Tuesday, January 18, 2011

NFL Playoffs: Conference Championship

AFC

New York Jets @ Pittsburgh Steelers - Sunday 6:30PM on CBS
Line - Pitt by 4

Week 15 - Jets 22 @ Steelers 17

How the Jets can win: Get after Ben Roethlisberger.  The Jets only use 3 defensive lineman but they will have to blitz Big Ben.  They cant let him sit in the pocket because he will find an open receiver or will run as he's extremely mobile for a man his size.  They brought the pressure last time they played in week 15 and they sacked him 3 times and forced him to fumble twice (both recovered by Steelers).  Big Ben managed to throw for 264 yards with a TD and no turnovers but he was only 23/44 passing.  If they can force the pressure again, who knows maybe they recover one of those fumbles or force him to make a bad pass that results in a pick.  Revis should hold Wallace or Ward in check, and Mendenhall shouldn't scare the Jets front 7, and if the Jets get their run game going early, Sanchez will be comfortable in the pocket.

How the Steelers can win: Force Sanchez to throw.  If the Steelers force the Jets to throw by shutting down their run game, they'll be in great shape to win this game.  The Steelers ranked #1 in run defense and should focus on shutting it down.  They love to blitz and bring pressure and if Sanchez is dropping back most of this game then they will get to him more than they did in week 15 (only 1 sack).  Sanchez is a good quarterback when the run is working but if the Jets become a pass first offense you will see the picks and mistakes piling up fast especially against guys like Troy Polamalu, James Harrison, Lawrence Timmons, James Farrior, Lamar Woodley.

LiLbRo's Prediction: The Jets have proved they can win on the road and have beat Peyton Manning and Tom Brady in back to back weeks.  However this will be different as they play the toughest defense in the league.  I don't expect much offense in this one as the defenses will determine the outcome in this game. Expect a low scoring game but the Steelers will have Troy Polamalu (missed week 15) this time around and should come out on top, 23-17.

KeithyP's Prediction: Rex Ryan has the Jets believing in themselves and that is what has been carrying this team thus far.  I believe in the Jets now as well after watching Shaun Ellis avoid 4 on 1 blocking and sack Brady twice and holding the high powered Patriots to only 3 points in the first half.  The Steelers deep threats will pose a problem for the Cromartie and Co. but Revis will shut down Ward, and force Mike Wallace and Antonio Brown to make HUGE plays stretching the field.  Look for Santonio Holmes to have the best game of his career(minus the Superbowl).  Jets advance to the Superbowl with a 24 - 20 victory. 


NFC

Green Bay Packers @ Chicago Bears -3:00PM on Fox
Line - Packers by 4


Week 3 - Packers 17 @ Bears 20
Week 17 - Bears 3 @ Packers 10

How the Packers can win: Aaron Rodgers.  The Packers who have been very inconsistent all year with their run game will face the #2 ranked run defense Sunday.  In the two games they played the Bears this year, they failed to rush for more than 63 yards in either game, so if they want to win this game, Aaron Rodgers will have to be as good as he's been so far this playoffs.

How the Bears can win: Run the ball and stop Rodgers.  The Bears are going to need a good game from Matt Forte as they should look to run the ball and let the clock tick down, limiting Rodgers chances to put points on the board.  If the Bears run the ball effectively it will help Cutler be more productive as he can do it with his arm and legs as we saw last week against the Seahawks. 

LiLbRo's Prediction:  Its very simple, if the Bears can contain Rodgers and force mistakes they will win this game, but the way Rodgers is playing I don't see any defense stopping him and all of his weapons (Jennings, Driver, Jones, Nelson).  Rodgers leads the Packers to the Super Bowl beating the Bears 27-21.

KeithyP's Prediction: The Packers are clearly the better of the two teams and should not have to much trouble beating the Bears.  Aaron Rodgers is playing unbelievable football right now, and Jay Cutler is bound to throw 2 or 3 interceptions.  It will be cold and windy, but Green Bay fans should start buying tickets to Superbowl in warm Dallas, Texas.  Packers win 28-20.
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