In the penultimate week of the NFL's regular season Indianapolis Colts, unbeaten and qualified for the play-offs, took their best players off at half-time against New York Jets. Ahead 15-10, they reasoned that a fully fit team was more valuable than a record-breaking one. They lost the game and their 100 per cent status.
That wilful concession was repeated by the Bengals, enabling the Jets to sneak into the play-offs. The Bengals' safety-first policy rebounded big time as the Jets beat them again in the wild-card game, and last week the Jets edged out second seeds San Diego. Now the Colts' worst nightmare looms – losing the AFC Conference Championship to a team to whom they gifted a play-off place.
Omens apart, the match-up is between the Colts' quarterback Peyton Manning and the Jets' smothering defence. The Colts beat the Ravens 20-3 last week but Manning was lucky that two interceptions came to nothing. If the Jets' pass-rushers can get to Manning they can grind out another win – £10 at 3-1, Bet 365.
In the NFC Championship, New Orleans Saints welcome Minnesota Vikings. Both had big wins last week and respective quarterbacks Drew Brees and veteran Brett Favre threw multiple touchdowns. But the Vikings' defensive line was gruesomely impressive, restricting Dallas to three points – £10 win Vikings at 17-10, Ladbrokes.
There's an early start for Super League XV next week and I'm going again with Warrington Wolves for the regular season – £10 at 12-1, Betfred.
*Three defeats reduced our NFL play-off record to four for eight. But England's fourth Test collapse landed the series draw odds for a £33 profit.Reuse content