Conference Championship picks

Well, Rosenthal has clinched the full-season picks contest.

But I can still force a tie in the postseason portion of the contest.

If we pick different teams for each game and if I get them all right.  Here’s who we like this weekend.

(And, no, I didn’t make my picks after seeing his.  And he didn’t make his after seeing mine.)

Packers at Bears

Florio’s take:  I’ve been overlooking and underestimating the Bears all year.  So why stop now?  Sure, the Bears beat the Packers in Week Three.  Yes, the Packers barely beat the Bears in Week 17, when the Packers needed a win to qualify for the playoffs.  But the Packers are firing on all cylinders, and they look like they can’t be beaten.  Though they may be beaten, it’s impossible to pick against them after beating the Falcons by 27.

Florio’s pick:  Packers 31, Bears 23.

Rosenthal’s take:  This week has felt like a coronation for Aaron Rodgers as the league’s best quarterback and the Packers as the “It” team.  It’s all too perfect, which should worry Packers fans.  The Bears have proven they can slow down Aaron Rodgers.  (Green Bay averaged 13.5 points in two matchups against Chicago.)  Like the Jets and Patriots last week, I think divisional familiarity will help to slow down a hot offense.   The Bears won’t give up big plays, and tailback James Starks should struggle to run against a strong run defense.  This pick isn’t about logic.   It’s about the Bears finding a way to make this game ugly.  They can beat a more talented Packers squad because of special teams, defense, and the Jay Cutler throw across his body that looks like a terrible idea.  For some strange reason, I’m convinced Cutler will complete that throw Sunday and spoil Rodgers’ run to NFL royalty.

Rosenthal’s pick: Bears 20, Packers 17.

Jets at Steelers

Florio’s take:  Though the Jets beat the Steelers last month in Pittsburgh, the Steelers have had a great playoff run since losing the AFC title game six years ago, winning eight of nine postseason games.  Eight of nine.  But there’s something about these Jets, who somehow managed to go from being the preseason hype magnet to a team with a postseason chip on its shoulder.  Those wins over the Colts and Patriots become meaningless absent a win over the Steelers, and though it won’t be easy, the Jets have a defense that can avoid being picked apart and an offense that can do just enough to get it done.  Look for receiver Santonio Holmes, shipped out of Pittsburgh because he got himself suspended on the heels of Big Ben’s Milledgeville Misadventures, to be the difference maker when it counts, again.

Florio’s pick:  Jets 24, Steelers 22.

Rosenthal’s take:  The Jets beat the Patriots largely because they dominated the one-on-one matchups on the outside on both sides of the ball.  That shouldn’t be the case in Pittsburgh.  The young Steelers wide receivers can get deep against New York, especially if Darrelle Revis covers Hines Ward again.  (Does Rex Ryan not think Revis can keep up with Mike Wallace?  It doesn’t make sense.)  I’m picking the Steelers for the same reason I did last week.  In a matchup of great defenses, Pittsburgh’s D is better – especially at rushing the passer.  Bart Scott talks; the Steelers linebackers make plays.  Pittsburgh has the better quarterback and home field advantage.  That should be enough.

Rosenthal’s pick: Steelers 24, Jets 17.

58 responses to “Conference Championship picks

  1. Speaking as a Viking fan, I wish the best of luck to the Packers and Bears. Everyone counted the Bears out before this season, and they’ve shocked everyone. Aaron Rodgers has proved to everyone that he is an elite quarterback.

    They are model teams in the NFL right now, everyone can learn from them, including the Vikings.

    I still “hate” them, but at least I can accept that they’re well run football teams.

  2. The refs won’t stop the Packers, it will be their invisible running game. Bears should win out in a close one. No way is the Jets going to win twice out in Heinz Field. Steelers will own the Jets.

  3. As CEO, President, Chairman of the Board, Head of Football Operations, Majority Shareholder, and all that, I would find it completely understandable if you were to take over responsibility for making Rosenthal’s picks as well as your own. At this critical juncture.

    This is not just the regular season anymore and requires a sure, steady, hand guiding the ship (and removing the other guy’s wallet).

  4. the pittsburgh wr’s were mauled all game long the last time the jets/steelers played . if they can earn the calls this time around, and not let those great dbs get in their pocket they can do some damage. the rookie wr’s are stepping up.
    it looks to me that the pittsburgh defense can shake sanchez up, and i feel baltimore was better than the jets.
    should be a great game.

  5. I love looking at the “experts” picks when trying to decide what to bet on. It seems when they do these picks, they never pick the same team.

  6. Pretty good! But I think Rosenthal is picking the Steelers to motivate the Jets… cuz he REALLY thinks the Jets will win! …just kidding, no one cares what Rosenthal thinks! lol

  7. “The young Steelers wide receivers can get deep against New York, especially if Darrelle Revis covers Hines Ward again. (Does Rex Ryan not think Revis can keep up with Mike Wallace? It doesn’t make sense.)”

    I think the rationale is that Revis could cover Wallace, but Cromartie can’t cover Ward. Cro has been horrific against slot receivers, particularly physical ones who cut well, all season.

    I think it’s a great strategy (which worked last time, by the way). Revis takes Ward solo, and Cromartie gets safety help. And let’s face it, Wallace is very, very fast, but he’s not elusive. Cromartie has the speed and size to stick with him.

    This strategy also fits with the Jets newfound focus on coverage over blitzing as a source of pressure. Although I think they get away from that a bit this week.

    That said, I think the Steelers win a close one. You just can’t beat Peyton, Brady and Roethlisberger three weeks in a row in the playoffs. Big Ben, while the worst of the three, will be one to many.

  8. That said, Sanders is certainly a problem. The Jets will need a big game from Drew Coleman, Dwight Lowery and Eric Smith to win.

    It’s too soon to assume that Antonio Brown is of the caliber of the other three, just because he made a big play. He was the hero last week, though.

  9. “Look for receiver Santonio Holmes, shipped out of Pittsburgh because he got himself suspended on the heels of Big Ben’s Milledgeville Misadventures, to be the difference maker when it counts, again”

    you had a whole week to talk about this and this is all we get? All I know is if I was a steelers fan and santonio plays a big part in the jets going to the super bowl I’d pissed off to the highest level of pissivity.

  10. Packers v Bears in the NFC Championship,one definitely going to the Superbowl,its my nightmare!but if you love football you know it will be a heck of a game and i cant wait to see it,congrats to both teams making it this far,may the best team win,we should all relish these last 3 games(Pro Bowl does not count as a real game)ladies and gentlemen,they may be the last we see for a while……….

  11. I think the Steelers have a great shot at taking the Jets. The Patriots and Indy are not very “tough” teams. You smack them in the mouth and rough them up at the line, you’re going to rattle them and make them off rhythm. That’s the type of game the Steelers love to play, and their the veterans at it.

    I think the Jets win the Super Bowl in the next 2 years however, barring a lockout. It’s just to tall an order without enough motivation to win against the Steelers at home when Ben and the defense are set to really make a statement after their respective controversies.

  12. Today’s my ESPN breakdown of the game but I’ll pass on a cliff notes version here:

    Packers vs. Bears

    As we saw with the Patriots/Jets, toss out what’s happened previously. Divisional games, especially when it’s for the right to go to a Super Bowl, are almost always going to be close.

    While I don’t think the Packers are buying all the hype, I am sure some of the players are going to come into this game just a little overconfident. (Not to mention all of the state of Wisconsin). And that’s just what the Bears want.

    Like the Jets, I don’t think too many people actually THINK the Bears can win, even if they picked them to. But I mean no one thought the Jets could win last week. And we saw what happened.

    In the end, shaky offensive line and all, with the bad field conditions, I think the Bears can run the ball more, control the clock, and play better defense. And that will be just enough.

    Bears 20 Packers 17

    Jets vs Steelers

    Let’s face it: The Steelers have owned the Jets. 16-4 all time, and the Jets have only won once at Pittsburgh.

    And yes, that one was a 22-17 win in Week 15.

    Sure, the Jets are coming in on a wave of confidence after absolutely baffling one of the best QB/Coach tandems in the NFL that pride on doing that to others.

    But this is a Steelers team at nearly full strength, with one of the most underappreciated QB’s in the NFL who never gets mentioned in the same breath as Brady, P.Manning, Brees, Rivers as one of the best QB’s in the NFL. Yet all he does is win big games.

    It’s been a nice run for the Jets but with Heath Miller and Polamalu back in this game, the Steelers will make more big plays, are the more battle tested championship team and will go on to try for their unprecedented 7th Super Bowl.

    Steelers 24 Jets 20

  13. I cannot remember ever being so excited about BOTH championship games. Not a fan of either team, but the Bears-Packers is the best rivalry over time in the NFL and I can’t wait to watch it unfold.

    Steelers-Jets will be a slug fest.

    I wish all 4 teams to play their best and that each game is decided on play, not officiating or turnovers.

  14. Bears vs Packers Too tough to call…..I guess it will come down to turnovers and who makes less mistakes….my guess,,even though I am a Packer fan,,,I cannot see them winning in Chicago…they would nt be my Packers if they would nt break my heart….Go Packers !

  15. I’ve seen several comments on a few sites that the Packers only averaged 13.5 points in their two games against the Bears. I’ve seen no one mention that in those same two games, the Bears offense managed one TD in 21 offensive drives.

    If the Packers can keep Hester out of the end zone on special teams, the biggest mismatch is the Packer D v the Bear offense. If the Packers score two touchdowns, I can’t see the Bears matching that. If the Packers score 3 TDs, game over.

    The Bears certainly are capable of winning. I don’t think the Packers will be overconfident – enough Packer players remain from the 2007 NFC Championship huge disappointment and the loss to the Giants in Lambeau. These Packer players will grab this chance to get to the Super Bowl, and they won’t succomb to overconfidence.

  16. The packers better hope the that the bears do not get the same “homefield advantage”by the referees the saints got last year against the VIKINGS. If so, it’s game to da bears.

    But packer fans will be able to feel good about it later, when the NFL issues an apology, after the fact, that they blew the call of the game.

    It does make it all better…..NOT!

  17. @ datruth2100: “I’d (be) pissed off to the highest level of pissivity.”

    I love it! Let’s hope that the Oxford English Dictionary recognizes *pissivity* as one of its “Words of the Year.”

  18. are not alone.

    I’m lobbing out some guesses into cyberspace here;

    Packers 24 Bears 17
    Steelers 27 Jets 13

  19. aceace28—-I must have been watching a different game last year…..I could have swore I saw #4 throw across the field to the Saints to end the game?????? Was he a ref? Im confused…..

  20. I love how the week 17 was barely a win for the Packers and as all the Chicago fans will tell you, they weren’t even trying.

    But yet a 3pt win early in the season on the back of 18 penalties, a missed FG, and an untimely fumble some how equates to a dominating Bears performance.

    Only Bears fans can make that leap in logic.

  21. I think people will be surprised at how many Packer fans will be at Soldier Field to cheer on the Pack. The home field advantage, which doesn’t appear to bother the Packers in the first place, will be diluted by Green and Gold clad fans.

    Packers 31 – Bears 17

  22. Falcons were most overhyped team this year. Came into the playoffs with the 22nd ranked pass D – that is just begging for a blowout. Their ball control offense hid their other flaws during the year.
    Pack just got an ideal matchup.

  23. Rosenthal-your argument about the Packers only scoring an average of 13.5 pts against the Bears defense has no bearing as the Bears offense has only averaged 11.5 pts against the Packers defense. If you are going strictly on that, Packers win.

  24. My grandfather said for years and years (pre and post-Lombardi) that “the Packers are dogs.”

    I keep hoping they will prove him wrong.

    Since losing to Detroit this season, they’ve been doing a good job of that.

    Go Pack Go!

  25. To be honest, I think the idea of putting Revis on Ward is smart. Cromartie can run real well, which can help to slow down Wallace on the deep ball. However, Wallace was developed into a Holmes-like guy to where he can take that quick 7 yard slant to the house. He’s only gotten better since the first meeting.

    As far as the Steelers secondardy, I’d lock Ike up on Santonio all day. Ike is one of, if not the most underappreciated corners in the game today. He’s a shut down guy. He doesn’t get the picks like some others do (he has hands like a penguin) but he’s as good as anyone heads up. I’d try to shut down Holmes and make Edwards/Cotchery/Keller beat the Steelers. Plus, I think you’ll see much more pressure on Sanchez compared to this time.

    The Steelers win this game because of Dick LeBeau.

    Steelers 21 Jets 10

  26. I’m a Bears fan, but I’m not sure if they can beat the Packers, especially given the way the Pack has been playing the past few weeks. I think Cutler will throw at least one INT. I give the edge to GB.

    Bears 20, Packers 27

    The Jets/Steelers game is going to be very interesting, but I think the Steelers will edge out the Jets. The Steelers will be able to pressure Sanchez, unlike the Patriots last week, and Sanchez will make mistakes.

    Jets 17, Steelers 20

    The Bears and Packers in the NFC championship game is going to be awesome. I’ve been to several games at Soldier Field, and that place is going to be absolutely nuts.

    Two great games this weekend, can’t wait!

  27. joerevs300 says:
    Jan 21, 2011 7:14 AM
    Today’s my ESPN breakdown of the game but I’ll pass on a cliff notes version here:…

    Cliff notes version? Really? Spare us. Make your point quick and move on. Who cares read this much from you? Columnist wannabe!

  28. I would put Revis on Ward as well because of Ward’s better routes. Wallace is too much of a go route speedster that plays into safety help. The key is going to be stopping Heath Miller for the Jets.

  29. I still see the Bears as frauds. Packers by 10.

    Jets are playing with a lot of confidence (as they should be), but Sanchez is due for a major blunder. Steelers by 3.

  30. NY Jets 20
    Steelers 10

    Even if Santonio gets shut down, the jets will still utilize their other guys – Edwards, Jericho, Tomlinson, Keller & Green… But Holmes will make some plays..
    Jets will run the ball against them too – L.T. is fresh and determined to get that ring – And Green is built for the playoffs.. Jets O-line is one of the best in the league.. But it all comes down to Sanchez being accurate and not throwing picks.. J-E-T-S Baby!!!

  31. Rosenthal mentions the Packers only scoring an avg of 13.5 pts in the previous 2 meetings, but fails to mention the Bears only averaged 11.5 pts in the previous 2 meanings, thus your reasoning is suspect at best.

    Now I do agree that special teams will decide this game, but I believe it will be via FG rather then punts and kickoffs.

  32. Both games will be decided by kicking teams and field goals. The weather will be brutal, and don’t see many TD’s.

    Pack 13, Bears 10
    Steelers 19, Jets 17

    Pack, 31, Steelers 27

  33. Amadeus lol we are talkin about Heinz field here..most kickers cant kick field goals there.if the jets have to depend on that they are in big trouble.

    Kudos to the jets for winning last time in Pittsburgh,but if you jets fans think u can go to Pittsburgh and do it 2 times in 1 are sadly mistaken..wont happen.

    and to all the QB critics out the heck can you even think of puting Rivers in any category other than the i havent done anything yet category …if ben wins a 3rd SB he will be listed as a future hall O famer for sure.if he isnt then soemone needs help.because at least his Super Bowl wins are legit and not caught in cheating scandles

  34. Go Break a Leg on Sunday! In Fact, Break Both of Rodgers’ for all the LA Viking-Packer fans!!!

  35. Games too difficult to parlay, too many ifs and buts.
    Play safe: tease the Packers to +10 and the Jets to +10.

    and @steelernation1…cheating scandals? just remember the immaculate reception was not really an interception and Seattle got screwed. Steelers didn’t have to hide their cameras; they had the refs in their back pocket.

  36. omg how do you figure is wasnt a reception?all the experts can even tell you it was..just a hater is all you are…noone can stand the fact that the steelers have the most rings.greatest team in the NFL and they have the best fan base in all of football.

    excuses dont add up.just rings and wins

  37. da bearssss are not playing the seagulls this week!! when cutler starts out bad he’ll blame someone else and start crying! the packers defense is better than da bearssss!! 28-17 packers not even close!

  38. bigbear12 –

    Ideal match ups, huh? Kinda like the Bears getting 8-9 Seattle at home last week?

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