With the divisional round of the NFL playoffs' 2011 edition out of the way, we now know who will be playing in the upcoming conference championships.
I won't bore you to death with statistics, since they mean nothing in the playoffs, but I want to give you my take on how the championship games will go, and the result of the ensuing Super Bowl.
Sunday Jan. 23, 2010 at 3 p.m. EST
Green Bay @ Chicago
The No. 2 seed in the NFC, Chicago, just showed Seattle that it had no business being in the postseason. The final score of 35-24 just doesn't show how dominant the Bears truly were.
Green Bay went into the Falcons' nest and stole their eggs. The 48-21 victory over Atlanta spoke loud and clear as to the dominance of the Green Bay Packers.
While Jay Cutler looked strong in his showing Sunday afternoon, Aaron Rodgers was stunning.
This will be a physical, hard-fought game, with both defenses coming up with big plays and probably a lot of injuries. The snow won't have an effect on Green Bay like it did on Seattle, so no help from Mother Nature for the Bears.
Jay Cutler throws two picks, one goes back for a TD. Rodgers throws none, but with the running game failing, he throws over 40 passes for 400 yards and five TDs.
Green Bay wins convincingly, 41-24.
Sunday, Jan. 23, 2010 at 6:30 p.m. EST
New York Jets @ Pittsburgh
While I cannot attempt to hide my distaste for Ben Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh Steelers, respect must be given where it is due. They are the most physical football team in the NFL today, and it helped them overcome the Ravens on Saturday.
They took the ball back when they needed it, and ran with the momentum like they had it the whole game.
The trash-talking Jets went into Foxboro today, and have now given back-to-back lessons to the rest of the NFL on how to defeat a super-human quarterback-led team.
Wes Welker's foot comments must have really lit a fire under Rex Ryan's ass. His defense shut down the Patriots receivers all day long and proved that Tom Brady can be sacked, and sacked, and sacked.
The play that defines this game for me is when Braylon Edwards drags two Patriot defenders five yards into the end zone with him, never losing his feet. That's determination.
But determination only goes so far. Lets face it, the only reason this matchup is even going to be close is because of all the penalties that Pittsburgh is going to rack up.
Pittsburgh takes it, 21-17.
That leads us up to the Super Bowl: Pittsburgh vs. Green Bay
If any team can match Pittsburgh's physicality, its Green Bay. The difference is that the Packers get most of their punches in without drawing flags. They also have great receivers in Driver, Jones, and Jennings that know how to draw a PI flag when it counts.
I hate to see a Super Bowl decided by penalties, but I don't think we will.
Rodgers will put on another clinic, and take the Super Bowl MVP. He'll go 21-for-28 for 289 yards, with three passing TDs and one on the ground.
Pittsburgh won't go down without a fight, though. Look for big defensive stops, and plenty of that rugged backyard ball that Big Ben loves to play.
Green Bay over Pittsburgh, 35-31.
Here's hoping for a couple more weeks of exciting, unpredictable football enjoyment!