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3 Indianapolis Colts keys to victory in Week 3 matchup versus Kansas City Chiefs

Chris Phillips

The Indianapolis Colts finally get to play at home. After opening the season on the road in Houston and Jacksonville, the Colts host a game in Indy. The opponent traveling to them: the Kansas City Chiefs. Not exactly the opponent to inspire confidence in the Colts getting a win. Not that this team has done anything to inspire belief of anything positive happening for them.

The Colts under Reich have routinely played to the level of their competition. So, it wouldn’t be at all surprising to see them win on Sunday. However, in order for Indy to win there are a few strategic battles that they’ll need to dominate in.

Related: Everything you need to know about the NFL Sunday Ticket

Here’s a look at three important matchups to watch for in Colts vs Chiefs in Week 3.

Indianapolis Colts O-line must finally earn their paychecks

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Credit: USA Today Network

The Colts offense has been incredibly tough to watch. Their first drive of the game is their best in each game. Then the offense falls apart. You could expect this to happen with a rookie quarterback but not with one who is in his 15th NFL season like Matt Ryan

There are two big issues with the offense. The first one, the highest-paid offensive line is currently not earning their paycheck. They look disjointed and at times confused about how to block the opponent. The second issue is outside of Michael Pittman Jr no receiver can get open. So what is Matt Ryan to do? Well, so far he’s been throwing the ball successfully to the other team.

Jokes aside, this offense needs to find some rhythm. Some would say it starts with running the ball but every team in the NFL knows that is what Indy wants to do. They also know the passing game has been suspect. So, you expect opponents to make Ryan beat them with his arm.

The big boys up front need to protect Ryan better. It’s hard for him to complete a pass when he is constantly being moved off his spot or doesn’t have time to set his feet. It also falls on Ryan’s shoulders to get the offense into a better play. And finally, the rest of the receivers need to get open. 

Ryan has the arm talent to get the ball to his playmakers but he needs a couple more seconds of protection to make it happen. Both Pittman and Alec Pierce should be back for this game, which will help. It also helps that Kansas City’s pass defense ranks 21st giving up an average of 252.5-yards. 

Where’s the pass rush?

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Credit: USA Today Network

Last week, we highlighted the pass rush as a matchup that needed watching. Well, that unit is back again. Through two games the Colts have a total of three sacks! And all of them came in Week 1. Last week Trevor Lawrence was only hit twice! Where has this improved pass rush been?

The team leader with two sacks is Kwity Paye, and behind him is EJ Speed. That’s not what anyone expected or envisioned. Has anyone seen Yannick Nagakoue or Deforest Buckner? These two guys are expected to be the main threats to opposing quarterbacks. So far, they are not even sniffing that expectation.

Kansas City’s offensive line is improved but it remains to be seen how much improvement there really is. Patrick Mahomes has only been sacked once on the season, however, he has been hit 14 times. This is yet another prime matchup for the pass rush to get after the quarterback and disrupt the opponent’s offensive rhythm for once. 

Michael Pittman, Jr. needs some playmaking help

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Credit: Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

As previously stated, MPJ is one of two playmakers on this team, the other being Jonathan Taylor. But when it comes to the receiving game Pittman is by himself. A second receiving option has yet to materialize. This is really concerning considering Chris Ballard “really likes the group of guys” they have.

Throughout training camp, reports came out about other wide receivers having great camps. Ashton Dulin leads the team in receiving yards (125) and is tied with Pittman in targets (13). Keep in mind Dulin has played one more game than MPJ. Now, the leader in catches is Nyheim Hines with 10.

He’s also second on the team with 11 targets and yards per game (43.5). Last week he opened the game looking amazing. Then inexplicably the team went away from him. Speaking of training camp reports, the Colts have said they want to get Hines a lot of catches this season. A specific number has not been reported other than north of 90 catches for him. 

There is also the expectation of Pierce to deliver and be the team’s number 2 wide receiver. He’s on track to play this week after missing last week due to a concussion. As previously mentioned, this Kansas City pass defense is not good. So this game sets up a good opportunity for the Colts’ passing game to get on track.

Part of the reason why the start to this season feels so much worse than in years past when the team actually had a worse record, is because there has been nothing to inspire hope or optimism. The Colts do not want to start the season 0-2-1. There should be plenty of fight, anger, and passion from this team to come out and shut up the critics and show the heart of this team. At least that’s what fans want to see besides getting a W on Sunday.