Jared Wickerham/Getty Images
Cincinnati Bengals vs. New England Patriots
This matchup boils down to the Bengals defense against Tom Brady. Cincinnati's offense has enough firepower to take advantage of a weak Patriots defense. However, it's unfair to ask a rookie quarterback to go blow for blow with Tom Brady.
They key will be Cincinnati's ability to generate pressure on Brady. As a team, the Bengals rank fourth in the NFL with 39 total sacks. The majority of the pressure comes up the middle from defensive tackle Geno Atkins. His ability to collapse the pocket could pose problems for the Patriots offense.
Without pressure, Brady will shred a secondary featuring Adam "Pacman" Jones and Nate Clements as the starting corners.
Cincinnati's defense will cause some problems, but Brady will find a way to get the job done.
Projected Winner: New England Patriots
Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Denver Broncos
Denver's Von Miller will be excited to rush the passer against the likes of Max Starks and Marcus Gilbert. However, Miller needs to realize that getting to the quarterback is only half the battle, as Ben Roethlisberger doesn't come down easy. Miller's ability to generate pressure will be one of the deciding factors.
Tim Tebow and the offense are not going to be able to run all over the Steelers defense, who are only allowing 97 rushing yards per game. This means the defense needs to keep the game close and give Tebow a shot at some late-game magic.
The problem is Roethlisberger is capable of some late game magic of his own. Big Ben and the Steelers defense are just to much for the Broncos team.
Projected Winner: Pittsburgh Steelers