New York Jets @ Indianapolis Colts (-7.5)
This is an interesting match up as karma could come back to haunt the Colts. In week 16, the Colts had a 15-10 lead in the third quarter over the Jets and pulled their players and lost the game. The fans were verry disgusted with the decision and rightfully so. The Jets would have been eliminated from the playoffs if they lost that game and are now just one win away from the Super Bowl.
Neither team can worry about the past. The Jets #1 defense against the Colts and Peyton Manning will be a fun chess match to watch. The Jets have Darrelle Revis, arguably the best cover corner in years, and it will be interesting how the Jets use him. Revis usually covers the #1 WR, but last week was used to cover different WRs in an upset victory over the Chargers. Revis was only thrown at four times last week and one was completed for a loss of four yards and he had one INT. The Jets could use him to cover Reggie Wayne, but Peyton Manning has a few other weapons in WRs Pierre Garcon and Austin Collie. And of course, the great Dallas Clark.
On the other side of the ball, the Jets have a new found weapon, Shonn Greene. Greene has been big for the Jets this post season with two great games. It will be important for him and Thomas Jones to get the run game going and moving moving the chains so there isn't as much pressure on rookie QB Mark Sanchez. The Colts will do their best trying to put as much pressure on Sanchez and that starts with stopping the run and forcing obvious passing situations. Sanchez cannot make mistakes or this game could get ugly.
My Prediction: The Colts have the twelth man with the home crowd and have a solid defense that doesn't allow big plays. I expect the Colts to stop the run and take control of this game with turnovers. The Jets will play close most of the game, but the defense will be on the field too long and wear out in the end. Colts 27, Jets 13.
Minnesota Vikings @ New Orleans Saints (-3.5)
This game is subtitled "The Starcaps Bowl" as it features four players, two from each team, that avoided suspension for illegal substance abuse. Both teams have a balanced offense. Surprisingly, the Vikings have been the more pass happy team the last half of the season. The Vikings have been able to win games without Adrian Peterson having great games, but that will need to happen this week. The Vikings won't have the luxury of a home dome crowd and wil have to deal with the same level of noise on the road. They will have to use a silent count which means the Saints DEs will have a jump on the ball over the tackles which could spell trouble for the Vikes Brett Favre. The Vikings will have to find success running the ball and take an early lead to silence the crowd. The Cardinals did last week, but allowed the Saints to easily march down field for a score and the game was over from that point on.
The Saints will have to prevent the big plays that killed the Cowboys last week and that starts with covering the deep threat, Sidney Rice. Percy Harvin has the ability to make the big play with his speed, but Rice has been the main guy down field. The Saints have Darren Sharper, a veteran leader who is familiar with Favre as they were teammates in Green Bay. Will Sharper be able to bait Favre into throwing INTS is the question. The answer will depend on how much pressure they can put on Favre.
The Vikings defensive line will have to play the way it did against the Cowboys last week. If they give Drew Brees too much time, he will pick them apart with all the weapons they have. The Saints have seven receivers with 35 catches or more.
My Prediction: I have to give the edge to the team with the twelth man again. The Saints have too many weapons and if the Vikings are forced to be a one dimensional pass happy team again, I think the Saints will be able to pressure Favre who will have to use a silent count. Saints 30, Vikings 20.
I haven't seen any information on this but when was the last time there were three dome teams in the championship round? The Super Bowl has never featured two dome teams and will have at least one there this year. The Rams, 1999, were the first dome team to win the super bowl.