- Matt Williamson, ESPN.com
Colts quarterback Peyton Manning has won a Super Bowl and just won his fourth league MVP award.
What's left for the best football player on the planet? How about a perfect season? Well, never mind on that. But I bet he would settle for another trip to the Super Bowl.
Meanwhile, Jets rookie QB Mark Sanchez has far exceeded all postseason expectations and is playing with house money at this point. Just like this past week, there will be no pressure on Sanchez or the Jets on Sunday. But needless to say, the quarterback edge in the AFC title game goes to Indianapolis.
Peyton Manning versus the Jets' defense: The strategy here will be very similar for both teams. The Jets simply cannot afford to allow Manning to come out on fire and build a big lead early. Instead, they need to do everything possible to promote a game similar to what transpired in San Diego on Sunday. Obviously, there is the Darrelle Revis factor, and the Jets cornerback is sure to spend a lot of time lined up opposite Colts receiver Reggie Wayne.
As great as Wayne is, avoiding Revis is still the correct move. But Manning isn't hesitant to use his other receiving options, who are exceptional. TE Dallas Clark particularly creates massive matchup problems for the Jets.
On Sunday, New York had a difficult time slowing down Chargers tight end Antonio Gates in the middle of the field. Against the Colts, expect the Jets to use a lot of pre-snap movement, which will make it difficult for Manning to decipher how many defenders are in the box and what their intentions are.
The Colts' offensive line isn't real talented or littered with high-end players, but led by center Jeff Saturday, it is a very smart group. The line will have to be very mentally sharp against the Jets' Rex Ryan-coached defense. The league has never seen a more cerebral quarterback than Manning, but his physical gifts are exceptional as well. Manning might not get as many possessions as he is accustomed to but will have to make each one count.
The Colts' Peyton Manning is clearly superior than Mark Sanchez, but the Jets' rookie signal-caller shouldn't be counted out in the AFC title game, writes Matt Williamson.