The Indianapolis Colts and Kansas City Chiefs have a lot of question marks. While the Colts and Chiefs have been near the top of the AFC almost all year, there are many doubts about whether they are true Super Bowl contenders. However, at least one of them will answer their critics on Jan. 4, since either Indianapolis or Kansas City will have to win the year's first playoff game.
In a weekend where there will be freezing temperatures in Philadelphia, Cincinnati and especially Green Bay, Indianapolis and Kansas City have the benefit of playing in a dome. The uncharted territory for these teams will still give them enough pressure, as the Colts look for their first playoff victory with Andrew Luck while the Chiefs play their first postseason game under Andy Reid.
Since Reid took the Eagles to five conference title games and a Super Bowl, he has more experience than anyone on the field. Still, he had an equal amount of playoff disappointments and hasn't won a postseason game since the 2008 season. In addition, he is coaching a Chiefs team that has certainly come down to earth after a 9-0 start.
Despite rising from a 2-14 record to become an 11-win team in Reid's first year, the Chiefs were always suspected of being a pretender. A 2-5 finish and the decline of what was once the NFL's toughest defense seemed to back that up. While Kansas City's backups came close to knocking the San Diego Chargers out of the playoffs on Dec. 29, the starters were overwhelmed by Indianapolis at home on Dec. 22.
As for the Colts, they have been one of the most up-and-down teams in the NFL all year. They have beaten elite opponents in the Denver Broncos, Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers, but have struggled against inferior opponents and haven't been the same since losing wide receiver Reggie Wayne. Yet now that the Colts are facing tough competition again, will they rise up?
Luck came up short against the future world champion Baltimore Ravens in his playoff debut last season, although this is his first postseason home game and first as a favorite. Either the Colts or Chiefs will make a major breakthrough today, but are they capable of making more than one this January?
Indianapolis and Kansas City will open the playoffs at 4:35 p.m. est on NBC.