Week Four: Indianapolis Colts at New York Jets
Location: East Rutherford, NJ, Giants Stadium
Kick-off time: 1:00 pm EST
Last week's victory over Jacksonville was huge. The Colts have started the season 2-0 in their division, and they have won with a depleted roster. The Colts get a bit healthier this week. Adam Vinatieri is expected back this Sunday, and he should handle FGs at the very least. In the Meadowlands, having a great kicker is everything. We saw first hand how Vinatieri helped Indy beat the Giants. His presence against the Jets, a team he has KILLED during his career, will increase Indy's chances of winning. Here are the keys:
- Turnovers. The Jets have feasted on turnovers of late. They let J.P. Losman and Willis McGahee run amoke last week, but despite their gawdy numbers their effectivness was nullified because of turnovers. Just like any road game, the Colts must limit mistakes and protect the football. Defensively, the Colts must get turnovers of their own. The defense has shown a knack of late getting turnovers in key situations.
- Special Teams. Colts special teams have played huge this month. In the Meadwlands, great ST play is a must. If you win the ST battle there, you will most likely win the game. Adam Vinatieri playing is big. Terrence Wilkins returning punts and kicks has become a weapon.
- The running game. Both teams want to run, and both use a RB-by-committee approach, though the Jets seem to have more in that committee than the Colts. I actually think it's more important for the Colts to establish something on the ground than NY. The Jets run defense has not played well (neither has Indy's). We might see more of Joseph Addai this week. Dungy has held him back, waiting until October until he starts increasing his workload. This Sunday is October 1st. Time for Joe to get more carries.
Some might categorize this as a "trap game." I personally don't believe in trap games. The team should be ready to play every opponent, every week, with the same high intensity and focus. If certain players slack off, then the GM should cut them. If the team loses because they took it easy during the week leading up to a seemingly "easy" opponent, then the owner should fire the coaches. There are no easy games in the NFL. There is absolutely no excuse for any NFL team to fall into a trap game. College, yes. High school, sure. These are professionals, and they are paid a lot of money. Anything less than a 100% committment by the players and coaches is a waste of any NFL fan's money and time.
The Jets are a good football team with a nice nucleus to build around. Eric Mangini has done a very fine job as a rookie head coach. Chad Pennington looks healthy, and his receivers look solid. The Jets fight hard for 4 quarters. This will be a tough, hard fought game. Pennington has always played well against the Colts. The defense, despite its numerous injuries, must get pressure on him and find the football. The Colts certainly do not take the Jets lightly.