Saturday’s AFC divisional-round playoff game will be the fifth meeting between the teams in the postseason, and the Colts have won each of the first four. The last one came at the end of the 2013 season, when Andrew Luck led a comeback from 28 points down to lift the Colts to a 45-44 win.
The Chiefs are the AFC’s No. 1 seed but won’t have an easy time against a Colts team that has won 10 of 11, including last week’s wild-card win over the Texans. Here are the sleeper players to watch from each team:
Indianapolis Colts CB Pierre Desir
Desir was picked in the fourth round of the 2014 draft out of Lindenwood University (Mo.). He bounced around with the Chiefs, Chargers and Colts his first four seasons. He had started 13 games before 2018.
It wasn’t the profile of a No. 1 cornerback.
There are many reasons for the Colts’ surprising season, but high on the list is the play of Desir and Kenny Moore at cornerback. They have played tremendously, culminating with a fantastic performance against the Texans last week. Desir had most of the coverage duties against All-Pro DeAndre Hopkins, and Hopkins had five catches for 37 yards. Only two of those catches and 16 yards came with Desir in coverage, according to Pro Football Focus.
Hopkins was hurt, playing through a severe shoulder sprain, but it wasn’t the first time Desir had played well against a top receiver this season.
Desir won’t be matched up exclusively against Chiefs receiver Tyreek Hill, but there’s a good chance he’ll get a majority of the snaps against him. Hill is the best deep threat in the game, one of the best deep threats in a long time in the NFL, and he can turn a game on any play. His speed is that remarkable. Desir has allowed just two catches of more than 30 yards all season, PFF said, but the Chiefs will test him. Whether Desir, Moore and the Colts’ other cornerbacks can limit big plays to the Chiefs and their soon-to-be MVP quarterback Patrick Mahomes could determine which team moves on.
Kansas City Chiefs RB Damien Williams
Williams has been on the radar for years, as a backup running back for the Miami Dolphins for four seasons. He was in that same role with the Chiefs this season, until they suddenly needed him for more.
Kareem Hunt was cut after a video emerged of him shoving and kicking a woman. Then Hunt’s replacement, Spencer Ware, was hurt. Williams, who had started four of his first 71 career games, had to fill in.
He did well. In three games Williams ran for 203 yards on 34 attempts, a robust 5.97-yard average. He had 14 catches for 119 yards receiving. Williams had four touchdowns in those three games. He’s nowhere near the talent of Hunt, who led the NFL in rushing last season, but he has kept the Chiefs’ running game going.
Ware could return this weekend, but Williams will presumably have a big role regardless. He has earned it. The Chiefs can’t afford to be one-dimensional on offense against a sound Colts defense, even with Mahomes having a great season passing the ball. Williams has to keep the Colts honest, and he has shown recently he’s capable of that.
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