Andrew Luck has definitely arrived in the NFL ahead of schedule, one of those rare college stars pegged as “can’t miss” who actually turns out as good as advertised. Luck got the Colts to the playoffs as a rookie, and in his second season, the 24-year old has avoided a sophomore slump and has Indianapolis 5-2 and tied for the 3rd best record in the AFC. Besides beating Peyton Manning and the previously-unbeaten Broncos with a 21-of-38, 228-yard, 3-TD performance (he also ran one in), Luck has guided the Colts to victories over two of the biggest Super Bowl favorites: San Francisco (on the road) and Seattle.*
While there’s plenty of chatter today about the 7-0 Chiefs being the last unbeaten team in the NFL, here’s all you need to know about the Chiefs and Colts:
Record of opponents through 7 weeks:
Kansas City has beaten one team with a winning record (Dallas). The Chiefs will probably stretch their record to 9-0, as Kansas City will be favored to beat the Browns and Bills. This is not to diminish what Andy Reid and the Chiefs have accomplished. Kansas City has an impervious defense, a stout running back in Jamaal Charles, and even though he’s only completing 58 percent of his passes, an effective QB in Alex Smith.
[A quick word on the defense: the QBs the Chiefs have faced this season are Blaine Gabbert, Tony Romo, Mike Vick, Eli Manning, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Terrelle Pryor and Case Keenum. Depending on what stats you'd like to look at, only one of them - Romo - has been a Top 10 QB so far in 2013.]
But back to Luck, who probably will receive a bit of bad news today: Reggie Wayne, his safety blanket receiver, has probably been lost for the season with an ACL injury. That’s two season-ending injuries to pass-catchers (Dwyane Allen, the starting TE), and RB Vick Ballard’s injury forced the Colts to to trade for Trent Richardson. The Wayne injury will put immense pressure on free agent signing Darrius Heyward-Bey, who will actually have to catch the ball now.
Here’s where it gets fun: If the Broncos win the West (expected) and the Chiefs are a Wild Card team (expected), then Kansas City will go on the road to probably play one of two division winners in the first round of the playoffs: Cincinnati or Indianapolis.
* The Colts defense has been surprisingly stout at times, permitting just 4.8 ypp vs San Francisco, 6.3 vs Seattle and 5.9 vs Denver. Last season, the Colts’ defense gave up 6.1 yards per play, tied for 2nd worst in the NFL. This year? Just 5.5, which is 17th, a significant improvement.