I've covered him before, as a Big East correspondent for a local newsletter in the Pittsburgh area back when I was 16. He was a cornerback playing for the Pittsburgh Panthers. That was back when he won the 2007 ESPY Awards best College Football Play of the Year award. I remember he was quick, fast, strong, and smart.
Darrelle Revis has been the deciding factor for the Jets in a few games already this year, and he's in position to do it once again.
With six interceptions, including one returned for a touchdown in a 17-6 win over the Carolina Panthers, Revis is no stranger to having the ball in his hands. Thus far through the playoffs, he's recorded an interception in each game, helping the Jets secure a spot in the AFC Championship game.
But it's not his ability to catch the ball that he's known for.
It's his coverage ability.
Throughout the season, Revis has been matched up with some of the leagues best, including Steve Smith, Terrelle Owens, Andre Johnson, Marques Colston, and Chad Ochocinco.
Despite Revis's 5'11" and 198 pound frame, he can match up with even the tallest receivers in the NFL. His size hasn't kept him from deflecting a league high 31 passes this year.
Revis will start on Sunday likely opposite of Indianapolis Colts' wide receiver Reggie Wayne. This would be the second time we get to see these two duel it out on the field.
The first time around, the match-up was short lived. The Colts, having wrapped up home field advantage and a first round bye, were prepared to rest their starters in order to reduce the possibility of injury. With Wayne playing in the first half, Revis fared well, holding him to three receptions and 33 yards.
The Jets went on to defeat the Colts 29-15.
Some might argue the win was given to the Jets, due to the resting of first team players and the knowledge that the Colts had already wrapped up home-field advantage. The coaching move was criticized by Colts fans, who wanted to see the Colts finish with an undefeated season.
This time, we're playing for it all.
Colts wide receiver, Reggie Wayne, addressed the media when he was asked what he thought about Revis, "I feel like he's one of the best, he's gonna make me play my best."
Wayne, a four-time Pro-Bowl selection, with 100 receptions, 1,264 yards and ten touchdowns, does not have a height advantage most receivers have when playing Revis. Listed at only six feet tall, he will have to work harder to shake the coverage of Darrelle Revis, otherwise he could end up not being a factor in this game.
That's easier said than done.
"It's gonna be exciting, now that we've got a whole game to play each other", Wayne stated at a press interview on Tuesday.
His quarterback, Peyton Manning, feels the same way.
"He seems to find a way to get his hands on the ball," Manning told the media Tuesday, "You can tell they have a lot of confidence in him, as they should, because he's a highly talented cover guy."
An Upset In The Making
In my opinion, the Colts may have many options, but they lack something that is extremely important during the playoffs: a balanced attack.
Indianapolis finished the regular season ranked second in passing yards, but finished last in the league in rushing yards with only 1,294. This may play into the hands of Jets Head Coach Rex Ryan, a defensive specialist and the heart of confidence on his team.
The Jets offensive attack is punishing.
With a rookie quarterback in Mark Sanchez, look for Rex Ryan to continuously run the ball in order wear down the Colts' defense. This strategy worked against the Colts before when they played in Miami on Monday Night Football. Miami lead the game up until the last few minutes, when Manning lead a final drive down the field to score a late touchdown, winning 27-23.
The Jets defense won't let that happen.
In fact, the Jets lead in pass defense. And it's not even close. During the regular season, New York only gave up 2,459 total pass yards. That's nearly 400 less yards then the second place Buffalo Bills, who defense gave up 2,948 pass yards.
Miami had possession of the ball for 45 minutes, compared to the Colts 15 minutes, which is what the Jets may need to do in order to win.
If there's any chance at an upset, it will have to be done with the Jets rush game.
I am not going to neglect the Colts defense. They have put up great numbers.
The Jets, leading the league with 2,756 rush yards, could end up winning this game, if they can keep churning out first downs and prevent turnovers. The Colts were ranked 24th in rushing defense during the regular season, which gives Rex Ryan the ingredients he needs to brew a road win.
It's unlikely a great playing Jets defense would allow Manning to throw for more then 300 yards, and their poor rushing game will likely be a very small factor.
I believe an upset is not only possible, it's very likely.
This game might leave Peyton Manning on the sidelines, once again, with a look of hopelessness, like the last time he played the Jets.
I've been burned when betting against Peyton Manning before. But I believe the confidence that Coach Ryan has been raining down on his players, and the amazing defense they've been playing for the past few weeks will let this Cinderella story continue on for one more game.