I can’t wait until the New York Jets and Indianapolis Colts kick off this afternoon. Although I can’t see the Jets winning the game, you never know.
I thought the San Diego Chargers would halt the Jets’ season last week, and obviously I was dead wrong. In analyzing this game, a few thoughts come to mind. First, the Jets play like their coach. They are boisterous, at times reckless, unpredictable and underneath all the show, quite fundamental. Underneath the billboard named Rex Ryan, there is a solid football man who has a formula for success and a focus to maintain the path of running the ball on offense and blitzing like heck on defense.
In addition, he and his offensive staff have done an A+ job in the playoffs of protecting their rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez and not asking too much of him.
On the home sideline tonight, the cameras will overplay the great one, Peyton Manning. But the guys who deserve just as much credit are in the coaching shirts. Head man Jim Caldwell should have been the NFL’s Coach of the Year. Not only did he take over for a legend in Tony Dungy, he has taken an injured and young team to the championship game.
Right alongside him is an old friend of mine, offensive coordinator Tom Moore. Moore is the only offensive coordinator Manning has ever had. Can you imagine that? In today’s football world, the two have been together the entire time Manning has been in the NFL. I hope when Manning is inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Moore is the guy who introduces him.
It should be a well-played game and if the Jets are to win, they had better keep it close early. On the other side of the coin, the Colts need to come out fast and furious and jump out to a quick lead and get the confident Jets back on their heels. Prediction: Colts 28, Jets 10
Down in New Orleans, we should see a ton of points scored. Both offenses and defenses are talented and both teams have more going for them than just a few fellows that throw the heck out of the ball. The Saints, led by undersized Drew Brees, will wing it all over the field. The issue he will face is that big, fast Viking defense led by hard-to-block South Bay native Jared Allen. This guy is a monster that is playing lights-out. Kim Kardashian’s boyfriend ain’t bad either. When he is on, Reggie Bush can be a great player.
The Saints defense will be put to the test by old man Brett Favre. Although I have been critical of his wishy-washy ways on deciding the future, the guy can obviously still play. He will be the difference maker in this game. If he plays well, the Vikings win. If he plays like he is 40 years old, the Vikings lose. Prediction: He will play like he is 30 in a 35-21 Minnesota win.
Wow, what a Super Bowl matchup: Manning vs. Favre.
Elite group of broadcasters receive honors
Jumping across the airwaves ...
- Congrats to Greg Papa of Comcast SportsNet and the Raiders for being named the Broadcaster of the Year in the state of California by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association. Bill Dwyer of the Los Angeles Times was the Sportswriter of the Year (I got screwed). Bob Ryan and the great Jim Nantz of CBS were the National Writer and Broadcaster, respectively, of the year. John Madden and Peter Gammons were selected to the NSSA Hall of Fame. Congrats to all, especially our local favorites, Papa and Madden.
It’s kinda cool for coach Madden. Now he is in two Hall of Fames, one for each of his careers.
- The poor 49ers. They got a real punishment last week when the NFL selected them to play the Denver Broncos in London on Oct. 31. I hate international play, and trust me, it is punishment, not fun.
- Joe Namath, the hero for the N.Y. Jets in Super Bowl III, will narrate the opening segment for CBS today prior to the Jets-Colts game. It should be very cool. As a kid, I remember meeting Namath after a Jets game, and it is still one of the great thrills of my life.
- I love the hire by Mike Singletary of new special teams coach Kurt Schottenheimer. The 60-year-old brother of Marty is a very good coach with a great coaching pedigree.
- Both Fox and CBS will be at their production best today. It is a great way to put on a broadcasting show by introducing subtle items into the telecast and being on top of the game with replays and accessing the situation at hand. The cameramen and the people in the truck deserve as much credit for a great broadcast as the guys in the booth.
- Buddy Nix, the Buffalo Bills general manager, got in a dig at the Raiders this week when introducing his new coach, Chan Gailey. When asked about potential coaches calling him about wanting the then-open coaching job, Nix said: “Don’t ever think you can’t fill coaching jobs, even if they’re bad. Oakland gets a lot of calls. Don’t say I said that.” Zing, Zing.
49ers quarterback Alex Smith was interviewed on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area last week. In a wide-ranging talk with CSN’s Mindi Bach, Smith said: “There is such an opportunity here. We’ve got the pieces in place to really do some great things.” Well, let me tell you something. The one piece that is missing is the play of the quarterback. This guy has zero personality and lacks the leadership qualities you look for in a QB.
Who said it
“In the playoffs, anything can happen,” the new toast of the town in the Big Apple and coach of the N.Y. Jets said. The confident boss is attempting to inspire his troops by instilling a very confident demeanor and cocky attitude in them. The Jets stunned the Cincinnati Bengals and San Diego Chargers to get to the AFC championship. So far, so good!
“I’ve heard all the speculation, but I’ll tell you what, I’ve had a heck of a time here, and if it is [over], I’ve enjoyed the ride,” the San Diego Chargers running back said after his team’s season-ending loss to the N.Y. Jets last weekend. Tomlinson is one of the best backs to ever play, but he has clearly lost a step. L.T. ran for just 730 yards this season, a career low.
One to watch
What else is there but football? The Jets-Colts game kicks off at noon on CBS. Jim Nantz and Phil Simms will call the action. Simms is at his best when telling the viewer what is going through the mind of Peyton Manning when he dissects a defense. Lance Barrow is the lead producer, so this will be a gem of a broadcast. The later game on Fox begins at 3:40 p.m. with Joe Buck and Troy Aikman calling the game. Buck is boring, but Aikman is very, very good. Pam Oliver and Chris Myers will roam the sidelines. I hate sideline reporters, but Myers is top shelf and will add to the telecast. Should be the perfect lead-in for the Super Bowl on Feb. 7.
Sports by numbers
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Artie Gigantino spent 25 years as a coach at the major-college and NFL levels, was lead college football analyst for Fox Sports Net for seven years, was with CBS for one year and was an executive with the Raiders for three years. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.