I had a difficult time finding a Colts blogger who was available for an interview for this piece, but I found a great pinch-hitter in Samer Kalaf, a colleague of mine from The Rookies and the editor of the excellent NFL blog Second-String Fullback. . Samer really knows his football and gave some great insight into the Colts' matchup this weekend. My questions and his responses are below.
Andrew Bucholtz: The Colts were criticized heavily by many for playing some backups in the last few weeks of the season, including against the Jets, instead of going for a perfect season. What did you think of the decision at the time, and has your opinion changed at all since then?
Samer Kalaf: I feel like that the decision by Colts head coach Jim Caldwell to rest the starters against the Jets was an incredibly terrible decision. I wrote long-winded posts about it, and how I feel it disgraces the history of the NFL, but I'll try to condense it. The Colts had a chance to be the second team to go undefeated in a 16-game regular season. They decided to give that up for extra rest. That was a terrible decision and I thought it would bite them in the ass. I think it has now as they face the Jets in the AFC Championship, and I stand by my opinion and will be incredibly eager to see how their decision plays out in the game on Sunday.
A.B.: Do you think the extra rest helped the Colts against the Ravens last week, or did it not make much of a difference?
S.K.: I don't feel like it really had an impact on the Colts' win against the Ravens. Joe Flacco isn't a dominant quarterback and the Colts were able to contain the Baltimore game, and I feel they would have been able to do it even if they were on normal rest.
A.B.: How do you see the Jets as compared to the Chargers? Which team do you think the Colts match up better against?
S.K: This season, I expected the Chargers to go very far, considering them for an AFC Championship and possibly a Super Bowl. The way they played against the Jets last week proves how rest doesn't mean anything, and how it can actually hurt a team. San Diego never seemed to be synchronized while New York was making outstanding plays throughout the whole game. Matching both teams up with the Colts, I would honestly have to say the Jets would have a better chance of defending against Indianapolis. The Chargers have a great offense, but their defense is near the middle of the league in most categories. The Jets are much better at defending, especially passing defense with shutdown corner Darrelle Revis (I wonder how many times this season that phrase has been said this season) and that will stifle Peyton Manning and the Colts. Reggie Wayne will be very scarcely available to him and Indianapolis could be forced to turn to rushing the ball, which would be unfortunate for them as they are one of the worst running teams in the league this season.
A.B.: The Colts have been characterized by many as a precision-passing team full of athletic players, while the Jets are often seen as a smashmouth team that focuses on pounding the ball and playing physical defence. Do you think those characterizations are fair, or is there more to this matchup?
S.K.: Those characterizations are pretty accurate, as like said above, the Colts have nothing good with their rushing game this season and Mark Sanchez has been the equivalent of JaMarcus Russell, with sadly more effort. It's going to come down to beating and bruising the guy in the #18 Colts' jersey, because if the Jets defense can do that, the Indianapolis offense will be a non-factor, and the Jets can do what they do best by pounding the Colts front line with Thomas Jones and Shonn Greene while letting Mark Sanchez have minimal chances for turnovers.
A.B.: Finally, who do you think will win this weekend? Why?
S.K.: It's punishable by death to root for a divisional rival (Pats fan here) but I think the Jets will pull the huge, HUGE upset over the Colts, mainly for the answers to the previous questions. It would be poetic justice to the team that thought a perfect record will curse them, when instead they end up facing the team, who they allowed to give the Colts their first loss of the season, for the conference championship.
Thanks to Samer for taking the time to talk to me! Check out his site here.