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Monday, January 18, 2010

Colts, Jets Preview: AFC Championship Game Sunday

When the Colts meet the Jets in Indianapolis on Sunday afternoon, it'll be a whole new ball game.

Colts' head coach Jim Caldwell sat most of his starters before the conclusion of their game against the Jets on Dec. 27 to protect his players from injuries that could cost them a loss in the playoffs.

The Jets would go on to hand the Colts their first lost of the season, outscoring the men in blue 29-15.

Surely the critics and fans that blasted Caldwell for his December decision regret their comments now.


The "rested" Colts will face the Jets again in this weekend's AFC Championship game, and this time, the winner goes to Super Bowl XLIV.

While America watched rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez and the New York Jets upset San Diego Saturday, the Colts were already licking their lips in Indianapolis.

After a loss to the Jets, that at the time cost them a perfect 16-0 record earlier this season, one would believe that Pro Bowl quarterback Peyton Manning and the Colts have all kinds of revenge built up and are more than ready to release it.

The Colts are hot, coming off a 20-3 home win over the surprising Baltimore Ravens in their AFC Divisional Playoff game last weekend.

Meanwhile, the Jets are also on fire, winning four straight, including their victory over the Colts last month.

Rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez, who completed 12 of 15 passes for 182 yards and a touchdown in the Jets' Wildcard playoff win over the Bengals earlier this month, had another stellar performance yesterday in his win over the favored San Diego Chargers. The USC product completed 12 of 23 passes for 100 yards and a touchdown in his return to the Golden State.

If the Colts' can shut down Sanchez's passing attack, the Jets will be forced to rely on their running game.

They ran for 169 yards in yesterday's win over San Diego, with a chunk of those coming on Shonn Greene's 53-yard dash into the endzone to nail the coffin shut on the Chargers' season.

The Jets' running game matches up well with the Colts' passing attack, led by Manning.

Manning blasted the Ravens' defense in their AFC Divisional Playoff victory Saturday, completing 30 of 44 passes for 246 yards and two touchdowns in yet another clutch performance.

In summary, it's safe to say lots of points will be scored in this one.

Whichever team walks on the field at Lucas Oil Stadium Sunday with the best defensive gameplan will head to sunny Miami to take on the NFC champion in two weeks.

On an interesting note, the home team of the AFC Championship has won three straight.

And if Manning plays up to his potential, the Colts should bring that streak to four.

The AFC Championship game kicks off Sunday from Indianapolis at 3:00 PM ET and will be televised nationally by CBS.

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