Note: I will discuss the NFC tomorrow.
Ravens 3 @ Colts 20
The Raven O just couldn’t match the fire power of the Colts. RB Rice had only 13 carries because the Ravs fell 14 points behind in the 2nd quarter. Flacco played better than expected going 20-35 for 185 but had 2 very costly picks. Rice also lost a fumble.
The Ravens’ D was hoping that they would create turnovers. They picked off Manning once but the Ravs were unable to convert that to a touchdown because S Reed fumbled the ball returning it.
Reed is considering retirement and that would hurt the D badly. Reed and LB Lewis are the heart of the D. In 2010, the O is going to have to provide more points because the D will be older and not as versatile.
The Colts O was a little rusty but thanks to the D was able to win the game and move on to face the Jets. They were not able to run the ball effectively. They averaged only 1.7 yards per carry. That could cost them against the Jet D. The most important stat from the game is 6 runs resulted in lost yardage. There could be a lot more than 6 against the Jets. Manning had a good not great game. He was 30-44 for 246 and 2 TDs with 1 pick.
The Colts D allowed only 87 yards but that is misleading. They gave up 4.6 per carry. Had the Ravs not fallen so far behind, the Colt D would have had to deal with a lot more than the 19 running plays by the Ravs. The Jets are the top running team in the league. Unless the Colts’ D can do better against their run, they could be in some trouble.
Jets 17 @ Chargers 14
The Jets pulled off the only upset of the weekend. The key to the game was the ability of the Jets to run the ball. They ran 39 times for 169 yards and a 4.3 yard average. The Charger D could not stand up to the ground game. The injuries at NT cost the Chargers the chance to move on. Pro Bowl C Mangold handled the NT man to man allowing the guards to get to the second level to block the backers. The running game also allowed the Jets to throw when they wanted to rather than in only 3rd and long situations. QB Sanchez was just good enough to get the win. He was 12-23 for 100 yards and 1 TD with 1 pick. If the Jets can run the ball as well against the Colts, they will have a real shot at a win.
The Jets D was outstanding. They were helped by the fact that the Charger O was not as sharp in the last month of the season. The Jets D shut down the Charger running game and made the team one dimensional. That allowed the pass rush to pressure Rivers. That pressure resulted in 2 interceptions.
The Chargers were on an 11 game winning streak going into the playoffs. However, they had not been sharp offensively. The Chargers had struggled with the Browns, Cowboys, Bengals and Redskins in December and had in those games averaged 25 points a game against those teams. Their only blowout was a 42-17 win at the Titans in week 16. That offensive sluggishness continued into the Jets game.
The biggest problem was the total lack of a running game. RB Thomlinson had 12 carries for 24 yards. There were no big runs like there were in previous playoff games. The lack of a running game was devastating to the Charger O.
The Charger D struggled with the Jet running game. The inside backers were not able to get to the ball because they were being blocked by the OGs of the Jets. That put a great deal of pressure on the DBs to make the tackle. Some times they did but often they did not. When the Charger safeties came up to help against the run, the Jets passed.
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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 https://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
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