NFL 2010 Playoffs Round 3
by Tony Medley
For me, coming off a week in
which I picked all four winners, last week was instructive. The Jets
beat New England, as I predicted, but they did it without blitzing. I
bet they didnít blitz 15% of the time, going with a four man rush the
entire game. It was still enough to put the pressure on Brady and the
Jetsí coverage was spectacular, especially the inconsistent Cromartie.
And the Jets let Sanchez throw downfield. Actually the pass he threw to
Tomlinson was brilliant. Instead of leading him, he threw it right at
his head. JT made a very good catch and because the pass didnít lead
him, he could cut back into the end zone. If itís thrown with a normal
lead, I donít think JT could have made it into the end zone. Result, a
As I suspected, Baltimore
didnít belong on the same field as Pittsburgh. Sure, the game was close,
but Pittsburgh completely shut down Baltimoreís offense. Two of the
three Ravensí scores were the result of horrific Pittsburgh turnovers.
The score should have been 28-7.
Seattle was a joke, and
anybody with half a brain should have seen it. But the conclusion that
the ease with which they were dispatched by Chicago means that Chicago
is a power is erroneous in my judgment.
Unlike everyone else, I think
this Sundayís two games shouldnít be that close. They will be played on
the two worst fields in the league. The theory is that a bad field
favors the offense because receivers know which way they are going to
cut and, therefore, arenít as susceptible to slips as defensive backs.
But the field is what it is and thatís not what is going to decide the
games, although it might allow a weaker Chicago to make the game closer
than it would be on a dry, firm field
I donít think Chicago can
stand up to Green Bay. Green Bay has the best defense in the NFC.
Chicagoís offensive line is still suspect and if Cutler is pressured,
forget it. Charles Woodson was the NFL defensive player of the year last
year and he could be a thorn in Chicagoís side, as could linebacker Clay
Matthews, who is reputed to be in line to replace him as defensive
player of the year. Chicago plays cover 2 better than anybody in the
league, but Green Bayís offensive line has improved immeasurably.
Rodgers can scramble and either run or find open receivers under the
deep coverage. Further, Green Bayís rejuvenated running game will be a
plus. I donít look at this as a close game.
I also donít think the Jets
vs. Pittsburgh will be as close as advertised if, as I suspect, the
Steelers are injured more than theyíve let on. My feeling is that Troy
Polamaluís Achilles injury is much worse than reported. He was a shadow
of his former self against Baltimore. And the Steelersí offensive line
can be negatively impacted by injuries to its two starting tackles,
about which I havenít heard much. This should give the Jets the
opportunity to not only pressure Roethlisberger with a four or five man
rush, but to bring him down when they hit him instead of letting him get
Offensively, the Steelers are
most dangerous when Roethlisberger is forced out of the pocket. The
Steeler receivers have designated alternate routes to run (instead of
free-lancing) whenever that occurs. So when the Jets hit Roethlisberger
but donít bring him down, there could be trouble. But Iím not going to
be surprised by a relatively easy win for the Jets.
The Jets like their running
attack. If Polamaluís injury keeps him from being as active or
effective, it could blunt the Steelersí vaunted defense, allow the Jets
to run and establish Sanchezís passing. It looks to me as if the Jets
have finally allowed Sanchez to throw downfield. If they can run and if
they turn Sanchez loose to throw downfield, if his receivers, mainly
Holmes and Edwards can keep from dropping his accurate passes, and if
the Steelers are hurt more than theyíve let on, the Jets should win.
This week Iím picking Green
Bay and the Jets.
January 22, 2011