Posts Tagged ‘Peyton Manning’

NFL 2010..One Roller Coaster of a Season!

The 2010 NFL Season had more ups and downs than all the roller coasters in Cedar Point combined!  We love roller coasters and since the NFL season had just as many thrills and chills, we thoroughly enjoyed these past months on the gridiron.  Here are just a few of our favorite highs and lows….

High Points:

Michael Vick’s comeback! 

This is no doubt the “feel good” story of the year.  Vick’s phenomenal performance after being incarcerated on dog fighting charges and being relegated to back up behind both Donovan McNabb and Kevin Kolb could truly be a movie script.  The perfect ending may have to wait, though.  Only a Super Bowl Championship seems like the larger than life finale fitting Vick, Andy Reid and the Eagles.

Ndamukong Suh PAT attempt 

In early November in a game vs. the NY Jets, 307 pound Ndamukong Suh, a rookie tackle for the Detroit Lions, lined up for the extra point attempt after the starting kicker got injured.  While he missed the extra point, the sight of Suh making the attempt was definitely a highlight of the 2010 season!

Celebration dance by B.J. Raji 

In the NFC title game vs. the Bears, Packers defensive tackle B.J. Raji intercepted a Bears pass and “ran” 18 yards for a TD.  His hula hoop-like dance was one of the most amusing, fun moments of the playoffs!  Click below to see Raji in motion.

The Chicago Bears

The Bears made it to the NFC title game, despite the preseason prediction by most pundits who beleived they were a below average team with little hope.  In 2009, they went 7-9 and had failed to make the playoffs for the third consecutive year.  The Bears ended the 2010 season at 11-5.  Some people believe that luck was a big factor in their winning season, as they faced a number of back up QBs and a 7-9 Seattle Seahawks team in the playoffs.  In Week 1 against the Lions, a Detroit TD was overturned by a little known, controversial call with just a minute to play, giving the Bears the win.  Lucky or not, it was good to see the Bears return to the playoffs once again!

Aaron Rodgers 

The Packers’ QB finally emerged from Brett Favre’s shadow.   His stellar play this season earned the Packers a Super Bowl Championship, but nearly as important, gave Rodgers the recognition he deserved.  During the regular season, he earned a passer rating of 101.2 – the third best in the NFL.  He also ranked third in rushing yards by a QB.   In the post season, Rodgers had a passer rating of 109.8 and showed his composure and exceptional ability to read defenses.  What we love most about the Aaron Rodgers 2010 story is that in addition to being a great QB, he seems to be a genuinely good guy as well!

Low Points:

Mike Shanahan   

Washington Redskins coach Mike Shanahan started a streak of behavior in October that slowly spiraled into a complete lack of respect for veteran QB Donovan McNabb by the end of the season.  Trailing by 6 and with less than 2 minutes left in a game against Detroit, Shanahan benched McNabb and put in back up Rex Grossman.  On the next play, Grossman fumbled the ball, Detroit returned it for a TD.  After that fiasco, most coaches would have tried to apologize for their poor decision.  But Shanahan went in front of the media and awkwardly tried to explain his decision by first claiming he benched McNabb because he didn’t feel he could run the 2 minute offense.  His statement was perceived as a criticism of McNabb’s intellectual ability by many in the public, so Shanahan changed his reason, stating that he actually thought McNabb didn’t have the physical endurance to effectively run the two minute offense.  Later, he modified his statement once again and claimed McNabb was suffering from sore hamstrings.  The tension between Shanahan and McNabb was quite evident.  Later, with only 3 games left in the regular season,   Shanahan benched McNabb in favor of Rexman and actually publicly demoted him to 3rd string.  The Redskins had a myriad of problems this season.  But it appears that Shanahan chose to focus on McNabb rather than recognize other issues hurting the team, including the coaching staff and their poor decision making over the course of the season.

Peyton Manning’s streak of INTs

11 INTs over a three game span brought forth criticism about Super Bowl MVP Peyton Manning.  Some questioned his age, while others questioned his ability.  Manning had to deal with a porous offensive line, a slew of injuries to his receiving corps and no running game all season.  Despite his 4700 yards of passing this year, Peyton could not carry the team alone.  But to question Manning’s ability is absurd and short sighted.  It was one of the low points in the season for us, but Manning himself seemed unscathed by his critics.  That focus and drive makes him one of the game’s all time greatest QBs!

Vince Young meltdown 

In a game vs. the Redskins, Young injured his hand.  When Titans coach Jeff Fisher put back up Kerry Collins in, Young became agitated and a childish tantrum ensued.  He paced the sidelines, swearing and mumbling to himself, and then tossed his shoulder pads and jersey into the stands as he stormed into the locker room at the end of the game.  That day was his last as the Titans’ starting QB.  Owner Bud Adams recently announced that Young will not be on the roster next season.  He will either be traded or released. 

Inconsistent fines by the NFL 

The NFL established a reactionary, subjective policy early in the season in response to a number of head injuries.  While we applaud their efforts to protect players, this policy fell short and needs to be revamped before next season.

Super Bowl XLV seat fiasco  

In the most technologically advanced and extravagant stadium in the history of football, Jerry Jones’ Cowboys Stadium came up short on the most important day for the NFL.  400 fans attending the Super Bowl were unable to be seated because their seating area was not completed in time.  The seats were valued at $800 and the NFL issued a refund of $2400 to each of those affected.  Fans had the option to watch the game in the $350 “Standing Room Only” section or on monitors in the North Field Club.  Despite these allowances by the NFL, fans were understandably upset.  There is no excuse for incomplete seating areas in a venue like the Super Bowl!

New York Jets Tripping 

The Jets Strength and Conditioning coach, Sal Alosi, admitted he intentionally tripped Miami’s Nolan Carroll as he raced down the sideline on punt coverage.  Alosi’s role in the NFL was to help players become physically stronger and healthier, yet he showed a complete lack of judgment when he tried to trip an opponent running at full speed.  Alosi was subsequently fined and suspended by the Jets.  Later, the NFL levied a $100,000 fine against the Jets.  Alosi announced his resignation from the team January 31st.

The NFL’s decision to postpone the Eagles vs. Vikings game 

In late December, the NFL postponed the Eagles/Vikings game because of a predicted winter storm expected to dump 18 inches of snow on the city.  Since when does FOOTBALL get postponed due to weather?  This isn’t soccer and the NFL set a bad precedent by postponing the game when both teams were in the city and capable of playing.  Vince Lombardi must have turned over in his grave!

We hope you have enjoyed our review of our favorite ups and downs of this past season.  It truly was an exhilarating ride, but like any good roller coaster, seemed much too short!

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Flying Under the Radar – Why Aaron Rodgers Thrives on Being Stealth

Snubbed by the Pro Bowl this year, overlooked by most of the media and having endured playing in the shadow of Brett Favre, Aaron Rodgers is now making his presence known.  Even Troy Aikman stated this week that if he had a team, he would choose Rodgers as his starting QB.  As Rodgers leads his Packers into the NFC Championship, he is playing like not just a would be Pro Bowl QB, but quite possibly an MVP.

His path to the NFC title game was not easy.  Coming out of high school, Rodgers was not offered a single Division I scholarship offer.  Never one to give up, he went to Butte College, a small community college in California and led them to a 10-1 season and number 2 national ranking.  His performance there caught the attention of the University of California, who offered him a scholarship.  As a Golden Bear, Rodgers once again played exceptionally well and set a number of passing records as a sophomore.  He led his team to a victory over Virginia Tech in the Insight Bowl and elevated himself to national recognition. 

Rodgers entered the 2005 draft and was considered to be the top QB and likely number one overall pick.  But Rodgers was overlooked by the teams many considered would take him and was finally chosen by the Packers as the 24th pick.  Unfortunately, he found himself on a team with one of the most elite QBs in the history of the game – Brett Favre.  For the next three seasons, Rodgers waited for his opportunity to play.  Upon Favre’s departure in 2008, he earned the starting position.  Despite his solid play, the Packers had a losing season and fans directed their anger and disappointment towards their new starting QB. 

In 2009, Rodgers led the Packers to an 11-5 record and a wild card spot in the playoffs.  While the Packers lost in the first round of the playoffs, Rodgers had a very successful season.  He was the first QB to throw for over 4,000 yards in both of his first two seasons as a starter.  Rodgers was voted to the Pro Bowl in 2009.

This season, he was the top ranked NFC QB with a rating of 101.2.  He passes with incredible accuracy and is the epitome of a pocket passer.  His incredible ability to read defenses quickly and pick them apart is reminiscent of Peyton Manning. Like Manning, he also changes the play at the line of scrimmage when he sees a better read – that is a true testament to the confidence his coaches’ place in him. Rodgers also has the ability to run and was the Packers’ leading rusher this season, rushing for nearly 400 yards and 4 TDs.

While most of the attention in last week’s playoff game focused on Atlanta Falcons QB Matt Ryan who was selected for the Pro Bowl, it was the QB NOT selected by the Pro Bowl who had the big day.  In that game, Rodgers was 31 of 36 for 366 yards, 3 TDs and a 48-21 victory.  It seems Rodgers thrives on the underdog status, playing like a man with something to prove.

Flying under the radar is something Aaron Rodgers has become accustomed to.  From his early days when he was overlooked by Division I colleges, to being passed over in the draft and living in the shadow of Favre,  Rodgers has maintained his dignity, while preparing for his day in the spotlight.  That day has finally arrived and it seems Rodgers is fully prepared to take center stage.   With this new found attention and hype, will Rodgers’ hot hand continue?  Or does he perform better when he is the underdog and plays with a chip on his shoulder?  Sunday’s game should answer that question and I, for one, cannot wait to discover the answer!

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.

2011 New Year’s Resolutions Around the Gridiron

We have been gone for a few days, squeezing out the last of the holiday festivities before getting back to reality.  As we head into 2011, we have made our list of resolutions, hoping to accomplish at least a few of the things we long to do this coming year! 

In that spirit, we offer the following New Year’s resolutions for some of our favorite (and not so favorite) football-related individuals and others from 2010.

Mike Shanahan

I resolve to faithfully read the “Miss Manners” advice column so I can learn the meaning of respect and apply it to those around me, particularly legendary quarterbacks who have earned it. 

I resolve to go to my local Barnes & Noble to purchase “Coaching Football for Dummies” in hopes that I can learn SOMETHING useful to salvage my professional career.

The New York Jets

We resolve to hire Strength and Conditioning coaches who work on OUR players and not the other team’s players.

We resolve to recognize that women are more than just Barbie Dolls and can actually contribute to sports.

Brett Favre

I resolve to get rid of my cell phone.

I resolve to take the hint from the injuries Gods and finally retire for REAL.

Randy Moss

I resolve to keep all thoughts about the superb abilities of former coaches and teammates tucked away securely in my head, especially during post-game press conferences.

I resolve to keep all comments regarding catered foods and canines to myself.

Roger Goodell

I resolve to keep Vince Lombardi from turning in his grave by never postponing games due to snow and wind.

I resolve to keep the word “Wussie” from ever being associated with the NFL again.

I resolve to keep the NFL from turning into the National Flag League by concentrating on REAL player safety issues instead of legitimate hard hits.

Cam Newton

I resolve to never listen to my father’s advice.

I resolve to take lots of pics with my Heisman, since I will undoubtedly be returning it within the next few years.

Ohio State

We resolve to stop being an NFL player factory and at least APPEAR to provide an education.

We resolve to duct tape our President’s mouth whenever he attempts to discuss football.

Eli Manning

I resolve to stop giving the camera that Gomer Pyle  “Gaaw-aawl-ly” look when I throw an interception.

I resolve to call my big brother and get advice on how to transform my naïve country boy persona into one fitting a New York quarterback.

NCAA

We resolve to fairly enforce our rules and not allow players from big football programs (read Auburn and Ohio State) to get off the hook.

Tucker Carlson

I resolve to actually practice the Christianity I profess and learn that forgiveness is one of its tenets.

I resolve to never speak about football, or any other sport, again.

I resolve to loosen my bow tie, in hopes that it sends oxygen to my brain so that I think before I speak.

Michael Vick

I resolve to finish my story book-like comeback with a fairy tale ending and take my team to the Super Bowl.

I resolve to continue to be THE most exciting player in the NFL while showing the world that redemption is truly possible.

Who Is This Year’s NFL MVP?

My love for Michael Vick is not a secret.  Despite being a Giants fan, Vick is one of my very favorite players, second only to Peyton Manning.  It is also not a secret that I am not a big fan of Tom Brady.  Is there a particular reason for my aversion towards Brady?  Not really.  It is just one of those irrational sports opinions that is inexplicable.  But to be fair, he is having one amazing season.

Yesterday’s unbelievable comeback by Vick and the Eagles against the Giants was one of the most exciting moments in the NFL this season.  After being pressured and sacked all game, Vick simply took charge and refused to be denied.  With just over 8 minutes to play in the game, he orchestrated a 28 point scoring frenzy that gave the Eagles a 38-31 victory. 

Vick has been such a dynamic force for the Eagles and is quickly becoming a fan favorite.  Last week, NFL.com announced Vick was in first place in Pro Bowl voting by fans.  Fan voting ends tonight, after Monday Night Football, and it will be interesting to see if Vick can maintain his top position, or if Tom Brady, who was in 2nd place, will overtake him.  Fan votes count for 1/3 of the total vote that will determine which players go to the Pro Bowl, while coaches and players each account for the additional 2/3. 

For the NFL’s MVP, the voting is done by 50 members of the Associated Press.  So who is likely to win this prestigious honor?  At this moment, it seems clear that Vick and Brady are the top contenders.  While I would love to see Vick win the award, I believe Brady will once again become the NFL’s MVP, just as he did in 2007.

Brady is the quintessential QB who plays with order and precision in a conventional way.  His quarterback rating is the highest in the league – an impressive 109.9.  This season, he’s thrown for over 3500 yards, 31 TDs and just 4 interceptions.  He helped the Patriots clinch a playoff spot and with home-field advantage, the Patriots have a good chance of making it to the Super Bowl.  If he wins the MVP award, no one can claim he did not earn it.

Vick, by contrast, makes the impossible happen with his unconventional, pure, raw talent.  Like Brady, his stats are impressive.  He holds a 103.6 QB rating and has thrown for over 2700 yards, 20 TDs and 5 INTs.   But what makes Vick a compelling candidate for MVP is the dual threat he poses for opponents.  There is simply no other QB with the ability to throw AND run as effectively.

Brady has the statistical edge this season, but for me, Vick is certainly much more fun to watch!  While I truly couldn’t argue with Brady winning the MVP this season, I do think Michael Vick and his comeback story make for a much more interesting choice.  Will voters look at Vick’s storybook-like season and give him the perfect ending by voting for him?  Or will some voters consider Vick’s off-field history and vote based more on morality than performance?  The more likely scenario will be that voters simply choose Tom Brady since his numbers do surpass Vick’s.  It would be the easy, predictable choice.

There have been 2 times when the NFL MVP award was shared.  In 1997, Brett Favre and Barry Sanders were co-MVPs and in 2003 Peyton Manning and Steve McNair shared the honor.  This year, with two high performing, yet totally different players vying for the MVP award, it seems to be a perfect solution to the dilemma that may be facing voters.  The preppy, All-American Tom Brady and the rough and tumble Michael Vick, who against all odds turned his life around.   Who would have ever thought they could have anything in common?  But this year, if voters do the right thing, perhaps they will share something in common – the NFL MVP award!

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.

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