Warpaint Illustrated: The Colts are hurting

By Nick Athan
WarpaintIllustrated.com / FOXSportsKansasCity.com
October 7, 2010

Injuries are a killer for any football team. When you�re in a must win game–like the Colts this weekend against the upstart Chiefs–you need all of your bodies present. That won�t be the case for the once mighty AFC South team. Currently they list 17 players on their initial injury report.
(click here for the most up-to-date injury report on the Colts)

So that begs the following question: How are the Colts going to manage to defeat the Chiefs when nearly 31% of their roster is either out, injured or too tired to practice?

Simply stated: they can�t.� The good news for the Colts and their fans is that only half of the players on the list will be out for Sunday�s big AFC showdown. �

But as we writers do from time to time, I�m making a mountain out of a molehill. �

It�s one thing if your back-ups are hurting; it�s another altogether when half of them are starters.� You�d have to think the Chiefs have a clear edge on Sunday at least in this category. �

To make my case even stronger, the Chiefs injury report consists of just three players.� And only one of them is a starter, defensive end Tyson Jackson.

With two days of practice ahead for the Colts, it�s very likely the percentage of available bodies could either decrease or increase, because injuries (like losses and wins) are very contagious. �

I�m not sure why that happens or how it happens but Karma rules the NFL. When things are going great for a football team it seems that wins come in bunches � the Chiefs are a testament to that theory. And as the bodies started falling, the Colts struggled with a 2-2 record. They sit in last place in the AFC South and don�t appear to have the swagger that once brought fear into their opponents.

When you can�t field a complete team, you have to find other ways to win football games. This weekend they face probably the worst type of team the NFL could have put on their schedule.

The Chiefs stand 3-0 on the young season. �

They have a 1.5 game lead in their division and they�re playing with more confidence than they have at any point in the last 10 years. They are nearly 100% healthy and, if that�s not enough for the Colts to worry about, they�re facing two of their organization�s biggest nemeses: Chiefs coordinators Romeo Crennel and Charlie Weis.

But the Colts have the trump card in quarterback Peyton Manning and they get to play this game at home. However, that could be a detriment to the Colts. �

This team was expected to run away with their division. But they�ve already lost both of their division road games at Houston and Jacksonville. Sure, they beat the Chiefs’ division rival Denver in Week 3. But the Broncos are an average football team with plenty of their own deficiencies. �

The Colts early season schedule has made things even harder. They�ve been forced to play three of their first four on the road–but that�s never bothered them in the past. However, with two division losses, the best they can finish in the AFC South is with a 4-2 division record. Even that is not a certainty at this point.

With those losses, they�re reeling in self-doubt. They come home limping with injuries and are forced to look at Sunday�s contest against Kansas City as a must win. It might not be in actuality, but if they don�t think of it that way, they won�t win it.

At the core of the Colts’ problems is their wicked deficiency in stopping the run on defense and running the ball on offense. The Chiefs, on the other hand, excel at both.

On paper, the Colts are a vastly superior team than the Chiefs.� However, so were the San Diego Chargers and San Francisco 49ers–two clubs that each fell victim to this young football team in Weeks 1 and 3.

Now the Chiefs face their biggest test of the season. They are decided underdogs heading into this game and most experts think this is the week the Chiefs get their first loss of the season.

I�m not buying it. In fact, I think quite the opposite.

I think head coach Todd Haley has his bunch of overachievers believing that they can beat anyone if they play as a team. That is a very dangerous obstacle for the Colts to overcome.

Kansas City has the look and feel of a team playing with nothing to lose. In each of the Colts’ losses this year, they look like a team that�s trying not to lose the game.

Though I strongly believe the Colts don�t lack confidence or suffer from that killer instinct that has been their hallmark the past decade, they�ve managed to look like a contender in just one game this season. That was their home opener in Week 2 against the New York Giants.

I can say with absolute certainty that in Week 5, the Giants are an inferior team to the Kansas City Chiefs. But that doesn�t mean this team will continue to shock the NFL world by knocking off the Colts on Sunday. Or does it?

This has been a wacky, crazy start to the 2010 NFL season. Teams that were penciled in for the Super Bowl–like Minnesota, New Orleans, San Diego and the Colts–have yet to look like world champions.

This indeed could be another season a team like Kansas City becomes the Saints of 2009. In fact, the early returns in 2010 suggest that scenario might continue.

However, for that to unfold, the Chiefs must defeat the Colts on Sunday. Not by squeaking out a victory as they did in Weeks 1 and 2, but by technical knockout like they did to the 49ers to finish out the month of September.

Then, and only then, will this NFL story rise from the ranks of Cinderella to AFC Contenders.

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