By Sam McPherson
After a 9-0 start to the 2013 NFL season, the Kansas City Chiefs were derailed somewhat by injuries as they limped to a 2-5 finish and the No. 5 seed in the AFC playoffs.
But they may be getting healthy again as they prepare to face the Indianapolis Colts in a first-round playoff game this weekend on the road.
Linebacker Justin Houston is set to return after missing the final five games of the regular season with a dislocated elbow, and even though fellow ‘backer Tamba Hali has been missing workouts this week with a knee injury, he is expected to play on Saturday.
Both players had 11 sacks this season, and they were a huge reason why the Chiefs started the season on fire, defensively.
More positive news for the Chiefs: wide receiver Dwayne Bowe has cleared concussion protocols and will start on Saturday against the Colts. That will certainly help quarterback Alex Smith and running back Jamaal Charles in terms of balancing out the Kansas City offensive attack.
The only potential downer for the Chiefs is on the offense line, where the No. 1 overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft —tackle Eric Fisher— hurt himself in practice this week (groin). He took the day off on Wednesday and could be a game-time decision for Saturday’s game. But Kansas City does have some depth at the tackle position, so the team can survive the loss of Fisher if necessary against the Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium.
As for those Colts, they might have a few more question marks heading into their second-straight playoff home opener.
Wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey seems to have gotten over a hamstring tweak this week, and he will be ready for kick-return duties against the Chiefs on Saturday. On the defensive side, linebacker Bjoern Werner (ankle) was upgraded to “probable” after resuming practice on Thursday.
Cornerback Vontae Davis also overcame a groin scare this week and is ready to face Kansas City.
Two Indianapolis defensive ends—Corey Redding and Fili Moala—were both listed as questionable this week, and only Redding has been bumped up to probable.
Overall, both teams are pretty healthy at the right time, and both franchises are looking to overcome some recent playoff droughts. Sure, everyone knows the Colts won the SB a few years back with Peyton Manning, but Indianapolis suffered a lot of playoff losses at home even with Manning at QB. Then, Andrew Luck continued that trend in the first round last January, losing his first playoff start at home.
And, of course, the Chiefs haven’t won a Super Bowl since the 1969 season — that was a long time ago. They’ve had so many good teams since, but there’s been a lot of playoff heartbreak in Missouri. The last time Kansas City won a playoff game, Joe Montana was the quarterback (January 1994), and since then, the team has lost seven straight postseason contests, including three home games after a first-round bye (1995, 1997, 2003).
Perhaps another former S.F. quarterback can lead the Chiefs back to NFL glory in 2014.