For my playoff blogblitz post, I was instructed to write about the matchup between Colts wide receivers Reggie Wayne and Pierre Garçon and Jets cornerbacks Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie. Below is an excerpt from the post:
After the Colts’ 30-17 victory over the Jets in the AFC Championship last January, Rex Ryan went down to his bat cave and started thinking about the future. “The Colts are good, real good. How can we ever beat them?” Rex said to a colleague. “Can anyone in the AFC beat them?” “The Chargers always do,” Rex’s colleague replied. “Then get me some Chargers,” Rex said. He grinned.
Regardless of the fact that this story is made up, the Jets acquired two Chargers during the offseason. One Charger acquired was LaDainian Tomlinson, who had been a Colts nemesis on the ground for nearly a decade. The other Charger to arrive in East Rutherford was Antonio Cromartie, San Diego’s Pro Bowl cornerback, who made a crucial interception against Peyton Manning in the 2007 playoffs. While Rex and the Jets will never directly admit to it, the team signed Cromartie with the direct intention of improving their personnel against the team that knocked them out of the playoffs.
With that said, the most intriguing matchup of the week features the Colts’ wide receiver duo of Reggie Wayne and Pierre Garçon against Jets cornerbacks Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie.
What has changed since last year’s playoff game
Along with Wayne and Garçon, Manning also had the luxury of Austin Collie and Dallas Clark to throw to. With Collie and Clark on injured reserve, Wayne and Garçon will serve as the only serious deep threats for the Colts’ passing game. For the Jets, Revis was the only All-Pro cornerback in the Jets’ secondary last year at Lucas Oil Stadium. This year, he will be complimented by Cromartie.
What happened last year
Revis was able to contain Wayne, arguably the league’s best receiver north of Andre Johnson, to only three receptions for 55 yards. Revis used his speed and smarts to keep tight coverage on Wayne, never letting the receiver slip behind him. Wayne spent the game stuck on Revis Island. However, with a few mediocre defensive backs guarding the other Colts receivers, Manning still managed to throw for 377 yards, three touchdowns, and zero interceptions. A large chunk of those yards came from the help of Garçon, who caught 11 passes for 151 yards and a touchdown. The Haitian Sensation used his quickness and athleticism to catch short passes before sliding past any of the defensive backs that the Jets threw at him. Coach Jim Caldwell continuously loaded up Garçon’s side with blockers, calling plays for the young wide-out to keep the ball as far away from Revis as possible.
What will happen this year
Revis has been bored all season. Nobody has thrown the ball near him. In 13 games, Revis has not even had the slightest opportunity to intercept a pass. That should all change on Saturday night when he guards Wayne. Manning is not going to shy away from throwing to Wayne just because Revis is on him. Manning and Wayne believe that they are the best quarterback-wide receiver duo in the league, and they always have the upper hand, no matter who may be playing cornerback. Manning will try to throw to Wayne just as of often as he would in any game. Will Wayne have one of his best games of the season? No. But he will have a better game than last year. After matching up against Revis twice last season, Wayne has critical experience against the cornerback. Revis has also been fighting multiple injuries throughout the season, sidelining him for three games. Wayne has been carrying the Colts’ depleted receiving squad all season and his hefty role on Saturday will be nothing new.
And here is another post in which I discuss other key factors of the game and make my prediction:
The extent of the Colts’ passing game may come as a direct result of the team’s rushing game. If Joseph Addai, Dominic Rhodes, and Donald Brown can run the ball for over 100 yards, as they have in the past two weeks, the Jets will have to press up on defense, giving the passing game some more leeway. However, if the Colts can’t get anything going on the ground, the Jets will afford to give Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie more support in the secondary.
The Jets’ pass rush will also be an X-factor. If Calvin Pace, Jason Taylor, and the other Jets pass rushers can put pressure on Manning, Revis and Cromartie’s jobs will be easy. If the Colts’ offensive line holds firm, though, the most dynamic quarterback in NFL history will have enough time to wait for his receivers to get open.
For my final score prediction, click here.