What to look for in the AFC Conference championship game.

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Tomorrow: The NFC Conference championship game.

Jets @ Colts

Jets

The Jets are the only surprise in the playoffs. They were not even supposed to make the post season but here they are after upsets of the Bengals and Chargers. The O depends on the run WAY too much and that could be the downfall of the Jets. RB Thomas did not practice on Thursday but the absence was not injury related. They can not hope to win without a huge game from him.

The game plan of the Jets will be run the ball and hope to keep the Colts O off the field. The Colts are vulnerable to the run. But the Jets will face 46 guys in the box if they cannot pass for more than 100 yards against the Colts.

QB Sanchez has not been asked to do much passing the ball. In both games the Jets have been ahead. They will get behind against the Colts and it will be up to Sanchez to pass them to catch up. There is a great deal of doubt he can do that. The media has made a lot about rookie Sanchez winning his first 2 playoff games. He has not won them. Rather, he has not lost them for the Jets.

The Jets O line did a very solid job protecting the QB giving up just 1 sack in 2 games. More significant, C Mangold was able to handle the NT of the Chargers letting the Gs get to the second level to block for the run. He should be able to do the same against the 4-3 of the Colts.

The D of the Jets has been outstanding. It continued to stifle the opponents offense ability to pass and run. They have gotten 5 sacks in the two playoff games but have consistently put pressure on the opponent QBs. There is “but” coming however. The team has played 2 offenses that have been down in the last few games. The Bengals couldn’t score more than 24 points in any of their final 5 regular season games. Palmer looked old and was inaccurate and RB Benson was hurt and not nearly at 100%. The Chargers had only 1 good offensive effort against the wounded Titans in their last 5.

The key to the Jets D will be putting heat on QB Manning. They can disregard the run because the Colts are last in that category in the league. They also need to find a way to cover the receivers for an extended period of time. Otherwise Manning will pick the pass D apart.

Colts

For the Colts, its Manning, Manning and Manning. They have not been able to run the ball all year and will not be able to run against the Jets. The passing game should be helped by the return of WR Wayne. He had a full practice Thursday. They will need all their weapons in the passing game to compete. If they could find a way to run just a little, it could make a huge difference in the amount of pass rush the Jets can generate.

The D is hobbled by injury. They are looking for any help they can get particularly in the D backfield. They have signed S Darrick Brown (Saints) and have looked at FA CB Deltha O’Neal (Texans) due to injuries. S Sanders is on IR and S Bethea was limited in practice due to injuries. Reserve CB Powers will likely not play due to a foot injury. Bethea is critical because with the loss of Sanders, he is a key run defender.

The bottom line: I don’t think that Sanchez can take advantage of the injuries in the pas D of the Colts. The Colts can score a lot faster than the Jets. I will take the Colts to win but probably under the total points projected by Los Vegas.

Your fantasy football doesn’t have to be over. Run a pro football franchise all year long for free at . Tell them Coach Smith sent you.

That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.

Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for and edits http://fryingpansports.com. He is a regular contributor on Cleveland Sports Radio http://www.sportstalkcleveland.com/ Monday morning at 11. He has also published several novels on

and edits .

Technorati Tags: NFL Playoffs,NFL Football,Playoffs,point spreads,Colts,Jets,Bengals,Chargers,Manning,Sanchez,Thomas,Sanders


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