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Division-round game picks

Lofa Tatupu, Jordan Babineaux

Last week, Rosenthal and yours truly generated identical picks for the wild-card weekend games.  Picking the Saints and Colts left us at 0-2 for Saturday; relying on the Ravens and Packers made us 2-2 for the weekend.

I’m still four games behind him in the full-season chase.  And now it’s time to close the gap.

Or watch it get really, really wide.

Ravens at Steelers

Florio’s take:  Way back in May, I picked the Ravens to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl.  And with Saturday’s rubber match between Baltimore and Pittsburgh presenting a coin-flip proposition, honoring a past prognostication is as good a reason as any to help me finally make a decision.  Expect fifty-six minutes of hard-fought football followed by 240 intense seconds during which one of the AFC finalists will emerge.  Look for Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco to finally beat the Steelers when Ben Roethlisberger plays, and for Baltimore to extend their road playoff record since 2008 to 5-2.

Florio’s pick:  Ravens 23, Steelers 20.

Rosenthal’s take: The best game of the weekend comes first.  The only game that wasn’t a nail biter between these two teams in their last seven matchups was the ’08 AFC Championship.  I worry for Ravens fans the result Saturday could be similar.  Going on the road on a short week is a huge disadvantage.  So are the Ravens’ slow receivers going up against tight man coverage.  Look for the Baltimore’s defense to wear down in the fourth quarter, like they did for much of the year.

Rosenthal’s pick:  Steelers 24, Ravens 16.

Packers at Falcons

Florio’s take:  Several weeks ago, in an SNF Extra online chat, someone asked me for a revised Super Bowl prediction.  I wanted to stay true to the prediction made in our season preview magazine:  Ravens and Cowboys.  But since the Cowboys were mathematically eliminated from the playoffs at the time, I opted for the Falcons instead.  Thus, I’ve got to stick with that well-reasoned selection I made with barely an instant of thought and while trying to type with one hand and wolf down a tin-foil container full of chicken with spinach and mushrooms and some sort of cheese in the other.  Besides, everyone else is picking the Packers.  And that will likely make the Falcons even more motivated to justify their 13-3 season by winning their first playoff game of the post-Vick era.

Florio’s pick:  Falcons 24, Packers 20.

Rosenthal’s take:  The first Packers-Falcons game was an entertaining matchup marked by long drives and two failures by the Packers inside the 10-yard line. Green Bay had no running game then, but now James Starks could be the key to the game.  Starks should find running room because Atlanta’s secondary – especially Dunta Robinson — can be vulnerable without help in coverage.   The Packers have more offensive talent, the better defense, and the coach more likely to make a Caldwell-like brain fart.  In the end, the Packers have more ways to win.

Rosenthal’s pick:  Packers 28, Falcons 24.

Seahawks at Bears

Florio’s take:  Sometimes, football makes no sense.  Last week, a clearly superior Saints team went to Seattle and lost.  This week, the Seahawks return to Soldier Field with plenty of confidence and a lot of momentum, against a Bears team that isn’t as good as the Saints team that the Seahawks beat last weekend.  Sure, the Bears are the safe pick.  The Bears are the smart pick.  The Bears also may be the right pick.  But I’m four games behind Rosenthal with seven games to go, so it’s time to start flailing for a knockout.  Besides, the Bears could be tight and the Seahawks could catch them flat-footed and Seattle could do that which no one — including the Bears — expects them to do.

Florio’s pick:  Seahawks 23, Bears 20.

Rosenthal’s take: Can the Seahawks win?  Of course.  They already did once in Chicago without the help of turnovers and special teams.  Is it likely the Seahawks win?  No, because the regular season has to mean something.  Seattle lost nine games this year by 15 points or more, the most in the NFL.  Carolina was next with seven such losses, the Cardinals six, and the Bills five.  That’s the company Seattle kept for 17 weeks.  It’s going to show up in January eventually.

Rosenthal’s pick: Chicago 27, Seahawks 13.

Jets at Patriots

Florio’s take:  Early in the week, I planned to pick the Jets.  The Pats ran up the score when the two teams played in December, hoping to spark a tailspin that would wash the Jets right out of the playoffs.  But the Jets have been chattering too much, and the Patriots will now be even more motivated to repeat the outcome of the Monday night massacre.  Though it won’t nearly be so lopsided this time around, these two teams have different agendas.  The Jets are determined to beat the Pats, and the Pats are determined to beat the NFC representative in the Super Bowl.

Florio’s pick:  Patriots 30, Jets 21.

Rosenthal’s take: Until the 45-3 whitewash, Rex Ryan’s Jets gave Tom Brady problems.  Brady’s numbers in his first three games against Ryan as Jets coach:  57% completion, 6.24 yards-per-attempt, three touchdowns, and three interceptions.  Don’t be shocked if the Jets defense makes life difficult on Brady for a while.  My concern for New York is more about Mark Sanchez’s wild throws against a turnover-crazy Patriots defense that held opponents under 10 points four times in New England’s last five games.

Rosenthal’s pick:  Patriots 27, Jets 14.

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82 Responses to “Division-round game picks”
  1. sdboltaction says: Jan 13, 2011 11:44 PM

    I think Seattle has a pretty good chance as well.

  2. hobartbaker says: Jan 13, 2011 11:48 PM

    Hey Mike, Rosenthal says “Beep, beep!”.

  3. bw82b says: Jan 13, 2011 11:49 PM

    Ravens @ Steelers- 20-17—-Ravens
    Packers @ Falcons-31-21—-Packers
    Seahawks @ Bears-27-17—-Bears
    Jets @ Patriots-35-17—-Patriots

    Take it to the bank.

  4. blackfootkiller says: Jan 13, 2011 11:59 PM

    Rosenthal’s an idiot… Hey Rosenthal do you even watch football? Seahawks will BEAT the Bearly’s!

  5. bigbear12 says: Jan 14, 2011 12:23 AM

    Week off should benefit Bears, Pats and unfortunately Steelers. Falcons have been playing it close all year and I have a feeling the Packers have a good shot of exposing them, if not the Bears will.
    Just see the Pack defense giving them fits.
    Bears were a different team before the bye and you should be slapped for even thinking the Saints are better this year, the Saints team that gave up 41 points to the Seahawks? The same Saints team that will be watching the Bears play this Sunday?
    Congratulations Rosey, should clinch the title this week.

  6. freedomispopular says: Jan 14, 2011 12:34 AM

    Didn’t the Giants also do a lot of chattering before they played the Patriots? And, as we all know, the end result was 18-1. Just sayin’.

  7. p3r51an says: Jan 14, 2011 12:58 AM

    its always good to see steelers and ravens play but steelers are always one step ahead of the ravens.

  8. Deb says: Jan 14, 2011 1:13 AM

    Ravens at Steelers …
    Expect fifty-six minutes of hard-fought football followed by 240 intense seconds during which one of the AFC finalists will emerge.

    I’m expecting 56 minutes of screaming, jumping, dancing, forehead-smacking, pacing, groaning, and cheering … followed by 240 seconds of trying not to throw up. Just hope I’m crying when it’s over. I only cry when we win.

  9. shorttracknews says: Jan 14, 2011 1:38 AM

    Wouldn’t it have been easier to say, hey no matter who I REALLY think is gonna win I’m just gonna take the opposite of Rosenthal to try and gain some ground?

  10. polegojim says: Jan 14, 2011 1:39 AM

    Hey Mike – give us a thumbs up or down like Greg did so we can all chime in on your pics!!!

    BTW – say goodbye to the Bears. Impending Imposion. No way Cutler maintains this level of play, no way.

  11. weakafceast says: Jan 14, 2011 1:40 AM

    NYJ-NE / The media hype bowl. These 2 wont make it past the AFCCG.

  12. supabolt says: Jan 14, 2011 1:54 AM

    Ravens 20
    RapeLisberger’s 17

    Packers 24
    Patty Rub Nice 20

    SeaChicken’s 13
    Bears 20

    Rex’s Fungas Fets 6
    Brady-iots 89

  13. 30ptbuck says: Jan 14, 2011 3:16 AM

    Here are my predictions and I have a feeling they may be shot down as early as the 1st game Saturday.
    The Packers will win the Superbowl by beating all teams named after birds Eagles Falcons Seahawks and finally the Ravens.
    Ravens over the Steelers
    Patriots over the Jets
    The rest will be history and like Viking fans (who really have no business writing on a topic having to do with the playoffs) if it doesn’t happen that way it must be because of the NFL not wanting the Pack to win stupid refs or me drinking way too much beer.

  14. favrelous says: Jan 14, 2011 3:42 AM

    As much as it pains me, the pack will win the next 3 games by more than 10 points a game.

    Since I have picked the vikes to win the superbowl for most of my life I am hoping for the same success …

    At least I do not live in GreenBay! I’ve got that goin for me, which is nice.

  15. marcsasharc says: Jan 14, 2011 5:15 AM

    i have:

    Baltimore over Pittsburgh 24-20
    Green Bay over Atlanta 31-24
    Seattle over Chicago 20-13
    New England over New York 27-17

  16. hooterdawg says: Jan 14, 2011 5:19 AM

    Rex Ryan will have the benefit of watching the brutal Ravens-Steelers game first. He may come to the conclusion that to beat Brady means breaking his nose like the Raven did to Big Ben in the last game of the regular season. I look for a very physical game by the Jets against the finese Pats. Benard Pollard may be their lockerroom posterboy this week.

  17. joetoronto says: Jan 14, 2011 5:59 AM

    “So are the Ravens’ slow receivers going up against tight man coverage.”

    The Steelers are primarily a zone dog defense, have been for many years now.

  18. brasho says: Jan 14, 2011 6:17 AM

    Considering I went 3-1 last week and Rosenthal has agreed with all of my picks this week, I feel pretty confident of keeping my lead in the office pool.

  19. boblavoie says: Jan 14, 2011 6:26 AM

    Okay lets all join the fun:

    Raven 24 Steelers 20

    Green Bay 20 Falcons 27

    Seahawks 10 Bears 30

    Jets 13 Patriots 38

  20. wildbirdoffense says: Jan 14, 2011 6:44 AM

    Ravens vs. Steelers
    Pick: DyLon

    Packers vs. Falcons
    Pick: DyLon

    Seahawks vs. Bears
    Pick: DyLon

    Jets vs. Patriots
    Pick: DyLon

    That’s right folks, the DyLon’s gonna run ish…..’cause they spit hot fiya!

  21. gamustangdude says: Jan 14, 2011 6:57 AM

    Pakers Over the Falcons, blah blah blah

    Falcons will get exposed, blah blah blah

    I guess we all have confidence now in the Pakers “running game” or is it the fact that the Pakers beat the Falcons last time, oh wait they didn’t. The packers are 2-4 against the Falcons in the last six games. The Pakers, not the Falcons will be exposed.

  22. chapnastier says: Jan 14, 2011 7:31 AM

    “Sometimes, football makes no sense. Last week, a clearly superior Saints team went to Seattle and lost”

    This sentence is a complete oxymoron. The superior team never loses. That is why they play the game!

  23. deepbacksidedig says: Jan 14, 2011 7:39 AM

    PFT Thanks for the good work.
    Please consider adding an “edit” button?
    One time only would be fine.
    “Preview” would work too.
    Thanks.

  24. thegreatwhitemidget says: Jan 14, 2011 7:58 AM

    Ravens 20 steelers 17. Daaaa bears 31 seachikens 10. Packers 38 dirty birds 34 pats 24 jets 21 ( I am a pats fan and I don’t think it will be a blow out)

  25. jameswestphal says: Jan 14, 2011 8:00 AM

    Okay Mike and Greggggggg, I’m laying two boxes of ziti on your picks. Can I sleep in the pft.com parking garage if these picks tank?

  26. all4patriots says: Jan 14, 2011 8:03 AM

    Ravens 17-14
    Packers 24-23
    Bears 28-24
    Patriots 38-14

  27. beckzhere says: Jan 14, 2011 8:17 AM

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Falcons will beat the Packers…again.

  28. PCa Survivor says: Jan 14, 2011 8:21 AM

    “Going on the road on a short week is a huge disadvantage. So are the Ravens’ slow receivers going up against tight man coverage. “

    _______________

    Maybe most important is the 4:30 p.m. game start quickly morphs into a night game in Pittsburgh — something the Ravens petitioned the NFL never to have to play again.

  29. harrisonhits2 says: Jan 14, 2011 8:22 AM

    The more the Jets run their mouths, the more they expose their own insecurities. Their like a tiny poodle yapping away at a great dane.

    Pats 38, Jets 7

  30. herokravon says: Jan 14, 2011 8:35 AM

    Of all the matchups this week the one thats a lock to win are the Bears.

  31. chucknoll says: Jan 14, 2011 8:50 AM

    LMAO!!@ wildbirdoffense

  32. geezohman says: Jan 14, 2011 8:54 AM

    Troy is DPOY?

  33. tmc4real says: Jan 14, 2011 9:09 AM

    @joetoronto, the Steelers changed their scheme after the Patriots sliced them up this season. They now play more press man on the edges. They still play some zone and mix the coverages, but you could very well see them play more than 50% of the snaps with the CBs tight on the line of scrimmage. In fact, in the game between them and Baltimore earlier this season, Baltimore hit two big plays, one against Clark and one against McFadden, because they were in man coverage and the Ravens got over the top of them.

    Also, since changing the scheme, the Steelers pass defense has allowed 165 yards per game passing. It is how they climbed all the way back to 12th against the pass.

  34. omegaichiban says: Jan 14, 2011 9:10 AM

    If you like Dave Chappele…then you should like Wildbird’s comment. Although it’s a little word wierd.

  35. theoriginalcaptainmarvel says: Jan 14, 2011 9:14 AM

    Remember, when you see all these predictions about the Packers winning…they all predicted a Super Bowl last year too. 13-3 they said. Same thing this year, 13-3 and a Super Bowl. Well if it wasn’t for a lucky 3-way tiebreaker, they wouldn’t have even made the playoffs. Atlanta will win easily.

  36. theoriginalcaptainmarvel says: Jan 14, 2011 9:16 AM

    …..and the Packers would have lost last week if Akers hadn’t forgotten how to kick.

  37. joerevs300 says: Jan 14, 2011 9:26 AM

    Either everyone who has replied is a Ravens fan, or they just really, really hate the Steelers.

    If you think Baltimore would give New England a better game then Pittsburgh, you’re sorely mistaken.

    So I guess, in a roundabout way, if you’re a Patriots fan you’re rooting for Baltimore.

    Which means Steeler fans are really outnumbered :)

    I do think this game comes down to who has the ball last, and I can also see this becoming the first game that goes to overtime with the new playoff rules in place.

    At the end of the day, with the Steelers rested, healthy, and taking momentum into the postseason, having obliterated their last 2 opponents, and the Ravens operating on a short week with their C battling a knee injury and the odds that Michael Oher will get abused again, I just think the Steelers will play the more complete game.

    PIT 20, BAL 17

  38. grpatriot says: Jan 14, 2011 9:37 AM

    Jets get more than 10??? I doubt it! They only put 17 on the Colts D….In the cold and Sanchez 7 ints and 1 td??? Unless you think the Patriots turn it over? I don’t see Brady starting that during the Play offs?
    31-10 Patriots and that’s being generous!

  39. kc4life7 says: Jan 14, 2011 9:55 AM

    Steelers-24 Ravens-14

    Pats – 35 Jets – 17

    Bears – 28 Seahawks – 7

    Packers – 24 Atlanta – 21

  40. scotchrocks says: Jan 14, 2011 9:59 AM

    Great usage of the “Dylan” joke. lol

  41. dallasbaby says: Jan 14, 2011 10:02 AM

    I went 4-0 last weekend….yes I even picked Seattle, kind of wish I’d at least bet something on those games because I have never correctly picked all winners during the Playoffs before.

    This weekend:

    -Falcons over Packers (but I would prefer the Pack to win)

    -Bears over Seahawks

    -Patriots over Jets (but I would prefer the Jets to win)

    -Ravens over Steelers (with Roethlisberger needing a fourth nose by the end of it)

  42. tomnickle says: Jan 14, 2011 10:10 AM

    The Patriots are unreal at home, enough said.

    The Steelers own the Ravens.

    The Falcons needed a huge kickoff return and a miracle turnover at their own one yard line to get by the Packers in the regular season.

    The Seahawks could beat the Bears, but so could Appalachain State. The Bears can look like the best team in the NFL one week and then look like the worst team the next, that one truly is a coin flip.

    Patriots pull away in the 4th quarter by making Mark Sanchez decide the game in their favor.

    Steelers also pull away in the fourth quarter on Mike Wallace’s back. Roethlisberger will find him deep down field…..a lot.

    The Packers don’t need James Starks to be heroic to beat the Falcons. The Falcons need Michael Turner to be heroic to beat the Packers. This one’s a lot closer than people have been saying but the Packers have something going. They may have the best defense left in the playoffs that doesn’t belong to the Steelers.

    I like the Seahawks if they feed Marshawn Lynch the ball on the road. Stack the box on defense and make Jay Cutler beat you because let’s face it, he’s more likely to beat himself. For the Bears, Matt Forte should be showcased if you have any desire to go to the NFC Championship. Screen game, early down carries, and don’t be afraid to run some reverses with Knox and Hester. Keeping Carroll guessing would be a good idea considering he’ll do a better job coaching straight up against one of the game’s most overrated(Lovie Smith).

  43. holeinone09 says: Jan 14, 2011 10:22 AM

    Looks like many Ravens fans here today. They are fortunate to be able to support a really good team, which the Ravens are. The way I see things, the Steelers will win what should be a great game, likely the best matchup this weekend. Here is why:

    1. Steelers run defense is solid and consistent. No way the Ravens’ backs will get near 100 yards in the game, which will put pressure on Flacco.

    2. Flacco uses play action to improve their passing offense. Steelers won’t bite on that because they won’t be able to run that well.

    3. Steelers LBs will harrass Flacco a lot worse than the Chiefs were able to do. Flacco had too much time to just stand there and wait for receivers to get open. Woodley really cranks it up in playoff games, and Timmons is playing very well also. Nothing more needs said about Harrison of course.

    4. Troy will play. He changes the entire Steeler secondary.

    5. Ben should be healthier than he has been in a number of weeks. But, he looked very good against Carolina and Cleveland.

    6. Ben is able to make bigger scrambling plays than Flacco. No doubt Ben will spend time running for his life on many plays, and he will find open receivers as he extends the plays, while also taking a few sacks in return. Look for Miller to have a big game, playing the role that Heap did against the Chiefs.

    7. There will be some home field advantage, with the fan support. With snow expected, the atmosphere will be electric.

    8. Expect Ben to use the no-huddle a lot if they start out slow. That seems to generally work well for them, and will tire out the Ravens aging defense.

    9. I expect the Steelers, and maybe the Ravens, to pull out at least one gadget play, since each team knows so much about each other. The one that works might tip the scales.

    Steelers 24
    Ravens 20

    GO STEELERS!!

  44. stanjam says: Jan 14, 2011 10:22 AM

    Some interesting games set for this weekend.

    Seahawks vs. Bears: I would love to see a Bears vs. Pats superbowl. There is some payback due there, but I like the underdog in this one:

    Seahawks over Bears by 3

    Green Bay at Atlanta: Green Bay is possibly the best team in the NFC right now, but Atlanta is near invincible at home. Still, in hoping that the Seahawks get another home game, just to screw with all the seeding talk, I will pick the Pack on the road!

    Pack over Atlanta by 7

    Ravens at Steelers: Tough, hard fought game. This is nearly a wash. So I will have to give this one to the home team.

    Steelers over Ravens by 3

    Last but not least, the Jets at NE. The Jets continue to talk. There is a history I see in this league about teams who have players that talk, talk, talk, and who talk about how good they are. There is also a history of what happens when teams talk trash about the Pats and Brady. Why do you think LT has shut up this week? Because he learned the lesson. Cromartie is doing an excellent job of losing this game, the week before. While not the blowout it was last time, I see little chance for the Jets to win. They need to be perfect AND need help from the Pats:

    Pats over jets by 14

  45. bucsballer says: Jan 14, 2011 10:34 AM

    U guys should realize the jets don’t suck…..all the dumb pats fans who are saying scores like 50-7 ur idiots. I hope cromartie shanks brady

  46. stanjam says: Jan 14, 2011 10:52 AM

    Bucsballer:

    How will Cromartie do this? Something he has NEVER done against Brady? He can not cover receivers that go horizontal or change direction quickly. He simply isn’t built for that. He is a straight line cover guy, and excellent at it, but that is about it. He has like zero shot at covering all day. Even if he does, who covers Hernandez? Who covers Gronkowski? Who covers Woodhead? Taylor?

    You will also need Sanchez to have a perfect game. He comes out like he did against the Colts and he will have three interceptions. You HAVE to be on target to not turn the ball over when the defense is as good at turnovers as NE has been. Or you need to run, and keep running well, and keep the lead.

    NE WILL get its points. NY needs to control the ball, keep it on the ground, and keep Brady on the sideline. That means you need to do this without Woody, and against Wilfork. I don’t think they can do it as consistently as they need to.

    If the Pats get ahead, this thing will unravel. They get ahead by 14, you might want to turn the TV off, because the Jets will start thinking about that 45-3 loss.

    Sorry, but the realistic perception is NE over the Jets by 14+. Closer than the last one, but still a dominant win.

  47. 8man says: Jan 14, 2011 10:59 AM

    I think I look silly making picks, but I really like reading everyone else’s.

    No real feel for the games other than, if GB wins they are going to the Super Bowl and I think Seattle can hang with Chicago.

    As for the Ravens and Steelers, I think the telling stat will be Roethlisberger’s YPA. Check at points throughout the game. If he’s around 5 to 6 ypa, the Steelers will be trailing and lose. Anything over 7.5 and I expect they will be leading and win. Barring, crazy turnovers, of course. I think it really will matter enormously how Big Ben does.

  48. bucsballer says: Jan 14, 2011 11:15 AM

    im just sayin id lvoe to see cromartie have a shank in his sock and walk up and shank brady. see how many flags he wants than

  49. steelers0wn0hio says: Jan 14, 2011 11:16 AM

    This is the most nervous I have been for a playoff game in some time…..thats not a good thing. I know we got pounded by Brady and company but this Ravens game makes me so nervous. The Ravens o line is the most underrated unit in football as much as i hate admitting that. Flacco has so much time, i just hope we can force a couple TO’s which has happened often in the past vs the Ravens.

  50. somesome says: Jan 14, 2011 11:31 AM

    @Deb says:
    Jan 14, 2011 1:13 AM
    Ravens at Steelers …
    Expect fifty-six minutes of hard-fought football followed by 240 intense seconds during which one of the AFC finalists will emerge.

    I’m expecting 56 minutes of screaming, jumping, dancing, forehead-smacking, pacing, groaning, and cheering … followed by 240 seconds of trying not to throw up. Just hope I’m crying when it’s over. I only cry when we win.
    ————————————-
    right there with you …

    Wow, everyody is nicey-nice on here today.
    Predicting the game is toss-up in my book so you have to give it to the home team, Steelers by 3.
    I don’t see any team to have a rusher over 100-yards, Ravens havn’t aloowed one either in their last 15 playoff games.

    My feeling is that it will be field postion battle for most part of the game, Cundiff and Koch have been the best team in the league all year. But at the end it will be some crazy turn over or a crazy pass made under big preasure with the passer on his way down that willl decide the game.

    Again why does this game have the worst airtime slot – smallest markets between Pittsburgh and B’more I guess.

  51. masteel says: Jan 14, 2011 11:32 AM

    I only care about one game, its this game – this week win it and move on !!

    STEELERS 23 vs Ravens 14

    Ball Control – get Mendenhall his touches

    Passing – get the ball to two rookie WR’s who will have limited and suspect nickel coverage

    Ben – get the ball out quick or throw it away

    BIG Play – Wallace has to do his thing, make that one catch which will cause a ‘splash play’

    LB’s – don’t let Heap run amok in secondary, keep your lanes and jump his routes

    Refs – let them play, don’t give either team 20+ yards on a 3rd down stop in the 3rd or 4th Quarter

    ps Deb – I hope you are crying I’ll be yelling!!!

  52. goawayeverybody says: Jan 14, 2011 11:34 AM

    Ravens 24, Steelers 13
    Bears 30, Seahawks 16
    Packers 32, Falcons 19
    Jets 27, Patriots 24

  53. gamustangdude says: Jan 14, 2011 11:34 AM

    Packers got lucky to enter the playoffs. They need more than Rogers to beat the Falcons. They have no consistent running game. Falcons have been the most Consistent team all season.

    Packers are 4-5 on the road and atlanta is 7-1 at home.

    Packers 17 Falcons 31

  54. fbgeek77 says: Jan 14, 2011 12:08 PM

    holeinone09 says:
    Jan 14, 2011 10:22 AM
    Looks like many Ravens fans here today. They are fortunate to be able to support a really good team, which the Ravens are. The way I see things, the Steelers will win what should be a great game, likely the best matchup this weekend. Here is why:

    1. Steelers run defense is solid and consistent. No way the Ravens’ backs will get near 100 yards in the game, which will put pressure on Flacco.

    2. Flacco uses play action to improve their passing offense. Steelers won’t bite on that because they won’t be able to run that well.

    3. Steelers LBs will harrass Flacco a lot worse than the Chiefs were able to do. Flacco had too much time to just stand there and wait for receivers to get open. Woodley really cranks it up in playoff games, and Timmons is playing very well also. Nothing more needs said about Harrison of course.

    4. Troy will play. He changes the entire Steeler secondary.

    5. Ben should be healthier than he has been in a number of weeks. But, he looked very good against Carolina and Cleveland.

    6. Ben is able to make bigger scrambling plays than Flacco. No doubt Ben will spend time running for his life on many plays, and he will find open receivers as he extends the plays, while also taking a few sacks in return. Look for Miller to have a big game, playing the role that Heap did against the Chiefs.

    7. There will be some home field advantage, with the fan support. With snow expected, the atmosphere will be electric.

    8. Expect Ben to use the no-huddle a lot if they start out slow. That seems to generally work well for them, and will tire out the Ravens aging defense.

    9. I expect the Steelers, and maybe the Ravens, to pull out at least one gadget play, since each team knows so much about each other. The one that works might tip the scales.

    Steelers 24
    Ravens 20

    GO STEELERS!!

    —————————————-

    I am not picking on your analysis at all, so sorry if it seems like I am … But man, reading your comments, I can so hear Troy Aikman saying them. Really all you need is a few extraneous “whats” in there and you’ve got him nailed. Try this:

    “Steelers LBs will harrass Flacco a lot worse than WHAT the Chiefs were able to do.”

    Better. :)

  55. steelerdynasty2010 says: Jan 14, 2011 12:16 PM

    PFT is censoring my comments for some reason, so i’ll just say:
    steelers 34 ravens 10

    and um…..GO JESTS!!

  56. steelers24019 says: Jan 14, 2011 12:18 PM

    Steelers 24 Ravens 14
    Packers 27 Falcons 21
    Bears 31 Seahawks 20
    Patriots 28 Jets 17

  57. bordner says: Jan 14, 2011 12:19 PM

    gamustangdude says:
    Jan 14, 2011 11:34 AM

    Packers got lucky to enter the playoffs. They need more than Rogers to beat the Falcons. They have no consistent running game. Falcons have been the most Consistent team all season.

    Packers are 4-5 on the road and atlanta is 7-1 at home.

    Packers 17 Falcons 31
    ————————————————-
    Sounds like somebody’s scared…

    The Falcons total lack of playoff experience will bite them in the butt. The crowd will be out of it by halfway through the 2nd quarter.

    Packers 31 Falcons 17 (there – I fixed it for you)

  58. holeinone09 says: Jan 14, 2011 12:30 PM

    fbgeek77, thanks. Just calling it as I see it from my perspective. But if I could get Aikman’s money making the same type of analysis, I would take it LOL.

    GO STEELERS!!

  59. gamustangdude says: Jan 14, 2011 12:38 PM

    Falcons are scared of what?

    Green Bay’s 4-5 road record?

    Or the way the squeaked into the playoffs?

    Or the fact that we already beat them at home?

    Green Bay is the most overrated team in the Playoffs; they have no chance come tomorrow night,

    I was Right the first time,

    Packers 17 Falcons 31, I’ll let you know next time I need help.

  60. steelers24019 says: Jan 14, 2011 12:43 PM

    Somesome:

    Again why does this game have the worst airtime slot – smallest markets between Pittsburgh and B’more I guess.
    ___________________________________

    Steelers are 2nd most popular team in the NFL, they were not put in the TV time slot they have because CBS thinks no one watches the Steelers.

    GO STEELERS!

  61. joerevs300 says: Jan 14, 2011 12:49 PM

    No matter how the Steelers-Ravens game plays out, it’s a shame this can’t be for the AFC Championship again. I don’t think there are 2 teams you could pair up in the AFC that are as bitter a rival, that play very similar styles of football, and who hate each other as much as the Ravens/Steelers do.

    And to the Jets fans, please stop. Short of LT and Greene running for 150 yards and controlling the ball for 45 minutes, you have no chance of beating the Patriots @ Foxboro. If running your mouth and making brash statements won football games, you’d be 16-0 and hosting the Patriots this weekend.

  62. jangocat says: Jan 14, 2011 12:54 PM

    Funny how these two always pick opposite teams except the obvious lock, like the Patriots beating the Jets.

  63. ontboltfan says: Jan 14, 2011 12:57 PM

    BAL’s only chance is to try and run the ball in heavy sets w 2 or 3 TEs. Their precision passing game isn’t going to work in PIT, it actually cost them the last game in BAL. PIT 23-20.

    GB just slightly better in passer rating & a few more weapons. Real toss up here. If ATL could lose to NO at home they can lost to GB. GB 23-20.

    CHI 27-20

    NE 28-20. Sanchez is still learning on the job.

  64. deweyaxewound says: Jan 14, 2011 1:04 PM

    The important thing to take out of all this is that Flo-hole picked against the Bears (yet again…big surprise), which means the Bears are bound to win convincingly.

    Thanks, Flow-bee.

  65. righthereisay says: Jan 14, 2011 1:20 PM

    the 08′ AFC Championship wasn’t a nail biter? We were up 16-14 and they had the ball with 4 minutes left. A field goal by the Ravens would have won it. I remember looking over to the other people in my row saying “We are going to lose on 2 Pass interference calls.”

  66. steelerdynasty2010 says: Jan 14, 2011 1:24 PM

    just to play devil’s advocate, but didnt pats fans say there was NO WAY the giants would beat them in the SB?

    GO JESTS!

  67. Bubby Brister says: Jan 14, 2011 1:25 PM

    Most underrated storyline (and potentially biggest) in PIT/BAL matchup (not sure if I’ve heard ANYbody mention this):

    Since Heinz Field was built, it is hands down the toughest stadium to kick at in the league, especially in the colder months, with the winds, temps, and the usually bad field conditions. No question about it. For the past 7 years, though, the Steelers had a HUGE advantage in that department. Most kickers ranges around this time of the year are about 40, TOPS, and JEFF REED’s range was about 50. Time and time again I’d see good kickers come into this place and just look awful. Anybody remember Doug Brien?

    Anyway, all I’m saying is this: the field is likely going to be in really bad shape from a combo of the hockey rink that was on it 2 weeks ago and a forecast of snow. Shaun Suisham is not Jeff Reed. Sure, he’s been good since he’s gotten to Pittsburgh, but there’s a reason he’s gotten cut by about 4 teams. Pittsburgh (as well as me and all other Steelers fans) better hope it doesn’t come down to field goals or we might have an entire city ready to burn down Suishi’s house come tomorrow night. Getting 6′s on the boards instead of 7′s will be absolutely vital in this game, and if the Steelers do that they will win. If they do not, they will lose. It’s that simple.

    All that said, I’m feeling the Steelers in this one in a “mini” (and hard fought) blowout: 24-10

  68. Bubby Brister says: Jan 14, 2011 1:27 PM

    Sorry, I meant 6′s instead of 3′s. You get the idea.

  69. dmiller68 says: Jan 14, 2011 1:38 PM

    Ravens 24, Steelers 21 (OT)
    Bears 28, Seahawks 42
    Packers 31, Falcons 28 (OT)
    Jets 21, Patriots 24

    I think it will be a good weekend of football again this week. Yes, I’m a Seahawks Fan! I do think one of the games this week will test the new overtime rule.

  70. calloustongue says: Jan 14, 2011 2:00 PM

    @ GAMustang

    None of those things will matter when the whistle blows. And winning three games in a row to be where they are, is by no means, “squeaking in.” Hard fought games against good teams. Their momentum will carry them right through the rusty Falcons.

    Pack
    Steelers
    Bears
    Patriots

  71. bordner says: Jan 14, 2011 2:25 PM

    gamustangdude says:
    Jan 14, 2011 12:38 PM

    Falcons are scared of what?

    Green Bay’s 4-5 road record?

    Or the way the squeaked into the playoffs?

    Or the fact that we already beat them at home?

    Green Bay is the most overrated team in the Playoffs; they have no chance come tomorrow night,

    I was Right the first time,

    Packers 17 Falcons 31, I’ll let you know next time I need help.

    ———————————————-

    I’ll take that as an invitation.

    Packers 31 Falcons 17 (you’re welcome)

  72. Steeler's Will says: Jan 14, 2011 2:31 PM

    @Bubby Brister

    The NHL resodded Heinz field after the Winter Classic IIRC.

    Everywhere else you are spot on as usual.

  73. purpleisreallypinkyouknow says: Jan 14, 2011 2:35 PM

    gamustangdude says:
    Jan 14, 2011 6:57 AM
    Pakers Over the Falcons, blah blah blah

    Falcons will get exposed, blah blah blah

    I guess we all have confidence now in the Pakers “running game” or is it the fact that the Pakers beat the Falcons last time, oh wait they didn’t. The packers are 2-4 against the Falcons in the last six games. The Pakers, not the Falcons will be exposed.
    ___________________________________

    Make sure you log back on after the game on Saturday night. I can’t wait for your frustrated crying game and reasoning of why your Falchickens lost this one…I’m assuming you’ll go with the refs, slick gameballs, or some other fabrication.
    As much as I think Green Bay will win this one…and I think in convincing style, I’m not about to dog your team alot.
    1) The 2-4 record means nothing, come playoff time. The Packers hadn’t won in Philly in almost forever (not even with Favre) since Rodgers did it this year (Twice) and Andy Reid had never lost a playoff game in Philly. Stats and theories, eh?
    2) When these 2 last met, the Packers had just come off a pounding of the Vikings, so they had a let down game…yet still almost won. Jennings went for a buck 19, Rodgers for 344…..no running game to speak of and a PI call so bad, that it’s still being talked about. Now, Cullen Jenkins is back, the D-line is back to healthy, and this defense is playing better than they have all year. Mike McCarthy pussied out inside the 10 twice, opting for FG when a TD on either would’ve proved victorious in the end.

    Do I think the Packer running game is vastly improved…? Yes…by a long shot, and it’s gotten better week by week, for the last 4.
    Do I think the Packer D is better than they were earlier…? By a long shot. Cullen Jenkins is back in, the D-line is healthy and the DBs and LBs are playing lights out right now.

    I won’t be surprised if either team wins, it should be a great game. Everyone talks about the Atlanta passing threat and Green Bay’s likewise. the last matchup, Green Bay went off with several no names hitting on big plays….I like the odds.
    Confidence is good, I just hope you don’t have the blinders on so tight that you can’t see disappointment looking over your shoulder. Ryan is playing great, Turner is a stud, White and Gonzo are key….but there are lots of teams in this league that are MUCH deeper than Atlanta, and GB has beaten quite a few of them.
    Getting healthy is key with a week off, but that doesn’t always help every team….just sayin’.

  74. somesome says: Jan 14, 2011 3:23 PM

    @steelers24019 says:
    Jan 14, 2011 12:43 PM
    Somesome:

    Again why does this game have the worst airtime slot – smallest markets between Pittsburgh and B’more I guess.
    ___________________________________

    Steelers are 2nd most popular team in the NFL, they were not put in the TV time slot they have because CBS thinks no one watches the Steelers.

    GO STEELERS!
    _________________________________

    mmmmh, yeah that’s exactly what that means. It means they have no ratings for this game on the WEST coast where this game willl be aired on Saturday at 1PM. They get better ratings from the New York teams and Chicago. This time slot was set knowing it is going to be Steelers and KC/Baltimore. Disapointing that the Falcons and either GB/Philly even have a better slot.

    The time slots are not by accident.

  75. gamustangdude says: Jan 14, 2011 3:59 PM

    @purpleisreallypinkyouknow says:

    One correction, anytime anyone played the Vikings this year doesn’t ever use the word “pounding.”

    The Vikings never pounded anyone, they won some games, but that’s it.

    The only stat that matters is the last time these two teams played Falcons won. I don’t care how, they won when the clocked read 00:00 Atlanta had more points. Argue that.

    If Green Bay wins, I’ll eat my share of crow, however Atlanta has proven week end and out that if nothing else they are a consistent team with threats.

  76. deweyaxewound says: Jan 14, 2011 4:32 PM

    dmiller68 says:
    Jan 14, 2011 1:38 PM
    Ravens 24, Steelers 21 (OT)
    Bears 28, Seahawks 42
    Packers 31, Falcons 28 (OT)
    Jets 21, Patriots 24

    I think it will be a good weekend of football again this week. Yes, I’m a Seahawks Fan! I do think one of the games this week will test the new overtime rule.
    ________________________________

    You really seriously honestly think the Seahawks will come into Soldier Field in January–against a fully healthy and completely rested and totally schemed-up Bears defense that’s all hell-bent on revenge–and put up 42 points?

    (Sidenote of ridiculousness–EVERY OTHER game is settled by precisely 3 points, right?)

    And you think you actually need to TELL us all that you’re a Seahawks fan?

    You must’ve been “Irish-ing up” that Seattle coffee of yours pretty early this morning or something…

  77. pappyjoe69 says: Jan 14, 2011 4:49 PM

    We’re down to the final eight! What a weekend coming up! I like the Steelers because there really is a home field advantage at Heinz Field, right now, Ben Roethlisberger (all you knuckleheads out there, check this for the correct spelling) is a proven winner in the playoffs, and they’re peaking at the right time. I also expect Dick Lebeau to have something up his sleeve. I think the Packers are playing good, all around football right now but to me, the Falcons are pretty darn good, too! So that is a tough pick for me. As far as Chicago goes, it depends which Bears Team shows up! I just don’t see Seattle winning on the road though. Jets at Pats should be interesting. I’m not giving NE a free pass on this one. I know all about Tom Terrific and Bill Belichick’s reputations, they really are an awesome duo. But what gets me thinking is Rex Ryan did his homework last week for Peyton and I believe he’s spent the entire week doing the same for the Patriots. I’m willing to bet his brother and his dad are helping him out too. That makes at least three pretty darn good defensive guys putting a plan together to erase a very humiliating showing the last time the Jets went North. No one is thinking of the playoff inexperience on the Pats either as far as their young guys are concerned. So, I’m thinking a lot closer game and maybe even a NY win here. As Boomer says – “That’s why they play the games!”

  78. danlen975 says: Jan 14, 2011 7:50 PM

    Patriots ran up the score last time against the jets?

    Moron, did you watch the game?

    The score could have been 80-3. The Patriots did everything they could to not run up the score.

    This is the NFL, not Pop Warner. Line up and stop us, otherwise wave the white flag

    Rex Ryan’s mouth is going to be sewn shut on Sunday

  79. ninernationnut says: Jan 15, 2011 4:05 AM

    Sheesh, all the name calling. Simmer down, folks.

    If our teams lose (which mine didn’t even make it to the playoffs), we’ll still be talking smack come this time next year, since the world isn’t going to end until 2012.

    In which case someone may want to petition the NFL to start the season earlier that year, just in case.

    Ravens 14 – Steelers 31
    Ravens lead early, but Ben and the boys bring it on strong in the second half.

    Bears 14 – Seahawks 16
    Down to the wire. The Bears are inconsistent at best and the Seahawks, sincerely believe they can win, which, I believe, makes the Bears underestimate them to their detriment.

    Packers 27 – Falcons 24
    Hard fought, all the way, but I believe the Packers learned a lot the last time they played the Falcons.

    Jets 13 – Patriots 56
    Realistically, the Jets beat a Colts team that was “lucky” to make the playoffs at all this year.

    I sincerely think the Jets will score first, which will make them even more over-confident. This will lead the Patriots to “pull out all the stops”. The Jets defense will be so worn out by the fourth quarter that even the Patriots second and third string will be able to score, and Belichick will let them.

    Considering the Niners we’re mathematically eliminated in week two of the regular season, this isn’t smack talk, it’s just how I see it unfolding.

  80. jdkword says: Jan 15, 2011 4:18 PM

    Hey, we might as well crown the Pats superbowl champs right now! Yeah right, just like the last time against the Giants! This is exactly what the Jets need to hear to get them fired up, just like they did in the second half against the Colts. Any given Sunday… Thanks Protalk from NY.

  81. purpleisreallypinkyouknow says: Jan 16, 2011 4:51 PM

    gamustangdude says:
    Jan 14, 2011 3:59 PM
    @purpleisreallypinkyouknow says:

    One correction, anytime anyone played the Vikings this year doesn’t ever use the word “pounding.”

    The Vikings never pounded anyone, they won some games, but that’s it.
    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    The Packers pounded the Vikings 31-3….hence the “2) When these 2 last met, the Packers had just come off a pounding of the Vikings, so they had a let down game…yet still almost won.”

    Wake the f-up stoner. BTW…how’s that dirty bird tasting??

  82. jdkword says: Jan 16, 2011 7:45 PM

    Ahem naysayers, what did I say yesterday?

    jdkword says:
    Jan 15, 2011 4:18 PM
    Hey, we might as well crown the Pats superbowl champs right now! Yeah right, just like the last time against the Giants! This is exactly what the Jets need to hear to get them fired up, just like they did in the second half against the Colts. Any given Sunday… Thanks Protalk from NY.

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