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NFL Conference Championship Matchups Breakdown

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NFL Conference Championship Matchups Breakdown

Sorry for the mess up last week. There was a mix-up and my Seahawks–Bears and Jets-Patriots picks weren’t in the article. Unfortunately I picked the Seahawks and Patriots to win, so I went 1-3 on last weekend’s playoff picks and I’m 3-5 for the entire postseason.

Packers @ Bears

Matchup

The Packers and Bears are the oldest rivals in the NFL. They have played each other 181 times but have met in only one playoff game against each other,  in 1941 which the Bears won 33-14. The Bears came into the season under the radar and were being predicted to finish 3rd in their division and not make the playoffs. The team must have taken offense to this because they finished the year 11-5 and won their division. The Packers were many experts’ preseason Super Bowl picks, but after starting 3-3 and losing multiple key players to injuries early on their Super Bowl aspirations seemed to be fading. However, the Packers bounced back strong and finished the season 7-3 and snuck into the playoffs as the 6th seed.

What to Watch For

Watch the quarterback play for both teams. Aaron Rodgers, the Packers’ QB, has proven he is the most dangerous quarterback in the league by averaging a 134.5 QB rating in his two playoff games this year, including a 31 for 35, 366 yards, and 3 touchdowns performance over the Falcons last Saturday. Watch to see if his hot streak continues against the Bears’ 20th ranked pass defense, because if it does the Packers will be nearly impossible to beat. The Bears QB, Jay Cutler, has improved greatly this year from last year. He’s thrown 10 fewer interceptions and has improved his QB rating from 76.8 to 86.3. He played a very good game against the Seahawks and made very few, if any, mistakes. Cutler has, however, been known to make big mistakes and throw costly interceptions in big games. He’ll be playing a much tougher pass defense with the 5th ranked Packers compared to the 27th ranked Seahawks he faced last Sunday. It will be interesting to see if we get the mistake-prone Cutler we used to know or the cool and collected Cutler we’ve seen for most of this year.

Prediction

Packers- 28, Bears- 17. Aaron Rodgers tears apart another defense and the Packers book their tickets to Dallas. Peer predictions-

Cole Brewer ’13- Packers- 21, Bears- 17.

Connor Davis ’11- Packers- 27, Bears- 24.

Hockey Coach Mark Campbell (Faculty) – Packers- 33, Bears- 17.

Jets @ Steelers

Matchup

After pulling off the stunning upset by beating the Patriots, the Jets come into this week with even more confidence than ever before. The trash talking team survived their hated rival and lives on to face the Steelers. The Steelers have the best defense in the league and are coming off a comeback victory against the Ravens, so they have plenty of confidence too. Both teams come in as strong defensive teams, but both have offensives that are explosive enough to win a Super Bowl. The Steelers have deep threat Mike Wallace who Roethlisberger loves to throw to for the homerun. The Jets have Braylon Edwards and Santonio Holmes who are known for their acrobatic catches and they have LaDainian Tomlinson and Shonn Greene leading their ground attack which ranked 4th in the league this season.

What to Watch For

Watch the pass protection by each team in this matchup. The Jets had 5 sacks last week against the Patriots veteran group of offensive lineman while the Steelers had 5 sacks of their own against the Ravens. Both defensive coordinators are blitz-happy and aren’t afraid of sending the heat at any time. The Steelers lead the league in sacks this season with 48 while the Jets tie for 8th with 40. I suspect that the team that gets more pressure on the quarterback will win this matchup.

Prediction

Jets- 21, Steelers- 20. The Jets rally behind Rex Ryan and his trash talking once again and meet the Packers in the Super Bowl. Peer predictions-

J.D. Feist ’13- Steelers- 24, Jets- 10.

Matt Kenkel ’12- Steelers- 21, Jets- 14.

Nick Timmer ’11- Steelers- 21, Jets- 10