The New York Jets have not been to the Super Bowl since 1969, while the Pittsburgh Steelers, just two years ago won the Lombardi Trophy.
The Jets will get their chance to win the AFC title, and move on to the Super Bowl by defeating the Steelers in the upcoming AFC Championship game.
The Steelers, seeking revenge for a 22-17 loss to the Jets in December, pose a major threat to the Jets advancement.
One key to a Steelers victory will be their ability to stop the Jets' running game, forcing the Jets' to beat them with their passing game. Having a running defense rated No. 1 in the regular season, the Steelers have proven to be very effective stopping the run.
Jets' running backs LaDainian Tomlinson and Shonn Greene are effective at gaining needed yards, however, they will be facing a Steelers defense that allowed only 63 yards per game on the ground during the 2010 season.
The Steelers must put pressure on Jets' quarterback Mark Sanchez, forcing him out of the pocket, and hurrying his throws. Constant pressure on Sanchez can cause mistakes by the young quarterback, mistakes that Steelers safeties Ryan Clark and Troy Polamalu will surely take advantage of.
The key to a Jets' victory can be explained easily, stop Ben Roethlisberger.
The Jets' defense must confuse Roethlisberger, forcing him into mistakes, this will be no easy chore. Roethlisberger, with targets such as Heath Miller, Hines Ward and Mike Wallace, poses a constant threat whether in the pocket, or scrambling to avoid a sack.
Aside from stopping an air attack by the Steelers, the Jets' must protect their quarterback, Sanchez, from the onslaught of the Steelers defense, mainly James Harrison and Lamar Woodley, with an occasion blitz by Polamalu.
Roethlisberger is a big and powerful quarterback, who can turn a broken play into a much needed gain of yardage when being forced out of the pocket. The receivers at his disposal provide a constant threat whether he is forced out of the pocket, or allowed ample time for the play to develop.
Hopes of rattling or confusing Roethlisberger can be set aside, he has been in quite a few big games, including the Super Bowl—he is a seasoned quarterback.
The Steelers defense will stop the Jets' running game, placing pressure on Sanchez to win via the passing game.
Sanchez will be flushed from the pocket, and forced into throwing low percentage passes, passes that will result in turnovers.
No, I can't read the future, however, given the physical, intense and effective defense possessed by the Steelers, along with a seasoned quarterback with quality receivers at his disposal. It will be a long day for the Jets.
Steelers 24, Jets 17
(Posted at Cleveland Browns Report, a Browns News Source.)
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