INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Frank Reich realizes the next step on his team’s dramatic run likely must be taken in less than ideal conditions.
The advanced forecast for Saturday afternoon in Kansas City involves temperatures in the mid-30s and a 60-percent chance for snow with an accumulation of at least 1 inch.
In preparation for the AFC divisional playoff game with the Chiefs, Reich had his Indianapolis Colts practice outdoors Wednesday before working inside Thursday.
Inside, outside. Warm, cold. Snow, sunny.
“Yeah, I have looked at (the forecast),’’ he said Thursday, quickly adding, “but really not. I don’t really think I have talked to the team about it the whole week.’’
Reich was asked during the week if raw elements might actually favor the Colts. The offense has been at its absolute best when it’s followed the lead of the offensive line and running Marlon Mack.
“I try to stay the mindset of whatever the weather is, it’s to the advantage of the best team,’’ he said. “So I just believe that travels. I believe that’s the way to approach it. That’s always how I have thought about it.
“I literally think whatever the weather is, it favors the best team.’’
Perhaps, but left tackle Anthony Castonzo is ready to embrace the cold and possible snow.
“I think the bad weather games are fun,’’ he said. “It kind of brings back your childhood a little bit.
“When it was snowing or raining, you’d go out there and play. I like the bad elements.’’
Tight end Eric Ebron experienced his share of bad-element games during his four-year career with the Detroit Lions in the NFC North.
“Nothing new,’’ he said. “It will just be cold. The worst is just the TV timeouts. Once that’s over with you will warm back up.
“But other than that, it should be fun. Snow, whatever. I love snow games. It’s always fun. I feel like it brings out the little kid in you . . . the reason why you play football, so it should be fun.’’
Since their relocation in 1984, the Colts have played in 15 games where the temperature at kickoff was 32 degrees or colder. They’re 7-8 in those games, and 3-0 in those games at Arrowhead Stadium.
The coldest game in the Indy era was the 1995 divisional game when the 11-degree temperature was driven to a minus-11 and by the wind, and GatorAde froze on the sideline. The Colts won 10-7.
Luck has been under center for the last two cold-weather trips to Kansas City, each in the regular season. He led the Colts to a 23-7 win in 2013 (22 degrees, wind chill of 11), and a 20-13 win in ’12 (25 degrees, wind chill of 18).
Wideout Ryan Grant (toe) is the only player ruled out of Saturday’s game. Rookie defensive lineman Tyquan Lewis (knee) is doubtful.
The names to watch are safety Malik Hooker (foot) and defensive lineman Denico Autry (shoulder). Hooker didn’t practice this week while Autry was limited Thursday.
Wideout T.Y. Hilton (ankle) didn’t practice again this week – he’s practiced twice in six weeks – but there’s no question he’ll play.
As the Colts have worked their way through December and now January, Reich has done everything within his control to give his players the necessary time to recover from the previous game. Castonzo has been taking the final practice of the week off.
“Our philosophy is really to try to take it case-by-case,’’ Reich said. “Every player, every situation, every week is different.’’
If Hooker or Autry is able to play against the Chiefs, it will be because they’re physically ready.
“The best-case scenario is that they all go because if they are going we feel like they can play winning football even if they are dinged up,’’ Reich said. “That will be our mindset going in, ‘Hey, if you’re out there, we expect you to play winning football.’’’