It's not exactly deja vu all over again, but it's close.
Sunday's Jets / Colts championship match-up should re-kindle memories of Super Bowl III, the grand-daddy of all pro football upsets.
In 1969, they seemed to be the unbeatable Colts; everyone's pick to replace Lombardi's Packers as the standard bearer of the old guard NFL. Led by MVP quarterback Earl Morrall, the Colt running game was versatile (Matte) and receiver corps top notch (Mackey / Orr / Richardson).
The Jets earned their spot in SB III by defeating the defending AFL champion Oakland Raiders behind the leadership of spirited young QB Joe Namath. The backfield tandem of Boozer and Snell was bruising, while Sauer and Maynard were sure-handed and swift.
And just as Rex Ryan is forecasting a win this time around, Namath boldly guaranteed a victory over Don Shula's mighty Colts.
But unlike the underdog 1969 Jets, who, apart from AFL loyalists, weren't given a snowball's chance in Hades, the 2010 Jets are getting a whole lotta' love from Tri-State media.
In fact, you'd think Rex Ryan was the second coming of Lombardi given the laudatory tone of many in the press. Granted, Rex does descend from valuable football lineage in his father Buddy who was DC for both the 1969 Jets and 1986 Bears. But if I hear one more time how "players take on the personality of their coach," I think I'm gonna' be ill.
And unlike Ewbank's bunch, the current Jets won't surprise anyone, least of all the Colts.
Contrary to grumblings of NFL elite and conspiracy theorists, the surprise outcome of SB III was less a result of mistake-prone Earl Morrall and more the product of a poised and highly-skilled AFL champion. The Jets were laden with talent on both sides and guided by football savvy men.
The 1968 pre-season gave a glimpse of what was in store. Plain and simple, the AFL had become the better League. The NFL was one step slow. Had Lombardi retired in 1966, Hank Stram's Chiefs and Tom Landry's Cowboys would've made Super Bowl I a real barn-burner.
Here are my top five reasons why the Colts won't need Johnny Unitas to beat these upstart Jets and win the 2010 AFC championship:
5) Home field and home cookin'
4) Colts have a chip on their shoulder and something to prove (Week 16)
3) Rex Ryan is not Weeb Ewbank (Paul Brown aide, SB III victor & 1958-59 NFL titles)
2) Peyton Manning
1) Mark Sanchez is not Joe Namath