Next weekend is Conference Championship Sunday. The Chicago Bears, Green Bay Packers, New York Jets and Pittsburgh Steelers are just one game away from playing in Super Bowl XLV. Chicago will host Green Bay in the NFC Championship Game and Pittsburgh will host New York in the AFC Championship Game.
I am going to recap the Divisional Playoffs to show how each team got there.
Green Bay traveled to the Georgia Dome and shocked the Atlanta Falcons. Aaron Rodgers I was really shocked to see him comfortable moving out of the pocket. He had 366 passing yards total without any interceptions. This coupled with a dominating performance from the defense that got 5 sacks and two interceptions (one was a touchdown) resulted in the Packers 48 – 21 victory over Atlanta and a trip to the NFC Championship Game. This is what happens when you have a hungry offense and experienced defense. To get to the Super Bowl Rodgers will have to stay focused and accurate. threw 3 touchdown passes and ran for one touchdown.
In the other NFC divisional game, the Seattle Seahawks’ luck ran out in Soldier Field. Yes, I said luck. They were lucky to win a division by only winning seven games. They were lucky to enter the playoffs with home-field advantage. They were lucky that the Saints did not take them serious. Yesterday it was clear from the beginning that the Seahawks were just out of their league, or should I say division. The defense could not stop Jay Cutler who threw two touchdowns and scored two touchdowns running. Chicago won, 35 – 24. Now they will stay at home to host their archrival, Packers, in the NCF Championship Game. To earn a trip to Dallas, Cutler will need to stay on his feet and the Bears will need to protect the football.
In the AFC, Baltimore disappointed their fans and surprised me. They started the game controlling both sides of the line of scrimmage. The offense and the defense made big plays. The funniest touchdown came from Cory Redding returning a fumble that all of the other guys thought was an incomplete pass. I’m still dumfounded by all of those guys standing around waiting for the whistle to be blown. Anyway, by halftime the Ravens were up 21 – 7, but after halftime it was the Steelers game. The Steelers defense only allowed Baltimore to get a field goal, while Ben “Big Ben” Roethlisberger got the offense going enough to get three touchdowns. They won, 31 – 24 and will host the AFC Championship Game. To win next week, they will need to do what they did during the second-half the entire game.
The other AFC matchup featured the team with the league’s best record getting embarrassed at home. The New England Patriots could not do anything against the New York Jets. A team that is known for being well-coached looked completely unprepared and made a ton of mistakes. Tom Brady could not get the offense going, threw his first interception since October and special teams seemed confused. The Patriot defense could not stop the Jets in the air or on the ground. The Jets defense really exposed Brady’s weakness. He is not comfortable leaving the pocket. When he did not have a passing option, he didn’t move. That is why he was sacked five times. Mark Sanchez did a great job leading the offense. Half of their touchdowns came from rushing and the other half came from passing. The Jets backed up all of the trash talk that their coach, Rex Ryan, put out and beat the Patriots 28 – 21 on the road. They are headed to Pittsburgh for the AFC Championship Game. To compete for the Lombardi Trophy they will have to play just as good against another rival and not get cocky. They had some bloopers yesterday that could have been costly. Receivers in the same area and backs bumping into teammates can’t happen next week if they want to be successful.
So who will come out victorious on Conference Championship Sunday? I say the visiting teams. Green Bay Packers and the New York Jets.
Green Bay will beat Chicago and become NFC Conference Champions because of their defense. Jay Cutler will not be able to survive five sacks and score the way he did against Seattle. Charles Woodson and Tramon Williams will force turnovers that will lead to points. The Packers will be packing for Dallas.
New York will overcome Pittsburgh to be AFC Conference Champions because of an explosive offense and tough defense. I know Steelers defense is synonymous with tough, but they are not going to stop Shonn Green, L.T. (LaDainian Tomlinson), Braylon Edwards and Santonio Holmes. Jets defense will be able to confuse the Steelers offense like they did against the Patriots. Big Ben will not go down as easy as Brady did, but he will be forced to throw. When he does, Antonio Cromartie and Darrelle Revis will be around to intercept. The Jets are going to the Super Bowl.
The Conference Championships are Sunday on CBS and FOX.
Green Bay Packers at Chicago Bears - Sunday, Jan. 23, 3:00 PM ET on FOX
New York Jets at Pittsburgh Steelers - Sunday, Jan. 23, 6:30 PM ET on CBS
Are you ready for some football???
Heels & Helmets®