AFC Championship: 6th New York Jets (13-5) @ 2nd Pittsburgh Steelers (13-4)
The Jets have compiled an impressive post season resume thus far, sending of the NFL's most recognizable faces home in Peyton Manning and the Colts, as well as Tom Brady at the Patriots. And now, New York is after Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers. One thing Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez needed to do was avoid the rush and make quick decisions. He has looked off at times with high, errant passes, but has taken care of business when it mattered most. But the Steelers prefer to play when the game is on the line, as evident in nearly all of the playoff games in recent memory. The difference here is in the Steelers pass rush. Indianapolis and New England could not hurry Sanchez well enough. He settled in nicely, but the Steelers have allowed no quarterback that kind of conformability. The Jets may have one of the best blocking units in the league, b ut Pittsburgh sporadically gets slowed down by anyone.
PIT 26 NYJ 14
NFC Championship: 6th Green Bay Packers (12-6) @ 3rd Chicago Bears (12-5)
There is no way around it: Jay Cutler must have a quality outing for the Bears to advance to the Super Bowl. The Bears may have a premium defense, but they, as a team, struggle when the team puts the game on their defense's shoulders. The Packers may have the most balanced defense in the entire NFL; one where the sky is the limit, and maybe not even that. From takeaways, to sacks, to big stops, Green Bay features a little bit of everyone. The ex factor that could put the Bears over the hump is Devin Hester; but the ice solid turf could hamper his effectiveness.
GRN 29 CHB 24
Random Thought: If the Packers and Jets end up in the Super Bowl, to my knowledge, it would be the first Super Bowl ever where each of the 6th seeds played in the big dance. Stop me if I am wrong, but after a few hours of Super Bowl history 101, I could not find a similar case. Wouldn't that be something!