AFC Championship: Jets @ Colts, Preview & Prediction
Double G Sports
The AFC Championship game this Sunday between the New York Jets and Indianpolis Colts is a battle of contrasting styles. The Jets rely heavily on their hard nose defense and dominant running game. The Colts rely on their air attack behind their star quarterback and their speed defense. It is a very intriguing battle. Lets take a look at the matchups:
When the Jets have the ball:
The Jets will once again attempt to pound the Colts with their rushing attack. The duo of Thomas Jones and rookie Shonn Greene have been unable to stop this postseason. Controlling the game with the running game means the Jets will not need rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez to do to much. That would be a good thing for New York as Sanchez has had a tendency to throw into traffic and make mistakes.
The Colts defense is generally on the smaller side and they rely on speed. Defensive ends Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis will attempt to consistently put pressure on Sanchez. They are both very quick off the line of scrimmage and the Jets offensive line will have their hands full. The Jets line has been very good this year and have mostly kept Sanchez standing. Freeney and Mathis have combined for 23 sacks this season and in Week 16 when these two teams played, Freeney sacked Sanchez twice and he only played 21/2 quarters.
The Colts secondary is nothing to be scared of but they shouldn’t have to do to much work as the Jets will run, run, and run some more. The Colts linebackers may be a big key to this game. Its a strong unit as Clint Session and Gary Brackett lead the Colts in tackles. The two linebackers have been very solid against the run.
When the Colts have the ball:
The Colts have the leagues best quarterback and one of the greatest at the position all-time. Peyton Manning won his 4th MVP award this season. You can see why the Colts like to air it out. Their running game behind Joseph Addai has been nonexistent this season. Actually, they were the worst in the league. The Jets defense has been very good against the run, so I don’t expect the Colts to even attempt the run game very much.
Manning’s top target will have his biggest test of the season. Reggie Wayne will have to deal with the Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis. Revis is arguably the best cover corner in the league. He has constantly shut down top receivers all season. If Revis can shut down Wayne, the Colts younger receivers will need to step up to keep the offense balanced. Austin Collier and Pierre Garcon will need to step up and get open for Manning to have a big day.
Jets safety Kerry Rhodes may have the biggest assignment of the game, defending Colts tight end Dallas Clark. The tight end is the second leading receiver for the Colts and a favorite of Manning. The Jets can not afford to let Clark roam the field.
The linebackers, David Harris and Bart Scott should keep an eye on Addai out of the backfield. He has done some damage catching passes.
The Colts offensive line has only allowed 12 sacks this season on Manning. The veteran group will need to recognize the various blitzes the Jets throw at them.
Neither team has dominant special teams. The Jets probably have a better group as kick returner Brad Smith can be explosive. Jerricho Cotchery has done well returning punts for New York. In the kicking game, Jay Feely is having a great season for the Jets, while Matt Stover has been very solid for the Colts.
The Jets are the hottest and most confident team in the NFL right now. They are convinced they can and will beat anyone. New York has gotten excited about this team and they are enjoying playing the underdog role.
The Colts are out to prove their loss to the Jets in Week 16 was a result of resting players. That game ended the Colts chances at an undefeated season. The Colts have the home field advantage of the dome.
I think the Colts defense is underrated. They don’t rank very high and they won’t have the gaudy numbers, but they get the job done. They are a solid group that uses its speed well. The Jets defense will be put to their toughest test of the season. If they can get to Manning, they will keep the game close. If they can’t, it could get out of hand. I dont expect the Jets to score much in this one.
Colts 30, Jets 13
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