SPORTS w/The Jock 1-13-11

by Tom Weppel
After a great first round of playoff games that had three visiting teams triumph, we now move in to the Divisional series games and the second round of contests.
In the AFC, we’ve got two games in which teams within the same Divisions are facing each other for a third time this season. While it may sound a little boring, it will also bring plenty of intrigue and competitiveness between the squads.
In Pittsburgh, the Steelers will host the Baltimore Ravens, while the Jets will go back up to Foxboro to take on the vaunted Patriots.
Baltimore comes off a dominant performance in Kansas City against the Chiefs. They know the Steelers well. When these teams played this year, they both won on the others’ field. Baltimore will have to get a standout performance from Joe Flacco and the Ravens offense, which might be tough. The Ravens O-line is a little banged up…if they cannot block or protect, then look for the Steelers to blitz heavily.
For Pittsburgh, their experience should help them immensely. QB Ben Roethlisberger should be able to get the ball to WR Mike Wallace, Hines Ward, and their corps of guys. Baltimore will have to force a turnover or two to keep them at bay.
Meanwhile in Foxboro, the pats have been simply going about their business, preparing for this game on Sunday, while essentially ignoring all that Jets HC Rex Ryan spouts off about! Listening to him is the last thing they need to care about! Last time the Jets were up there, they got waxed, 45-3. New York will really have to mix things up and come out with some awesome games from QB Mark Sanchez and their running game to have even a slight chance.
Needless to say, both these games should be nasty battles. All the teams know each other very, very well. It would (or will) be very tough for any side to put in any new features. And so, that means this is gonna come down to who can take care of their own business, hold back on any turnovers, and make some plays that can and will let their team win.
There is no question having a week off to relax and rehab should help both the Steelers and Patriots. Combine that with the fact they both play very well at home, and it should be easy to realize both are favored. If either visitor should win, I believe the Ravens have a better shot beating Pittsburgh then the Jets do in overcoming New England.
We shall see…

In the NFC, the Seahawks go to Chicago to take on the Bears, while the Packers will head down to Atlanta to play the Falcons. While these games don’t have Division rivals going head-to-head, they do feature games in which they did indeed play each other in the regular season. Seattle beat the Bears in Chicago, while the Packers lost to the Falcons in Atlanta.
Green Bay comes in having done a good job in disposing of the Eagles. They have their act together, and they are playing much better than your average wild card entry. QB Aaron Brooks has a nice group or WR’s to throw to, including Greg Jennings and J.Jones. They also had a decent RB now, with the rookie James Starks playing well last week. He will be important once again in trying to keep the Falcons offense off the field.
If they are on, then look for the Packer ‘D’ to put pressure on QB Matt Ryan. Also, look for a great match up between Pro Bowlers WR Roddy White (atl) and CB Charles Woodson (GB). If the Falcons can establish their running game with Michael Turner, this could be tough.
Their weren’t too many who thought the Seahawks would get past the Saints. Yet here they are, in Chicago, where they beat the Bears earlier this season.
In a way, both these teams carry much respect. Many pundits around the League don’t think the Bears are worthy of having won their own Division! Many still don’t give much towards Jay Cutler, feeling he makes too many mistakes and doesn’t do what is needed to make everything click.
Yet Chicago is here, with a decent shot at getting back to the Super Bowl. They can start out by doing their job against Seattle and making a couple of standout plays…shutting down QB Matt Hasselbeck, and scoring some points. While Seattle did win here earlier, the chances of it happening twice in the same season are very slim.
And so it should be an interesting weekend of play in the NFL, which is exactly how the League likes it!


april, 2022