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Move over, Peyton. Okay, maybe not.
Straight Up: Indianapolis
Against the Spread: Indianapolis +4.5
Over/Under: Over 37.5 (partly cloudy and 70s)
This game has serious implications. Unfortunately for fans of these teams, the implications concern the 2012 draft order. Ugh.
Let’s hear it for the Colts! The defense has battled all season and truly rallied a couple of weeks ago. Reggie Wayne summed up the wins from the last two weeks after the game on the NFL Network, “The defense played great and the offense just kept chopping wood.”
That they did, with five FG attempts and four successful kicks. Until the last 1:55 in the fourth quarter. Are you kidding me?
Dan Orlovsky was going to run the (less than) two-minute offense with no timeouts? And he did.
Both Orlovsky and Wayne joked that all Reggie ever says to Dan is, “throw left.” This mantra apparently stuck as the Indy QB threw it left and Wayne came up with a fantastic leaping TD catch.
He’s not as big or as young as Calvin Johnson. But he is as clutch and, given a halfway-decent throw, as unstoppable.
I am happy for Orlovsky. The guy is about to become the father of male triplets. It’s a good thing he is playing well enough to probably have a job in 2012.
In fact, he is playing so well that I was forced to do a little research. Admit it, all you knew about Dan was that he was the bonehead who ran out of the back of his own end zone in Detroit a few years ago. Me, too.
Orlovsky was the starting QB for the University of Connecticut Huskies as they went from Division I-AA to Division I independent, to the Big East. That’s pretty impressive. Then he got drafted by the Lions.
I for one am happy that this game-winning drive capped off by a great TD is an image that can replace that whole safety debacle. Good for him.
Indy’s passer finished the night with 23-of-41 for 244 and a TD. Wayne accounted for 106 of those yards. (Pierre Garcon had another 50; Joseph Addai ran for 50.)
How about RB Donald Brown? I loved this kid coming out of college but he frustrated me with sparks here and there and no consistency.
Of course, the fact that the team doesn’t use a FB when Manning is under center may have something to do with that. Brown contributed another 48 yards last week after breaking an 80-yarder in Week 15.
The Colts defense kept plugging away and rattled Houston’s T.J. Yates throughout, shutting down the vaunted Texans rushing attack in the last quarter.
I have to mention that a handful of Houston penalties kept that final Colts drive alive—forever.
For Jacksonville, it’s a good thing that Maurice Jones-Drew (voted to another well-deserved Pro Bowl and in contention for the rushing title) started his career at an early age. At this rate, he’s getting old quickly.
The RB contributed another 24 carries for 103 yards and a TD in Week 16. No surprise there.
What was surprising was Blaine Gabbert commanding a fairly effective drive in the fourth quarter.
ESPN’s Paul Kuharsky summed up the JAX QB situation: “Blaine Gabbert has had a poor rookie season during which he’s not played well on a team that hasn’t protected him consistently enough and which has horrible receivers.”
Well that’s a depressing way to put it. But accurate. However, despite averaging only 162 passing yards over the past three weeks, the Jaguars have managed to put up 24 points per game. Too bad the defense has given up 26.
Indy’s D has rallied this month and led the way to their two victories by allowing fewer than 18 points per week.
Assume that Jones-Drew will carry the offense for Jacksonville since:
1) He is their only Pro Bowl offensive player.
2) The Colts still don’t stop the run worth squat.
Assume that Indy pass-rushers Robert Mathis and Pro Bowler Dwight Freeney will make Gabbert’s last game of his rookie season a painful experience.
Assume that Orlovsky will pass more and get at least one TD. If the Colts can run the ball at all, they should win. Otherwise, it could go either way.