Posts Tagged ‘Indianapolis Colts’

Wild Card Weekend!!!

Today marks the beginning of a weekend of Wild Card matchups.  At 4:30 pm ET, the New Orleans Saints visit the Seattle Seahawks.  Later, the New York Jets meet the Indianapolis Colts in an AFC Wild Card night game (8 pm ET).  Tomorrow, the Baltimore Ravens take on the Kansas City Chiefs at 1.  But in our opinion, the most exciting matchup of the weekend takes place tomorrow at 4:30 when the Green Bay Packers travel to Philly to face the Eagles.  We will look at Sunday’s matchups later, but for now here’s our take on today’s games. 

NFC Wild Card Game- Saints vs. Seahawks

The 5th seeded, 11-5 Saints enter the game as defending Super Bowl champions.  The Seahawks have a losing record (7-9), but having won the weak and pitiful NFC West, are the fourth seed and earned home field advantage.  It is the first time that an NFL team with a losing record enters the post-season. The two teams played each other in Week 11, with the Saints winning 34-19. 

Much attention has been focused on how the Saints’ two leading rushers will be missing due to injury. It will be up to Reggie Bush and Julius Jones to step up (literally) and get a running game established.  While the running game may be diminished, there are plenty of other offensive weapons for Drew Brees to work with.  This season, the Super Bowl MVP has thrown for even more yards than last year.  Although Brees has more than twice the interceptions he had a year ago, we think wide receiver Marques Colston will make some big plays and help the Saints earn a victory. 

The Saints have a 0-3 record in playoff games when the game is played on their opponent’s home field, while the Seahawks hold a 4-0 record in the post-season for games played at home.  While these are interesting facts, it is unlikely to impact the game.  The Saints should easily dominate this game.

AFC Wild Card Game – Jets vs. Colts

Last year the two teams played each other in the AFC Championship game, with the Colts winning 30-17.  Jets Head Coach Rex Ryan made it clear this week that today’s game against the Colts is personal, especially with Peyton Manning.  The outspoken coach seemed bothered that so much was written this week about how Manning has dominated him over the years.  Ryan said,

I’m not the only coordinator or person that Peyton has ever destroyed.  I think it’s written that I’m his punching bag. Mine at least has some arms on it. Some of these other guys he plays, don’t have any arms on them. I plan on swinging back. We’ll see how that works out this week.

Today’s meeting features two very different teams than last year’s AFC Championship game.  The Colts roster is missing some of its most talented names who were key to last year’s victory.  TE Dallas Clark and WR Miles Austin, two of Manning’s “go to” guys, are on injured reserve.   

Meanwhile, the Jets have added new players and appear to have more offensive talent than last year’s team. WR Santonio Holmes was not on the Jets last year and will be a critical factor in a Jets victory.   Holmes caught the game winning TD in Super Bowl XLIII and was named Super Bowl MVP.  Clearly, he is capable of making a clutch play when it is most needed.  If Mark Sanchez does not have any issues with his sore throwing shoulder, look for some big plays between the QB and Holmes.

The Jets defense appears to be less strong than last year’s team.  Jets starting safety Jim Leonhard is injured, leaving corner backs Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie to handle the Colts’ remaining receiving corps – Reggie Wayne, Pierre Garcon and Jacob Tamme.  Revis and Cromartie will pose a threat to Manning’s outside passing game, but throwing down the middle of the field could prove to be a real problem for the Jets defense with Leonhard missing.  Jacob Tamme may be Manning’s main target today and may be one of the keys to a Colts’ win.

The bad news this season has been the Colts weak run defense, ranked 25th in the NFL.  The last four weeks, however, the Colts have shown an ability to contain some big name running backs.  It will be interesting to see if they can continue that momentum.  Jets RB Shonn Greene will likely get most of the carries today.  As Greene pounds away for yardage, the Jets will be able to control the time of possession, thereby keeping Manning off the field. 

Controlling the clock may be the only true way to stop Manning.  This week, however, when asked how Manning can be stopped, Jets Coach Rex Ryan said, “Maybe hit him in the head real hard. That could be one way. We haven’t tried that yet.”  One thing is for certain – Rex Ryan sure likes to talk.  He has talked about winning the Super Bowl this year, long before the season even started.  This week, he talked at length about Manning and the Colts.  Today will determine if he and his Jets are able to back up their off the field “tough talk” with their on field play.

 With a multitude of Indy injuries in the receiving corps and a struggling running game, Manning undoubtedly has carried the fate of the Colts on his shoulders all season.  Today, he again holds the key to their destiny.  If Jets Coach Rex Ryan believes his brash personal comments targeting Manning will intimidate him, he is foolish. 

The Jets may actually have more talent than the Colts in this year’s contest.  But Peyton Manning is simply a master of the game.  Even with his depleted roster, Manning once again found a way to make it into the playoffs.  He passed for 4700 yards this season – a career high.  In the end, Manning’s unparalleled determination and ability to tear apart opposing defenses will prove to be too much for Ryan and the Jets, no matter how much tough talk they engage in.

Advertisements

Twas the Weekend Before Christmas…

Twas the weekend before Christmas, when all through the teams

Not a creature was stirring, but some QBs were it seems!

There was quarterback drama hanging in the air

With some players wondering how they got there!

 Indeed some quarterbacks are quite stirred up at this time of the season.   Here is a glimpse of some of the hustle and bustle this weekend among a few of our favorite QBs.

Rookie QB Tim Tebow will make his first start today against Oakland.  Starter Kyle Orton has bruised ribs, so Tebow will head the Denver offense and try to turn around the 3-10 Broncos.  For Tebow, this opportunity is a reason to feel quite jolly this holiday season!

Donovan McNabb feels like he just got a visit from the Grinch.  Benched by Redskins Coach Mike Shanahan, McNabb has not only been told he is the 2nd string QB behind Rex Grossman, but that for the remaining two games he will be 3rd string.  If there was ever a “Grinch Who Stole Christmas” in the NFL, it is Shanahan and his Bah, Humbug disrespect he has shown the veteran QB.

For Brett Favre, his streak of consecutive starts is over.  Last week his 297 straight starts (321, if playoffs are included) ended because of his sprained shoulder.  Once again he will miss this weekend’s game and it seems as though this may be his final year in the NFL.

Another QB is also having a “Blue Christmas”.  Aaron Rogers is sitting out today’s game due to injury.  Like Favre, his streak as a starter is over.  He had started every game since taking over from Favre early in 2008.

Peyton Manning finds himself under pressure to keep the Colts’ playoff hopes alive.  If the Colts lose to the Jaguars, Jacksonville will clinch the AFC South.  The Colts would be at 7-7 and have to hope other teams lose in order to have any shot at the playoffs.  Peyton’s uncharacteristic streak of interceptions seems to have ended last week against the Titans. Will he be able to maintain that momentum and carry the Colts to the playoffs?

In this last weekend before Christmas, these quarterbacks find themselves in a season of transition.  As the playoffs approach, will they overcome their challenges and be able to deliver a great gift to their teams?  Stay tuned…the drama has just begun!

Under Pressure

“Mm ba ba de
Um bum ba de
Um bu bu bum da de
Pressure ..pushing down on me
Pressing down on you… no man ask for
Under pressure…”

If Peyton Manning is singing in the shower today, he may very well be belting out the words to Queen’s famous song “Under Pressure”.  Basically, his performance tonight will determine whether the struggling 6-6 Colts can pull off a win and keep moving towards a playoff spot.  While it seems unfair that Manning’s play tonight is “do or die”, he simply is the key to a Colts victory.

Manning’s recent slump has been a hot topic these last few weeks, with some questioning his ability and age.  As we pointed out in our recent blog “Peyton Place  – A Football Soap Opera??”, Manning’s slew of interceptions comes down to three major issues:  lack of a running game, poor offensive line protection and an injury-laden receiving corps.

The Titans come into tonight’s game at 5-7, having lost 5 in a row.  They have not scored an offensive TD in 13 quarters and an overtime period.  Starting QB Vince Young is out with an injury, leaving backup Kerry Collins to try and salvage the rest of the season.

With two teams desperately trying to break out of their slumps and have a shot at the playoffs, tonight’s game is critical.  Here is our take on the matchup.

Titans Offense vs Colts Defense

With the loss of Vince Young, QB Kerry Collins has been struggling to establish a passing game.  Their passing offense is last in the AFC and 31st in the NFL.  Randy Moss was recently added to the roster and there is no doubt he has the ability to make big plays, although he has had a lackluster run with the Titans so far.  Wide receiver Kenny Britt will return tonight after missing the last few weeks with a hamstring injury.  Prior to his injury, he led the team in TD receptions.  If Collins can get the ball to Moss and Britt, it could be the key to victory. 

A passing threat would also open up the running game and, given the opportunity, Chris Johnson is simply lethal.  Johnson has been a superstar the past few years, but has been unable to shine this season.  He is averaging slightly over 85 yards per game.  With little or no passing threat, defenses can key in on Johnson and effectively shut him down.

While the Colt’s offensive struggles are well known, Indy’s defense has also been problematic as well.  Against the Cowboys last Sunday, they gave up more than 200 rushing yards.  The Colts run defense is ranked 29th in the NFL and they are giving up over 142 yards per game on average.  If they do not contain Chris Johnson, this can be a game changer.  Like Manning, Johnson has a great deal of pressure on him to carry his team tonight, given the Titan’s ineffective passing game.

While the Colt’s run defense has been vulnerable, they have had a very effective pass defense – ranked 4th in the NFL.  However, on Tuesday, Colts cornerback Jerraud Powers was put on IR on with a broken arm.  In addition, safety Bob Sanders has been out with an injury since the season opener.  He was finally placed on IR and yesterday the Colts signed rookie defensive back David Pender to replace him.    A weakened Colts secondary could give Moss and Britt the opportunity to make big plays.

Colts Offense vs Titans Defense

The Colts rushing offense ranks last in the NFL.  It is basically non-existent.   Opposing teams know that the Indy’s offense is all about Manning and the passing game.  With running backs Joseph Addai, Mike Hart and Donald Brown out with injuries, the Colts are left with rookie Joique Bell, who they only signed in mid-November.  Their other RB is rookie Javarris James, who was cut from the Colts in September, then signed with the Patriots and was cut a month later.  James next signed with the Redskins for one day, until returning to the Colts in October.  Clearly these 2 rookies do not pose a rushing threat, which makes the Colts a one dimensional team.

Despite their recent woes, the Colts rank 1st in passing in the NFL and 4th in overall offense.   The 11 interceptions Manning has thrown in the last three games have definitely impacted the outcome of some of the games, especially when a number of those interceptions were returned for TDs by opponents.  Manning has taken the blame for his poor play of late, which is not surprising given his character and his role as leader.  But he is not shying away from passing because he knows it is THE only way the Colts will find any offensive success.  There is a great deal of pressure on Manning to exploit a Titans passing defense that has also struggled and is ranked 23rd in the league.

For the Colts to win, the O-line needs to step up and protect their 4 time NFL MVP, who has always played his best when he has a protected pocket from which to pick apart opponents.  If the Titans can disrupt the pocket and force Manning out of his comfort zone, interceptions are more likely.  Titans’ linebackers are salivating at the chance of picking off a Peyton pass, so keeping pressure off of Manning is vital.  The Titans have had a great deal of success pressuring QBs, with 33 sacks this season.

Under Pressure… Who Will Rise and Who Will Fall?

When the season began, it was expected that tonight’s Colts/Titans game would be a matchup between two high flying teams battling for first place in the AFC South.  No one predicted that the defending AFC champion Indianapolis Colts would be 6-6 and that the Titans would hold a pitiful 5-7 record.  Both teams now find themselves struggling to simply stay alive in the playoff picture. 

The pressure for both teams to pull off a victory is tremendous.  But when the season is on the line, we believe Peyton Manning is the player who will rise to the challenge.  Look for Manning to regain his poise and use the indefinable quality he possesses to turn adversity into success.   Our prediction:  Colts 31, Titans 24.

Peyton Place – A Football Soap Opera??

In the 1960’s, a soap opera called “Peyton Place” was a popular prime time TV show.  Now, about 50 years later, a new version of Peyton Place has emerged – this series starring Indianapolis Colts QB Peyton Manning.  Manning is one of the most decorated and successful QB’s in the NFL.  But his recent slew of interceptions has caused quite a script to be written about him and the struggling 6-6 Colts.

Some pundits have suggested that the Super Bowl MVP has been overrated all along, while others argue that he should be dropped from fantasy football rosters.  Colts fans are getting anxious and frustrated at their team’s recent play and boos from the crowd have been occurring more and more frequently.  Who can blame them?  It has indeed been an exasperating last few weeks.

It is true that Manning has thrown 11 interceptions in the last 3 games.  In Sunday’s game against the Cowboys, he threw 4 interceptions, 2 of which were returned by Dallas for TDs.

What accounts for this recent rash of interceptions?  Here’s our take on what has caused this uncharacteristic mid-season slump for Peyton..

Running on Empty

The Colts running game is basically non-existent.  They are 32nd in the NFL in rushing yards.  Running back Joseph Addai suffered a neck injury in Week 6, and since that time, there has not been an effective replacement for the veteran RB.  That’s turned Indy into a one-dimensional team. Even when Manning would not normally pass, he is forced to throw into coverage, which accounts for some of his interceptions these past few weeks.

Offensive Line Woes

An unreliable offensive line has done a poor job in pass protection.  So far this season, Manning’s been sacked 13 times, compared to last year when he was sacked 10 times over the entire season.  Manning is used to a “clean, protected” pocket.  Unlike Eagles QB Michael Vick, who seems unaffected by pressure and hits, Manning gets rattled when he is hurried or the pocket breaks down. 

Ever since the Colt’s 2009 Super Bowl loss, the offensive line has been a scrambled mess.   Colts President Bill Polian got rid of right guard Ryan Lilja after that loss.   Meanwhile, Lilja is on track to go to the Pro-Bowl for his incredible play with the Kansas City Chiefs this season.  That looks like a pretty poor decision by Polian that’s had a huge impact on Peyton’s ability to have enough time to make plays.  The players Polian has brought in to rebuild the o-line are just not stepping up.  Combine that with some key injuries on the line and it makes Peyton’s job that much harder.

It’s All About Timing 

The Colts have been plagued with key injuries to Peyton’s “go to” receivers. Peyton’s trademark is his remarkable ability to throw to the spot on the field where the receiver will end up.  This takes tremendous practice, as Manning and his receiver need to have the timing worked out precisely.   Injuries to TE Dallas Clark and WR Austin Collie have completely disrupted the passing game.  Dallas Clark’s size and speed forced opponents into double coverage.  With that threat eliminated, it frees up another defender to ball hawk.

With so many injuries to the receiving corps, Manning is relying on players who he has not had the time with which to work out the precise QB/receiver synchronization his timing-based passing has relied on all these years.  Reggie Wayne has played in the last few games, but even he has had injury problems this season which caused him to miss practices. Pierre Garcon has also recently returned after being out with an injury, but defenses are simply covering both him and Wayne, forcing Peyton to throw to his new, inexperienced receivers.

Some sports “experts” suggest that Peyton is “telegraphing his passes”.  Well, when he has no idea which routes his new receivers are going to run and where they may end up, what choice does he have but to stare down his receivers?!  This has accounted for a number of interceptions as well.  Sunday’s interception by Dallas rookie linebacker Sean Lee that he returned for a TD is a perfect example of how Manning is no longer able to look off receivers, allowing defenders to read his eyes and go for the INT.

How  Does the Peyton Place Script End? 

The Colts are expecting RB Addai and wide out Collie to return soon, which should help somewhat. Addai will help Indy once again become a two-dimensional team.   Collie and Manning have been in sync earlier this season, which should greatly improve the passing situation. 

In just two days, they face the Tennessee Titans, who are on a five game losing streak.  The Titans have a 23rd ranked pass defense that Peyton needs to exploit in order to change the momentum of the season and propel the Colts into a playoff slot. 

Manning is on track to break the record for most pass attempts in a single season.  So far this season, he has attempted 534 passes, completing 353 of them for over 3,700 yards.  Despite his recent interceptions, Manning says he will continue to pass…

I’m continuing to throw, I’ll keep throwing. I hope I throw it to our guys. I think one thing when you get on a little turnover stretch, the easy thing to do is become gun-shy and stop throwing it. I can assure you I won’t do that, I haven’t done that and I’ll continue to throw. I just need to make better decisions and better reads and throw it to our guys and not turn the ball over.”

If Indy is to make a run for the playoffs, make no doubt about it, it will be with Peyton Manning’s shrewdness and incredible passing ability.  So while some may want to jump on the anti-Peyton bandwagon and question his ability, his age and other melodramatic silliness, I say put your faith in him.  When it comes to crunch time, he is simply a master of the game and, despite the unprecedented challenges facing him, will find a way to win.

A Serving of Sunday Showdowns Better than Your Momma’s Best Sunday Dinner!

It is week 12 in the NFL season, which means do or die time for a number of  teams trying to reach the playoffs.  Today’s games offer a football fan’s dream come true in terms of playoff implications and pure adrenaline boosting excitement!  Here are three of today’s key matchups…

Jags vs. the Giants

The Giants are in second place in the NFC East, trailing the Eagles.  After a five game winning streak, they got shocked by the struggling Cowboys, who had just fired their head coach.  The next week, the Eagles served up yet another defeat.  The Giants are playing inconsistently, due in large part to the multitude of injuries plaguing the offensive line and receiving corps.  It is a must win for the Giants.  Their remaining schedule is tough, so they need a victory in order to break their losing streak and get ready for their remaining NFC East division games.

The Jacksonville Jaguars are tied with the Colts for first in the AFC South. It is shocking, given how they started the season.  Frankly, they have been getting lucky in some games this season.  If they lose today, it just may be the start of a long streak of bad luck for the Jags!  Should the Jags fall behind Indy, it will be difficult for them to secure a wildcard spot given all the strong teams in the AFC.

Colts vs. the Chargers

Two phenomenal QBs meet tonight in what will most likely be a high scoring, blazing contest.  San Diego QB Philip Rivers is the top passing QB in the AFC, passing for over 3100 yards this season.  He is a favorite for this year’s NFL MVP.  For the Chargers, who started 2-5 before going on a three game winning streak, they need a win.  They are in 2nd place in the AFC West, behind Kansas City.  Their late season comeback has been a great reversal on a season that looked quite gloomy, but if they want to make the playoffs, they simply cannot afford to lose any more games.

The Colts are tied with the Jags for first place in the AFC South. It appears that there will not be any wild cards slots from this division, so winning it is the only way a team will make it to the playoff rounds.  Peyton Manning has an uncanny ability to win in the home stretch, despite all the injuries the Colts are enduring.  The Colts need Manning to once again work his magic if they are to make the playoffs this season.  A win today is crucial.  Whatever the final outcome, with Manning and Rivers on the field today, look for a scoring extravaganza!

Chiefs vs. the Seahawks

The Kansas City Chiefs hold the first place position in the AFC West, but the Chargers and Raiders are tied for second in a very tight division.  The Chiefs need a victory today to keep their division rivals from overtaking the lead, especially San Diego.  Kansas City has won all 5 of their home games this season, but as they travel to Seattle, they bring with them only one victory away from home.  The Chiefs need a victory on the road to help win the division and leap into the playoffs.

The Seahawks lead the NFC West with a 5-5 record.  St. Louis is one game behind them and struggling.  Winning at this time of the year is important for every team. But in the NFC West, there will likely be no wild card slots because of how poor the teams within the division are playing.  The Seahawks need to use their home field advantage to snag a win and keep their top place in the division to earn a playoff spot.

There is a full menu of mouth-watering games today.  Many of them have playoff implications and are more scrumptious than your momma’s best Sunday dinner.  Check out the Bears vs. Eagles, Packers vs. Falcons and the Ravens vs. Buccaneers.  With today’s delectable choices, you will be sure to have your football appetite filled!

QB Showdown in New England!

The Manning brothers both face quarterbacks today who are performing at incredibly high levels and are having winning, productive seasons.  Colts QB Peyton Manning faces the Patriot’s Tom Brady in an AFC rivalry game this afternoon.   Tonight, Eli Manning and the NY Giants travel to Philly to take on the Eagles and Michael Vick, who last week had one of the most phenomenal QB performances in quite a while. 

Brady vs. Manning is being hyped to a level I have not seen in quite some time.  Some are calling it the best QB matchup of all time, while others are using the terms epic, legendary, historic, and so forth.  There’s no doubt it will be a great contest between two of the best QBs in the game, but Brady and Manning don’t actually defend against each other.  So the game comes down to the two QBs and how they can compete against their opposing defenses.  Let’s take a sneak peek at today’s matchup. 

Tom Brady faces a Colts defense that has been plagued with injuries this season.  They have improved recently and have helped Indianapolis achieve its 6-3 record.   But, two starting linebackers will miss today’s game, giving Brady a chance to demonstrate his legendary quick release and short passing ability.  If the Colts are to curtail Brady and the Patriots, they will need MVP-like performances from defensive ends Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis.  They will need to pressure Brady and bring an intense pass rush that will mess up his supermodel hair and rattle his normally cool composure.  

The Colts defense may beat up, but they are speedy.  If they can use that speed to disrupt Brady and his offense, they may just find success.  The Patriots are notorious for long drives, so it is essential to try and keep them off the field in order to keep the Colts defense fresh.  Last week, Brady had 350 yards rushing and 3 TDs against a Steelers’ defense that is much more talented than the Colts, so this will be quite a challenge for this Indy group!

Peyton Manning faces a 7-2 New England team that has the worst pass defensive rating in their history.  QBs facing the Patriots defense this season have attained an average passing rating of 94.5.  Now, normally that would sound like a real opportunistic moment for Peyton, but there are major injuries to the Colts’ receiving corps and running backs.  The offense is sprinkled with fifth and sixth string players, making today’s game a real challenge for the Colts.  Manning’s unique ability to read defenses and truly control the game is unparalleled.  Today, however, those abilities may not be enough to overcome the injuries plaguing the Colts offense.

While it remains to be seen if today’s Brady vs. Peyton matchup can live up to the hype, there is no doubt that watching two of the most talented QBs in the history of the NFL will be fun!  For a gridiron girl, this game is a fantasy come true!  Kickoff is at the Patriot’s Gillette Stadium at 4:15 eastern time on CBS and will be broadcast nationwide.  Don’t miss this great rivalry!!

It’s Week 9 and Oh What a Season it has Been!

Here we are, in week 9 of the NFL schedule, which means we are half way through the regular season!  Time flies when you’re having fun.  As we reflect on what has unfolded in the NFL thus far, we were inspired to say it with poetry.  (Don’t ask why, frankly, we really don’t know)

 

The NFL season is already half completed

Some of our teams have won, others were defeated

Players have been benched, a few were even traded

Coaches have been praised, a few are truly hated

So at this point in the season, we look at where things stand

One thing we know for certain, this season has not been bland!

 

The great and mighty Saints were expected to be dominant

But here in 2010, they’re not so prominent!

The trendy “who dat” slogan was such a catchy phrase

 But the way the Saints are playing, was it only just a phase?

So as New Orleans struggles to find a way to win

Will another team replace them as America’s new darlin’?

 

All throughout the league, quarterbacks are making news

With so many controversies, it’s easy to feel confused

In Philly, Vick was out…then in..then out again

The Steelers had their own QB troubles – the behavior of Big Ben

McNabb was benched for Grossman, a decision that boggles the mind

Grossman fumbled his first play, and the Redskins fell behind!

 

The Vikings made a trade to pick up Randy Moss

Four short weeks later, they gave him quite the toss

Randy’s open praise of his former coach and team

Caused coach Childress fury and to fire him it seems

Randy’s now a Titan, playing in Tennessee

Will he find a home there?  Or will he have to flee?

 

Jerry Jones’ Cowboys now stand at one and six

How does this happen to a pre-season Superbowl pick?

The Bills are once again at the bottom of the pile

Will frosty Buffalo fans ever find reason to smile?

The Panthers and 49ers are also down this year

Their fans are not celebrating, but drowning in cold beer

 

The Patriots are once again winning, doing it with flair

Even with Tom Brady and his Justin Bieber-like long hair

The Giants and the Falcons are tied for first in the NFC

Who will win their division?  We will have to wait and see

The Ravens, Chiefs and Colts seem to be true contenders

While the Jets, Packers and Steelers may just end up pretenders

 

The season’s only half way through, there’s lots more games to play

Some teams will continue to win, some may go astray

Football is a game of inches, so the saying goes

It’s a game that can’t be predicted, as any true fan knows

So enjoy the “second half”, it will be an adventurous ride

It’s what makes football the greatest game – that cannot be denied!

%d bloggers like this: