The championship games this weekend seem like a tossup, but I've decided to go with the Jets (21-17) and Packers (14-10). Here's why:
Jets at Pittsburgh
The Steelers' shaky offensive line was a factor in the first half last week against the Ravens, with Terrell Suggs virtually unblockable before intermission. That's all Jets coach Rex Ryan will need to see before dialing up more of those trademark Ryan family blitzes. Pittsburgh QB Ben Roethlisberger is a master at escaping trouble and will have to be Sunday.
The Jets have already won at Pittsburgh this season, 22-17 on Dec. 19. In that game, the Jets scored the final 12 points, including a safety by Pittsburgh native Jason Taylor.
Jets receiver Santonio Holmes has plenty to prove to the Steelers after they traded him away. The former Ohio State star has won 5 consecutive post-season games.
The Jets don't seem to be intimidated playing on the road, in fact they seem to relish it. They've already become the first team in NFL history to win at least two playoff road games in back-to-back seasons.
The Steelers will need LB James Harrison at his intimidating best against Jets QB Mark Sanchez. I see Harrison as the key if the Steelers win.
I think Green Bay QB Aaron Rodgers is too hot to handle right now. He has a 129.4 rating in three playoff games, the highest in NFL history (of those with a minimum of 100 attempts).
Sorry but I can't jump on the bandwagon of Bears QB Jay Cutler, and apparently few in Chicago are, either. Even if Cutler did become the second player in league history to run for at least two touchdowns and pass for at least two in a playoff game, joining former Browns great and Hall of Famer Otto Graham. I think havig Clay Matthews Jr. breathing down his neck will make things difficult for Cutler.
The teams split in the regular season, with the Packers winning 10-3 at Lambeau Field and Chicago prevailing 20-17 in Soldier Field. It's stunning that this will be the 182nd meeting of the two teams, yet only the second in the post-season and the first since Dec. 14, 1941.