Dear Peyton Manning,
Rex doesn't mean it. He has nothing against you or your teammates "personally". He's just really fed up with you shrugging his teams aside again and again. He knows that you're not out to get him as a person, or that you somehow get a certain satisfaction from beating his team more than any other coach's.
But he really doesn't care and will say so anyway because he can; because he's Rex Ryan. And know this: he has everything against you PROFESSIONALLY, and he's coming after you.
Despite some more questionable yet juicy sound bytes Rex Ryan gave reporters at the Jets training complex on Monday, he was spot on about one thing.
"You’re never going to stop Peyton Manning," Ryan said.
"But you have to contain him enough to where he doesn’t beat you by himself or light the scoreboard up
which he is capable of doing."
Contrary to what many think about the way the Colts have been playing recently, Peyton might just have to beat the Jets by himself. And if Ryan can contain Manning this time around, it will be his first legitimate victory against the future hall of famer.
All the hype about the most recent installment of Peyton's postseason offense seems to dwell on the assumption that Indy has finally re-invented its running game.
Since their 6-6 start, the Colts have obviously run the table and have rushed for over 100 yards in each win. And with the return of Joseph Addai, Indy appears to be poised to do more damage on the ground.
But remember that the Colts' last four opponents weren't exactly defensive stalwarts. They played the Titans twice—ranked 20th in the NFL stopping the run. They beat Jacksonville at home to avoid losing the division, against a 22nd ranked run defense. And they also defeated the Raiders, a team in the bottom three against the run at 29th in the league.
Even after this past stat-inflating month for the Colts, they remain ranked 25th in the NFL running the football. The Jets are sitting pretty with the third best run defense and expect them to show it off. If they can successfully stop Indy's run attack and not let Peyton win the game himself, New York has a great chance.
Last year the Colts out-gained the Jets 101-86 yards on the ground in the AFC title game, setting up Peyton to play near-perfect football. This year the running game has failed Manning, forcing him to put the team on his shoulders. His run defense has also been suspect this season, letting opponents have more control of the clock.
Analysts say the Colts can stop the run now also, and showed it during their season-ending win streak. It's true Indy shut down Maurice Jones-Drew and Chris Johnson at home. But those two backs carved up the Colts defense in Jacksonville and Tennessee, respectively.
Keep in mind the Jets are 6-2 on the road and average more rush yards per game away from the New Meadowlands.
And even if the Colts run offense and defense has been improving of late, neither facet is nearly as good as it was last season. Expect last year's run-game figures to, at least, be reversed.
If the Indianapolis run game is neutralized, the Jets will look to new additions Antonio Cromartie and Kyle Wilson to step up, make plays in the secondary, and prevent Manning from lighting up the scoreboard.
The loss of Austin Collie and Dallas Clark for the Colts will help—the two combined for 158 receiving yards and two TD's a year ago in the AFC Championship. Quarterback pressure and turnovers inside the dome will probably be the deciding factor in keeping Manning at bay.
Ryan is going to want to hit Manning in the mouth, and New York better get a pass rush.
Still, the Jets defense has accumulated 10 more sacks this season than Freeney, Mathis and the Colts. While Manning is an expert at getting the ball out of his hands and avoiding sacks, New York needs to at least rough him up and force him to get rid of the ball before he wants to.
Calvin Pace has seemed to come alive as of late and was all over the field against the Bills. He's as threatening a pass rusher as New York has and will need to get into the Indy backfield.
A turnover here and there wouldn't hurt either. The Jets are plus nine in turnover differential while the Colts are minus four. So to all those jumping on the Indianapolis bandwagon, beware. New York is the better team on paper and that may be overcome by Peyton Manning, or it may not.