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Sports Report 360 AFC Playoff Breakdown Week 3
The theme of the NFL this season has been parity. The winner of their next 4 quarters of football is headed to Dallas. This week has been disappointing because the Jets did not provide the media with any trash talk or bulletin board material. The Jets come into the game confident after defeating the Indianapolis Colts and the New England Patriots. Veteran players like Jason Taylor and LaDainian Tomlinson for the New York Jets must play well knowing that this will probably be their best opportunity to win a conference championship and get to the Superbowl. The Jets know they can beat the Steelers after defeating them in Week 15 of the regular season 22-17. The Steelers come into game excited after beating the Ravens 31-24 in a classic come from behind playoff victory. The Steelers are tough and generally do let opportunities pass them by. The Steelers will be ready for a physical game and the opportunity to win another AFC Conference Championship at Heinz Field.
January 23th, 2011 AFC Conference Championship
New York Jets (6) vs. Pittsburgh Steelers (2) at Heinz Field 6:30 pm EST
Offense: The Jets’ offense is built to win this game. Expect Shonn Greene and LaDainian Tomlinson to help the Jets win the rushing battle. Braylon Edwards, Santonio Holmes and Dustin Keller should help the Jets move the ball effectively down the field. Mark Sanchez seems to play well in big games and should play well for the Jets.
Defense: All teams in the NFL struggle to rush the ball against the Steelers’ defense. Expect Troy Polamalu to be active from his safety position trying to control both the run and the passing game of the Jets. Polamalu did not play in the Steelers regular season loss to the Jets, but with a conference championship on the line, expect Polamalu to come up big. The Steelers were ranked number one in the NFL this season on defense for a reason.
Special Teams: Brad Smith returned a 97 yard kickoff when the Jets beat the Steelers in the regular season. Smith is a dangerous special teams returner and could wind up being the difference in the game. Smith gives the Jets a decided advantage on special teams.
Coaching: Coach Ryan deserves a lot of credit for getting over the Peyton Manning and Tom Brady hurdle in the playoffs. That is a quite an accomplishment. Ben Roethlisberger is the last of the three headed monster in the AFC that Coach Ryan must prepare the Jets to beat. If the Jets win, they certainly will have earned the right to play in Superbowl XLV. The Steelers are all about Dick LeBeau and Big Ben’s ability to keep plays alive in the passing game. LeBeau is regarded as the best defensive coordinator in the NFL. LeBeau will make adjustments from the Steelers regular season loss to the Jets that will make it difficult for the Jets to consistently put points on the scoreboard. The game will be tough and grueling with so much at stake for both teams. In what should be a good game, the Jets will probably come up a little short because Polamalu did not play the first time they met and the Steelers will win the AFC Conference Championship. Coach Tomlin will be set to make his second Superbowl appearance in Dallas. Coach Tomlin broke out his best boxing stance to celebrate the Steelers’ playoff victory over the Ravens last week. Expect Coach Tomlin to do his best Ali shuffle rendition when the Steelers win this week.