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Derek Vs. the Spread: Championship Sunday

Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers will host the Jets at 7:00 Atlantic on Sunday.

by Derek Leblanc

So we are back for week three of Derek vs. the Spread and I can say is where did that week come from. After a solid first week of going 3-1, I ended up going 1-3 last week. The only part that got me mad was that the Seahawks miss the spread by one point. I am not surprised that the Jets won because I said the Pats defense is bad although me being a fan of the team maybe clouded my judgement. While the last two weeks I have been breaking down each team on how they will win, I figure a better way to pick winners this time is to analyze the games that the four teams played against each other. Let’s get to it.

New York Jets vs. Pittsburgh Steelers (-3.5)

Week 15-Jets 22 vs. Steelers 17
When we go back to the game that these two teams played, we got a good one. When you look at the stats, The Steelers had played better in every aspect of offense expect for special teams where the Steelers are one of the worse in the league. The Steelers had more passing and rushing yards and had a solid game. The game was so close that the Steelers would have won if the receivers made the catches on the final drive. Big Ben was able to take the Jets down the field for the most part and Rashad Mendenhall was able to rush for 99 yards on 17 carries. That is good considering that the Jets rush defense is top five in the league. While the Steelers were able to have more production, the Jets still had a good game on defense. They were able to take advantage of their banged up offensive line and sacked Ben Roethlisberger three times. One play of the defensive was the clincher for the game when Jason Taylor tackled Mewelde Moore for a safety. The only problem they really had was the world’s fastest football player in Mike Wallace. Now when we reserve the roles, the Jets had some problems at times on the offensive side but were able to capitalize on their opportunities. On the run, the Jets while on paper did not have a good run game overall, looks can be deceiving. While LaDainian Tomlinson and Shoun Greene only run for 48 and 40 yards. Combined they only ran the ball 23 times but both guys had 5.3 and 4.8 yards per carry and that was the most by one team against the Steelers this year. If they run the ball more they can get to the Steelers. Mark Sanchez also had a good game going 19 for 29 for 170 yards with no picks and he also rushed for a touchdown. While the numbers are not what you expect to win a game it did get the job done that day. The Defense if they want to win have to get more pressure on Sanchez because he was only sacked once in the game and if you give any quarterback in the league time he will find the right person. There was really only thing that can make a difference in this game and that is that Troy Polamalu was still sidelined during the week 15 match. Now I said in last week’s article that he is the heart and soul of the team and he can be a difference maker in this game if he can grab and interception or break pass the Jets offensive line. He has thou been missing practice this week so while he should play he will not be 100%.
Outcome-While most experts say that the Jets offense will be the problem, I think it can be the defense that will have to change the game. The Steelers offensive line is banged up so they have make sure they can breakthrough and get to Big Ben. Unlike last week where Darrelle Revis had the assignment of guarding Deion Branch, do you put him on Hines Wards or Mike Wallace for pass protection? While he will probably play against Wallace in the game I think that will be the mistake and I expect Hines Ward to have a big game grabbing lots of short passes. Steelers will go to their third super bowl in six years and they will cover the 3.5 points.

Green Bay (-3) vs. Chicago
Week 3-Packers 17 vs. Bears 20
Week 17-Bears 3 vs. Packers 10

What we seen in week 17 could be a sign of what we will see on Sunday and that is an all-defensive affair but I think if we want to get a better look at how this game will be played on Sunday that we have to go back to their confrontation in week three. While the Bears may have won the game, again the looks can be deceiving. When you look at every aspect of the game the packers were either even or better than the bears. While both teams were able to stop each other on the run and in returns, Aaron Rodgers was able to take care of the Bears front 7 could not touch him at all. Rodgers threw for 316 yards and the only mistake he made was a pick he threw to Lance Briggs in the first half. From what we seen from Rodgers in the first two weeks of the postseason, he should have another big game on Sunday. On the defensive side, the Packers were able to sack Jay Cutler three times, pick him off once and were able to stop them on a fourth down. So while you see all this information, the reason the Packers lost that game was because of penalties. Green Bay gave up 18 in that game for 152 yards. Out of all those calls most of them were coming from the offensive line. That can be understood because you do not want guys like Lance Briggs or Julius Peppers hurting your star player so if the Bears want to win this game, they will have to try and get into their heads, however the cheese heads were able to calm down in the final week of the season.
Outcome-As long as the Packers don’t get too many flags thrown against them in this game, it is there’s to lose. They have the better offense and defense and as long as they do not kick the ball to Devin Hester, DA BEARS will not be getting a chance to do a remix of the ever so classic Super Bowl Shuffle.

Derek LeBlanc is a huge NFL football fan and is a mixed martial arts writer who writes for www.topmmanews.com. He resides in Halifax and can be reached at dleblanc@topmmanews.com.

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