Jets vs. Colts: 10 Bold Predictions for NFL Wild Card Playoff Showdown
The New York Jets got their wish, they are back where it all ended.
After the Colts ended an improbable Jet run to the AFC Championship game a season ago, Gang Green set out to find a way to beat this very team.
Peyton Manning has, and always will, give the Colts a chance to win any game, but they are not a healthy team.
A 10-6 record was good enough for a banged up Indianapolis team to win the AFC South for the seventh time in the division's nine season existence.
The Jets, and their 11-5 record, were second in the AFC East behind the Patriots demolition of the league.
Anything can happen in the NFL Playoffs, especially on Wildcard Weekend, but one thing is apparent this year ...
The New York Jets built themselves for this game.
10. LaDainian Tomlinson Will Disappoint In The Postseason ... Again
The 31-year old running back has seen his production slip dramatically since the fifth week of the season.
Tomlinson, who joined the Jets to give himself a shot at the Super Bowl he's never won, has hardly been a dominant force in previous postseasons with San Diego.
While the Jets offensive line should be opening holes against the Colts defensive front, Tomlinson will continue to disappoint.
Playmaking for the Jets will have to come from somewhere else ...
9. Shonn Greene Will Wake Up
And those plays will belong to Shonn Greene.
The second year running back out of Iowa made a name for himself last postseason before being handled by the Colts in the AFC title game.
This season, despite not living up to expectations and only rushing for 100 yards just once, Greene will make leave his mark on the Colts defense.
The Jets feature one of the league's top rushing attacks despite less than stellar play from both Green and LaDainian Tomlison.
A powerful offensive line has plowed the way for 148 yards per game this season.
The Colts defense, giving up 127 yards per game on the ground, is one of the league's worst units.
Shonn Greene, it is time to shine.
8. Indianapolis Will Hit Mark Sanchez Early
The Jets, who only gave up 28 sacks on the season, have the ability to stand up in the face of a good pass rush.
The Colts defense only got to the quarterback 30 times this season, mostly because teams had so much success running against them.
Early in this game, if the Jets really want to run the ball effectively like they should, they will have to prove they can throw the football early.
In doing so, Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis will get a few chances to hit the young, second year quarterback of the Jets.
Sanchez though, will rebound.
7. Reggie Wayne Will Be Quiet
The Colts best receiver is a fantastic route runner and excels at getting open.
The Jets, who feature two very good corners that like to be physical, will be exactly that with the star receiver.
A blitz-heavy scheme from the Jets will give Antonio Cromartie or Darrelle Revis a shot to stick close with Wayne every step of the way.
Wayne does not possess elite deep speed and Jets corners are as good as any at breaking on balls underneath.
6. Joe McKnight Will See The Field
The rookie running back saw extended action one week ago against Buffalo and responded with a great performance rushing for over 150 yards.
While Shonn Greene and LaDainian Tomlinson will expectedly get majority of the carries, there is nothing to say McKnight won't make his presence felt.
One year ago, Greene, then a rookie, rolled through the playoffs and burst onto the scene.
McKnight, who could see the field if Tomlinson does indeed fail to produce, has ability to make plays out of the backfield similar to Tomlinson as well as some momentum on his side.
5. Mark Sanchez Will Make A Big Play Early
Many believe that to set up the pass you must run the football, and that is true to a degree.
But setting up the run with the pass is just as effective, if not more.
Sanchez, who performed well last postseason, gets a fresh start with the playoffs and can put any doubts about his play behind him from the regular season.
The Jets will want to run the ball against the Colts defense and I believe to do so effectively Sanchez will have to back them off just a bit.
4. The Colts Will Have Some Success Running The Ball
The Colts offensive line, and running backs, have had trouble getting any production on the ground this season.
Averaging only 92.7 yards per game on the ground, the third least productive ground game in the league, the Colts just do not seem to be able to win the battle in the trenches.
The Jets defensive front, holding opposing running games to only 91 yards, has been great all season.
For the Jets though, they know they will have to focus on getting after the one player in blue that can beat them, and thus Peyton's brain alone should help find a little bit of running room for the Colts offense.
It depends on how you define success, but Peyton is too smart to be defeated at every level ...
3. Jets Will Blitz, Hit, and Control Peyton
Remember, the Jets are built for this.
Being able to lock up outside with two experienced and proven cornerbacks gives the Jets an enormous amount of flexibility in what they want to do with Peyton Manning.
The Colts future Hall of Famer is as good as it gets, but nobody can make plays from their back.
The Jets, who should not have to fear the deep ball with the Colts injured receiving corps, can dial up any number of blitzes to help confuse and hit Peyton almost every time he drops back.
Manning will make some plays here and there, but the Jets will get the best of him this weekend.
2. Jets Defeat Colts 31-17
The Jets went into this season with the idea of doing one thing and one thing only: winning the Super Bowl.
The Colts, who overcame a lot to win the division and get in the playoffs, were lucky to do so and will run into a team that is simply constructed to beat them this season.
Whoever can control the line of scrimmage should take this game and the Jets simply have the more dominant unit on both sides of the ball.
Tough out for Peyton, but if the Jets are going to start another run, it will have to start where it ended last season.
1. Rex Ryan Will Say Something Ridiculous Post-Game
Never shy to open his mouth, Rex already stirred the put by singing the praises of Peyton while taking shots at Tom Brady (read here).
If the Jets do defeat the Colts, they will head to Foxborough to take on their "hated" rival Patriots in what has become a very personal bout of words all season long.
Tom and coach Belichick will certainly be waiting for Rex and company with open arms if they do indeed draw the Jets and it will be exciting to see what exclamation Rex will make in the post-game press conference.