NFL Championship Sunday open thread
posted at 10:30 am on January 23, 2011 by Ed Morrissey
Before we get to my picks for today, let’s take a look at just how much pull we have in pro football. Nine days ago, I wrote a post and added a poll about the NFL Players Association’s attempt to get Congress to intervene in the ongoing labor dispute with owners that may produce a lockout later this year. The league’s website for labor news linked to the post and reported the poll’s results, which showed 99.05% opposed to Congressional action. I’m flattered by the attention, and I’ll certainly look for another big link when I write later about my opposition to using public funds to build sports stadiums, an issue that will come to a head here in Minnesota in 2011. Hello? Hello?
All, right, back to the fun. Last week I went 3-1 in the divisional playoff games, and I was plenty happy to have been wrong about the Patriots-Jets game. I’m now 5-3 and can’t do worse than .500 in playoff predictions, and hope to do much better:
- Packers at Bears – Both teams finished strong at the end of the season, and the Packers have looked unbeatable on the road in the playoffs. They have found a running game, but that has mostly worked to set up Aaron Rodgers, perhaps the hottest QB in this year’s playoffs. They go into Chicago onto a field that will tend to negate their team speed, and face a tough Bears defense. In fact, both teams feature a tough defense, but the Pack has the hotter offense, and that will make the difference today. Packers over Bears, 24-20.
- Jets at Steelers – Someone asked me last week which team I’d rather see the Steelers face from last week’s Pats-Jets game, and I replied “Whoever loses.” Both teams beat the Steelers in the last half of the season; the Jets might not have made the playoffs without that win. The Jets win last week put the game in Pittsburgh, giving the Steelers an advantage over traveling to New England … but then again, the Jets won that regular-season game in Pittsburgh, too. Still, I think Pittsburgh has a few advantages here over the Jets. They have the best defense the Jets have played in the postseason, one that held Baltimore to just 28 yards in the second half of last week’s comeback win. Pittsburgh has the more experienced QB. They are significantly healthier than in the earlier Jets game, especially on the O-line. And one intangible should be kept in mind, which is that the Jets had a huge, emotional game last week against the Pats, where their coach made it intensely personal, and this week that emotional engagement may be lacking. The Steelers have been on this stage five times in the last ten years, and three times in the last five. Steelers over the Jets, 27-20.
Breaking on Hot Air