NFL Wildcard Playoff Preview: How the Jets can beat the Colts

New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan reacts on the sidelines in the fourth quarter against the Buffalo Bills in week 17 of the NFL season at New Meadowlands Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey on January 2, 2011. The Jets defeated the Bills 38-7 and advance to the playoffs. UPI /John Angelillo

As I did with the Saints-Seahawks preview, below I break down how the Jets can beat the Colts on Saturday and vice versa.

THE JETS WIN IF: Obviously Mark Sanchez needs to be productive for the Jets to have a shot, but I’m going to focus on Rex Ryan’s defense. If Ryan finally wants to get the Peyton Manning monkey off his back, he could learn a lot from watching how the Patriots, Chargers and Cowboys defended the Colts in Indy’s three-game losing streak in Weeks 11-13. In those three games, the Colts averaged just 2.6 yards per rush. Granted, they didn’t have Joseph Addai then, but the key to defusing Manning might start with taking away his running game. Obviously the Jets need to get pressure on Manning. All teams facing quarterbacks like Manning, Tom Brady, Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers need to dial up pressure to beat those guys. But despite the popular belief that the Colts can’t run the ball, most of Manning’s success comes from Indy’s balance on offense. The Colts might not rack up a lot of rushing yards, but that doesn’t mean their ground game can’t be effective. The Jets need to focus on shutting down the Colts’ rushing attack first and make them one-dimensional. If Manning is constantly in third-and-long situations, then eventually the Jets will come up with a big play (just as the Patriots, Chargers and Cowboys did). Disguising blitzes and sending pressure from the secondary is all well and good, but those things won’t matter if the Colts can move the ball on the ground. Peyton is going to make plays – that’s just what he does. But it’s those times when the Jets force him to throw in third-and-long when they need to capitalize.

THE COLTS WIN IF: Peyton continues his domination of Ryan-led defenses. Over the past month of the season, quarterbacks such as Tom Brady and Jay Cutler were able to strike for big plays because Ryan constantly had to send extra defenders to help his feeble pass rush. If Manning can strike for a couple of long-gainers and put the Jets back on their heels, then it will force Mark Sanchez to beat the Colts with his arm. Another thing Indy must do is control the tempo. If the Jets are able to play their game (i.e. running the ball and playing good defense), then Manning may get frustrated that he can’t attack, attack, attack like he’s used to doing. Nothing infuriates him more than having to stand on the sidelines and watch the time tick off the clock. But if the Colts can establish rhythm early, get into the fast tempo they want to play and make Sanchez and the Jets’ offense scramble to catch up, then Indy wins this one running away.

Follow the Scores Report editors on Twitter @clevelandteams and @bullzeyedotcom.

Even Peyton Manning can’t win games on his own

INDIANAPOLIS - NOVEMBER 28: Peyton Manning  of the Indianapolis Colts looks to throw a pass while pursued by Kevin Burnett  of the San Diego Chargers during the NFL game at Lucas Oil Stadium on November 28, 2010 in Indianapolis, Indiana. The Chargers won 36-14. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

In terms of reading defenses, making adjustments at the line of scrimmage and putting the ball in a spot that only his receiver can make a play, Peyton Manning is the best. But if his performance Sunday night against the Chargers is any indication, then he’s at the point in his career where he needs more help around him.

Indy deactivated six starters for their Sunday night matchup with the Chargers, who promptly crushed the Colts 36-14. Manning completed 31-of-48 passes for 285 yards and two touchdowns, but he was intercepted four times, two of which were returned for touchdowns by San Diego.

Among the key players that were out for the Colts were Dallas Clark, Joseph Addai and Austin Collie. And outside of Jacob Tamme, there hasn’t been any backup that has stepped up in the trio’s absence. (Donald Brown has been unimpressive and inconsistency continues to plague Pierre Garcon.)

Try as he did, Manning was overmatched on Sunday night. Eric Weddle should have been called for pass interference on his interception-turned-touchdown, but take that play out of the equation and Peyton still struggled. He never seemed to get settled because he was taking hits inside the pocket and a lot of his throws sailed on him because he rarely had time to set his feet. Granted, he should have been better. He missed open receivers, he forced passes into coverage and even when he did make a competition, he wasn’t always on target.

He was bad. But if the Colts were completely healthy I don’t think it’s unreasonable to say that he wouldn’t have played as poorly as he did last night.

The Colts have now lost three of their last four games but the good news is that they should start to get some players back next week. Addai seems to be getting closer to returning and Collie (concussion) should be medically cleared to play soon as well.

For Manning’s sake, let’s hope that reinforcements are on the way. The AFC South is still the Colts’ division to lose but the Jaguars hung with the Giants on Sunday in the Meadowlands so they’re not likely to go away soon. Indy has a fight on its hands.

Projected carries in KC, Houston, Indy, Buffalo and Oakland

DENVER - JANUARY 03: Jamaal Charles #25 of the Kansas City Chiefs rushes against the Denver Broncos at Invesco Field at Mile High on January 3, 2010 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

Chris Wesseling of Rotoworld has released updated carry projections for the entire AFC, but let’s focus on five teams: the Chiefs, Texans, Colts, Bills and Raiders.

We’ll go one by one:

Jamaal Charles: 220
Thomas Jones: 140
Kestahn Moore: 30

Charles emerged as the Chiefs’ MVP last year, averaging 20 carries and 121 rushing yards once hit he the starting lineup at mid-season. The projection above accounts for Jones in slightly more than a Willis McGahee-type short-yardage/inside role, giving Charles just under 14 carries per contest. Throw in three receptions per week and it’s enough to leave Charles as a borderline RB1.

Obviously, these numbers disregard the fact that TJ is still atop the depth chart and the head coach is telling the press that Charles’s role is ‘undefined.’ While it would seem incomprehensible to fantasy owners that Haley would limit Charles’s touches given how well he played last season, the news out of KC should not be ignored. TJ has been overlooked everywhere he’s went and while I’m hoping for a 60/40 split like we see here, I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s more 50/50.

Arian Foster: 215
Steve Slaton: 125
Jeremiah Johnson: 20
Chris Henry: 10

The line for now trendy Foster love starts behind Rotoworld. We were hyping the former Tennessee star as a Dynasty deep sleeper once the Texans snatched him up after last year’s draft while promoting him as the potential answer in Houston by mid-November. Although Ben Tate’s season-ending broken fibula has killed Foster’s sleeper potential for this year, it certainly offers more clarity in this backfield: Foster is Batman; Slaton is Robin. Draft accordingly.

I didn’t jump on the Foster bandwagon until earlier this summer, but with Tate’s injury, he looks like he should vastly outplay his current draft position (9.02 over the last week). Look for his ADP to continue to rise. I’d start thinking about picking him in the 7th or the 8th. He played very well at the end of last season, has drawn rave reviews from the coaching staff this summer, and it’s clear that the team doesn’t view Slaton as a feature back any longer.

Read the rest of this entry »

Colts face tough personnel decisions following 2010 season

Ever since Peyton Manning’s second year in the league, NFL fans have just grown accustomed to the Colts being in the playoffs every season. Manning is, and will be until he retires, the catalyst for the horseshoe helmet’s success.

But as the Indianapolis Star points out, Jim Irsay and Bill Polian will be faced with several tough decisions after the 2010 season because the Colts will have 19 players seeking new contracts. There’s no doubt that the team will make sure Manning retires a Colt, but will his contract impede Irsay from signing other free agents?

That might be a reference to the size of Manning’s signing bonus. It undoubtedly will surpass the $34.5 million bonus he received as part of his seven-year, $98 million contract in 2004.

Funneling too much up-front money to Manning, though, could make retaining other critical players difficult.

“We have to be wise in that we don’t corner ourselves and make sure we have room to keep some of the key guys,” Irsay said. “It’s a myth to say you can just have Peyton and you’re automatically 12-4.

“Peyton gives you such an edge . . . but we need the supporting cast if we want to do what we really want to do, and that’s win another world championship.”

As long as Manning remains under center, the Colts will always be competitive. But as Irsay points out, he needs to be able to field a competitive team around his quarterback if the franchise wants to win another Super Bowl before Manning hangs up his cleats. Aside from Peyton, several key starters including Joseph Addai, Antoine Bethea, Melvin Bullitt, Clint Session and Adam Vinatieri (among others) will need new deals. The Colts can’t bring everyone back, especially after they get done paying Manning.

It’s only May, so this is obviously not a problem that the Colts need to concern themselves with right now. But it’s worth noting that after this season, the Colts will have a ton of internal decisions to make – ones that will certainly affect the future success of the franchise.

Photo from fOTOGLIF

Addai active for Thursday night game

Dominic Rhodes gets the start, but Joseph Addai is active. I would guess that this will be a 50/50 to 60/40 RBBC, with Rhodes the favorite to get most of the work. If the Colts get a lead, I’d expect Rhodes to bring Indy home. The Colts won’t want to risk Addai out there if they have a substantial lead.

The bottom line is that Rhodes is still a decent start, but Addai’s presence hampers his value somewhat.

Related Posts