A good chunk of New York City has spent the last five days thinking about little other than the AFC Championship Game, but we realize that busy lives keep some of you from ingesting every last morsel of information about the matchup between the Colts and the Jets. In that spirit, we've compiled some of the key talking points for you to study up and wield at gatherings on Sunday afternoon to wow your friends with insight into the world of football.
For those of you who have been devouring all the info about the game, consider it a brief refresher course.
Beating Peyton Manning is hard, but not impossible - Don't be deceived by the 20-3 score against the Ravens last week, that was a closer football game than the score indicates. An iffy penalty before the half handed the Colts a touchdown and Ed Reed had two interceptions wiped out on one series in the third quarter. When Manning is forced to move his feet and leave the pocket, he becomes a lot less effective so expect to see the Jets try to make that happen with every blitz package this side of 1939 Poland.
Darrelle Revis needs some help - Even if you pressure Manning, he's going to be able to hit receivers if they are wide open. That's why Revis, who could probably cover Superman one-on-one, is going to need the rest of the secondary to do their jobs. Reggie Wayne, Dallas Clark, Austin Collie and Pierre Garcon can all play and Revis can only cover one of them every play.
The Colts defense isn't an afterthought - We discussed this on Thursday, but we'll reiterate it here. That 20-3 win may have been deceptive about the offense, but it told the story of the Colts defense quite well. The Jets can't expect to be one-dimensional with the run and just roll over an undersized Colts defense because Indy has beefed up in recent years. The Jets will have to be on their game in both phases of the offense to advance to the Super Bowl.
No rookie quarterback has ever made the Super Bowl - The above entry makes a natural progression to Kid Dynamite himself, Mark Sanchez. He's stuck a fork in the eye of everyone who claimed that the Jets were winning in spite of him the last two weeks, but the fact remains that he's the biggest potential liability on the Jets roster. The Jets can't afford to fall behind too much, because Sanchez can't lead a comeback with his arm, and they probably can't survive more than one big mistake over the course of the game. The reason there's never been a rookie in the big game is because they can't avoid those mistakes, but, hey, someone's gotta be first.
Catch the ball, Braylon! - If everything above breaks right for the Jets, they are still going to need a big offensive play or two to put the Colts away. That's where Braylon Edwards comes in. Edwards has shown an uncanny ability to find himself wide open down the field and an even uncannier ability to drop the ball when Sanchez delivers a perfect strike. He hasn't lost the faith of his quarterback, but is trying the patience of just about everyone else in the world. If Edwards makes a play this week, the Jets will be in very good shape.
The Jets are living in Lucky Town - The Jets have been very good over the last two weeks. They've also caught every break along the way. Who knows what we can thank for that development -- voodoo? a charmed pizza stain? Sanchez's beard?-- but it would be awfully swell if things continued that way for one more game.