Okay … who among you is not pondering the conference title games this very moment? Raise your hands. Okay, please go stand in the corner … you’re officially on football fan probation. Meanwhile, the rest of us will offer opinions, insights, predictions on what might happen Sunday.
NFC Championship — Packers vs Bears:
As a Bears fan, it’s still hard to believe that they’re actually playing in this game, let alone hosting it at Soldier Field. (See … one of my Christmas wishes came true!). Chas doubts the Bears can win this game, the Nation doubts the Bears can win this game … heck, even I wouldn’t predict a Bears win.
What do the Packers have going for them? Aaron Rodgers appears to be on top of his game … and he’s got severe game … probably the most talented QB in football right now. He trumps Cutler and may trump the Bears defense given his ability to escape and pass on the run … nobody does it better. The Packers defense is also formidable and I expect them to have Jay Cutler on the run … and that usually doesn’t end well for the Bears.
As for “my team”, what do they have going for them? First of all, they believe they can win. They beat the Packers in Soldier Field early on (GB did not play well) and they hung with them in Lambeau at season’s end which was a “must win” for GB. Secondly, the game is at Soldier Field … not a huge benefit to the Bears in this one, but it’s tons better than being on the road. Third, Devin Hester … who always seems to make a big play or two in big games. And if it comes down to kicking, Robbie “Good as” Gould is one our side. Lastly, Lovie Smith … warts and all … seems to have succcess vs the Packers.
I think this will be a back and forth slugfest. Bears will need to win the TO battle to make it close in the end and Julius Peppers will have to have a MONSTER game. Bears will need to have balance on offense and gain around 100 yards rushing, fully utilizing the talents of Matt Forte. However, my brain says that not all these things will happen and it won’t be enough. Packers 26 Bears 20. HOPE I’M WRONG !!
AFC Championship — Jets vs Steelers:
J-E-T-S … JETS! JETS! JETS! … will lose. And it bums me to say that, too. I just can’t see the Steelers getting beat in a game like this at Heinz Field. They are battle-tested … this ain’t their first rodeo!
In many ways, this mirrors the NFC game. The Jets are the team who believes … and they’re coming off a stunning upset against New England. They have a GREAT secondary and pretty good defense overall. BUT … can they stop Pittsburgh’s grunt it out-push you around running game? I say “not enough”. Sanchez has played pretty well in the playoffs thus far, but I think he’s gonna have to pull a Namath out of his hat to win this one. And I just don’t see it happening on the road, in Pittsburgh … one of the best home-field advantages in the NFL. Furthermore, Big Ben is CLUTCH in games like this.
I’d love to see the Jets win this … underdog, Cinderella story and all … but I’m afraid the fairy tale comes to a crashing end in Pittsburgh Sunday … unless they win the turnover battle by a +2 or so. The Steelers power game, home field and great defense will rule the day … Steelers 20 Jets 17.
So what do the Pinesters say? You guys on probation can return to your seats now … I expect high levels off class participation.
Enjoy the games … hope everyone has a great weekend. And last but not least … GO BEARS ! 🙂