AFC Championship Game: Jets at Steelers

AFC Championship Game: Jets at Steelers


AFC Championship Game: Jets at Steelers

The New York Jets return to the AFC Championship game for consecutive seasons as a wildcard entry, joining the 1978-1979 “Luv Ya Blue” Oilers as the only teams to accomplish that feat. Both of those Houston teams met their end in Three Rivers Stadium. The Jets will try to avoid the same fate at chilly Heinz Field today.You may have heard by now that Mark Sanchez will have started and won more road playoff games than any other quarterback in the history the National Football League with a victory in Pittsburgh today.  In doing so, he will move past a list that includes Jake Delhomme. Of course I think such trivia is meaningless, because quarterbacks and starting pitchers are not the sole dispensers of wins. I’m also not brilliant enough to identify clutch from a young age, like others can.

The Jets return to Pittsburgh, where they won a little over a month ago, in a crucial game to right their season after the destruction at Foxboro and the home loss to Miami. As we have seen in these playoffs, past performance is not necessarily indicative of future returns, as Seattle beat a New Orleans team that beat them handily in the regular season, the Packers beat the Falcons in the Georgia Dome, and the Bears avenged a dreadful performance against Seattle at home.

The Big Lead broke down the highlights of the previous meeting on Friday. The Jets got a kickoff return TD from Brad Smith, two sacks from defensive back Drew Coleman, and decent rushing production against Pittsburgh’s top ranked rush defense. Neither team turned the ball over, and the Steelers had a late safety that ultimately was the difference in Pittsburgh needing to try to score a touchdown on the goal line late. They failed, and the Jets won a close one.

The tale of the tape for this matchups show that the Steelers have a better point differential, and a significant advantage at both passing offense and rush defense.

        OFFENSE   DEFENSE    
New York Jets 22.9 19.0 5.9 4.4 5.6 3.6 9.0
Pittsburgh 23.4 14.5 6.9 4.1 5.3 3.0 17.0

 The line: Pittsburgh by 4

My pick: Pittsburgh 24, NY Jets 14. Much like the other championship game, the underdog won the previous matchup at the same location, and did so in a close game decided late, that included a return touchdown. Both favorites are just as good, if not better, defensively as their counterparts, but have a significant advantage in passing offense. I’ll take the team with the more consistent performance in being able to pass the ball.

[photo via Getty]

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