In a rematch from last year's AFC Championship game, the Indianapolis Colts take on the New York Jets tonight in what is sure to be a very good game.
The Colts have the better offense, but they will be tested against this Jets defense, which has been very good at times but has been a little weaker in recent weeks, so we will see what happens.
Here are the matchups that I will be keeping an eye on tonight:
Peyton Manning vs. Jets Pass Rush
The Jets have not really had a consistent pass rush all year and it has cost them some games, such as the game against the New England Patriots, where they got torched by Tom Brady. In fact, I would say that their ability to pass rush is the key to the game.
You know that Manning is going to burn you on blitzes almost every time, so you have to get to him and bring him down if you want to win, especially if Rex Ryan is going to be sending defensive backs in on blitzes.
Manning will find the open man if you don't sack him, so that is obviously something to watch in tonight's game.
I'm going to give the edge to Peyton Manning, though, because he has proven in the past that Rex Ryan defenses don't stop him.
He has a 5-1 record against Ryan-coached defenses, and the only loss came when he was lifted late in Week 16 last year and Curtis Painter came in. So the edge goes to Manning.
Jets Running Game vs. Colts Defensive Line
The Colts have done an outstanding job the last three weeks at stopping the run, and we aren't talking about just any running backs.
They have held Maurice Jones-Drew, Darren McFadden, and Chris Johnson all under 50 yards in the past three weeks.
That's a pretty good chip on the shoulder of the Colts defensive line, as they will try to stop the Jets running attack led by familiar foe LaDainian Tomlinson and Shonn Greene, who have combined for 1,680 yards this season, but have not been spectacular in recent weeks.
I'm going with the hot hand here, and I'm giving the edge to the Colts. They have played outstanding run defense recently, and they seem to have found the right combination of guys to plug up the hole in the middle of the defensive line.
Mark Sanchez vs. Colts DB's
The Colts defensive backs are going to have their hands full all night with Mark Sanchez and his receivers.
Antoine Bethea must have a big game to stop the Jets passing attack, because he is pretty much back there with a bunch of rookies and undrafted free agents like Justin Tryon and Aaron Francisco.
Braylon Edwards and Santonio Holmes are probably going to have a big night, but the Colts have to stand strong in the red zone and hold them to field goals.
If Sanchez gets these guys the ball deep, I don't have much confidence in the Colts' fill-in players.
The edge easily goes to the Jets here, no question.
Overall, it looks like it should turn out to be a good game to watch, with the possibility of a very high score.
But Colts fans should not expect to see the same type of win as last year's AFC Championship game victory.
I believe it's going to be really close tonight, but I'm saying the Colts prevail 31-28.
Kickoff is at 8:05 p.m., and you can watch it on NBC.
Keep up with all the Colts news at my blog, #18 and the Colts.
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