NEW YORK JETS 20, PITTSBURGH STEELERS 17
Throw out conventional wisdom, throw out the stats and throw out everything else. I’ve come to believe it is simply the Jets year.
It is easy to make a statement like that when one is talking about a team as talented as the Jets are. They have the defense, they have the running game and they certainly have the intangibles to go to Pittsburgh and beat the Steelers.
Oh no, it won’t be easy. This will be another slug-it-out affair. But the Jets have shown they can slug it out with anyone and come out on top.
The biggest question is quarterback Mark Sanchez. Can he provide enough on the road against the Steelers’ defense? I’m not sure he can alone but I look at the Jets’ running game and defense and then I remember that Sanchez doesn’t have to do it all by himself.
He didn’t do a lot when the teams met in the regular season in Pittsburgh on December 20. Sanchez was 19-of-29 for 170 yards but he avoided making the big mistake and threw no interceptions. That in itself was huge.
The Jets scored the final 12 points of the game to win, 22-17. It wasn’t pretty, but then again, it often isn’t when we’re talking about the Jets. A lot of teams grind out wins in the playoffs, when defense and rushing attacks take center stage.
Both teams are talented. Both teams are tough. Both teams got to this point because they are really, really good. The Jets will spoil the Steelers’ party on Sunday.
A six seed to the Super Bowl? My sixth sense says absolutely. The Jets make their reservations for Super Bowl XLV.
GREEN BAY PACKERS 27, CHICAGO BEARS 24
The Aaron Rodgers Show has put the Packers on the verge of another Super Bowl appearance. The Green Bay quarterback has completed 49-of-63 passes (an astounding 77.8%) for 546 yards with six touchdowns and no interceptions this postseason.
Wow. In fact, those numbers are worthy of a double-wow.
Rodgers has led the Packers to road wins over Philadelphia and Atlanta. And Green Bay had to beat the Giants and Bears in the final two regular season games just to stay in the playoff hunt. So in effect, the Packers are playing their fifth playoff game this week.
They are showing no signs of slowing down.
It’s not realistic to expect the Packers to roll in this game. After all, the Bears are at home and they are relatively well-rested, having walked over the Seahawks last week after enjoying a bye the previous week.
Plus, Chicago’s defense is more than stout, giving up only 17.9 points per game in the regular season, 4th in the NFL.
But surprisingly, the Packers allowed only 15.0 points per game, second in the NFL. Green Bay has more than enough on that side of the ball to go to Chicago and beat the Bears.
Rodgers is a big-time player. And no one will deny him a place on the big stage of the Super Bowl this year.
As always, thanks for reading. I would love to get your predictions on this week’s conference championships.