New York Jets vs. Pittsburgh Steelers: Can Jets Get Emotionally Up for Steelers?
Coming off two emotional wins over the Indianapolis Colts, and particularly the New England Patriots, the New York Jets will now take aim at the Pittsburgh Steelers with a Super Bowl berth on the line.
Like the Packers on the NFC side of the bracket, the Jets are a six-seed currently playing very well, although Green Bay's wins may not have meant as much to them as New York's did.
No one on the Pack claimed their matchups with Philadelphia and Atlanta were personal, after all.
Being that the Jets just knocked off last year's AFC champ in Indianapolis and the odds-on favorite to win it all this year in the Patriots, it stands to reason that they should be the over-dog (if that's a word) heading to the Steel City—no matter what Pittsburgh's seeding is.
The Jets also have the advantage of having already beaten Ben Roethlisberger and company at Heinz Field. They know they can do it.
There's one question that must be raised, however: Have the Jets blown their emotional load?
After beating the Colts, the Jets celebrated mightily, which is par for the course when winning on a last-second field goal. They were also avenging their loss in last season's AFC Championship Game.
There weren't the same late-game heroics against the Patriots, though.
Yes, Santonio Holmes made a fantastic touchdown catch late in the fourth quarter and Shonn Greene's scoring run even later sealed the deal, but they weren't quite the same as a buzzer-beating boot.
By the way, it's all fun and games until you blow out your knee pulling a stunt like that, Braylon. Just ask Bill Gramatica.
We all should have seen that win coming, anyway. New England humiliated the Jets when they beat them 45-3 on Monday Night Football, and looking back it was a tactical mistake to run up the score the way Bill Belichick did.
It simply gave New York too much ammunition heading into Sunday's game. You don't do that against a team you'll likely end up seeing again in the playoffs.
Okay, getting back on point, we tend to forget that these guys are human. They're just like us, just famous and more privileged.
With that in mind, there's a natural letdown after such a win as Sunday's game, especially when you've just put on a similarly impassioned performance a week earlier.
Jet supporters can point to the fact that Pittsburgh just beat division rival Baltimore, making this a moot point, but the circumstances were different.
The Steelers were favored in that game and they already held the advantage over the Ravens. Pittsburgh beat Baltimore in its final regular season meeting, and also beat them in the 2008 AFC Championship Game.
It's not quite the same as New York beating New England. Pittsburgh didn't need to work itself into the same type of frenzy the Jets did to beat the Patriots. They already knew they could beat the Ravens.
In the end, we don't really know how the Jets will respond or if they can get the adrenaline pumping at the same level, but let's take a look at what history has to say.
And for what it's worth, New York has already beaten the odds by making it back to the AFC Championship Game. Prior to the season, I wrote an article similar to this one, pondering the team's chances of a return trip to the cusp of the Super Bowl.
I found that the Jets had only a 22.5 percent chance of getting there again, based on previous examples. Feel free to let me have it for that one, Jet fans. Or maybe you should be thanking me. I don't know.
In this instance, it is again statistically improbable for the Jets to win.
Since divisional realignment took place prior to the 2002-03 season, division rivals have met in the playoffs eight times, not including championship games. That means we're talking about showdowns taking place in the Wild Card and divisional rounds.
Will the Jets advance to the Super Bowl?
Of those games' eight winners, only two have advanced further, and only one—the 2007-08 New York Giants—has gone on to win the Super Bowl.
That's a 12.5 percent chance of the Jets making it to the big one.
As mentioned earlier, those odds also apply to the Steelers. Don't fret, though, I did further research.
Also as written above, Pittsburgh was favored to win last week. They weren't the team that had everything to prove like the Jets did.
So how have lower-seeded teams who beat higher-seeded teams fared the following week?
It's happened four times, and three of those fours teams lost their next game. Again, the 2007-08 Giants are the lone exception having won the Super Bowl after beating the longtime rival Dallas Cowboys on the road in the playoffs.
Where does this leave us?
Obviously, chances are the Steelers will win. There's a reason they play these games, though, instead of running a computer simulation to determine who will advance.
At the end of the day, it's a 50/50 proposition.
Either the Jets win or they lose, and if you're looking for one more statistic, there have been two lower-seeded teams to play a division opponent in the divisional round and advance (2007-08 Giants, again, and the 2009-10 Philadelphia Eagles). The following week, the Giants went on to win the Super Bowl, and in '10 the Eagles were sent home.
It's up to the Jets to break the tie.
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