Casual Friday 1/21

by Wally

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 !   🙂

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14 Responses to "Casual Friday 1/21"

  1. Crossword Pete   January 21, 2011 at 1:28 pm

    Hard to believe, yet not hard to believe, that Bears and Packers have only met one other time in post season. Yet, when you play in the same division, post season match-ups just don’t occur often, especially when the long time rivals take turns being competitive. Nevertheless, it’s a match-up made for us old timers/traditionalists.
    As to predictions: home teams prevail.
    That turf at Soldier Field will neutralize Aaron Rodgers by neutralizing his receivers and Peppers big game will be the result of the attention GB pays him, thereby freeing up others to wreak havoc on the Pack.
    As to AFC, Big Ben will be more capable than Sanchez of getting enough points on the board to win. Besides, Rex Ryan was unable to do any trash talking this week to take pressure off his players by putting the pressure squarely on him. Like Wally, I hope I am wrong on this one, but this is how I am calling it.

  2. Wally   January 21, 2011 at 1:45 pm

    Wow, Pete, glad to see the Bears get a vote of confidence from you! Now I’d like to see a few others. I certainly won’t be shocked if they win the game … just pleasantly surprised. (And they’ve pleasantly surprised me all season … why stop now?) And, of course the, last several weeks have shown us that ANYTHING can happen … Seattle over NO and then Jets over NE as exhibits A & B. That’s why we bother to play the games. 🙂

  3. Chas   January 21, 2011 at 2:26 pm

    It’s going to be an FU Favre Super Bowl: Packers-Jets…both much better off without him!

  4. Crash   January 21, 2011 at 2:52 pm

    I concur with you Chas…Sanchez vs. Rodgers…So.Cal. vs. No.Cal.
    I think Jets go all the way ! As long as it’s not Pittsburgh I’m happy !

  5. Dan   January 21, 2011 at 3:01 pm

    Stat to ponder… Everyone has been praising how “amazing” Rodgers is…

    In 6 career games against Da Bears, Aaron Rodgers has only had a QB rating over 100 once. That was his first start ever vs. Da Bears back in 2008. Hasn’t had one since…

    Do Da Bears have Rodgers figured out, or will he have another week like last??

  6. bill ribas   January 21, 2011 at 5:05 pm

    Well, my hand is raised and I’m in the corner. I figure Jets-Packers, so I’m not pondering at all. My Sunday is booked anyway, so I won’t see much if any of either game (kid stuff and playing a charity benefit gig), so I’m not losing any sleep over it.

    Just let me know when I can get out of this corner.

  7. Wally   January 21, 2011 at 8:45 pm

    Still in the corner, Bill. But ya can get out by offering some predictions … with as much or as little thought as you wanna give it. Throw some darts.

  8. bill ribas   January 22, 2011 at 1:08 am

    Jets will squeak by, Packers will dominate, if Jack Buck is announcing, your ears will bleed like rivers. Does that get me out of the corner? I really have to take a leak here.

  9. Wally   January 22, 2011 at 8:26 am

    Good! You’re off probation.

  10. bill ribas   January 22, 2011 at 10:03 am

    Sweet man, my bladder was about to explode.

  11. Smitty   January 22, 2011 at 12:02 pm

    Sorry, I just don’t see the Jets winning 3 road games in a row. I think the Steelers with Troy Polamalu didn’t play in their regular season match- up. I think he and Heath Miller make the difference in this one. Steelers win by a field goal.

    I agree with field and Bears defense neutralizing Aaron Rodgers. The question is whether Cutler can avoid the mistakes. If the Matt Forte can run the ball with success, I think the Bears win this game.

    I think we see Steelers and the Bears in the Super Bowl.

  12. Chas   January 22, 2011 at 2:00 pm

    Smitty, Smitty, Smitty…you commit the Cardinal sin of forecasting by denying a team can’t do something that they’re already 2/3 of the way to doing. The Jets don’t have to win three road games in a row. They only need to win one, because they’ve already won two.

    I’ll recount another example of such ill-conceived statistical logic…when the Yankees and Red Sox were even at three games apiece in the 2004 ALCS, a co-worker said to me, “I can’t see the Red Sox beating the Yankees four games in a row.” Of course, you know what my response was, and the fact that said co-worker was wrong.

    I also hope you appreciate that I used that as an example rather than the Giants team that won three consecutive road playoff games, then beat the undefeated and unbeatable 2007 Patriots in the Super Bowl. 🙂

  13. Bill S.   January 22, 2011 at 6:35 pm

    If I’m a Pitt fan, I’m looking at our recent stretch of playoff games and noticing an ongoing theme – getting lucky at the right time over and over again. Pitt-Indy in 2005, Pitt-Balt last week, Pitt-Balt in 2008, Zona-Pitt in 2008… since 2004, only their 2007 Jags game was one of those “Everything’s going wrong in this game” playoff games. They’re overdue. Specifically, Roethlisberger/Tomlin is overdue. The NFL is too equal these days, you can’t keep expecting the breaks to go your way like that. Eventually, it turns. Just ask the Patriots.

    I’m seeing one of those semi-ugly games that’s close in the 4th quarter, only the experienced/healthy Jets make a couple plays and the banged-up/young-in-some-spots Steelers botch a couple plays. Your final score: Jets 23, Steelers 20.

    The Packers are clearly the most talented NFC team, only their injuries knocked them down to a 6-seed and made that hard to see… but like the Jets, they’re peaking at the right time; James Starks gave them a running game; they’re ridiculously explosive offensively; Rodgers is jumping a level; their defense makes plays; and their secondary locks people down. You can talk yourself into the Bears with all the abstract stuff, but I made that mistake with Atlanta last weekend – they’re home, nobody thinks they can win, they’ll get a couple of dumb mistakes — and then the game started and they got whupped. Green Bay has the best team and the best player. So why overthink it?

    Anyway, even though I hate the line and it’s not a bargain at all, especially if there’s bad weather — the line should be 3 or under, but the Packers are such a popular public team that it bumped to 3.5 — I just can’t talk myself into the Bears. If Jay Cutler beats me in cold weather, so be it. Packers 30, Bears 17.

  14. Wally   January 23, 2011 at 10:16 pm

    Jay Cutler now has a new legion of people who hate his guts. Way NOT to man up, poophead!!! Have fun this whole offseason nursing your owey. What a @#$!@#% moron you turned out to be !!! AWOL for the most important half of football in your MEDIOCRE career.

    Hey, Lovie ….way to have the troops clueless for one full half of football. Otherwise, you probably win the game. Fire him and please get Bill Cowher. PLEASE!?!?!

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