Week 20 Picks
Green Bay Packers (12-6) at Chicago Bears (12-5)
Line: Packers by 3.5. Total: 43.5.
The Green Bay Packers have found a run game to compliment Aaron Rodgers and his corps of receivers. The Aaron Rodgers/Greg Jennings duo is the best QB/WR combo left in the playoffs! Rodgers is a horrible matchup for the pass rushing Bears; they love to pressure the QB. The problem for the Bears is that Rodgers does his best work when pressured. Rodgers loves getting the ball out of his hand quick, and he can exploit the aggressive style of the Bears. The Bears secondary is not very quick; they are going to have a tough time keeping up with Jennings and Driver. The Packers are going to run a lot of quick fades and slants, catching the Bears close to the line.
The Bears do not run the typical Mike Marz offense. The Bears are not the fastest show on turf, they are a ground and pound on the joke of a field they call Soldier Field! Matt Forte is the Bears best offensive weapon, and will be given the ball a lot Sunday. Jay Cutler will attempt to get the ball deep to Johnny Knox, but Charles Woodson and Tramon Williams will be there waiting for the ball. Mike Martz is a cocky coordinator that will believe his system is more important then his players, this will cause at least a couple of Cutler interceptions. When Lovie Smith finally shuts down Martz and the Bears do what they do best (run) Clay Mathews will be waiting for Forte in the hole. The Bears best offense is a good defense, they need to keep the Packers offense off of the field.
On paper the Packers should run away with this game, but that is why they play football on the field (even if it is the worst field in the NFL).When picking football games it is never as easy, as picking the team with the best players (ask New Orleans). The 12th and 13th players on the field with the Bears will be the horrible playing surface and the crowd. Can the Packers keep their footing on the soggy sod? Will the crowd noise get to the Packer offense? To both questions I answer, yes. The Packers will not perform the way they did on the Atlanta artificial surface. The Packer offense will not be as in rhythm as they are when playing at Lambeau Field. The Packers will be at a disadvantage on Sunday, but so is every NFL team playing on the road.
The Packers have a better team then the Bears. The Bears have home field advantage. This game comes down to who will use their resources the best. On Sunday it will be the Packers. Green Bay is a mentally strong team that will take advantage of all mismatches. The Cutler led Bears will play with their hearts on their sleeve. The gross abundance of emotion will cause the Bears to make mistakes, which the Packers will capitalize on. Packers win the NFC and go to Dallas for the Superbowl!
Packers 30 over Bears 17
New York Jets (13-5) at Pittsburgh Steelers (13-4)
Line: Steelers by 3.5. Total: 38.5.
The Jets are an underdog. Las Vegas has the Steelers beating the Jets by 3.5 points. This could not be worst news for the Steelers. The Rex Ryan New York Jets thrive on being the underdog. They take pride in winning games they are supposed to lose. The Jets have been a "what if" team for the last couple of years. What if we did not fumble the ball, what if we did not throw that pick? Last year the Jets were a game away from the Superbowl when they had a what if moment. Last week against their arch rival Patriots, the Jets leaped a building size hurdle. The Jets are no longer, the team that almost made it. The Jets now have veteran leadership that will not allow the team to slip up in key moments.
The presence of veterans like LaDainian Tomlinson, Santonio Holmes, Mark Brunell, Tony Richardson, Bart Scott and Jason Taylor give the Jets a mentality of; "we have been here before, just another week". This is something the Jets lacked a season ago, when they were a bunch of young kids exceeding expectations. Mark Sanchez has a mentor in Mark Brunell. Shonn Greene has someone he could learn from in LT. Braylon Edwards gets to line up along side a superbowl MVP in Santonio Holmes. The Jets will be mentally prepared for a rough and hard hitting Steeler team.
The Pittsburgh Steelers know a little something about experience them selves. The Steelers roster is a "who's who" of veteran players. The experience of Hines Ward, Ben Roethlisberger, James Farrior, Larry Foote and Troy Polamalu (to name a few) far exceed the Superbowl experience any other team has. The Steelers will not make uncanny mistakes that young teams are accustomed to. The Steelers will play smash nose defense, and throw the ball to open receivers with accuracy. Bottom line the Steelers will have to be beat; they will not lose the game on their own.
Bothe teams are led by veteran players. The Jets and Steelers are coached close to perfection. This is going to be a well played close game, but someone has to win. To pick a winner of this game you have to dive into depths commonly unknown to a football game. As much as both teams are well coached, they both have future hall of famers on their respective rosters. So if both teams are star studded and well coached how do you pick a winner. Well first you have to look at home field advantage, the advantage here obviously goes to the Steelers. Second you have to look at the Vegas game edge, the winner here is also the Steelers (3.5). Lastly and most importantly you have to look at who is on the field. On the offensive side of the ball, I call it a draw. Defensively, another draw (2 top rated defenses). Lastly special teams, the winning team in this category is the Jets by a LONG shot! Pittsburgh is at the bottom of the league in return against yardage. The Jets are in the upper echelon of the NFL in return yardage.
This game is as close to a draw as we have seen all year. No one factor separates these two teams. The one aspect of this game that stands out to me the most is the disparity in special teams. Due to this, I am going to pick the New York Jets to not only cover the spread, but win this game. Antonio Cromartie will give Mark Sanchez and his offense a short field to work with all day. The Jets squeak by the Steelers and play the Packers in the superbowl.
Jets 24 over Steelers 23