Friday, January 21, 2011
NFC-AFC Championship Preview
NFC Championship: Green Bay Packers @ Chicago Bears
It's take three of this year's chapter of the longest, most storied rivalry in NFL history, and the game shouldn't disappoint. Far too many people are undervaluing the Bears, expecting another Packers clinic. The fact of the matter is few defenses are as well equipped to slow down the Packers' offense than the Monsters of the Midway. When one takes into account the Chicago Bears' season since their bye week, it's obvious they've made leaps and bounds of improvement, putting together an impressive resume. Since week 8, the Bears have only lost to the Patriots and a close game to none other than the Green Bay Packers.
Although Soldier Field provides a considerable home field advantage, I have to give the edge to the Packers and Aaron Rodgers. He has been incredibly impressive during these playoffs against two very good teams. The Packers are getting hot at the right time and have been able to compensate for injuries early in the season. Rodgers has been methodical in picking apart coverages and I expect his success to continue in a heated rivalry which is yet again a must win situation for both teams. Jay Cutler is probably the worst quarterback out of the final four, however Mark Sanchez has proved that you don't have to actually be good to take your team deep in the playoffs. The difference between Sanchez and Cutler is that while Sanchez will throw the ball 10 yards over everyone's head or at their feet, Cutler will gun it right into the hands of about four DBs. That will be the difference.
Packers win a close one, 21-17
AFC Championship: New York Jets @ Pittsburgh Steelers
As someone who has had a man-crush on LT and seething hatred of the Steelers for as long as I can remember, this is the game I'm looking forward to the most. This is yet another rematch of a close game from late in the season, and while it doesn't have the history of Chicago-Green Bay, the rivalry is certainly present. When the Jets won in week 15, the Steelers were missing key weapons on both sides of the ball in Heath Miller and Troy Polomalu. Their presence will make a huge difference in the game and create a challenge for the Jets. It is imperative that LT and Shonn Greene have a good day running the ball to put the offense in manageable third down situations. It is also imperative that Sanchez not make any mistakes and manage the game. Any opportunities the Steelers get, they will capitalize on. Ben Roethlisberger is beyond clutch in the postseason, creating plays where they would appear to not exist. But he is not invincible, and the Jets defense is playing lights-out right now.
At the onset, it would appear the Steelers have a sizable advantage, but this will not be the first time in these playoffs that everyone has counted the Jets out. The Jets are playing with passion and fire, as evident in Bart Scott's postgame rant last weekend. Such emotion is an enormous weapon, especially in the game of football. Also comments made by Steelers WR, Mike Wallace, this week give me the feeling that the Jets are in the Steelers' heads. Might I add, nobody wants or deserves a trip to the Superbowl more than Ladainian Tomlinson, and he's playing like it right now. It's going to be a dogfight, but I'm taking my Jets in this one in a close, hard fought game.
Jets win, 14-13
Thanks for reading! Tune in Monday for my recap of the two games.