Sunday, January 2, 2011
Quick Take: Jets at Colts
By Tim Graham
Three things to know about next Saturday's New York Jets at Indianapolis Colts wild-card game:
1. The Jets can find positive energy from last year's loss in the AFC Championship game. The Jets are a dangerous road team. Before they went 6-2 away from the Meadowlands this year, they upset a pair of division champs in the playoffs and held a third-quarter lead over the Colts in the AFC title game with a rookie quarterback last year. QB Mark Sanchez has been erratic in his sophomore season, but he has several clutch moments to draw from in addition to the knowledge he has been in this situation before and held his own.
2. These aren't the same old, dominant Colts. These aren't the 2009 Jets. The 2009 Colts were undefeated when they met the Jets in the regular season and probably should have been unblemished entering the AFC Championship Game. They were awesome and clinched the AFC's top seed early. But they went to the wire this year, not qualifying for the playoffs until Sunday. Peyton Manning doesn't have star tight end Dallas Clark or receivers Austin Collie or Anthony Gonzalez. The Colts also have nine defensive backs on injured reserve. The Jets, meanwhile, aren't the run-dominant offense they were a year ago. Last year's playoff star, Shonn Greene, still is on the team. But they have enhanced their receiving weaponry, adding Santonio Holmes and LaDainian Tomlinson to give them a dimension they couldn't dial up when they trailed late against the Colts. That said, the Jets aren't as overwhelming on defense this time around either.
3. The Colts ranked 20th in run defense and tied for 29th in average per carry. The diversified Jets have the ability to pass, but they'll take whatever a defense will give them. The Colts are forgiving on the ground. They went into Week 17 allowing an average of 132 yards a game and 4.7 yards a carry. Playing indoors and on artificial turf could be a boon for Tomlinson, whose production has flagged as the season wore on. The longtime San Diego star hasn't played indoors or in a warm environment since Week 9 at Detroit.