This is a rematch of the 2009 AFC Championship Game, which the Colts won, 30-17. But their roles have been reversed somewhat. A year ago, the Jets backed into the postseason, thanks largely to the Colts sitting their starters when they faced them in Week 16 with a No. 1 seed secured. This year, the Jets’ playoff berth came in Week 16, the Colts’ on Sunday. A big concern for the Jets is QB Mark Sanchez’s sore throwing shoulder, it remains to be scene if the Jets turn to journey man QB Marc Brunell. The last time these teams met in the wild-card round, Jan. 4, 2003, the Jets won, 41-0 at the Meadowlands.
The Jets are this years most despised teams with their preseason being followed and captured by the cameras of “Hard Knocks”, their loud mouth couch, and their sideline hooligans. New York finished the campaign (11-5) and are the 6th seed in the AFC but they are stumbling into the postseason as they went 3-2 to finish the year. They have proven to be strong in the clutch but flops when they get down early as was proven in New England and Chicago. The offense is on and off and the running game relies solely on the strength and motivation of the entire offensive line. The Jets are more hardy, having won five of eight games decided by six points or less compared to the Colts’ five victories in nine chances. The Jets also faced opposition who qualified for this postseason six times this season, winning twice, while the Colts played just three playoff teams and won once. One aspect is the battle of the trenches, where the Jets will look to establish their No. 4-ranked rushing attack and rely on their No. 3-ranked rushing defense. The running game is not a strength for the Colts, but has steadily improved over their four-game winning streak. The Jets’ only chance at capturing a victory will fall into the hands of QB Mark Sanchez who has proven to be clutch in numerous games this past season. But will he be able to drive the ball up the field late in the game and produce in one of the biggest stages of his career?
Opposite of seeding, the Jets were considered — and arguably still could be considered — the better team for much of the season. The Colts won the AFC South thanks to a four-game winning streak to conclude the season, even though none of those victories came against playoff teams. The Colts finished the season (10-6) and are the AFC’s 3rd seed but many critics have this team falling early in the postseason. The Colts finished off the season leading the league in passing yards per game (no surprise here), throwing for an average of 288 passing yards per game. If Manning and company seem comfortable, it’s because he’s been in this situation before. The Colts have qualified for the postseason the past nine seasons. The Colts are partially running by necessity: a trio of Manning’s receiving options — Dallas Clark, Austin Collie and Anthony Gonzalez — are out for the season. As are nine defensive backs, all on injured reserve. The Colts will find out this week if their defense will be without captain and linebacker Gary Brackett, the Rutgers product. Brackett flattened Tennessee Titans long snapper Ken Amato in the regular-season finale and could face suspension after what is likely to be ruled his third illegal helmet-to-helmet hit this season.
Jets vs Colts Wild Card Early Lines:
New York Jets +3
@ Indianapolis Colts -3
The spread is right where you would expect it for this match up early in the week. Both clubs posses opposite strengths, as the Colts rely on their offense to ride the ship and the Jets hinge on their dominant defense to push them through. The betting public, at this point, seem to be all over the Colts so I would expect the line to be pushed to -3.5 or even -4 by the weekend. If you favor the Colts in this one then I suggest jumping on now. The game total surprised me a tad, I believe it may be a bit high for a game of such magnitude between two solid clubs. Last years AFC Championship game produced 47 points but that game made the Jets who they are today. They went out and spent an enormous amount on their defense and the defense has proven all year long that they are a force to be reckoned with. Even with Manning under the helm for the Colts I believe 44.5 for a game total may be questionable. Look for this game total to fall by weeks end, I would expect a game total of 42.5 by Saturday.
The NY Jets are 11-3 SU in their last 14 games on the road and 11-4 SU in their last 15 games. New York is 6-14 SU in their last 20 games when playing Indianapolis, they are also 3-8 SU in their last 11 games when playing on the road against Indianapolis. Meanwhile, Indianapolis is 2-4 ATS in its last 6 games and 1-4 ATS in its last 5 games at home. Indianapolis is 2-4 ATS in their last 6 games when playing NY Jets and Rex Ryan has not won against the Colts coaching since 2001 when he was with the Ravens.
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