 of their last 11 games with an MVP candidate of their own?
That’s the big question surrounding the first Divisional Round game on tap for this weekend, when the Kansas City Chiefs will host the Indianapolis Colts for a chance to advance to the AFC Championship.
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A year after finishing 4-12 and playing without quarterback Andrew Luck, the Colts took a monumental step forward in 2018 under first-year head coach Frank Reich. Not only did Luck find his footing, throw the second most touchdowns of his career and return to the Pro Bowl, but Indy unearthed a Rookie of the Year candidate in Darius Leonard and shored up its defense, going 9-1 to finish the regular season and then stomping all over the rival Houston Texans in a 21-7 Wild-Card win. Judging purely off momentum, there isn’t a better team in the NFL outside of maybe the No. 1-seed New Orleans Saints than Reich’s Colts.
But then there’s the Chiefs, who had the rest of the league in awe for the majority of the season. Coach Andy Reid has had Kansas City competitive since he arrived back in 2013, but never has Arrowhead Stadium played host to video-game production like that of the 2018 Chiefs offense, which saw Patrick Mahomes toss 50 touchdowns in his first full year as a starter and the team score at least 30 points in 12 of its 16 regular-season games. The only downside in K.C. might be on defense, which has been an issue all season, and the fact that the Chiefs enter the playoffs on a 1-2 stretch and with a murky history of home postseason success under Reid.