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AFC DIVISIONAL PLAYOFFS

First Look: AFC Championship

January 11, 1999|HOUSTON MITCHELL

* How they got here: The Jets won the AFC East and defeated Jacksonville, 34-24, in a divisional playoff game; Denver won the AFC West and defeated Miami, 38-3, in a divisional playoff game.

* 1998 meetings: Did not play each other. The Broncos last played the Jets in 1996, a game won by Denver, 31-6. Denver leads the overall series, 13-12-1.

* About New York: The Jets have won seven in a row and finished the regular season on the kind of roll Coach Bill Parcells had with his best team--the 1986 Giants. But this team is more like Parcells' 1990 Giants--heady, gritty, and experienced. They even have three members of that team--offensive tackle Jumbo Elliott, linebacker Pepper Johnson and kick returner/third-down back Dave Meggett. "There are a lot of teams with a lot more talent than us," quarterback Vinny Testaverde said. "But it's hard to measure the heart and these guys have tremendous heart."

* About Denver: The Jets don't have the defense to stop all the elements of Denver's offense--Terrell Davis, John Elway, tight end Shannon Sharpe and wide receivers Ed McCaffrey and Rod Smith. Yes, Jet defensive coordinator Bill Belichick will devise some odd schemes, but Elway is too experienced to get thrown off balance. After two late-season losses, critics questioned whether the Broncos would survive their first playoff game against Miami. Denver silenced the doubters with an easy victory that eased apprehension outside and inside the locker room.

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

HOW THEY COMPARE

*--*

CATEGORY NYJ DEN Points scored 26.0 31.3 Points allowed 16.6 19.3 Rushing offense 117.4 154.3 Passing offense 239.8 226.5 Total offense 357.2 380.8 Rushing defense 103.7 80.4 Passing defense 190.0 228.0 Total defense 293.7 308.4

*--*

The Leaders

QUARTERBACKS: AVERAGE GAME

John Elway, Broncos: 19 for 32, 255 yards, 2 TDs

Vinny Testaverde, Jets: 20 for 33, 250 yards, 2.2 TDs

*

RUNNING BACKS: AVERAGE GAME

Terrell Davis, Broncos: 25 carries, 126 yards

Curtis Martin, Jets: 23 carries, 80 yards

*

RECEIVERS: SEASON STATISTICS

Rod Smith, Broncos: 86 receptions, 1,222 yards

Keyshawn Johnson, Jets: 83 receptions, 1,131 yards

Note: Statistics do not include playoffs

*

New York Jets (13-4) at Denver Broncos (15-2)

Sunday, 1 P.M.

TV: Channel 2

Radio: KNX (1070), XTRA (690)

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