After nearly a month of staying in Indianapolis, the Colts will hit the road Sunday, traveling to New York/New Jersey to take on the national media's favorite team, the Jets. You can't go a day without somebody bringing them up, asking your opinion on them, etc. In fact, I'm surprised ESPN hasn't dedicated an hour of programming every day to talking about their backup QB, who I don't need to name in this article. They seem to make more news off the field than on it, but we're going to focus our attention to what's happened on the field today.
The Jets are 2-3 on the season, losing last week on Monday Night Football to the Texans 23-17, a score made closer thanks to a kickoff return TD by Joe McKnight. They've also been blown out by the 49ers, lost to the Steelers, beat the Dolphins in OT, and blew out the Bills (but who hasn't done that this year?). The Colts enter the match-up after their emotional, come-from-behind victory over the Packers 30-27, and now sit 2-2 on the season.
Injuries to both sides will get attention this week, although the Jets have played at least a game or two without their star players. Out are CB Darrelle Revis and WR Santonio Holmes, while the Colts learned yesterday they'll be without starting RB Donald Brown and DE/OLB Robert Mathis for at least 2 or 3 weeks, both due to knee injuries. While losing those guys will obviously hurt the Colts, they've gotten used to the "next man up" attitude, and other guys will have to step up and play well.
The Colts have a 41-29 record all-time against the Jets, including a 26-16 record since moving to Indianapolis. The last three meetings have been especially memorable, especially for us Colts fans. We all know about Week 16 2009, when the Colts decided to eschew a run at a perfect season, then ripped apart the vaunted Jets Defense in the second half of the AFC Championship game later that year. Finally, Peyton Manning played his last game in a Colts uniform in the 17-16 Wild Card loss in 2010, a game the Colts never should have lost, but did thanks to a myriad of late-game mistakes. Not many players remain on the Colts that played in those games, but those few certainly remember it.
How do these teams stack up in 2012? Let's take a look...
Statistical Comparison between the Colts and Jets:
|Orange Zone Eff||59.3%||9||47.8%||13||31.1%||31||63.4%||24|
|Avg Start Pos||29.1||20||32.4||29||28.9||23||30.9||19|
|3 and Outs||2.83||7||5.48||1||3.66||15||3.81||18|
|Penalty Yds / Play||0.854||18||1.053||7||0.765||15||1.007||9|
Keys to the Game:
- The first thing I notice is this is not the Jets Defense we've come to know under Head Coach Rex Ryan. While he'll still do quite a few things to try and confuse rookie QB Andrew Luck, they just haven't been that good at stopping teams this season.
- Easily their best area is defending the pass, something the Colts will have to overcome to win, especially without Brown in the backfield. We can't expect Reggie Wayne to have another huge day, but he'll most likely be targeting 15+ times on the day. I also expect CB Antonio Cromartie to be on him most of the day, which should be a good match-up.
- Third and Fourth Downs have been bad for the Jets Defense, while the Colts have been steadily improving in that area all season. If the Colts can't convert on 3rd Down, I don't like their chances of winning.
- The Colts should also have an advantage scoring points if they can drive the ball inside the 35 (Orange Zone), and especially when they get in the Red Zone. The Jets like giving up points, and the Colts like scoring them once they get deep in opponents territory. If the Colts come up empty, again bad news.
- The Jets Offense has been putrid this season, scoring just two TDs in their last 45 drives! Yes, that stat is correct. You can see that from a myriad of stats here, whether it be Drive Success Rate, or even when they have moved the ball into their opponents territory, they can't put points on the board, ranking 31st in Orange Zone Efficiency, and dead last in Red Zone Efficiency. The Colts Defense has been average so far this season, and needs to continue to keep the Jets out of the end zone.
- It looks like the Jets are average when it comes to converting on 3rd/4th Down, so that might be the biggest key when they have the ball. If the Colts can get them off the field, the Colts will be in really good shape.
- Even though the Jets have made it a habit to turn the ball over frequently, the Colts Defense hasn't been good this year at forcing turnovers. Get a turnover or two, and again the Colts will be in business.
- While the Winning Stats don't do anything with Special Teams as of yet, the Colts just need to keep the Jets from scoring when the Defense isn't on the field.
The numbers make me pretty confident that the Colts should beat the Jets. However, this will be only their second road game of the season, and some of those jitters will certainly be there again like they were in Chicago. If the Colts really want to make the playoffs this season, this game Sunday is probably the most important one remaining for the Colts, especially for tie-breaking purposes. It's obviously still early in the season, but a Colts win will really make me believe this team could make the playoffs.
I think the Colts will come out a little slow after their big, emotional high last Sunday, but they'll recover, and will take care of business, thanks to another good day from Andrew Luck, and the Defense making that QB controversy between Mark Sanchez and that other guy even bigger.
Colts 20, Jets 16