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Jets vs. Colts

Wild Card Playoffs

Betting Line: Colts -2.5 o/u 44.5

1/8/10

 

When you think of Jets-Colts you automatically think back to a year ago and the AFC Championship game. However, when you dig into this game by the numbers, you quickly realize that neither team is as good as they were a year ago. Particularly the Colts.

The Colts won 10 games and won the division. However, their year was unimpressive. There was nothing dominant about them. Certainly nothing that pointed towards this team making a run in the playoffs. You can blame some of that on injuries of course. But let's face it, this team is Peyton Manning and Petyon Manning alone. He's one of the few players in the entire league with such an impact on his teams success. Take him out of the picture this year and they are a 500 team at best.

Start with the Eagles game in November, a 26-24 loss. They then squeaked by a bad Bengals team and then proceeded to lose 3 straight games to the Pats, Chargers and Cowboys. They were able to win their last 4 games, but by small margins, 2, 3 and 5 points and one 10 point win over the Jags. Sure, a win is a win, but none of the teams they beat down the stretch were playoff teams and the outcome was in doubt right to the end in all of them.

The Jets talk a big game of course, and they somehow bolted out to a 9-2 start. I say somehow because let's face it, they won some of those games with smoke and mirrors. They beat some bad teams in that stretch, and barely at that. They then ran into a buzz saw in Tom Brady and the Pats in their biggest game of the year, losing 45-3. They followed that game with an encore performance by losing 10-6 to the pathetic Dolphins, as home.

We make mention of both of these teams struggles and shortcomings because we really don't think either one of these teams is very good in the big picture. They belong right where they are, in a wild card game, and they are both lucky to be here. We can't see either one of these teams going far. Good teams, Super Bowl teams, beat opponents in every phase of the game. Teams like the Steelers and Pats don't just win, they dominate. Neither the Colts or Jets come close to that.

When you look at the last 6 or 7 games for each team you see some pretty bad numbers. Over that stretch, the Jets were outscored 21-24. Their yards per point numbers in that stretch were 16.4 on offense and 12.2 on defense. Terrible. The Colts were not much better. They had a 13.7 on offense an 11.6 defensively (good teams will be 16+ on defense) while being outscored 28-29. If you look at yards per point over the course of the season, they are just about dead even with the Colts having a slight edge on offense. The Colts are favored because they are at home and they have Mr. Peyton Manning.

Phil Simms made a great point about this game while on the air last week. He pointed out that a year ago, what the Jets lacked was a secondary to keep up with Manning and all his weapons. They had Rivas and that was it. In the offseason they took care of that problem. They traded and drafted to address the secondary. They are now better in the secondary than they were when they last faced the Colts, while Manning is missing a couple of his favorite targets in Austin Collie and Dallas Clark. 

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We also like how the Jets bounced back after the Patriot Dolphin back to back poor games. They went on the road and upset the Steelers in a playoff like atmosphere, albeit without Troy Polamalu playing for the Steelers. They then went on the road the following week to play another good playoff team, the Bears, and came up short in a 38-34 shootout in a game which the Jets never quit. They then wrapped up the season in a meaningless game without key players, beating the Bills 38-7.

Manning has thrown some uncharacteristic interceptions this year and was criticized more this year than perhaps any other. But don't blame Manning. When the protection isn't there, and when the targets aren't open, he has taken matters into his own hands and has tried to win games singlehandedly, at times succeeding. But all that makes for a very short playoff life.

You can say that the Jets have been preparing for this game since losing in the Title game a year ago. Here's a quote from Rex Ryan : "We are not going to Indianapolis to lose," Ryan said. "We are going there to win. This is about this year, and I've waited a full year for this."

Here's some more : "I don't know when I'm going to beat him, but I want it to be Saturday night," he said. "Is it personal? Yes, it's personal. It's personal against him, Reggie Wayne, all those guys, yeah. (Dwight) Freeney and (Robert) Mathis and those other dudes? Absolutely.

"It kills you. You fight so hard to get into the playoffs and when you lose, it's devastating. I want to put the shoe on the other foot, and I know our team does, too. I want (the Colts) to experience it this time."

Yes, talk is just that, talk. But we think it reflects the Jets attitude in general, and think it gives the Jets a certain psychological edge here in the playoff rematch. The Colts are nowhere near as good as they were a year ago. They are an average team at best, that relies too much on one player for their success. Jets QB Sanchez has another year under his belt and has much more freedom to open things up this year compared to last year when they had him on a tight leash.

Also note turnover margin. There's more to football handicapping than just one stat. However, if we were told we could only use one stat to pick a winner, turnover margin might be it. The Jets are +9 and the Colts are -4. That -4 makes the Colts the 3rd worst team in that category, of the 8 teams playing this weekend.

We think the Jets upset the Colts here. We'll go ahead and make it a small 2* Key Release and we're going to play it on the money line at +123 (at 5dimes sportsbook)

2* Key Release Jets pk +123

 

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