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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
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CHAMPIONSHIP
ROUND
SUNDAY JANUARY 23rd
Green Bay at Chicago 3:00 PM EST NY Jets at Pittsburgh 6:30 PM EST

Prediction: NYJ 17, PIT 20

This is a replay of week 15 when the Jets won 22-17 in Pittsburgh. Vegas favors the Steelers by 3.5 points. This will be a cold game with around 22 degree temperature and a small chance of snow during the game. Wind should not be a factor.

New York Jets (11-5)
Homefield: Meadowlands Stadium
FieldTurf
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 BAL L 9-10 10 @CLE W 26-20
2 NE W 28-14 11 HOU W 30-27
3 @MIA W 31-23 12 CIN W 26-10
4 @BUF W 38-14 13 @NE L 3-45
5 MIN W 29-20 14 MIA L 6-10
6 @DEN W 24-20 15 @PIT W 22-17
7 Bye - 16 @CHI L 34-38
8 GB L 0-9 17 BUF W 38-7
9 @DET W 23-20 - - -
Jets Report | Statistics | Roster
NY JETS Rush Catch Pass
QB Mark Sanchez - - 190,1
RB Shonn Greene 50 - -
RB LaDainian Tomlinson 40 10 -
TE Dustin Keller - 20 -
WR Jerricho Cotchery - 30 -
WR Braylon Edwards - 60,1 -
WR Santonio Holmes - 40 -
PK Nick Folk 1 FG 2 XP -

Pregame Notes: Each year there is one surprise team that reaches the Super Bowl against all odds. This year - maybe two. The Jets have merely beaten the Colts and Patriots in successive weeks and while breaks and maybe gone their way on occasion, the bottom line is that the Jets have won two straight in perhaps the toughest venues in the league - the Steelers this week make up a trifecta. The interesting part is that the Jets are not winning games in the same way either. They are taking what they are given and not giving away much of anything.

I like a defensive score by the Jets.

QUARTERBACK: Mark Sanchez is playing with a bad shoulder and his passing stats have been low for six weeks now but against the Patriots he passed for three touchdowns. That was more scores than he had in the previous six games combined. The Jets discovered a dormant rushing game in Indianapolis. Last week the passing was suddenly getting it done. Back in week 1, Sanchez only passed for 170 yards in Pittsburgh though he had one rushing touchdown.

The Steelers have only allowed seven passing scores to visitors in nine games played and three of those went to Tom Brady. No reason to expect more than one touchdown here other than the Jets seem bent on surprising everyone in January.

RUNNING BACKS: LaDainian Tomlinson turned in his best game since week four when he ran for 82 yards on 16 carries and scored twice in Indianapolis. He only had one touchdown over the previous nine games and had not gained more than 50 rushing yards in six weeks. He was back to normal last week when he only had ten runs for 43 yards and two catches for two yards though he had one receiving score for the first time this year. Tomlinson ran for 49 yards on 11 rushes in Pittsburgh.

Shonn Greene also had a big game at Indy when he rushed for 70 yards on 19 carries and even last week racked up 76 yards on 17 runs with one touchdown but he was held to just 40 yards on 12 runs in Pittsburgh.

The Steelers have the best defense against running backs and just last week held Ray Rice to only 32 yards on 12 runs. They have only allowed two rushing touchdowns to visiting running backs all year and both went to the Ravens. The Jets have been surprising already, but to have more than mediocre rushing yards or score here would be a big success.

WIDE RECEIVERS: The Jets wide receivers came up with two touchdowns last week and even Jerricho Cotchery had a season best 96 yards on five catches. Back in week 15, Cotchery had no catches and Santonio Holmes settled for 40 yards on six catches against his old team. Braylon Edwards ended with a season best 100 yards on eight catches that week.

The Steelers have only allowed one passing touchdown to a visiting wideout but this is where the Jets are going to need production to stay in this game. The Steelers have already shown they are not going to let Holmes have much success so it remains up to the others to produce.

TIGHT ENDS: Dustin Keller has been little used this year and has not scored since back in week four. He had only three receptions for 19 yards in the previous meeting with the Steelers and that's been about normal for Keller. The Steelers have been very strong against the position anyway so there's no reason to expect more.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points NYJ 21 11 13 19 7 7
Preventing Fantasy Points PIT 5 1 6 4 8 8
Advantage(+) or Disadvantage(-)   -16 -10 -7 -15 1 1


Pittsburgh Steelers (12-4)
Homefield: Heinz Field
Grass
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 ATL W 15-9 10 NE L 26-39
2 @TEN W 19-11 11 OAK W 35-3
3 @TB W 38-13 12 @BUF W 19-16
4 BAL L 14-17 13 @BAL W 13-10
5 Bye - 14 CIN W 23-7
6 CLE W 28-10 15 NYJ L 17-22
7 @MIA W 23-22 16 CAR W 27-3
8 @NO L 10-20 17 @CLE W 41-9
9 @CIN W 27-21 - - -
Steelers Report | Statistics | Roster
PITTSBURGH Rush Catch Pass
QB Ben Roethlisberger - - 240,1
RB Rashard Mendenhall 80,1 10 -
TE Heath Miller - 40,1 -
WR Emmanuel Sanders - 70 -
WR Hines Ward - 40 -
WR Mike Wallace - 50 -
PK Shaun Suisham 2 FG 2 XP -

Pregame Notes: The Steelers almost followed along with the trend of upsets this season when the Ravens led 21-7 at halftime and all the breaks were going to the visitors. But the second half was a complete reversal and the Steelers were able to shut down the Ravens offense while scoring three touchdowns. This week will be yet another big effort against a very good defense that has a knack of making things happen and winning games in all sorts of ways. This is also a chance for the Steelers to pursue an NFL record sixth Super Bowl win.

QUARTERBACK: Ben Roethlisberger threw for 226 yards and two scores against the Ravens last week and he was also sacked a season high six times with most coming in the nightmarish first half. Roethlisberger passed for 264 yards and one score in the last meeting with the Jets and and it was a week that he threw 44 passes but only completed 23 passes.

The Jets secondary is still their bigger weakness and while Darrelle Revis removes one receiver from the equation, the reality is that the Jets have allowed at least one passing score in every road game this year and more often two as they did last week in New England when Tom Brady passed for 299 yards. Figure Big Ben for more of a repeat of his last game since it will be cold and the Jets defense is playing better than ever.

RUNNING BACKS: Rashard Mendenhall has been a major factor in every Steeler win and has scored in each of the last four games which includes when he faced the Jets and turned in 99 yards on 17 carries with one touchdown. That was one of only two games this year that Mendenhall had no catches though. Mendenhall has always been a strong play at home and he has 15 rushing touchdowns this year including the two against the Ravens last week.

The Jets on the road have allowed five touchdowns to running backs in just the last six games and have been even better by holding both the Colts and Pats out of the endzone via the rush. Mendenhall is made for this sort of game and should be a central focus of the offense. He should at least approach the numbers of the last meeting and could do better.

WIDE RECEIVERS: That last meeting against the Jets saw Mike Wallace gain 102 yards on seven receptions to lead the team and even Emmanuel Sanders had 78 yards on seven catches. Only Hines Ward was held in check when he turned in 34 yards on two catches but that was not too different than what he's done all season long. While the Jets have not said who Revis will be matched on, it seems most likely Wallace will be his focus since he was so successful against them last time and is the leading receiver for the Steelers. Emmanuel Sanders is the only wideout without a chance of being locked down by Revis.

TIGHT ENDS: Heath Miller did not play in the first meeting with the Jets and while he was rarely used in the red zone during the season, he scored once last week against the Ravens and also scored in Cleveland in the season finale. The Jets were not as successful against the wide receivers back in week 15 but should be tougher and force Roethlisberger to find alternative receivers. Miller should have a role in this game and could score as well.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points PIT 17 12 9 25 8 3
Preventing Fantasy Points NYJ 17 2 21 12 4 3
Advantage(+) or Disadvantage(-)   0 -10 12 -13 -4 0

CHAMPIONSHIP
ROUND
SUNDAY JANUARY 23rd
Green Bay at Chicago 3:00 PM EST NY Jets at Pittsburgh 6:30 PM EST
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