Posts Tagged ‘Jets AFC championship’

The sun never shines for opponents on Revis Island

Some say the conference championship games are better than the Super Bowl itself, and I tend to agree.

This season we have a couple of classics to look forward to, minus Tom Brady, Brett Favre or Peyton Manning.

With the exception of Ben Roethlisberger we are looking at the possibility of two quarterbacks facing each other in their inaugural Vince Lombardi trophy contest.

I have even booked the Monday off work so I can stay up until the early hours to watch every play of both games.

I have always loved NFC and AFC championship day, and I have many many fond memories of some outstanding contests at the semi-final stage. Games like the 49ers v Giants when Joe Montana was knocked into another world, the Bills murdering the Oakland Raiders 51-3 (if I recall) and the Redskins reaching Super Bowl XXII on the back of a Darrell Green end zone deflection.

NFC Championship – Packers @ Bears

Back in September 2010 I predicted that the Green Bay Packers would make the NFC Championship – as the home team. Aaron Rodgers looked good in 2009 and it was inevitable that he was on the career path travelling in an ascending pattern.

In no way did I see the Chicago Bears as the team that would be the highest seed remaining in the NFC. The knock on the Bears was the rather hotchpotch wide receiver corps, the immaturity of Jay Cutler and the fact Brian Urlacher was coming of a major injury.

As it turned out the bitter divisional rivals have both had extremely productive seasons, with the Packers playing the better playoff football, and here we are with two 12 win teams playing for the right to represent the NFC in Dallas.

Gotta love the fact that the Bears only previous Super Bowl winning MVP is gonna be at Soldier Field tonight as an honorary captain. This sure is one game where the Bears could use the punch packed by their 85 compatriots.

Keys to the game

  • Can the Bears establish the run? For the Bears to keep this one close they are going to have to keep the pigskin away from the red-hot Aaron Rodgers, and this means a large dose of Matt Forte and a decent cameo from former Viking Chester Taylor.
  • Can the Bears use the speed of Johnny Knox and Devin Hester? Speed kills, and the Bears combo of Knox and Hester are hard to outrun in an open field. The pair lack consistency and that is their big downfall. You would not want to start either in your fantasy team, but one slip or one missed tackle and they could be blazing up the field for an 80 yard score.
  • Can the Packers get pressure on Jay Cutler? We all know about the Giants nailing Cutler more times than a carpenter on double-time, but the Bears learnt from that game and the offensive line is now much improved, if not by personnel but definitely by technique. The Packers love blitzing safeties or even Charles Woodson, but this will no longer be a surprise. It comes down to the likes of B.J. Raji getting pressure or not.
  • Can the Packers play balanced offensive football? The Packers went out and whipped the Falcons last week. The game turned on the late second quarter pick six, or we would likely be talking about Matty Ice right now. The Pack love to pass pass pass, but they need to run the ball 25 times to win this game.

Prediction – A lot lower scoring than many will anticipate, both defenses will outplay their offensive counterparts, and this will result in a tense contest that will come down to a Robbie Gould field goal for the late win – Packers 19-20 Bears – Game MVP Matt Forte – 125 combined yards and a TD.

To buy an Aaron Rodgers Reebok shirt direct from England click here

AFC Championship Jets @ Steelers

The only team to return to the conference championship game this season is the New York Jets, a team that has made more enemies this year than Darth Vader on a Sunday morning with a hangover. The Jets have the spirit of Namath with them, having turned old-fashioned confidence into 21st century swagger.

The Steelers have been there, done that, got the t-shirt and can sit there admiring each of their six Vince Lombardi trophies, two of which they earned under the leadership of big Ben Roethlisberger and the Peter Pan of the NFL Hines ‘the smiler’ Ward. The Steelers have stepped into the AFC Championship game thanks to some fantastic adjustments executed to perfection in the second half of their game against the team I thought would win it all, the Baltimore Ravens.

Heinz Meanz Beanz Field will be full of raucous Steelers fans waving their yellow terrible towels, and for all NFL fans in England we will have to suffer the biased presenting of Steelers fan and presenter Nick Halling, who will no doubt be wearing the same stinky old black suit, black shirt and yellow tie.

Keys to the game

  • Can the Jets offensive line limit the damage caused by the Steelers pass rush? Its not a case of the Big Apple offensive line completely preventing the likes of Woodley and Harrison from getting to Mark Sanchez, it’s a case of damage limitation. Jets will not stop the attack, but they can slow the pressure down. That and the fact Tony Richardson will take on and block anyone – even Andre the Giant with Troy Polamalu on his shoulders.
  • Can the Jets shut down the explosive Mike Wallace? Simple answer is yes. Revis Island is a destination that no one wants to visit but wide outs end up arriving at the same destination week after week. Revis will blanket his side of the field and this will leave a huge battle between Antonio Cromartie and his own demons.
  • Can the Steelers get the ball to Heath Miller? The tight end will be one of the keys to this game, as he always seems to show up for Big Ben when it matters the most. Hines Ward is slowing down and Randle El as a slot back scares nobody. Miller is one of the top red-zone threats and whilst he may disappear in games, he knows the fundamentals of blocking and catching and most importantly how to win football games.
  • Can the rookie Steelers C Maurkice Pouncey show his team mates how to block? Pouncey has played like an All Pro all season long, but that cannot be said of Pittsburgh’s entire offensive line who have either been inconsistent or injured. Pouncey is looking to become the new Jeff Saturday, an indestructible force that makes his somewhat average ranked team mates play better. The weaknesses at guard and tackle for the Steelers could be fatal today.

Prediction – The Jets simply want this game more, and like wolves needing to feed to survive, they will hunt down Big Ben and the Steelers until they have had their full feed. There to stop the Jets will be the one man Tasmanian devil Troy Polamalu, with all his hair and his hitting. The Jets simply have the bodies that can match up to the Steelers, and providing Mark Sanchez stays cool then we will witness the birth of swagger. Jets 23-19 Steelers – MVP Shonn Greene with over 100 yards rushing (including breaking one for over 30 yards).

To buy a Mark Sanchez Reebok shirt direct from England click here

So I have a New York Jets v Chicago Bears Super Bowl – the two underdogs today.

What do you think of my prediction and who are you rooting for?

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Well it’s that time of year, when we get two stunning contests between the cream of the NFL. God I love the conference championship games, and this season we have two intriguing contest between four very different teams.

AP has been quiet in January but next will be his crowning glory against the Saints

The Indianapolis Colts and the New Orleans Saints have shone throughout the season and are the #1 seeds respectively, with the Minnesota Vikings looking good all round and the New York Jets acting out a Disney sports movie script.

I have done a TO and got the popcorn ready, as well as some alcoholic ginger beer (lovely) and some chips and dips. Ok I’ll look like death warmed up in the morning but lets hope its gonna be worth it.

My predicting skills have been pretty average in the playoffs as I have got 5 out of 8 correct so far.

Here goes with my conference championships predictions;

NFC CHAMPIONSHIP – Vikings @ Saints

This game is not exactly your traditional NFC championship, where defense dominates and the score finishes 13-10.

Minnesota and New Orleans are explosive high-powered offensive led teams with lots of talent across the field.

Both play in a Dome, both rely on young studs with speed, agility and soft hands, and both have quarterbacks that are grizzled veterans who both deserve to be playing in the Superbowl for what they have done this season.

This game has all the makings of a wild west shootout, with Brett Favre looking to take the Vikings to a place they haven’t been since Fran Tarkenen and the Purple People Eaters reached four Superbowls in the 1970s (losing all four).

Favre has shown that he can both play disciplined football and also air it our when he needs to, and he has turned Sidney Rice into a megastar, in a way that I suspect Sage Rosenfels or Tavaris Jackson would not have been able to in 2009.

Adrian Peterson has been strangely quiet in the second half of the season and has quite remarkably gone a little under the radar. This I think will all change in the NFC Championship as Peterson will show some of those jaw dropping skills that made him the most exciting rookie since Barry Sanders.

The Saints will simply be unable to bottle up Peterson for 60 minutes, and that my friends will be the difference in the game.

Defensively the Vikings are a remarkable unit up front, with Jared Allen, Kevin Williams and Pat Williams in the middle and the on-fire Ray Edwards at the other end.  This is a front four that should have helped a team to reach a Superbowl by now, and they will have to be tackling for their lives against the eel like Reggie Bush, and the the powerful and speedy Pierre Thomas.

The Saints D is led by veteran safety Darren Sharper, who has had an Ed Reed type season, picking off passes and being in the right place at the right time far too many times for it just to be luck or coincidence. Former Jet LB Jonathan Vilma is playing the best football of his life, and underrated pro’s such as Will Allen and linebackers Scott Fujita and Scott Shanle deserve to win today for their consistent effort on a team that has not always been this good.

X-Factors = The obvious x-factors in this game are Reggie Bush for the Saints and Percy Harvin the electric rookie WR for the Vikings.

Thing is I don’t like obvious, and I will instead look at some lesser known players that could be the difference between a trip home and a trip to Miami….

Saints TE David Thomas – With Jeremy Shockey not 100% Martin could be asked to catch 5 or more passes, and this could include in the redzone

Vikings RB Chester Taylor – Taylor has been a passenger in the Viking sailboat that has plundered and pillaged the NFL this season, leaving him fresh for this game. He is the best pass catching back on the team and could break a catch in the backfield and turn it into six huge points.

Prediction – Vikings 33-30 Saints – MVP Adrian Peterson 131 yards rushing and 3 touchdowns

AFC CHAMPIONSHIP – Jets @ Colts

Everyone loves an underdog and the New York Jets , who snuck into the playoffs on the back of the Colts decision to rest their starters in Week 17, are going to have a lot of neutral fans rooting for them. Only problem is Rex Ryan and the Jets don’t consider themselves underdogs, and that positive mentality has willed the Big Apple warriors to the AFC Championship game.

The Colts on the other hand are doing what they always do, winning 12 or more regular season games with relative ease, and without a mind-blowing running game. The last time the Colts won a Superbowl they did it with a precision passing game and a combination of Joesph Addai and Dominic Rhodes in the backfield (sometimes both on the field at the same time). Not much has changed, Addai still has a partner, but this time he is the veteran and Donald Brown is the rookie who knows no better.

Peyton Manning does not need much of a description here, just look in a dictionary for the definition of an All Pro QB and Manning’s face will be there.

Marvin Harrison is gone at WR, but in his place are Austin Collie and Pierre Garcon, who have both stepped up when needed and have helped catapult the Colts to a championship game.

The Jets have won games the way they used to be won, with a big nasty offensive line and a running game that gives opposition DCs nightmares. The combination of ‘the most underrated RB in NFL history’ Thomas Jones, and rookie rocket pack Shonn Greene, is pretty much perfect, and FB Tony Richardson is one of the best in his position in the past 30 years.

New York will go into this game with a rookie under center, and unfortunately this will be the game that brings Mark Sanchez crashing down to earth. It’s not that Sanchez can’t move the ball or pass accurately, its just that Robert Mathis and Dwight Freeney will be more pumped up than the world’d biggest hot air balloon.

We all know that Darelle Revis the Jets CB should have been voted NFL Defensive MVP this season, and we also know that he will do an outstanding job tracking whoever will dare to matchup with him. It’s the rest of the Jets corners that I have bigger issues with.

X-Factors =This comes down to the Jets offense being able to move the ball and the Colts defense showing that their game last week was no fluke.

Colts – Defensive tackles Antonio Johnson and Daniel Muir are pretty much unknown outside of Indy, but they hold the key to this game. If they can hold the Jets running game it could be a long night for Sanchez.

Jets – WR Braylon Edwards. Yes Edwards has had a lot of stick recently for dropping passes, but he has the talent, the speed and the desire to show why he was an early first round pick by the Cleveland Browns. Edwards, if he is given the opportunity by the play calling, could surprise all NFL fans with a monster game.

Prediction – Colts 26-16 Jets – MVP Peyton Manning 289 yards and 2 touchdowns.

Mark Sanchez is the new Cinderella with some facial hair

He may be a playboy but to me Mark Sanchez is a big girl.

What! you may say, how can I call a rookie quarterback who is 60 minutes away from playing in the Superbowl a big girl?

Well he is wearing a rather frilly dress and has had his hair done up like a freaky deep-South beauty pageant because Sanchez is the Cinderella story of this season’s NFL playoffs.

Not that I didn’t predict it. I have predicted the J-E-T-S to win their last two playoff games – two away games in the cold of Ohio and the sunshine of California.

Regardless of the Jets record entering the playoffs when you have the number one defense and the number one running game and relatively few injuries, you stand a damm good chance of advancing in the quagmire that is the playoffs.

I am less concerned about Sanchez’s play in the AFC Championship on Sunday than the ability of one of his wideouts to catch his laser passes.

Braylon Edwards is for some odd reason looking like a rookie, despite the fact he has been to a Pro Bowl and can win games with his speed and agility.

I’ll do a bigger preview of the NFC and AFC Championship games later this week but for now I am just glad that the Jets caused an upset as the rest of the playoff games were not exactly exciting.

Lets just hope the Superbowl slipper fits Mr Sanchez’s plates of meat this weekend.