For the second straight season, the Jets are in the playoffs and for the second straight playoff game, they are in Indianapolis to face the Colts. This time, although it's Peyton Manning that they're facing, it's a very different team around him with a bunch of injuries.
The Jets were considered major underdogs in last season's AFC Championship game, and although they're slight underdogs for this battle, they could absolutely come out winners.
Just like the Colts are a different looking team than last season, so are the Jets with more weapons on offense. Also, the Jets defense isn't nearly what it was last season and they may have to rely more on winning this game in a shootout.
Can they win a high-scoring game against Peyton Manning? What are the five keys for the Jets and for the Colts to advance to the Divisional round? Find out here.
In last season's playoffs, it was Shonn Greene and his fresh legs that propelled the Jets' running attack. He took over for Thomas Jones and took off, helping the Jets ground and pound game.
This season, he began as a bit of a disappointment and it was LaDainian Tomlinson leading the way. But, as the season wore on, Greene started to take the majority of the carries and it's expected that he'll be the primary running back for the Jets in this game.
The Colts are one of the worst run defenses in football, ranked 25th, and it'll be hard for them to limit Greene's production. They're going to have to because the Jets are most likely going to do more running than passing if they're smart.
If Greene carries the ball 20 times for 100 yards, then the Colts are going to be in trouble. They'll have to find a way to stop him near the line of scrimmage.
It may not be a good thing to always relate to last season's game because the teams are a little different, but why not? Mark Sanchez impressed in the AFC Championship game, showing the Jets he could be more aggressive than just handing the ball off to his running backs.
He completed 17 of 30 passes for 257 yards and two touchdowns, although all of his offense came in the second quarter. The Jets scored all of their 17 points in that quarter, but Sanchez was on his game. He'll have to be on his game again.
Yes, the Jets should run the ball, but against Peyton Manning, passing the ball in certain situations will be a must.
The Jets have an advantage this season in that they have Santonio Holmes, obviously not on the team last season. Dustin Keller should also be targeted in the game along with Jerricho Cotchery on some third down passes, as Sanchez must be sharp and ready to go.
An off night for him as he's had in the past would be a disaster.
With two key receivers out of the game in Dallas Clark and Austin Collie, the Colts are going to have to rely heavily on Jacob Tamme, Reggie Wayne, and Pierre Garcon.
But, Tamme should be the main receiver in this game at tight end. He's had a pretty solid season since he started playing in Week 8.
The Jets are without their top safety Jim Leonhard and there's a good chance Tamme will be covered by Brodney Pool or Dwight Lowery. Neither of them are as good as Leonhard, and Tamme should be able to have a good game for Peyton Manning.
He's the replacement to Dallas Clark and in this game, he has to play like him. In last season's big game, Clark caught four passes for 35 yards and a touchdown.
Look for Tamme to get into the end zone at least once in this game against a beat up Jets secondary.
As just mentioned, the Colts may be without two of their big play makers, but they still have some quality receivers.
With Jim Leonhard out in this game, the Jets two corner backs have to have strong games. Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie can't allow Reggie Wayne and Pierre Garcon to go for a combined 150+ yards, otherwise the Jets are cooked.
Especially Garcon, who had his breakout game as an NFL wide receiver against the Jets in last season's title game. He ate the Jets up, catching 11 passes for 151 yards and a touchdown that sealed the deal for the Colts.
Just like Holmes offensively, the Jets have an added defensive weapon in Cromartie, instead of Revis by himself.
Revis will most likely be on Garcon for what he did last season, and the veteran Wayne will probably be covered by Cromartie, but no matter which way it is, the dynamic corner back duo must put the clamps on Peyton Manning's weapons.
It's been well documented that Jets wide receiver Santonio Holmes wasn't with them last season and involved against the Colts. This time around, the Jets enter the game with more of a threat in the passing game and the Colts will have to stop Holmes.
The last catch Holmes has caught in a playoff game was the game-winner in Super Bowl XLIII, that earned him the game MVP. The Steelers beat the Cardinals and missed the playoffs last season. In other words, Holmes is clutch and when it counts the most, is right there.
Even if Jacob Lacey was to stop him for the majority of the game, if it's close and late, Holmes could catch the most important pass of the evening.
This is the exact game the Jets wanted Holmes for: in the playoffs, in the biggest moments, the type of big play maker the Jets were short of against the Colts last time around.
The Colts must limit him to under 100 yards or it could end up being a Pierre Garcon-type performance.
If there's one major disadvantage for the Jets in this game, it's Peyton Manning's ability to pass down the middle of the field, something the Jets can't stop quarterbacks from doing.
In this game, Manning may virtually always throw down the middle of the field considering the circumstances. The Jets on the outside have Revis and Cromartie, but down the middle, the loss of Leonhard will hurt.
Other than the three primary targets for Manning, also look out for Blair White. He'll be a dark horse in this game as he's made some plays as well this season. He did go for 355 yards receiving, filling in for some injured players, and he could stun the Jets down the middle.
Those are the plays that killed them in last season's game. Trailing 17-13 at halftime, Manning came out in the second half and fired down the middle numerous times and the Jets couldn't stop him and his great accuracy.
This time around, it's going to have to be different or it'll be same old Jets.
When you think of Peyton Manning, you think of accuracy and huge plays. This season, the Colts finished as the top ranked passing team in football.
One thing you don't think of with the Colts is their running game. It's never built around that and this season, it ranked 29th in the league. Meanwhile, the Jets have one of the best run defenses in the league, ranked third in that category.
What does that all mean? Simply, the Colts can't attempt to rush the ball in this game. It won't work, and Dominic Rhodes and Joseph Addai will be stuffed at the line of scrimmage all game long.
A good number to expect out of Manning? 40 pass attempts for around 250 yards and two touchdowns. Basically, the numbers he put up in the finale against the Titans last week. He went 27 for 41 with 264 yards and two touchdowns.
Anything less than 40 passes wouldn't make any sense and the Colts would really have no chance to win the game. In fact, the Colts should just scrap all the running plays from their playbook.
Peyton Manning rarely misses out on opportunities to convert in the red zone, and that means the Jets are going to have to match them to stay in this game.
Besides the fact getting seven points on most drives will be key for Mark Sanchez and company, the Jets don't have a lot of faith in their field goal kicker Nick Folk. After coming over and getting off to a tremendous start kicking field goals, Folk has been your average kicker of late, missing the ordinary chip shot here and there.
If there's one thing the Jets can't afford to do, it's failing to score points when they get inside the Colts' 20 yard-line. Obviously, getting into the red zone is the first step, but the Jets should be able to by using their running game with some short intermediate passes.
Once they get there, scoring seven will be the biggest key of the game for them. That's where Braylon Edwards should come into play. Use him along with Dustin Keller to get into the end zone.
Remember: scoring only three against Manning is like losing four points on every drive.
Most of the time, the Jets are able to stop their opponents from getting first downs on first and second down. It's the third downs that kill them and that'll be a huge key for Peyton Manning.
If for some reason the Jets third down defense steps up to make all the big stops, the Colts will have trouble moving the ball.
The Colts didn't do a great job of converting on third downs against the Jets in last season's title game. They only went 4 for 11, but with Manning and his receivers, converting shouldn't be hard.
Especially this season being the Jets have absolutely no pass rush whatsoever, Manning won't have pressure on him to make the play to the open receiver.
It's like the Jets to always allow the big play instead of getting the big stop and expect the Colts to come through in big spots on third down.
This will be the biggest key in this game for either team: the time of possession battle. More key for the Jets chances to win.
The biggest reason is because Peyton Manning is known for making long passes and for rushing up to the line of scrimmage without eating any game clock. The more time he has the ball, the more points he can score. One of the only ways to stop Manning is to limit the time he has the ball.
That's all the more reason the Jets should stick to running the ball in this game. The only way to kill time is by running the ball and take as much time off the clock per drive.
The thing is, scoring on those drives will be a must. There's no point in taking time off the clock and then coming up empty.
If the Jets can put together long five-minute-plus drives and score seven, that'll put them in the best position to limit Manning and try to beat him.