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Holt breaks down the weekend


Jaguars wide receiver Torry Holt knows exactly what the four remaining teams in the NFL are feeling as they battle Sunday for the right to play one more game. Holt has played in 10 postseason games including two conference championship games.

Holt was a member of the 1999 Super Bowl XXXIV champion team in St. Louis. He has battled the Saints in New Orleans during the postseason. Not only has he played in 183 NFL games, Holt is an avid follower of both the college and professional game. He dissects tape and enjoys the X's and O's of the game.

I sat down with Holt this week to discuss the weekend's games and how he saw each unfolding.

AFC Championship GameNew York Jets at Indianapolis ColtsSunday, 3:00 p.m., CBS

The Colts defense played really well, allowing only three points last week against Baltimore. It was the fewest points allowed by the Colts in the postseason since 1971. Has this defense changed much from the regular season?

I don't think much has changed. The speed in which they play obviously picks up at the right time. I don't they have changed defensively at all. They are small up front but they get after it. The linebackers are small but they get after you. Their secondary has always been okay, but they play well collectively as a defensive unit. Last week, it was glaring that their speed showed up. In terms of the run game, when I watch them they are playing so well because their gap responsibilities are better than anybody else's. It's hard to beat a football team that plays gap responsibilities very well. That is how Tony Dungy and Jim Caldwell do it; it's gap responsibility and speed.

The Jets come to Indianapolis this week, another run-oriented team. The Colts are known for their pass rush with Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis off the edges. It would appear the Colts pass rush would not be much of a factor since it's obvious the Jets are going to pound the ball.
At some point, they are going to have to pass to win the ballgame. The Colts' number one thing against the Jets is we all know they want to stop the run. They will load the box and sometimes they probably won't. I think they will do a good job of stopping the run this weekend which puts Mark Sanchez in the position to win the ballgame with his legs and his arm. The question is, can he do it? I think over the last few games in the playoffs his throws have been high percentage-type throws; rollouts, boots, quick throws, out, drags, quick screens, slants to Braylon Edwards. I think he took a shot last week against San Diego but he overthrew him. He is going to need a lot of those big throws against the Colts in order to give that football team an opportunity to win, especially if they are slowing down the run. If Peyton Manning gets on fire early, which I'm thinking he will, and they score some points, it's going to come down to Mark Sanchez and his legs and arm.

The Jets defense held a pretty explosive San Diego offense to only 14 points. That was one of the hottest teams in the NFL. Did you see that coming?
I didn't know. I knew the Jets had the capabilities of stopping San Diego, but I didn't know they were going to slow them down that much. I didn't feel Philip Rivers played as well as he had played in the past. They tried to establish a little bit of run game and that didn't help. When that happened all the Jets did was single up (Darrelle) Revis with whoever was on his side and they played four over two with a slide to the three-receiver side. That is a hard read for Philip Rivers. You feel like the lanes are open and you force throws that aren't there. The Jets did a really good job of slowing down their run which ultimately affected their passing game.

Can the Jets be as successful again this week?
Can they do it again this week? I'm pretty sure that will be the formula; stop the run, get to Peyton Manning, hit him in the mouth to slow down the passing game. Now Peyton and that bunch are so good at home and he does a really good job of one, two, three, the ball is out of his hands. He's tough to sack, quick efficient throws. The Colts don't do anything fancy offensively, but they are efficient in what they do. I think Dallas Clark, just like Antonio Gates, will have a big week. It's a tough matchup.

Is it wrong to say Darrelle Revis will shut down Reggie Wayne? In turn, other guys like Austin Collie and Pierre Garcon will have to step up.
He won't shut down Reggie Wayne. He will have some good plays against him, but I don't know if he will stop him. The Colts do a good job of moving Reggie around within the offense. He can play any position on the offense. They will hide him and disguise him to get him in position to make plays for them. The other guys, Collie and Garcon, will have to step up. They will be going against (Lito) Sheppard and (Dwight) Lowery. Who's going to match up with Dallas Clark? Will they move Revis inside at times and have him matched up against him? If you do that then you are leaving someone vulnerable against Reggie Wayne. It will be a chess match.

Who wins it?
I think whoever wins this AFC Championship Game has a high chance of winning the Super Bowl. Indianapolis Colts, 24-10.

NFC Championship GameSunday, 6:40 p.m. ET, FOX

You played 10 seasons in the NFC with the St. Louis Rams and numerous games at the Louisiana Superdome. How tough is it playing the Saints at home?
It's hard to beat New Orleans at home, period, because of the noise. I don't know if people really realize how loud it is in New Orleans. We went back there in 2000 in the playoffs and they beat us. Kurt Warner took the same loss last week against those guys and it's probably killing him right now. It's so loud; you can't hear the snap count. Tackles have problems hearing the snap count. It immediately gives the Saints an advantage because now the (defensive) ends can pin their ears back and fire off the line. Will they get to Brett Favre? I think they will because of the noise advantage. Gregg Williams will do a good job schematically of setting up different blitzes, bringing some different looks and different pressures to slow Brett.

What do the Vikings need to do offensively?
For the Vikings, Adrian Peterson has to have 100-plus yards this weekend if they are going to go to New Orleans and win this ballgame. It keeps the crowd down and it wears on that defensive front and those linebackers. It doesn't allow them to tee off and blitz as much as they want because they have to pay respect to Adrian Peterson because he'll break out at any moment. It slows down that pass rush and it allows the passing game to open up. It allows Brett to do what he does best, that play-action pass. Get him outside the pocket, find Sidney Rice one-on-one on the outside with some of those guys and it's a tough matchup.

The Saints won 45-14 last week against the Cardinals but it was really the quick start that provided the win. What does a fast start do for a home team?
Get the crowd into it, Drew Brees catches a rhythm, the defense feeds off their offense. It reminds me a lot of how we were in St. Louis. Our defense rolled off the momentum we set offensively. When you have a team that scores at will and that defense rallies behind you with the playmakers like (Jonathan) Vilma, (Darren) Sharper, they have all the cornerbacks back, (Will) Smith and all those guys that are coming off the ball. Those guys rally around that and it's loud, it's a tough place to win a ballgame. First and foremost, the Vikings can't allow New Orleans to get off to quick start.

The Vikings had the NFL's fifth-best defense in the regular season and were second against the run. That defensive line was really a factor last week in the 34-3 win over the Cowboys.
They can stop the run with the two men in the middle, Pat (Williams) and Kevin (Williams). Jared Allen is going to be around the ball. Number 91 (Ray Edwards) had a big game. Now he got hurt last week and I don't know if he will be the same. Their secondary is what it is, but that front four can get after you. Another guy that is playing really well up front for them is Jimmy Kennedy. What a job he is doing. You are talking about a guy that was a first-round draft pick at St. Louis when I was there, didn't really pan out, traveled around the league a little bit and lands there in Minnesota. He looks good and he is playing well. He had a sack last week. Now that gives those guys up front some legitimate rest time because you have another guy that is coming in and playing well. If they get after Drew Brees like they got after Tony Romo, then it will be a long day for New Orleans.

What makes the New Orleans offense so explosive? They don't have a lot of big names but they produce.
Drew Brees. Don't get me wrong, their receivers are good. (Marques) Colston had 1,000 yards and he's a Pro Bowler. (Robert) Meachem is a heck of a talent. (Devery) Henderson was a talent coming out of college and a guy that can run really fast. With (Jeremy) Shockey, Brees has a plethora of wideouts at his disposal. It kind of reminds you how Green Bay is. Sean Payton and their receivers coach do a good job of maximizing those guys and what they do well within their offense. It comes down to the main guy and that's Drew Brees and his ability to scan the football field and throw the ball to the open man. He doesn't throw the ball to the open man, he throws to spots. Guys run to spots and that is tough to defend when you have guys that can run like Colston, Meachem and Henderson. Drew Brees is the catalyst and makes the offense go because of his ability to run the offense efficiently. He knows the offense like the back of his hand and his ability to read coverages and throw the ball to the open man. He doesn't come out and look to the left where he is going to throw the ball. He comes out and scans the whole football field. Sometimes he might go one, two, three, four and all the way back to one. That is tough to defend and his offensive line gives him time to throw the ball. They put an emphasis on giving him time and giving him the ability to scan the field.

How do you see it playing out?
It's going to come down to both fronts. Can New Orleans manage Minnesota's defensive front and give Brees the time? Can New Orleans pressure Brett Favre and get him off his game? It's a tough one. This is a tougher one for me than the AFC. I am going to go with New Orleans at home for the simple fact that Brees is playing outstanding and that crowd is a problem. Saints, 27-20

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