Wesley is a sports expert and journalist out of Philadelphia that writes for Bleacher Report. You can check out all of his work at http://bleacherreport.com/users/88810-wesley-kaminsky or follow his twitter @Wesley_Kaminsky
Football fans, brace yourself, because the end of the NFL season is near. It’s conference championship weekend, and we will see rematches from earlier this season. Everybody expected the Patriots to be here, but the trash-talking Jets had different plans and backed it up. Now they must go on the road again and win in Pittsburgh. On the other side, the Packers and Bears will meet in a division clash where the season series was split at one games apiece.
Now, I leave just one question to you. Are you ready for some football?
Green Bay Packers at Chicago Bears, 3:00 EST On Fox (Sunday)
For the first time since 1941, the Bears and Packers will meet in the playoffs. This is one of the best rivalries in football, if not the best. Could we really ask for a better NFC Championship match up?
The first time these teams met, in week 3, the Bears won 20-17. That’s when they started to raise eyebrows that they were not a team to be taken lightly this season. As the season went on though, and the Bears won the NFC North, people still weren’t giving them the respect they deserved. Now is their chance to prove the doubters wrong once and for all, but trust me, their task at hand is tough.
In week 17, the Packers needed to beat the Bears in order to make the playoffs. It wasn’t easy, but the Packers escaped with a 10-3 victory to secure them as the number six seed. I get the feeling that after that game, both Aaron Rodgers and Jay Cutler had a feeling they’d be seeing each other again.
The Packers come into this game red-hot, and with Aaron Rodgers looking like the best quarterback in the league. Last week, in Atlanta, Rodgers went 31-36 for 366 yards and three touchdowns. He put on a quarterback clinic, and it really doesn’t look like he can be slowed down. Are the Bears up to the task?
In Jay Cutler first career playoff start a week ago, he shined, throwing and rushing for two touchdowns. Cutler has received much criticism during his tenure in Chicago, and now he is proving that he’s for real, just like the Bears are. For the Bears to win this game, they will have to slow down Rodgers as they did in week 17. It’s really that simple. If they can slow down Rodgers, and Cutler doesn’t regress to the bad Cutler, then the Bears may very well find themselves in the Super Bowl.
For me though, it’s really tough to go against the Packers, and they have the hot quarterback right now. I have been riding this Packers band wagon ever since they destroyed the Giants in week 16, and I expect them to keep it rolling here. Aaron Rodgers will take one more step to greatness as the Packers win in the Windy City.
Fearless Forecast: Packers 24, Bears 17
New York Jets at Pittsburgh Steelers, 6:30 EST On CBS (Sunday)
The final game of the weekend is a rematch from week 15 when the Jets went into Pittsburgh and won 22-17. The stakes are different this time around though, but if any team is up for the challenge, this Jets team is.
The Jets made a statement to the rest of the league in Hard Knocks that they were going to be the cockiest, most arrogant team in the NFL. That message stuck true throughout the entire season, and was evident last week leading up to their win in New England. All week long we heard Rex Ryan say this game was “personal,” Antonio Cromartie saying Tom Brady is an asshole, and Bart Scott saying Wes Welker’s days in a uniform would be numbered. The intensity leading up to the game couldn’t be any higher, and the Jets backed it up. After the game, as you would expect, the Jets showed no class, and it was highlighted by Bart Scott’s angry interview where he said the Patriots defense “couldn’t stop a nosebleed.” Will we hear the Jets talk badly of the Steelers leading up to their game? I don’t expect them to.
In the beginning of the season, many expected this to a tumultuous season for the Steelers with Ben Roethlisberger suspended for the first four games of the season. In his absence, the Steelers went 3-1 though, and again proved why they are one of the best franchises in NFL history. All the distraction is behind them, and the Steelers have their sights set on their third Super Bowl in the last five years. There is not one quarterback I’d want on my team more right now than Ben Roethlisberger. He is 9-2 in the playoffs and simply knows how to win games. Was anybody really surprised in his 3rd and 19 throw last week against the Ravens? Roethlisberger makes big play after big play when the game is on the line.
For the Jets to win this game, it’s going to come down to the play of Mark Sanchez. He is one of the most critiqued quarterbacks in the league, and has not got enough credit. Sanchez is 4-1 in the playoffs with all of those games coming on the road. He’s already defeated Peyton Manning and Tom Brady on the road this season, and it doesn’t get any easier with Ben Roethlisberger.
The last time they met Troy Polamalu didn’t play and that was the difference maker. When Polamalu is in, the Steelers are a completely different team. He will play here, and the Jets Super Bowl hopes will end in Pittsburgh. At least, I think.
Fearless Forecast: Steelers 20, Jets 17
Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze.