Friday, January 21, 2011

Conference Championship Predictions

I didn't post my division round predictions, due to my horrendous 1-3 predictions in the Wild Card Round, I figure that I would stick to talking about the Giants. However, my predictions are back because of popular demand. By popular demand, I mean one of my closest friends got upset that I didn't post predictions last week. Anyway, here is how I see Championship Sunday going down.

Jets @ Steelers

In Week 12, the Jets beat the Steelers 22-17. Many call it luck, since they didn't have Pro Bowl safety Troy Polamalu. Speaking of safeties, Jason Taylor's tackle on Mewelde Moore in the end zone for two points, certainly helped seal the team by forcing Ben Roethlisberger to score a touchdown instead of settling for a field goal, since the Steelers were able to move the ball all the way to the Jets' 10 yard line, but were unable to punch it in. I'd also probably call it luck, but teams need a lot of luck to make it this far and the Jets have done a great job making their own luck this season. Of course, it's pretty simple to make your own luck with that defense.

By looking at the game against the Ravens, I'd say that the Steelers did not do a good job at preparation during the week. They fell behind very early, and were just barely able to recover. That's not a habit they want to fall into, falling 21-7 at half-time. If they keep doing that, it is sure to catch up with them quickly. That being said, they made the proper adjustments at half-time and found a way to limit the Ravens to just 3 points in the 3rd and 4th quarters. If they do that against the Jets, they will be difficult to beat.

By going by the numbers, the Jets have a strong defense, but the Steelers have a stronger one as they rank 1st in most defensive categories. This game favors the Steelers, but weren't the Patriots and Colts highly favored in the previous two games? I see the Jets barely coming out on top of this one, but the one thing I'll have to watch out for is the intensity. Last week seemed like the AFC Championship game for the Jets against the Patriots, but they need to keep it up for this week as well.

Prediction: Jets 16 Steelers 14

Packers @ Bears

Some people feel that the Packers are the best 6th seed of all-time. It's tough to argue with that one. How many 6th seeds have a quarterback like Aaron Rodgers and a defensive player like Clay Matthews? Brett Favre retires, so the Packers will spend decades trying to find a replacement much like the Dolphins with Marino and the 49ers with Young, right? Wrong! It took about a few minutes for the Packers to find their replacement. It might be a small sample size, but Aaron Rodgers has the highest career passer rating of all-time.

Sure, I would talk about Aaron Rodgers all day, but that would be disrespecting the NFC's top defense. It's not just about Clay Matthews and his 13.5 sacks or A.J. Hawk's 111 tackles. It's abut the conference's top defense with 11 defensive players on IR, including Nick Barnett, who has had over 100 tackles every year in which he has healthy.

It's hard to imagine the Bears being the #2 seed in the NFC while the Packers having the 6th seed when comparing the two teams. Aaron Rodgers in an elite quarterback, while Jay Cutler has been known to make quite a few mistakes (49 turnovers in the last two seasons) and gets sacked a lot (52). The Bears biggest strength is their defense, but Green Bay is stronger in that area. The Chicago Bears are not a bad team by any means, but the Packers seem to be stronger in almost all areas of the game, even though I see this game being decided by less than a touchdown. The Packers should come out on top of this one, but I expect the Bears to keep it close.

Prediction: Packers 27 Bears 21

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