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New York Jets (9-7) @ Indianapolis Colts (14-2)
There's plenty of new and old history surrounding this game. It was Broadway Joe Namath who led his Jets to Super Bowl III victory over Don Shula's heavily favored NFL best Baltimore Colts. It was the AFC's 1st SB win and put the league on the map.In my book, the Jets would be sitting home right now having missed the playoffs if it wasn't for Colts head coach pulling all of his key starting players in week 15 instead of letting his team play for a perfect 16-0 season. Indy will now play the team they let into the playoffs. Will AFC's top team lose again to the Jets?
Keys to victory:
Colts Offense: It's all about MVP Peyton Manning's ability to read the Jets swarming defense. Pre-snap reads have never been more important as Colts square off vs NFL's top defense.Offensive line must pick up multiple looks coming from Jets oft blitzing D.
Colts Defense: If the Colts want to win this game they must shut down the Jets running game. Jets will try playing keep-a-way from Manning which means they will try running early and often. Putting pressure on rookie QB Sanchez in passing situations is vital. They'll need to force Sanchez to make hurried throws.
Jets Offense: All talk surrounding Jets seems to revolve around their killer defense. However, if the Jets are to have any shot at knocking off Indy their offensive line must dominate. Everything else goes out the window if New York cannot control the clock and keep the ball out of Manning's hands. Running attack, if successful, will then open up plenty of play action pass situations.
Jets Defense: CB Revis has shut down every top wide receiver he lines up against. Coach Rex Ryan will need to cleverly disguise blitz packages to keep Manning off balance. If they can force three and outs and/or turnovers then expect a very close contest.
Prediction: Indy never should have given up on chasing a perfect season. It was theirs for the taking. Because of a bad coaching decision, the Jets are in the AFC Championship Game. And, they'll win.... 24-20.
Minnesota Vikings (12-4) @ New Orleans Saints (13-3)
Brett Favre vs Drew Brees. NFC's top two QB's go head to head. It's about more than these two super QB's even if headlines and news stories haven't gone deep enough evaluating this matchup.
Keys to victory:
Saints Offense: Brees throws to everyone and anyone who can get open. Big test Sunday vs very aggressive purple defense. Running game is key to opening up passing lanes. Passing game is key to opening up running lanes. Brees will test Vikes defense deep early and often.
Saints Defense: They'll have to disrupt Favre and get him to force throws. Then, there's the Adrian Peterson factor. Saints can get into his head by forcing the fumble prone star to cough up the pigskin.
Vikings Offense: Favre needs to stay calm, cool and collected. His past playoff failures are largely due to his attempting to force passes into tight coverage instead of throwing it away for another play. Peterson must protect the ball. Offensive line needs to play their best game of the year for the ground game to take hold.
Vikings Defense: Minnesota will have their hands full. How do they prepare to stiffle Brees and Co? For most of the year Saints WR's have been creating havoc against opposing secondaries by streaking downfield.
Prediction: It'll be a shootout which might come down to whoever has the ball last wins. Both teams confidence is riding high after blowout playoff wins last weekend. Favre has been here before. Vikings are hungry.... Minnesota 34 Saints 30.