There's been a lot of talk this week about karma, confidence (watch the video and facepalm when Bruschi talks), and momentum, which are the "intangibles" that some people view as being important. I, however, believe talent, scheme, and statistics tell a much clearer story than these immeasurable factors. So let's break down how talent, scheme, and statistics will tell the story of the AFC Championship.
|Randy Moss (2)||8||48|
|Terrell Owens (2)||6||26|
|Steve Smith (CAR)||1||5|
|Chad Ochocinco (2)||2||28|
|Average / Game
An impressive list of receivers, including the abbreviated game against Reggie Wayne. Wayne had him beat on a couple other throws, but couldn't connect with Manning. Last night on NFL Live, they were talking about the Wayne vs. Revis matchup, and they flashed this stat up on the screen about Peyton Manning throwing to Wayne vs. Other Receivers:
You should remember that Wayne had, at a minimum, the best cover CB from each and every team playing on him, if not double teamed, so the numbers make sense. The first game against the Jets, Manning picked on Lito Sheppard, throwing to Austin Collie for 94 yards, and Pierre Garçon didn't even play due to injury. Even if Revis can slow down Wayne (who never had less than 3 catches in a game this year), I fully expect the other receivers to step up, and Manning has been great when throwing to the other receivers this season.
Follow me for keys to the game and my prediction...
Here are the Season Stats for both the Colts and Jets, save those 4 quarters the Colts starters didn't play, and adjusted for opponent:
|Avg Start Pos||28.9||27||29.8||14||33.5||1||29.5||13|
|3 and Outs||2.51||2||3.27||30||5.11||29||4.90||2|
|Penalty Yds / Play||0.583||2||0.857||10||0.681||5||0.759||19|
|Net Punts Yds/Game||38.88||15||40.47||28||38.90||14||37.84||9|
Winning Stats Keys to the Game:
- Drive Success Rate and ANPY/A will be the two biggest factors for the Colts Offense. The first time around, the Manning-led offense won the battle in both stats, especially in ANPY/A, going for over 9.1 / Att. If the Colts can repeat this, the Colts will win.
- 3rd/4th Down Conversions will be key on both sides of the ball. The Colts Offense and Jets Defense are both ranked #1 in the league, and in Week 16 the Colts really struggled in this stat (28.6%). I don't expect the Colts offense to be this bad again, but it's certainly possible. On the flip side, forcing the Jets into 3rd and 7+ will be a big factor. Even on the 3rd and longs, I fully expect to see draw plays, but not as many screen passes, especially if Shonn Greene is in the game. Greene caught his first pass of the season last week against the Chargers.
Red Zone Efficiency is, in my opinion, the biggest key of the game. Again, the Colts Offense and Jets Defense are #1 in the league (kind of a broken record at this point), and I think this is where the Colts will ultimately win the game. They did well in Week 16 (71.4%), and they've become so deadly in the red zone by running the ball (?!?) effectively inside the 20. The Colts 2 Touchdowns against the Jets before? Two rushing TDs.
On the flip side, the Colts have given up yards between the 20s, but when they had their backs against the wall, they've come up with the necessary stops to hold teams to 3 points. The Jets Offense is 24th in the league, so they aren't setting the world on fire. Dustin Keller should be Mark Sanchez's go-to receiver in the red zone, so I'd watch for the play-action rollout plays, much like the TD caught by Keller last week.
- Lastly, instead of looking at Total Rush Yards (which the Jets will have more of, win or lose), or at Yards / Carry (which the Colts are 3rd worst in the league), look at RB Success Rate, or the number of successful running plays each team gets. The Jets will run the ball a lot, but look how "successful" they've been this season: 25th in the league. The Colts? 5th best. You won't see that mentioned any where else. If the Colts need 1 or 2 yards, they usually get it. Like I said, the Jets will get yards running the ball. The key will be if they need 5 yards, can the Colts stop them at 4 yards?
One last thing to consider: Rex Ryan has been a Defensive Coordinator since 2005, where he was DC for 4 years in Baltimore, and obviously his 1 year in New York. Want to see a comparison of how the Colts have done against Rex Ryan Defenses vs. how the Chargers have done against Rex Ryan Defenses? Check it out:
|Avg Start Pos||32.4||31.9|
|3 and Outs||3.43||3.75|
|Penalty Yds / Play||0.762||1.206|
|Net Punts Yds/Game||38.40||46.00|
All but Yds/Play, Yds/Carry (not surprised), and Net Punt Avg (we all hate Mike Scifres), the Colts are better. They match up with this defense much better than the Chargers do, which the records show as well. Just because the Jets shut down the Chargers, who were great on offense this year, last week, doesn't mean the same will happen to the Colts.
Prediction? Colts 23, Jets 10 Onward to Miami!