The New England Patriots were favored to win the Super Bowl after an impressive regular season performance. The New York Jets went into Gillette Stadium and got pressure on Tom Brady, something that few teams were able to do this season.
The Jets look like a dangerous team coming into Heinz Field this Sunday. However, they aren't without their flaws. Their offense struggled at times against the 25th-ranked Patriots defense. They will be facing a much tougher defense in Pittsburgh.
New York has every reason to believe that they can walk out of Pittsburgh with a win. They were able to pull out a win earlier this season in Pittsburgh. This game is going to be different and this slideshow discusses the reasons why.
Mark Sanchez may one day develop into a good quarterback. He made some plays against the Patriots. However, he is going to have a much tougher time against the Steelers.
He did not have a particularly good game against the Steelers the first time around. He was 19-for-29 for 170 yards and no passing touchdowns. He is going to need to put together a better performance than that in the rematch if the Jets expect to win.
Mark Sanchez is going to have to outperform Ben Roethlisberger in order to win the game. He just doesn't have that kind of experience yet. Joe Flacco is a better quarterback than Mark Sanchez and he failed to outperform Roethlisberger in the divisional round.
The Steelers had the top rated rushing and scoring defense in the NFL. Pittsburgh was rated second overall in defense. They have a relentless pass rush; the team led the league in sacks.
The Steelers secondary is said to be a weakness. However, upon closer examination, the secondary actually performed relatively well. They allowed the second-lowest passer rating for opposing quarterbacks. Furthermore, they allowed the fewest gains of 20 yards or more of any defense in the league.
Pittsburgh is one of only three teams that had more interceptions than passing touchdowns allowed. They only allowed 15 passing touchdowns all season, which ranks third best in the league.
Pittsburgh has only improved these numbers thus far in the playoffs. Pittsburgh only allowed 35 yards rushing and 91 yards passing against Baltimore while completely eliminating Anquan Boldin from the game.
Hines Ward is coming off of his statistically worst season since 2007. However, he is still like a security blanket for Ben Roethlisberger. When Ben needs to make a play, he always knows he can look to Hines to be the guy to make that play.
Mike Wallace is one of the most dangerous deep threats in the league. He has the speed to stretch defenses, in turn opening up underneath routes for the other receivers. The Jets are going to have to keep a safety over the top of Wallace in order not to get burned for a long touchdown.
Heath Miller is possibly one of the most underrated tight ends in the league. He is a big red zone target that Ben can look to across the middle. He was noticeably absent due to injury during the first matchup between the Jets and Steelers. Matt Spaeth played in his place and dropped a potential game-winning touchdown with just seconds left to play.
Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders are rookie receivers that have grown into their roles. They are really starting to make big plays for the Steelers. Antonio Brown made a big reception against the Ravens on a 3rd-and-19 when Baltimore had dropped eight men into coverage. His reception helped set up Mendenhall's game-winning touchdown.
Revis may be able to eliminate one Steelers receiver on any given play; however, the New York Jets are going to have their hands full covering all of the Steelers receivers.
Big Ben Roethlisberger has become one of the best quarterbacks in the league. He can stand in the pocket and make a throw or he can make a play on the run.
If the Jets drop seven or eight men into coverage, Roethlisberger is going to be able to pick out which one of his dangerous receivers is open and deliver the ball with confidence.
If the Jets blitz Roethlisberger, they may sack him a few times. But for every sack they make, Ben is going to make them pay by shedding a tackler and escaping the pocket.
Roethlisberger has led 26 game-winning drives in the fourth quarter or overtime, three of which have come in the playoffs. When the chips are down, Roethlisberger is the guy that is going to make the big play to win the game.
Time and time again, Troy Polamalu has come through for the Pittsburgh Steelers in the clutch. Whether it's a pick-six against Carson Palmer, an interception in the end zone against Buffalo, a strip-sack against Joe Flacco, or a flying tackle on a goal-line quarterback sneak against the Titans, Troy Polamalu is the man making the play.
Polamalu usually makes at least one game-changing play each game. An opponent never knows how he's going to do it, either.
It could be as simple as a tackle that prevents a first down or as significant as a momentum-swinging interception return for a touchdown.
Troy is the guy that no matter how hard a team tries to game plan against, he is going to pull some type of trick out of his hat.
Polamalu did not play during the first game against the Jets. The defense had a decent outing despite his absence. Nonetheless, the Steelers' chances have to be better when he is playing.
Troy will provide the biggest difference between the Jets and Steelers.
The Jets are a very dangerous team. They have a very dangerous defense and a talented receiving core. They will certainly be very confident going into the game as they defeated the Steelers during the regular season.
However, a special teams touchdown on the opening kickoff provided the difference in the game. Pittsburgh's offense outscored the Jets offense by four points. They outgained the Jets on the ground and in the air. As a matter of fact, the Steelers outgained the Jets by a total of 101 yards.
Pittsburgh faced a tough defense against Baltimore and was able to move the ball effectively and score points while the Jets struggled at times against a relatively weak Patriots defense. Ben Roethlisberger will have an easier time against the Jets defense than Mark Sanchez will have against Pittsburgh's defense.
The New York Jets outplayed the Steelers in their previous meeting. Pittsburgh will make the necessary adjustments to win the rematch.