Packers vs. Bears
Green Bay is a – 3 ½ in this one. Aaron Rogers has been sensational with an 11:1 touchdown to picks ratio in his last 4 games, we all know that. By the way, in those games he’s played very good teams. Philadelphia is pretty good, Chicago is pretty good and Atlanta is pretty good, 11:1 touchdown to picks ratio. In fact, he is the best Quarter Back under pressure in the league and he’ll face it this weekend. According to the NFL’s efficiency metrics, when under pressure, Aaron Rogers this year has been the NFL’s best QB. Now, they’ve really opened up their offense because all year long Green Bay had 54 passes and 20+ yards, last week alone they had 6. But the thing about Green Bay is – and nobody wants to hear this, but their defence has been every bit or more important as Aaron Rogers because nobody really pays attention their defensive stats. They shut down Michael Vick and they kept Atlanta to 14 points and 45 yards rushing, Green Bay has given up the 2nd fewest points during the regular season at 15 per game and they are playing defensively at a different level today than they were 6, 7, 8, 9 weeks ago. Listen, Green Bay lost to Chicago earlier this year, but they had a whopping 18 penalties and 2 turnovers in that game and as a whole, Green Bay does not commit a lot of penalties. It was a flakey, weird game and the Packers – if you recall, were sort of out of sync for the entire afternoon. Now Green Bay is excellent at getting at the QB on the outside and forcing bad decisions. Chicago’s protection – especially at tackle, is way below the NFL average and Jay Cutler – forget the mistakes, Cutler only completes about 53% of his throws against Green Bay this year. Why? Because they are bad at tackle and Green Bay certainly brings pressure. Now the hope for the Bears – and it’s a legitimate hope is that you’re at home, the weather stinks – never forget this, statistically weather always hurts the better offense because it’s going to be windy and it’s going to be cold. The other advantage is that the Bears have great special teams, they have an advantage at kicker, they have the best player in the playoffs – after Polamalu , I would argue may be Devin Hester. Chicago’s hope is that their coverage teams and their specialist are superior to Green Bay – and in low scoring game, that can prove to be the difference. But we saw it last year with the Saints, we saw it the year before with the Arizona, sometimes teams just get hot and play over their heads, and even though they are injured ravaged, Green Bay is playing at a different level, take them to beat Chicago 24-13, Aaron Rogers will be fine, but it will really be Green Bay’s defence – once again that will be carrying the load and making Aaron Rogers look great because of great field position, playing with a lead that always makes QB’s better…this is a guaranteed Green Bay win!
Jets vs. Steelers
Now the Steelers are at -3 ½ , listen we know Troy Polamalu is back and we know that Heath Miller is back. For the record, Troy – this is almost a ridiculous stat, because for a non QB this stat makes no sense. The Steelers are 15-4 the last 2 years when he plays, 6-7 when he doesn’t play. That doesn’t make any sense to me…but I guess he’s that good. Santonio Holmes said this week “he’s the best NFL player I’ve ever seen” The Jets will be playing their 5th road game in 6 weeks, that’s an absolute grind – especially when your leading rush, your go-to guy is road wiery Ladainian Tomlinson. Listen, I like Mark Sanchez, but in his NFL career he has 36 picks in 35 games. He’s had a pick in 10 of his last 12 games and in New York’s pass protection, Wayne Hunter – uh oh, replaces Damian Woody at right tackle. New England couldn’t expose that, Pittsburgh will expose that. We’re looking at a Mark Sanchez under duress – don’t forget the last time they played them, Brian Schottenheimer was magic in that game, he was dialled in. Sanchez, took a bad snap made a play out of it, they we’re snapping the ball to running backs, 3 tight ends, 2 back sets, the Jets throw out things that they hadn’t all year, the Steelers now have that all on tape. Never forget this, neither team is going to move the ball with a great deal of efficiency. Neither team is great on 1st and 10 and neither team lets you run the football, but Big Ben is the best 3rd and long QB in the league and he’s also the best 3rd down QB and efficiency in the NFL. That is a huge stat in a game that will be decided by inches, not feet. Now, he’s the good news for the Jets. The backend of their coverage is the best in the NFL. Outstanding at corner, playmakers at line backers, Harrison and Bart Scott are playing outstanding football. Against the Patriots, the Jets had 5 sacks with 4 or fewer pass rushes, they are going to make things – at times, miserable for Big Ben. But the Jets against New England were virtually perfect and against Pittsburgh the 1st time, they were virtually perfect. Huge edge first game and special teams, pinning the Steelers at the 3, the 4 and 8 yard line, while all their drives started no worse than the 20 and often at the 37, 36, 34, 34, and 33 yard line. Both defences are big here, I don’t think either team runs so I think this becomes a passing game, big edge Big Ben, 21-16 Steelers. So I like both favourites for this weekend, but no guarantee’s on this one because I can see the Jets winning this one as well.