Preview: Jets at Colts

THE STORY: Both the Indianapolis Colts and New York Jets might have expected to see each other in the playoffs – just not this soon. It’s a rematch of last season’s AFC Championship game, which the Colts won 30-17 after erasing a 17-6 deficit. Injury-ravaged Indianapolis has taken a step backward from the juggernaut that won its first 14 games a year ago before losing to the Jets – after coach Jim Caldwell decided to pull his starters at halftime with the Colts in front. That was the only time Jets coach Rex Ryan beat Peyton Manning in six career matchups. Still, the same brashness that led Ryan to declare the Jets as Super Bowl favorites heading into last season’s playoffs hasn’t waned. Ryan vowed to get revenge and said beating Manning and the Colts this time around is “personal.”

TV: Saturday, 8 p.m. ET, NBC

OPENING LINE: Colts -3, O/U 44.5


ABOUT THE COLTS (10-6): The Colts were in danger of missing the playoffs before reeling off four consecutive wins, capped by last week’s 23-20 victory over that Tennessee Titans that gave them nine straight 10-win seasons. Both Indy’s receiving corps and running backs were decimated by injuries throughout the season, forcing Manning to carry an even bigger load. The strain showed at times with Manning throwing 17 interceptions – his highest total since the 2002-03 season. RB Joseph Addai returned for the final two games following a seven-week absence and Dominic Rhodes has provided a spark to the ground game since he was signed from the UFL. The Colts’ defense has not held an opponent under 20 points since Week 10.

ABOUT THE JETS (11-5): The Jets were cruising along with a 9-2 record until absorbing a 45-3 beating by New England – starting a stretch of three losses in four games. They may have saved their season with a 22-17 victory at Pittsburgh in Week 15. QB Mark Sanchez has been bothered by a sore throwing shoulder, but made just a cameo appearance in last week’s season finale and said he’s good to go. New York has shown a propensity for falling behind away from home. The Jets were able to overcome road deficits to notch overtime wins against Cleveland and Detroit, but coming from behind against Manning will be a different story.

PLAYERS TO WATCH: For the Colts, it all starts and ends with Manning. He seems to have overcome a midseason swoon that saw him get picked off 13 times in four games, including back-to-back four-interception outings. Manning threw for 4,700 yards, becoming the third QB in league history to have consecutive 4,500-yard seasons. Pierre Garcon torched the Jets in last season’s AFC title game, sharing 11 passes for 151 yards and a TD. Tight end Jacob Tamme also has emerged as a favorite target after Dallas Clark was lost for the season. He had 67 receptions and four touchdowns. On defense, bookends Dwight Freeney (10) and Robert Mathis (21) combined for 21 sacks.

Sanchez has regressed as the season progressed. He threw at least one interception in eight of his last nine games and had a passer rating above 87.2 just once after Week 4. Unlike a year ago, the Jets arrive in Indy with some playoff-tested veterans, including RB LaDainian Tomlinson and wide receiver Santonio Holmes, the MVP of Super Bowl XLIII. Tomlinson has not surpassed 57 yards since Week 5, and the Jets need to get production from him and RB Shonn Green to keep Manning off the field. … Cornerback Antonio Cromartie could play a pivotal role, matching up against either Garcon or Reggie Wayne.

RECENT HISTORY: Indianapolis has won seven of the last 10 meetings – and one of those losses came with backups on the field.

KEY INJURIES: Jets: Questionable – DE Trevor Pryce (hip), DB James Ihedigbo (knee), DE Shaun Ellis (back); Colts: Questionable: LB Clint Session (elbow), DB Kelvin Hayden (neck), RB Mike Hart (ankle) S Al Afalava (ankle), DT Daniel Muir (chest), G Jaimie Thomas (ankle).

LAST WORD: “We are not going to Indianapolis to lose, we are going there to win. That’s our mentality and always will be. I believe in our football team. I know that’s an excellent football team we’re going to play but they’re getting our best shot. This will be a great game and as long as the Jets win, I’ll sign up for it.” – Jets coach Rex Ryan.

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Last Injuries

Indianapolis Colts

  • Rolan Milligan

    I-R | I-R

    Milligan has let the team that he has ruled himself out of the entire 2020 season due to a personal decision, and his name has emerged on the Injured Reserve/Opt-Out list.

  • Marvell Tell III

    I-R | I-R

    Tell III has decided to sit out for the duration of the 2020 season due to a personal reason. The team has put him on the Injured Reserve/Opt-Out list as a result.

  • Skai Moore

    I-R | I-R

    Moore has wound up on the Injured Reserve/Opt-Out list after informing the team that he will sit out the entire 2020 season due to a personal decision.

  • Mo Alie-Cox

    Out indefinitely | I-R

    Alie-Cox has been designated for the active PUP list as he is working his way back from thumb surgery, and the severity of the ailment has yet to be announced.

  • T.Y. Hilton

    Out indefinitely | I-R

    Hilton has hit on the Non-Football injury list while healing from a mild hamstring injury. It is unclear when he will return to the field.

New York Jets

  • Josh Doctson

    I-R | I-R

    Doctson has hit the Injured Reserve/Opt-Out list after deciding that he has ruled himself out for the entire 2020 season.

  • James Burgess

    Out indefinitely | I-R

    Burgess has been added to the Injured Reserve/COVID-19 list, and an announcement has yet to be made about any return date.

  • C.J. Mosley

    I-R | I-R

    Mosley is expected to miss the entire 2020 season while on the Injured Reserve/Opt-Out list due to a personal reason.

  • Daniel Brown

    Out indefinitely | I-R

    Brown is rehabbing from an ankle surgery, and the team has put him on the active Non-Football List as a result.

  • Avery Williamson

    Out indefinitely | I-R

    Williamson has been shifted to the active PUP list while recovering from a torn ACL, and it is unknown when he will be activated.

  • Ryan Griffin

    Out indefinitely | I-R

    Griffen has been moved to the active PUP list with an ankle injury, and there is no timetable for return.