Running off at the Mouth

One of the Jets major advantages on Sunday is their #1 ranked run game.  Unfortunately for them, running well hasn’t always correlated to winning football games this year.

Consider in their 11 wins, they rushed for an average of 188 yards a game (179 if you take out the two gift wins at the end of the season).  That’s certainly a potent attack.

The problem is that in their 7 losses, they’ve rushed for 147 yards a game.  This season they’ve lost 6 games when they rushed for more than 100 yards and 5 games when they rushed for more than 120 yards, and even lost a game after rushing for 300 yards.

The Jets don’t need just a ‘big’ game rushing the ball, they need a monster game rushing the ball in order to be effective.  In only two of their 11 wins did they rush for less than 139 yards.

The question is, how likely are they to gash the Colts for that kind of yardage?

Indy gave up at least 139 yards on the ground five times this season.  Unfortunately for the Jets, three of those occurred in the final three games when Indy began to alter the defensive rotation.  In the first Jets game for example, the Colts allowed 202 yards on the ground. That is certainly a number the Jets will point to for confidence.  Unfortunately for them, 136 of those yards were gained after the move to pull the starters.

Let’s set aside the final three games of the season for a moment, and focus instead the other two games where the Colts allowed big rushing totals.  One was against the Saint Louis Rams.  In that game, Indy had a 21-3 lead, and had limited Jackson to 20 yards on 8 carries.  In the second half, Indy played soft and let the Rams run, but the game was already put away.  The Colts won 42-6.

The other game may have some bearing on this one.  In the Colts’ win over the Dolphins early in the season, Miami shoved the ball down the throat of the Indy D to the tune of 239 yards on the ground.  Moreover, they did their heavy damage with the Wildcat formation.  They had 13 Wildcat runs for 93 yards (7.2 YPC), and 36 other runs for 146 yards (4.1 YPC).  Obviously, this is the kind of scenario the Jets have to hope for.  They do have their own version of the Wildcat which was successful against the Bengals, and no doubt they’ll try to use it on Sunday.  It isn’t analogous to the Dolphins version, however, which is more of a power running style honed to perfection.

The Jets are going to have to hope for the kind of rushing day against the Colts that only one other team has managed to accomplish this season.  If they can, they could pull the upset.  If they can’t, they have little chance.

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