We are now down to four teams. Which storylines will be most prominent on Sunday? Who has the upper hand in these games? And most importantly who will earn the right to play for the Vince Lombardi Trophy in Cowboys Stadium on February 6? These questions and more will be answered.
Packers @ Bears – Soldier Field 3:00 PM FOX
I have always said that a rivalry game changes everything. In those kinds of games, the winner is usually the team that commits the least amount of mistakes (aka turnovers). Even though this is a rivalry game I don’t think that will be the deciding factor. This will be Jay Cutler’s first real playoff game of his career. I say ‘real’ because Cutler took advantage of a bad defense last week. He will be facing a very good defense anchored by Clay Mathews. The offensive line has played well over the last couple of games after a rocky start. I don’t think it will mean much though. The Packers love to blitz and they will come after Cutler. This may cause him to make some arid throws that the Packer defense will take advantage of. Aaron Rodgers has played tremendous in his last two games bust the defense he plays is really good as well. Rodgers has to continue to play well if the Packers are to win. Urlacher and Briggs are too good to try to run the football, especially without a good one. This game will come down to one player I believe. Jay Cutler. Will his mistakes cost the Bears an NFC Title or will his great play lead the Bears to victory. Home field won’t be that big of a deal since both teams are accustomed in playing in cold weather so with that nearly neutralized, who will come out on top? I’m been flip-flopping on this match-up for a while now but I have come to a decision. Cutler just won’t make enough plays down the stretch and Mason Crosby’s right leg sends Green Bay to the Super Bowl. 24-21 Packers.
Jets @ Steelers – Heinz Field 6:30 PM CBS
Interesting matchup. This is not what I predicted would happen before the playoffs but it’s still fun. The Jets have trash talked their way to the AFC Title game. They faced two future Hall of Fame quarterbacks to get to this point. The only thing is they didn’t have to play a really good defense. This Steeler defense is really scary: Troy Polamalu is one of the best safeties in the NFL and he usually preys on young QBs. This can be bad news for Mark Sanchez as he has faced some easy defenses. Tomlinson and Greene will have problems as they face the league’s best rushing defense. Sanchez will have to win the game for the Jets in this one. Roethlisberger is always very solid and he has a plethora of weapons in Hines Ward, Mike Wallace and Heath Miller. Can the Jets defense clamp down on these guys? Revis already shut down Wayne and Branch and I see him having little to no problems against Ward. Cromartie is the Wildcard. If he can take out Mike Wallace, the Jets defense can stay strong. Ultimately I believe this game will come down to special teams. Can Cromartie be that playmaker in the return game? Who will control field position? And, will Shaun Suisham actually make a makeable field goal? In the end, I think Ben Roethlisberger will play well and get the victory for his team late in the 4th quarter. 20-13 Steelers.