New York Jets (11-5 SU, 9-7 ATS) vs. Indianapolis Colts (10-6 SU,
8-7-1 ATS), AFC Wildcard Weekend, 8:20 p.m. EST, Saturday, January 8,
2011, Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis, Ind., TV: NBC
by Badger, NFL Playoffs Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: NYJ -2.5/Indy -.2.5
Over/Under Total: 44.5
Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis gets the privilege to host the
rematch of last years AFC Championship game, but under much
different circumstances than most people expected at the start of the
year, when the Indianapolis Colts host the New York Jets in a first round NFL
Wildcard Weekend match-up Saturday on NBC.
Both the Jets and the Colts were heavy favorites to get back into the
AFC title game at the start of the year, but due to injuries and some
hard times theses two teams will have to renew their recent rivalry
in an AFC wildcard tilt.
The Colts sealed the deal in the South Division with a solid finish down the stretch, knocking off Tennessee twice and Jacksonville once
en route to a four-game winning streak and home field in the first
round. Quarterback Peyton Manning has done a admiral job with the
Colts players dropping like flies, but they are getting healthier at
the right time and the fast track at Lucas Oil Stadium could turn
into the biggest asset the Colts can get in a hard game against the
NY is determined to get revenge for last years loss to the
Colts in the AFC Championship game in the same venue, 30-17. Head
coach Rex Ryan has already said as much in his Monday press
conference, and even though the Jets have lost three of their last
five games coming into the playoffs including an embarrassing 45-3
beatdown by the Patriots to start the slide back in early December,
you know Ryan will have the Jets ready to play come Saturday.
Oddsmakers opened the Wildcard game with the Colts in the standard 3-
point favorite role that most teams get at home in the NFL, and for
the most part the early bettors are respecting the Colts at home in
this game, but there are a lot of sportsbooks that have
dropped the line the hook to Indianapolis minus 2.5-points in order
to even out the heavy East Coast action on the Jets.
The over/under total opened at 44.5 and has yet to move in either
direction early in the week.
Offensively the Colts are still pretty dinged-up, even though running back Joseph Addai returned the last few weeks of the regular season and got a total of 23 carries in wins over Oakland and Tennessee. The
Colts offense is Manning, and Manning is the Colts, so in the end it
will come down to the chess match between the Jets Ryan and his
blitzes and Mannings ability to read them at the line. The probable
return of corner Darrelle Revis will help slow Manning a little and
help the Jets matchup on the outside against Reggie Wayne.
For the Jets on offense it will all revolve around whether or not
they get the running game going early. If they can get the 4th-ranked
rushing offense rolling (148.4 ypg) with LaDainian Tomlinson and
Shonn Greene, and get Colts ends Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis
playing run defense instead of pass rushing, the Jets will be
successful. If right tackle Damien Woody can play (listed as
probable) the Jets o-line will be back to full strength and ready for
a smash-mouth grinder on Saturday.
If they cant, and Freeney and Mathis get to just time the snap count
and fly around the end it will turn into a very long day for Mark
Sanchez and the Jets. Sanchez was rested last week and seemed to
raise his game a level in the playoffs last season, but if hes
forced into 3rd-and-long situations due to a lack of a run attack the
Jets D could wear out against Manning on the field for too many snaps.
The Jets did come out victorious in Lucas Oil Stadium during the
regular season in 2009, but of course that was the famous game last
season where Colts coach Jim Caldwell took Manning and the starters
out in the second half and gave up on the perfect season. Otherwise
the Colts have owned the Jets of late, winning three of the last four
dating back to 2003 and the RCA Dome days.
There are some fairly strong betting trends to follow in this
matchup. Despite the Jets reputation for defense, the over is 4-0 in
their last four head-to-head meetings overall and its also a perfect
4-0 in the last four played in Indianapolis. If thats not enough,
the over is 7-1 in Jet games played in January, and 13-3-1 in their
last 17 road games (4-1 in road playoff games).
The home team has also enjoyed the advantage at the window, going 4-1
ATS in the last five meetings. But the Colts of this season are just
1-4 ATS in their last five games at home, and the Jets are 10-4 ATS
in their last 14 road games, so Id think twice about following that
trend as your main wager.
Badgers Pick to Cover the Point Spread: A few early Jet scores will put Manning and the Colts
in catch-up mode early and turn this game into a shootout, so Im
going to play the over in what I think will turn into a late backdoor
cover by the Colts. Take the over of 44.5.