NFL.com Preview & Gamecenter: New York Jets @ Indianapolis Colts
All week long I’ve been convinced that Peyton Manning has seen the Rex Ryan/Mike Pettine/Dennis Thurman defense enough that the organized chaos will not rattle him. But then I keep thinking back to the Ravens beating the Raiders at Oakland in the 2001 AFC Championship game.
The Jets are built for this game. The biggest difference is that they have a rookie quarterback in Mark Sanchez instead of the steady veteran Trent Dilfer. If Sanchez can make 3-4 solid plays without turning the ball over, the Jets defense and running game can provide the rest.
The turning the ball over aspect becomes important. The Jets must force Peyton Manning into at least 2 turnovers (interceptions and/or fumbles) – meaning they are hitting the best player in the NFL often and getting him out of his comfort zone, which is so difficult to do. If the Colts don’t have any turnovers they could have a double-digit win. After what the Ravens defense did last week, even if they didn’t all count, I think Manning does get forced into a bad throw or two that ends up costing Indy.
There is also the karma factor. Maybe my time in LA, near Hollywood, is taking me down an entertainment script ending, but the Colts had a chance to eliminate the Jets in the regular season. They chose not to and sat their starters in the second half of a game they likely would have won. At that moment they sold all fans (not just Colts fans) short and mocked history as they did.
Based on heart and selective history – My pick: Jets 24 – Colts 20.