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Published: January 3, 2011
So, a full 17 weeks have gone by and we are left with 12 teams vying for the Vince Lombardi Trophy. Just who is the last one standing in Texas once Super Bowl XLV concludes remains to be seen, but we will try to forecast each round of the NFL playoffs game-by-game and week-to-week leading up to the big game.
As far as all the talk about taking the 7-9 Seahawks out and putting the 10-6 Giants in, nothing can be more ridiculous. Divisions are what they are – for good or bad. A sub-.500 team getting a home playoff game is not the usual, so people have to learn to live with it this time around.
The Wild Card round has shaped up to be ripe for the road teams to pull out more than one ‘upset,’ if you will, but they will in reality not be shockers. Here’s out take on the Jets at Colts match-up:
AFC WILD CARD
New York Jets (6) at INDIANAPOLIS COLTS (3)
Rex Ryan has talked a big game but his team has backed him up by qualifying for the playoffs for the second consecutive season under his tutelage and winning (at least) 11 games for only the fourth time in franchise history. The Jets have played inconsistent for much of the regular season and perhaps their only complete games of the year came twice against the hapless Buffalo Bills.
They have struggled at times in all three facets of the game (offense, defense, special teams) so they will need to bring them all together if they hope to get to the next round of the playoffs. With Peyton Manning staring across the line at them, the Jets need to get a good pass rush on Saturday night, something that they had difficulty with of late. Jay Cutler had all the time in the world to find a receiver against the Jets two weeks ago and they paid the price for it.
Mark Sanchez’s shoulder injury should not effect him too much and if the Jets fall behind early, they will need him to hit big play wide receivers Santonio Holmes and Braylon Edwards. Ryan rested the majority of his starters in the season finale, so that should help, especially in the backfield and secondary.
The Colts struggled in 2010 and needed to go almost the full length of the season before clinching a playoff berth. The Jacksonville Jaguars hung around and made what seemed like an automatic annual affair a squeaker. Manning has suffered from the injuries to tight end Dallas Clark and wideout Austin Collie, but he always finds someone down the field and makes a new hero out of him. Don’t be floored if Taj Smith is just that guy.
The Colts’ running attack is far from the league’s best but is more than pedestrian. Joseph Addai has the experience and won a ring with the team before, so he can be the workhorse back for the playoffs without much fanfare or concern.
The defense has had some great moments and some others that were not so great. Robert Mathis and Dwight will put a scare into any quarterback, especially a second-year pro like Sanchez. You can definitely score on the Colts and the Jets should be able to keep it close with their talented running and passing attack.
If the game comes down to field goals, Adam Vinatieri is an automatic. His late kick gave the Colts the third seed when the Kansas City Chiefs opened the door for them by losing earlier in the day to the Oakland Raiders at home.
What should be a fun game to watch for fans of both teams will end with the boys in blue smiling when it is all said and done. The Jets will not go easily, mind you, and even hold a slim lead during parts of this contest. But Manning is hard to beat – especially at home under the roof – and the Jets just have had too many question marks over the last five weeks to come into Indy and make hotel arrangements in New England on the way out.
COLTS – 31, Jets – 23
Photo by Bill Menzel
Tagged with: Braylon Edwards, Buffalo Bills, Complete Games, Consecutive Season, Franchise History, Home Playoff Game, Indianapolis Colts, Jay Cutler, Mark Sanchez, New York Jets, Nfl Playoff, Nfl Playoffs, Offense Defense, Playoff Preview, Rex Ryan, Season Finale, Super Bowl Xlv, Vince Lombardi, Vince Lombardi Trophy, Wide Receivers