For the first time this off-season, the Indianapolis Colts are not the favorites to win the Super Bowl.

I don’t know exactly when it happened, but the Indianapolis Colts were definitely at the top after their Super Bowl defeat and I noticed they were still at the top a few weeks ago.

Indianapolis Colts NFL Cheerleaders

Now the Super Bowl odds list the Colts at +1000 after being +800 earlier in the offseason, slightly behind the San Diego Chargers and the Dallas Cowboys who both sit at +950.

The drop is likely due to the injury to third-round draft pick CB Kevin Thomas that leaves them a little thin in the defensive secondary. They aren’t able to sign restricted free agents because they need to lose another RFA before signing one and they don’t have any RFAs left to be signed.

The only way they’ll get back to favorite status is if they are able to trade for a CB.

The San Diego Chargers are always among the top teams in the NFL and their odds were no doubt helped by the draft where they filled a number of needs. They’ll be relying on players like Ryan Mathews to improve on LaDainian Tomlinson’s 3.3 yards per carry and Cam Thomas to fill the hole left by Jamal Williams.

The Dallas Cowboys shored up their offensive line and many of their players are still on the up-sides of their career, but I’m not convinced they should be the favorites to win the Super Bowl.

 

The expected axe finally fell on LaDainian Tomlinson as the San Diego Chargers gave him his walking papers today after nine seasons.

The LT post-mortems all point out how he struggled last season getting just and average of 3.3 yards a carry and disappeared in the San Diego Chargers playoff loss to the Jets, but that’s a load of something that begins with c and rhymes with rap.

LT will miss the Chargers Cheerleaders

LT will miss the Chargers Cheerleaders

The Chargers Darren Sproles didn’t do much better picking up 3.7 yards per carry. The problem wasn’t Tomlinson, but rather the offensive line who couldn’t open enough holes for LT. Or at least it isn’t just LT’s fault.

Then pointing out his poor performance against the Jets is disingenuous. The Jets have the best defense in the NFL. Offenses are supposed to struggle against them. And again, the offensive line could have done a lot more to help San Diego’s running backs.

LT isn’t an elite running back anymore, but he can still be a contributor he just needs to find the right situation.

What kind of situation is that?

While I’m sure his veteran leadership will be appreciated on a rebuilding team, he needs to find himself a contender with an offensive line that can open holes with some consistency and an every-down running back to take most of the punishment. Preferably a big bruising running back, so they can switch LT in to change the pace.

Even though they’ve moved on, the Chargers still have some work to do if they want to close to the top echelon teams. They need to find a kicker who can kick in the playoffs too and their offensive line could use a little help. They currently sit at +975 in 2011 Super Bowl odds.

New York Jets Cheerleaders
Right now everyone is saying that the Colts pulled off the upset of the playoffs when they beat the Chargers after laughing at Rex Ryan for calling his Jets the team to beat.

Yes, it was an upset, but no it didn’t surprise a lot of people. Many of the pundits predicted that the Jets would win or at least keep it close enough to cover the spread largely because the Chargers had a below-average run defense and the Jets’ top-ranked defense allowed them the luxury of sticking with the run.

Now the Jets face the Colts who, like the Chargers, have a high-powered passing attack and a sub-standard run defense.

Is there any reason to believe that the Jets who can stop the pass and are strong on the run can’t repeat their feat of last weekend?

The AFC Championship Game odds favor the Colts by 7.5 points which is ridiculous considering the last time these two teams met, the Colts were winning 10-9 when they pulled the starters in the third quarter.

I never would have predicted it for most of the season, but I expect to see the Jets in the Super Bowl.

New York Jets at San Diego Chargers

San Diego Chargers Playoff Fan

San Diego Chargers Playoff Fan


The San Diego Chargers come in to this playoff contest riding an 11-game winning streak, but they face a New York Jets team that could be a match-up nightmare.

The Chargers (-310) are 7-point NFL playoff odds favorites over the Jets (+250) and the over/under is 42.

The Chargers may be heavy NFL betting favorites, but the Jets match up well against the Chargers and could very realistically straight-up win this one.

The Jets have the number one defense in the NFL. They have the best scoring defense at 14.8 points per game and the best total defense giving up 252.3 yards per game.

Those numbers alone should scare the Chargers a little, but it gets worse. The Jets have been playing their best defense down the stretch. They haven’t given up more than 15 points since a bad Week 11 loss to New England.

The Jets had a stretch in the middle of the season where they consistently gave up 24 to 31 points (except for two games against Oakland and Buffalo, but they don’t count). If it weren’t for their mid-season defensive struggles, they’d probably be giving up an average of 10 points per game.

The Jets have a mediocre offense led by a young quarterback who is still learning the game, but the match-up looks even worse for the Chargers when the Jets have the ball.

New York is averaging 172.3 rushing yards per game and we all know they’re just going to keep pounding away on the run, eating up the clock and making the job of the defense a lot easier.

The Chargers run defense is shaky to begin with giving up 117.6 yards per game. They are going to need some career performances from the defense to make sure their offense has the ball enough to win.

I just don’t see it happening. It’s like a late Christmas gift from the NFL odds-makers. The Jets at +7 might be a realistic number for the over/under.

San Diego Chargers Cheerleaders

San Diego Chargers Cheerleaders

I know Darrelle Revis had a great year. I know he’s the only true shutdown corner in the game. And I’m starting to get the feeling that after only 3 years in the game not only could he be the greatest corner ever, but he could quite possibly be the best defensive player in the history of the game. That’s hype ladies and gentlemen.

Enter Vincent Jackson. This guy is a stud. He’s really come into his own catching the football. He had a tendency to drop passes early in his career, but it seems he’s dropped that bad habit (pun totally intended). He attacks the football, which is really what separates a lot of these big receivers. Guys that can use their body and strength to really get after the football at it’s highest point of attack are the guys that really excel.

Revis hasn’t faced a receiver with all the tools Jackson possesses. He has stopped a lot of really good receivers, Andre Johnson is probably the most impressive. But Jackson is a really bad matchup for Revis.

What separates Jackson from most other receivers is his physical stature and ability. He’s 6-5 230 pounds, he’s got a long wingspan, he’s got huge hands, he jumps out of the stadium and he’s fast. He’s in the mold of Larry Fitzgerald and Calvin Johnson, almost uncover-able one on one.

Revis is around average height for a cornerback at 5-11. But he’s physical and likes to keep his hands on the receivers. If he gets into a game of patty cakes with Jackson it won’t work out well for him. Jackson can use his long arms to create some separation, if Revis keeps his hands on him he’ll be getting flagged all day.

Jackson also has speed on Revis. If Revis gets too physical on him at the line of scrimmage Jackson can break away and leave Revis behind him. Call him a shutdown corner all you want but he’ll need over the top help, and that’s where it will go down hill for the Jets.

The Chargers passing offense may just be too much for the Jets to handle. Throw in guys like Antonio Gates, Malcom Floyd, Kassim Osgood, Legedu Naanee and you’ve got yourself a pretty good passing attack. Revis may do a great job on Jackson, but there’s more bullets in the Charges gun than that.

T. Jay is the writer and founder of http://www.GridironInsight.com, a blog dedicated to giving people a different view of the NFL. You can follow everything on twitter at http://www.twitter.com/GridironInsight.

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