Jets vs. Colts: AFC Championship Game Prediction

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First a few updates:

1. Watch the new episode of TOJ TV at the top and bottom of the article.

2. Kerry Rhodes and Shaun Ellis both practiced today and will be in the starting line-ups on Sunday.

3. www.thejetsblog.com has good coverage of the pep rally in Times Square yesterday, with video and photos from the event.

Jets vs. Colts: AFC Championship Game Prediction

I think the entire “NFL is a passing league and you win by throwing the ball” argument is complete BS. There is a reason Ben Rothlisberger has won more Super Bowls than Peyton Manning and Trent Dilfer, Brad Johnson, and Eli Manning have won the same amount. Look at the past ten 10 Super Bowl Champs: The Patriots won three when they were built on a strong defense and their running game, instead of their passing game. Do you remember the Patriots receiving core during their Super Bowl victories? Exactly. When they became a team built around a prolific passing offense, they  lost in the Super Bowl to a Giants team with a big time defense and a big time running game. The Ravens, Bucs, Steelers, and Giants all won because of their defense and running game, not because of their ability to throw the ball. Even when the Rams were the Greatest Show On Turf, they ran the ball well with Marshall Faulk.

Yes, I know the Colts did a win Super Bowl in 2006. They deserve credit, yet they took advantage of a weak AFC Playoff field (including a below average 10-6 Jets team and a weak 9-7 Chiefs team), an overachieving New England team, and a choke artist San Diego team and beat a not so memorable Chicago team in the Super Bowl. However, do you remember how poorly Peyton Manning played in those first two playoff games? He threw 5 INT’s and 1 TD and continued his crappy play into the first half of the AFC Championship Game before locking into a scary zone, playing an awesome second half and leading the Colts pass the Patriots. How did the Colts win the Super Bowl that year? They won because their defense and running game stepped up. They won because they allowed a combined 14 points in their first two playoff games and they had success running the football. They won in the Super Bowl because their top two backs combined for 190 yards.

This Colts team is carried by one thing: the excellence of Peyton Manning. Yes, they have great defensive ends and fast linebackers but overall their defense is only average (18th overall in total defense, 24th in rushing defense, and 14th in pass defense). They have the worst rushing game in the NFL. Reggie Wayne and Dallas Clark are great players but Wayne is going to meet his match this weekend and Clark…well I hope Rex Ryan has something schemed up for Clark. The Colts are 15-0 this year when they play all their starters the full game, which is impressive as hell. Yet, this isn’t the 2007 Patriots who blew out everyone in every game (and remember how their season ended when they faced a team who could hit them in the mouth on both sides of the ball), this is a team who won 8 games that were decided by one possession or less, which is why you are crazy if you took the 7.5 points they are favored this week.

I think their magic in close games runs out this week. I think the team who runs the football and plays defense is going to the Super Bowl. I think there is something going on with this Jets team. The football gods are smiling on the smash mouth team who plays old school football and not the team who spit in the face of history by pulling their starters the final two weeks but then decided to throw a bunch of screen passes to make sure their top two receivers finished with 100 catches each. The Colts created a monster when they pulled their starters in week 16 and this week that monster is going into their building and killing their season.

Jets – 23 Colts – 20

New TOJ TV

Scouting The Colts From a Jets Perspective

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First a few updates:

1. Kind of a slow news day so far today, we won’t hear from Rex Ryan until tomorrow at 1:30. I caught Jerricho Cotchery’s interview on WFAN this morning and he talked about the Jets playing the LaDanian Tomlinson electric slide video on the plane ride home, which is pretty funny stuff. He also said he stayed up until 1 AM after the Falcons game, figuring out all the playoff scenarios that existed for the Jets. I remember the day after that game spending an hour on the phone with my friend Sean, who was sitting in front of the Yahoo Playoff Generator and going through every scenario that still existed for them making the playoffs and thinking it was amazing how they still had a somewhat realistic shot if they could beat Colts, and well you know the rest…

2. Bart Scott was on the NFL Network last night and was very respectful towards the Colts and didn’t say anything inflammatory. The basic gist of what he said was the Colts were a better team than the Jets but it didn’t matter if the Jets found a way to be a better team for three hours on Sunday.

3. There has been some stuff written about Jets fans/players being superstitious during our recent winning streak. Sanchez started this off in his press conference by talking about keeping his playoff beard, sticking to the same restaurants, and same clothes all week. I took a gamble wild-card weekend and watched the game in hostile territory at my friend’s house, divisional weekend I was back to my traditional spot locked away in my room back in Jersey. Looking back I have had a high amount success in Jersey, actually here is how my record breaks down this year (yes I had some free time in class)

  • Home in Jersey (6-1)
  • At the Game (2-3)
  • Apartment in Pennsylvania (2-3)
  • Friend’s House (1-0)

This weekend, I will be heading down to my cousin’s house in central jersey to watch the game surrounded by three die-hard Jets fans. We agreed if the Jets ever had a chance to make a Super Bowl in our lifetime we would gather to watch it and hence I will be off to Manalapan on Sunday morning. I wore my Revis jersey wild-card weekend. I wore my Cotchery jersey divisional weekend. I haven’t decided what to wear yet this weekend…big choice.

Scouting The Colts From a Jets Perspective

COLTS OFFENSIVE STARTERS/KEY RESERVES

  • Quarterback: Peyton Manning – 393/571, 4500 yards, 33 TDs, 16 INTs, 99.9 QB Rating
  • Running Back: Joseph Addai – 219 carries, 828 yards, 10 TDs, 336 receiving yards, 3 TDs
  • Running Back: Donald Brown – 78 carries, 281 yards, 3 TDs, 169 receiving yards
  • Wide Receiver: Reggie Wayne – 100 receptions, 1264 yards, 10 TDs
  • Wide Receiver: Pierre Garcon – 47 receptions, 765 yards, 4 TDs
  • Wide Receiver: Austin Collie – 60 receptions, 676 yards, 7 TDs
  • Tight End: Dallas Clark – 100 receptions, 1106 yards, 10 TDs
  • Tight End: Tom Santi – 8 receptions, 107 yards
  • Left Tackle: Charlie Johnson
  • Left Guard: Ryan Lilja
  • Center: Jeff Saturday
  • Right Guard: Kyle DeVan
  • Right Tackle: Ryan Diem

COLTS DEFENSIVE STARTERS/KEY RESERVES

  • Defensive End: Robert Mathis – 37 tackles, 9.5 sacks
  • Defensive Tackle: Antonio Johnson – 34 tackles, 1 sack
  • Defensive Tackle: Daniel Muir – 52 tackles
  • Defensive Tackle: Raheem Brock – 32 tackles, 3.5 sacks
  • Defensive Tackle: Eric Foster – 38 tackles, 2.5 sacks
  • Defensive End: Dwight Freeney – 24 tackles, 13.5 sacks
  • Outside Linebacker: Phillip Wheeler – 61 tackles, 1 sack
  • Middle Linebacker: Gary Brackett – 99 tackles, 1 sack
  • Outside Linebacker: Clint Session – 103 tackles, 2 INTs
  • Linebacker: Freddy Keiaho – 38 tackles, 1 sack
  • Linebacker: Ramon Humber – 32 tackles
  • Linebacker: Tyjuan Hagler – 26 tackles
  • Corner: Jacob Lacey – 85 tackles, 3 INTs
  • Corner: Jerraud Powers – 66 tackles, 1 INT
  • Corner: Kelvin Hayden – 5o tackles, 1 INT
  • Corner: Jaime Silva – 30 tackles
  • Safety: Melvin Bullitt – 77 tackles
  • Safety: Antoine Bethea – 95 tackles, 4 INTs
  • Safety: Tim Jennings – 57 tackles, 2 INTs

COLTS SPECIAL TEAMS

  • Kicker: Matt Stover – 9/11 FGs
  • Punter: Pat McAfee – 44.3 yards per punt
  • Kick Return: Chad Simpson – 23.6 per kick return, 1 TD
  • Punt Return: T.J. Rushing – 5.7 per punt return

PhotobucketThoughts On Match-Up: Obviously, the Colts are scary on offense but scary in a different way than the Chargers were. San Diego had the ability to chew up huge chunks of yards and always hit the big play in the passing or screen game. The Colts have that capability but they are more likely to systematically move down the field, chew up clock, and roll off 11 play 75 yard drives at will. You can call the perfect blitz, have the perfect coverage and Manning can still thread the needle to a guy who is completely covered. Indy struggles running the football. Actually, they are ranked dead last in the NFL in rushing. Indy did run the ball well against the Jets in their last meeting, which I will cover in more detail in an article later today, which will be about what I noticed from re-watching the Jets/Colts week 16 game last night. However, if the Jets can duplicate their run defense effort from last week, they should be in good shape.

I don’t think the Jets should match-up Darrelle Revis with Reggie Wayne on every single play. I think Revis would do a great job in that situation, however the Jets defense would benefit more from moving him around. Yes, he should be on Wayne the majority of the time, especially in red-zone type situations. Yet, why not move him over to Dallas Clark on some plays or slide him into the slot on Austin Collie on a few third downs. It will keep the Colts off-guard. When you move Revis off Wayne, you put Lito Sheppard on him and give him safety help over the top so he is never left one on one. The Jets must find a way to put pressure on Peyton Manning. Rex needs to draw up some new blitzes. Kerry Rhodes needs to keep throwing back to 2006 and the defensive line needs to get pressure on plays when the Jets do not blitz.

Beyond that, let’s not ignore the fact that Manning has thrown 16 interceptions this year and considering he didn’t really play in the final two games that equates to over 1 per game. He also threw two more in about five plays last week against Baltimore. Fortunately for him, one was called back on a penalty and Ed Reed fumbled another one on the run back. Manning is going to throw some balls that the Jets will have a chance to intercept and when they do, they need to catch the ball and they need to return it to help set up easy points.

When on offense, the Jets have to run right at the Colts. Their defense is way too fast for any stretch plays, toss plays, or reverses. It needs to be Shonn Greene and Thomas Jones right up the gut. The Jets need to set up manageable third downs for Mark Sanchez, which he showed an ability to convert against San Diego. Indy is not particularly strong in the secondary, especially without Bob Sanders back there anymore. Their corners are nothing special and neither are there safeties. Braylon Edwards…you want to be a number one receiver and be paid like one, you should be making big plays against this secondary…use you athleticism and your size, which the Colts can’t match-up against and go up and get the football. Jerricho Cotchery should be able to work himself open on third downs on his option and comeback routes. The Colts linebackers have good enough speed to handle Dustin Keller.

Colts/Ravens Highlights

Jets vs. Colts: Game Breakdown

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First a few updates:

1. The Jets announced their team awards today: Darrelle Revis was the team MVP (no-brainer), Thomas Jones won the Dennis Byrd Award for most inspirational player, D’Brickashaw Ferguson won the Marty Lyons Award for his off the field work, and David Harris won the Ed Block Courage Award.

2. The Jets appear to be 100 percent healthy heading into the Colts game, with backup offensive lineman/tight end Robert Turner returning from injury.

3. How about those Knicks? 11-17? They have been bad enough the past ten years that I am excited about a 11-17 record. Quick shout out to my friend Dan who is still an adamant Nets fan despite them just losing to the Timberwolves to fall to 2-28…yikes. Don’t worry Dan, you can keep voting for Brook Lopez for the all-star game 28 times a day to counter all those losses. At least the Cowboys will probably choke and allow the Giants to get in the playoffs so you can watch me suffer through another year of watching them playing in January, while the Jets head off on their yearly vacation.

4. Here’s hoping Santa brings the following to the Jets: Better hands for Shonn Greene and Braylon Edwards, the ability to read a defense for Mark Sanchez, the ability to compose an intelligent game-plan for Brian Schottenheimer, the ability to impersonate Darrelle Revis for Lito Shepppard and Donald Strickland, the ability to become a NFL player for Vernon Gholston, and the ability to become a holder for Kellen Clemens.

Jets vs. Colts: Game Breakdown

Offense: The Jets need to hold the ball and gain a significant advantage in time of possession. Thomas Jones and the Jets running game needs to prove they are the league’s best rushing attack by chewing up clock and taking the pressure off Mark Sanchez. However, Sanchez is going to have to protect the football, as in zero turnovers and convert some short throws to keep the chains moving. Can the Jets complete a screen pass? Thomas Jones has 9 catches this season and Shonn Greene has zero. Dustin Keller hasn’t caught a screen since week one. The Jets need to find a short passing game that can substitute for a running game occasionally.

I don’t want Sanchez taking shots down the field. The Colts have an opportunistic defense and will make big plays. I want to see Sanchez go 14/18 for 150 yards with zero turnovers. Thomas Jones and Shonn Greene will have to do the heavy lifting and be the guys who put the ball in the end-zone. You would figure for the Jets to have a chance they are going to need at least 24 points and some of those are going to probably have to come from their defense or special teams.

PhotobucketDefense: The league’s #1 ranked defense, who can’t seem to find a stop when it matters most is going to have to play the game of their lives. I have faith in Darrelle Revis to do his job on Reggie Wayne. I have faith in the Jets front seven in slowing down the Colts anemic running game. What I am worried about is Lito Sheppard, Donald Strickland, and Kerry Rhodes matching up with Pierre Garcon, Austin Collie, and of course Dallas Clark. Beyond that, I am worried about the Jets getting to Peyton Manning. The Jets are a defense that need to blitz to get pressure and Manning is the type of quarterback who makes teams pay for coming after him.

The Jets need sacks and turnovers to win this game. They need a defensive touchdown or the defense to at least set up easy points for the offense. Manning has to be hit early and often. They need to have Jim Caldwell considering pulling Manning because he is hitting the turf too many times.

Special Teams: The Jets must win this third of the game. They need to make all their field goals, create a big play with a return or fake punt and avoid allowing the Colts any cheap big plays on special teams.

I Think A Major Upset Over the Colts Every 40 Years Is Reasonable