The football gods are watching!
We can take at least that much from this weekend’s playoff games. The football gods are watching and next Sunday they will render their decision on the Colts pulling their starters against the Jets a month ago.
That’s the only explanation for the Jets clawing their way first into the playoffs and then through the first two rounds to reach the AFC title game, right? The gods want to offer their judgement on Jim Caldwell’s decision for all to see? Either his hubris will be punished, karma will kick his ass, and the Jets will make an unlikely run to the Super Bowl,* or they will signal their approval and the Colts will attempt to capture their second championship of the Manning era.
(Remember back when the Jets were sizzling in the early part of the season and I called them sexy and they promptly went in the tank? Just to be safe I’m going to say it again: the Jets are sexy. I like the match-up better than going against the Chargers, but I’m not going to risk it.)
It’s an interesting match-up, to be sure. The Jets were hanging in there in week 16, down 9-3 at the half, before Manning et. al. took to the bench. They have a stout defense, a fantastic running game, and can do just enough in the passing game to keep you honest. In many ways, they’re the mirror opposite of the Colts, who are lucky to manage three yards a carry and do everything in the air. The Jets have no fear, are on a serious roll, and have a coach that is pushing all the right buttons. If they win next week, that Super Bowl itinerary is going down in the coaching motivational ploy Hall of Fame.
Yet I’m confident the Colts are going to win. They may not have all eight cylinders turning in unison the way they did in the middle part of the decade, but they have learned to compensate for the lack of explosiveness by making all the little plays. Reggie Wayne can’t get open? Dallas Clark, Pierre Garcon, or Austin Collie will. Need seven yards on third down? Any of those guys will get eight. Blitz Manning? The line will give him just enough time to put the ball on the fingertips of an open receiver. They’re a little more workman-like than in the past, but they still get the job done.
I had to chuckle at some of the post-game analysis Sunday. One talking head after another kept pointing out how the Colts haven’t been getting big plays out of their offense, how they “struggled” to score 20 Saturday. Apparently all these people forgot the Colts were playing Baltimore, one of the stoutest defenses in the league. I don’t know a whole lot of coaches or players who will turn down 17 point wins, that are essentially over at halftime, in the playoffs.
It’s all setting up so, if they want to, the Colts can somehow play the underdog card on Sunday, despite being the #1 seed with home field advantage. Everyone is going to be pimping the Jets and Rex Ryan and Mark Sanchez’s beard.* The Colts are old, can’t run, were lucky to get every call against the Ravens, etc. Something tells me the defense, especially, comes out pumped up and, much like they did against the Chiefs in their Super Bowl year, shut down the Jets running game early and dare the Sanchize to beat them. Meanwhile, the o-line will pick up the blitzes, the offense will move the chains, and they’ll put together another win more reminiscent teams that grind it out than the high flying Colts of the Harrison-James era.
(As I type this, I’m still unshaven after three weeks, so I better not make too much fun of other bearded people.)
Colts 20 Jets 13. OK, maybe I’m not that confident after all.
I was hoping for more from the New Orleans – Arizona game. Some big plays, yes, but not the back-and-forth sequel to last week’s game in Arizona I was hoping for.
Nice of Dallas to wait a week to lay their annual playoff egg. Who knew Prince was such a big Vikings fan? That NFC title game should be a good one. Favre has to blow up at some point, right? And by blow up I mean force balls into triple coverage and kill his team with untimely picks. I think I’d rather the Colts face New Orleans than Minnesota if they beat the Jets, so I’m hoping the blow up comes this week.
I know I have fans of many teams reading this: Cowboys, Colts, Chiefs, Broncos, Rams, Bears to name a few. We all agree that Philip Rivers is a prick, right? It’s a shame he doesn’t play in a bigger media market so he can become the most disliked player in the game. I’ve never met anyone who wasn’t a Chargers fan or North Carolina State alum who likes him. I’m glad he won’t be torturing the Colts’ defense this weekend. I hate that dude.