This weekend will mark the 15th conference championship appearance for the Pittsburgh Steelers since 1970 â€“ That’s the most in the NFL. Â While I know there are folks out there who have Steelers fatigue and feel that it would be great to see any other team win besides the Steelers, I just don’t want to hear you whine, not at all. Â Ben was suspended for the first four games, yet the Steelers made it through 3-1, Aaron Smith got hurt early in the year and we went through quarterbacks faster than Kim Kardashian goes through, oh wait, never mind. You know what I mean. In other words, I think everyone other than Peter King at Sports Illustrated had my team finishing third in the division. Well, who has the last laugh now?
That’s not to say that this week against the Jets is going to be easy. Both teams want to go to the Super Bowl. Â Both teams have a decent defense. Â Sanchez has definitely grown over the last 2 seasons. Â The Jets are the first team since the 2002 Titans to play Manning and Brady and make it to the AFC Championship. Â But there’s a trend here.
Let me spell it out for you. Â Pocket passers. Â Both Manning and Brady are pocket passers….but let that pocket implode and they both have trouble. Â They don’t do well on the fly. Â Luckily, they have each had an O-line to save their butts time and time again. Â The Jets took advantage and created defensive schemes to attack the pocket.
But this week, Big Ben is better outside the pocket than he is inside sometimes. Â Known for extending the play, the Jets defense has their hands full with Big Ben. Â He’s king of on the run and letting the play figure itself out. I am not sure how you prepare for that, especially when you likely need to throw double coverage on Wallace which leaves one of our receivers open. You saw what happened last week when Antonio Brown caught a 58 yard pass setting up the Steelers for the winning TD. Â Get ready Jets, get ready.
In addition, during the first meeting of the Steelers and Jets, Heath Miller was out and while Matt Spaeth had a good game, he’s no Health Miller. Â Sorry Spaeth, love ya, but….it’s true. Â The plays to the TE worked, including a TD and some passes for third down conversions.
The Steelers defense is close to 100 percent right now and kicking butt. Â Troy missed the first game against the Jets as well. Â He’s the wildcard. Â I’m not sure that Sanchez has played a team this year with a safety who ad libs as much as Troy. Â He will wreak havoc on the Jets offense. Â I expect a big game from Troy this week. Â Not to mention Ryan Clark who has also had a phenomenal season.
The weakest link for the Steelers is the secondary, but they have actually produced this season. Â The problem is the impact of the plays they have given up. Â The best thing the Steelers can do this week is play the Jets tight and not do anything stupid to draw penalties.
This week, I think it will be a tough well-fought game, but I pick the Steelers by 10.
Let’s get to Dallas.
â€œ I am wearing green and white right now, and this will be the team I cheer for.” ~Santonio Holmes