NFL Conference Championship Picks

Packers -3.5, Steelers -3.5

See why below:

Packers-3.5 @ Bears – In a lot of ways this is a game a lot of Packers fans do not might another chance at.  We cannot help but feel that the Packers have left a lot of points on the board in both games versus the Bears.  Some people are going with the Bears because of the whole home underdog, nobody believes in us mantra.  A warning to all of those people, half of the conference championship games end in a blowout and the better teams usually win these games.  Who has a better chance between these two teams of being on the winning side of a blowout?  The team that is second in the league in points differential and has not lost a game by more than four points this season?  Or the team that has been blown out twice this season and outplayed at home by two other mediocre teams(Seahawks and Redskins).

Another factor that makes me heavily lean towards the Packers is pressure.  The Bears played the first game against Green Bay as home dogs, they used the us against the world mentality there.  They played with no pressure on them and won with the help of 100+ Packer penalty yards, a punt return for a touchdown, a blocked field goal and a crazy fumble by James Jones that somehow stayed in bounds.  AND WON BY 3!!!

In the second game the Bears played with absolutely no pressure on them.  I was shocked the Bears kept their starters in the entire game and I think the Packers were as well.  The Bears played hard and with no pressure on them.  The Packers played tight, with a world of pressure on them and the longer the game went on more pressure piled on.  The Packers survived and advanced.  They did the same thing the following week at Philadelphia.  Then they blew out the Falcons after the Falcons had an unbelievable start in that game, twice. 

The Packers have dealt with pressure many times this season.  Teams have punched the Packers in the mouth and the team has always responded. They may have lost some close games but they have went down with a fight.  The Bears have not had to deal with much pressure.  There was no pressure on them in either Packer game which allowed them to play loose and aggressive.  In other games when someone punched them in the mouth they crumbled(Giants and Patriots).  This game will involve pressure moments and I do not think the Bears will thrive simply because they are not accustomed to it.

  • The Packers have the edge in Yards Per Play on offense, defense is a push.
  • The Bears have an edge in offensive Yards Per Point, the Packers have the defensive edge.  This edge on offense speaks to their big play ability on offense but lack of extensive drives.  This stat is also helped by their special teams scores and field position gained.
  • First downs are a big edge to Green Bay, especially on offense.  3rd down % defense is a push.

I think the Packers are better. Most people think the Packers are better.  That is because the Packers are better.

Vegas thinks Green Bay is better, in my mind much better.  They made Green Bay 3.5 road favorites which says a lot on its own.  What says even more is the over/under is 43.  These teams combined for 13 points three weeks ago, in two games combined they barely hit the over with 50.  Vegas knew they could not make Green Bay more than a 4 point favorite and risk too much action on the home team.   This over/under tells me they expect Green Bay to get into the high 20s.  I do not see Chicago getting out of the teens.  I see Vegas putting the over/under at 43 as a hedge for the amount of action coming in on Green Bay.

Jets @ Steelers -3.5 - I think this game comes down to one thing, and not Mark Sanchez.  The Jets are bullies, they proclaim themselves as the tougher team in every game they play.  They were tougher than the Colts, were tougher than the Patriots, but now they face the ultimate bully team, Pittsburgh.  The Steelers have been the bully for years, going back to the 70s.  The only teams that seem to get the better of them in these big games are smart teams like the Patriots.  The Jets are going to attempt to go punch for punch against the Steelers and I think the Steelers will get the edge at home.

  • The Steelers are better in offensive and defensive Yards Per Play.
  • The Steelers are better in offensive and defensive Yards Per Point.
  • The Steelers are better in offensive and defensive 3rd down %.
  • The Steelers are better at generated big plays on offense and preventing big plays on defense.

The Steelers are better by almost every measure but I think they will need the home crowd advantage to win this game.  I see this as a really close game that Pittsburgh wins.  I am not even all that confident they will cover the 3.5 but since I think they will win I am betting on them(by the way I got the game as Pittsburgh -3).  The Jets will not be able to run, Sanchez will have to throw and he will do OK.  The Steelers will not be able to run but Big Ben will throw slightly better than Sanchez.

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