NFL CONFERENCE TITLE CAPSULES

TIME: noon LINE: Colts -71/2 TOTAL: 39

FACTS: In the regular season, foes were 19-for-23 on field-goal tries against the Jets. In two playoff games, however, enemy kickers have missed all five attempts, including Nate Kaeding’s chilling 0-for-3 performance last week for San Diego. No other kicker had as big an oh-fer this season. … The Colts endured gruesome losses in their only two postseason meetings against the Jets, first falling 16-7 in Super Bowl III in Miami as an 18-point favorite and seven seasons ago losing 41-0 in the Meadowlands. That’s the only time a Peyton Manning team has been shut out. … New York is 5-2 straight up as an underdog this season, including last week’s 17-14 victory at San Diego as an 81/2-point underdog, the fifth time the past three years a favorite of 8-plus points has been upset in the postseason. … The Colts are 2-2 against the line as a favorite of 8-plus points this season. … The Jets, 9-7 in the regular season, had five fewer victories than Indianapolis. The greatest discrepancy between combatants in postseason history has been a six-game bulge, which last occurred two seasons ago when the 16-0 Patriots lost to a 10-6 Giants team, 17-14. … Indianapolis averaged 3.5 yards a rush this season but yielded 4.3 a carry. That negative-0.8 differential is the worst for any conference finalist since the 2006 Colts, who were at minus-1.3 (4.0/5.3) en route to winning the title. The worst ever for a world champion was minus-1.7, when the 1960 Eagles had a norm of 3.2 a rush and yielded 4.9. … The Colts, Vikings and Saints finished in a three-way tie for most touchdown throws in 2009 with 34. The Jets were tied for third worst with 12. That’s the fewest for any team that got this far in a nonstrike season since the 1976 Steelers had 10. … New York led the league with five 200-yard rushing days this season. The Colts allowed that many rushing yards in a game twice, but they occurred during their late-season shutdown.

ANALYSIS: Early on in Indy’s Week 16 loss to the Jets, when the Colts still were paying attention, they were a buzz saw with 17 first downs on their first six drives, two of which exceeded 80 yards. Manning had 192 yards passing and no interceptions. Then two weeks ago against New York, Cincinnati RB Cedric Benson gouged the Jets for 169 yards rushing. Thus, New York’s No. 1-rated defense indeed has had its Swiss cheese moments and isn’t just CB Darrelle Revis blanketing four receivers at once. Plus it won’t help that standout LB Bart Scott has an ankle injury (probable) and DE Shaun Ellis has a broken hand (probable) and had only one tackle last week in San Diego. As for Jets QB Mark Sanchez, only twice this season did he throw more passes than the team had rushes. If Indianapolis gets off to its typical fast start at home (outscoring foes 57-20 in the first quarter), the Jets will be out of their comfort zone. It’s hard to believe the suddenly savvy Sanchez won’t dissolve into a rookie again in the din of a dome. After all, only Jay Cutler threw more interceptions than Sanchez did this season.

FORECAST: Colts 26, Jets 10

TIME: 3:40 p.m. LINE: Saints -31/2 TOTAL: 521/2

FACTS: Powerhouse Vikings RB Adrian Peterson has been held to less than 3 yards a carry in six games in his three-year career, including a 2.4 norm in last week’s 34-3 victory against Dallas. Last season, he had by far his worst game of the season at New Orleans, rushing 21 times for 32 yards, for a 1.5 average. But Minnesota won that one, too, 30-27, behind journeyman QB Gus Frerotte. … Saints RB Reggie Bush, running for a big contract, had a 46-yard rushing TD last week in a 45-14 rout of Arizona. In 2007-08, his longest run was 43 yards. … Minnesota, which led the league in sacks with 48 this season, got six more against Dallas on Sunday. New Orleans, conversely, has given up more than one sack in only one of its past 10 games. … The Saints went a league-record 20 consecutive seasons without a winning record (1967 to 1986) before going 12-3 in 1987. That season culminated with a first-round home playoff game against Minnesota. New Orleans took a quick 7-0 lead but was down 31-10 by halftime in an eventual 44-10 loss. Eight times in history a home dome team has blown a lead of 7-plus points in a loss, and three times it was by the favored Saints and then-coach Jim Mora. His record of 0-6 in the postseason (0-4 with New Orleans) is by far the worst of any coach. … The Vikings allowed 15 more touchdown passes than they had interceptions this season (26/11), but that’s a lot better than the ratio last year’s NFC champion Cardinals had (36/13). … Should New Orleans and Indianapolis reach the Super Bowl, it would be the first time in 16 seasons both No. 1 seeds met for the title, when Buffalo and Dallas collided for the second year in a row. … If Vikings QB Brett Favre doesn’t throw an interception in Sunday’s game, he will match a career high with four straight games without one. In 2005-06 with Green Bay, he threw an interception in 12 straight games. … Minnesota DE Ray Edwards, who had three sacks and five hurries last week, is questionable (knee), as is run-stuffing DT Kevin Williams. Not to mention WR/KR Percy Harvin (questionable) is struggling with migraines again. For the Saints, CB Malcolm Jenkins (hamstring) and TE Jeremy Shockey (knee) are questionable.

ANALYSIS: It seems no folks make as much noise at football games as Saints fans, many of whom in 1988 helped cause seismographs to go haywire while rocking Louisiana State’s stadium in nearby Baton Rouge. And because it’s a night game, the scene is sure to be madhouse. Though the Vikings will be well-prepared to work the silent count, OTs Bryant McKinnie and rookie Phil Loadholt will have their ears and hands full while not having the snap-count edge against New Orleans’ speed rushers. Home dome teams are 5-0 this postseason for a reason, with outdoor home clubs going 0-3. And although the savvy Favre has a Super Bowl victory on his record and helped defeat five playoff teams this season, only one of those victories came on the road, where the Viking have lost three straight and four of five. This could be a game in which former Favre teammate Darren Sharper, the Saints’ Mr. Instant Offense in the secondary, could play a key role, much the way S Ed Reed does with Baltimore.

FORECAST: Saints 28, Vikings 14

LAST WEEK: 2-2 vs. spread; 2-2 straight up

SEASON TOTAL: 124-132-8 vs. spread; 158-106 straight up

BOB CHRIST/SPECIAL TO THE LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL

TOP NEWS
News Headlines
ad-infeed_1
ads_infeed_2
Local Spotlight
Home Front Page Footer Listing
Circular
You May Like

You May Like