- Paul Kuharsky, ESPN Staff Writer
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Three nuggets of knowledge about Saturday's Jets-Colts wild-card game:
Will the Colts target Drew Coleman? Peyton Manning’s going wherever he finds an open receiver. But the Jets emphasized adding cornerbacks after Pierre Garcon had a huge game against them in the AFC Championship Game. ESPN Stats & Info says that Manning really took off in that game when he started attacking the middle of the field. Surely Reggie Wayne and Garcon will run routes that take them there. But if Darrelle Revis and Cromartie do well on Wayne and Garcon, respectively, we’re going to see how the linebackers can handle Jacob Tamme and how the nickel, Coleman, can handle Blair White. I suspect there will be at least a couple of moments when Colts’ fans grimace and wonder how much of a difference Austin Collie would have made. But Indianapolis has enough to still be effective.
Can the coverage contain Brad Smith? The Colts can’t let a big special teams play be a factor, and Smith can be exceptionally dangerous as a kick returner. Indianapolis should take a touchback every chance it gets. Seriously. There are two significant categories where the Colts and Jets are night and day. This is one of them. The Jets' average drive starts at the 31.5-yard line, the best spot in the league. The Colts start at the 22.7, the worst. It’s fair to cringe every time Indianapolis fields a kick, and that’s not a knock on Dominic Rhodes, who’s been handling the job. There is just nowhere for him to go.
What happens inside the 20? The other night and day contrast between these teams is in red zone production. The Colts don’t have to call on Adam Vinatieri a lot because they are busy scoring touchdowns. When they get close, they get touchdowns 67.9 percent of the time, the best percentage in the league by a good margin. New York doesn’t play great red zone defense. The Jets allow TDs 60.5 percent of the time with Indy’s defense faring better (52.1). On offense, the Jets punch it in only 40 percent of the time. That’s a lot of numbers to get to my point: A lot of Nick Folk on the field isn’t going to win this game, I don’t expect.