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January 20, 2011 - Mike Frank
Since things turned out pretty nicely in the divisional round, why not another spin?
My predictions (or more accurately, my hopes) turned out well in three of the four games. I was surrpised by Atlanta's meltdown, but credit goes to Green Bay for not letting up.
A few clairfications from last week. The picks were more "heart" than "head". In other words, I was picking based on my rooting interests. I wanted to see the Ravens and Pats go splat, and lo and behold, they did. Life is cool sometimes.
Also, I didn't realize Jamal Lewis had been gone from the Ravens since 2006, and spent a couple years with the Browns.
As for the conference championships, HEEEERE WE GO:
AFC New York Jets (13-5) at Pittsburgh Steelers (13-4) (6:30 p.m., CBS)
"It ain't braggin if you can back it up." — Dizzy Dean
Both took care of big challenges last week. I'll say it now — winner of this game is holding up the Lombardi Trophy in a couple weeks.
The Steelers are 7-7 in conference championships. Weirdly, they are 1-4 against AFC East teams (losses to Miami in 1972 and 1984, and to the Pats in 2001 and 2004. They beat Indy in 1995).
The Jets beat Oakland for the AFL title in 1968, then won Super Bowl III. Since then, they've only been this far three times. In 1982 (strike year), they lost to Miami; in 1998 (with Vinny T.) they lost to Denver; and last year they fell to the Colts.
As I said above, this is based on my rooting interest. The Jets are due for a Super Bowl. And I think Big Rex is well-suited for the media blitz that goes with it. Sanchez has proven himself so far, and the Jets won in Pittsburgh a few weeks back. The Steelers have been through this a few more times, and will have Polamalu back.
We need a deciding factor. I know! Who has more Ohio State players on the roster? The Jets have Santonio Holmes (Super Bowl MVP), Nick Mangold (center), Vernon Gholston (DE) and Ben Hartsock (tight end). Steelers have safety Will Allen.
Therefore, the call is:
JETS 24, STEELERS 21
NFC Green Bay Packers (12-6) at Chicago Bears (12-5) (3 p.m., FOX)
For teams that have been around a long time, (Bears 1919, Packers 1921), they've only met ONCE in the playoffs. In 1941, they finished tied in the Western Division and needed a playoff. The Bears won 33-14.
Overall, Chicago is 8-6 and Green Bay 10-4 in NFL/NFC championship games. In the Super Bowl era, the Bears won in 1985 (Rams) and 2006 (Saints), and lost in 1984 and 1988 (Niners both times). The Packers lost in 95 (Dallas), won in 96 (Panthers) and 97 (Niners) and lost in 2007 (Giants).
This year, each team won at home, Bears in week 3 (20-17) and Packers in week 17 (10-3). I'm more of a believer in Rodgers after last week.
Also, the Packers have A.J. Hawk and Matt Wilhelm at linebacker, and Ryan Pickett at defensive tackle. The Bears have nobody from OSU.
GREEN BAY 17, CHICAGO 10
Finally, think about this: If a car catches on fire, and a person is living in that car, does that make it a house fire?
KEEP SPEAKING FRANKLY!
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