AFC Championship Game: New York Jets To Beat Pittsburgh Steelers?

Matt RudnitskyCorrespondent IJanuary 17, 2011

AFC Championship Game: New York Jets To Beat Pittsburgh Steelers?

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    FOXBORO, MA - JANUARY 16:  Mark Sanchez #6 of the New York Jets drops back against the New England Patriots during their 2011 AFC divisional playoff game at Gillette Stadium on January 16, 2011 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
    Elsa/Getty Images

    The New York Jets defeated the New England Patriots, 28-14, and are moving on to the AFC Championship game to face the Pittsburgh Steelers.

    Rex Ryan, fresh off his outcoaching of Bill Bellichick will face a challenge in Mike Tomlin, and this one won't come easy for either team.

    But here are 10 reasons why the Jets will be the AFC's representative in the 2011 Super Bowl.

10. Brad Smith Should Be Back

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    INDIANAPOLIS, IN - JANUARY 08:  Brad Smith #16 of the New York Jets runs with the ball against the Indianapolis Colts during their 2011 AFC wild card playoff game at Lucas Oil Stadium on January 8, 2011 in Indianapolis, Indiana. The Jets won 17-16.  (Phot
    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    Brad Smith, the Jets wide receiver/wildcat quarterback/kick returner missed the game against the Patriots due to injury.

    He was questionable for the game, and will likely be back last week.

    Despite their impressive play, the Jets clearly missed Smith, with Ladainian Tomlinson fumbling a snap at wildcat quarterback.

    Getting him back will boost their already-outstanding play.

9. Revis Is at His Best

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    FOXBORO, MA - JANUARY 16:  Wes Welker #83 of the New England Patriots runs down field against the defense of Darrelle Revis #24 of the New York Jets during their 2011 AFC divisional playoff game at Gillette Stadium on January 16, 2011 in Foxboro, Massachu
    Elsa/Getty Images

    Darrelle Revis struggled in the first six games or so this year, but has been his usual self since then.

    He locked down on the Patriots receivers (mostly Deion Branch) this week, and he should be able to neutralize the duo of Mike Wallace and Hines Ward.

8. Cromartie Isn't Giving Up Big Plays

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    INDIANAPOLIS, IN - JANUARY 08:  Antonio Cromartie #31 of the New York Jets fields a kickoff which he returns 47-yards in the final minute of the fourth quarter against the Indianapolis Colts during their 2011 AFC wild card playoff game at Lucas Oil Stadiu
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Antonio Cromartie is one of the most talented cornerbacks in the league, but he's been abused at times.

    He showed up against the Patriots, though, and if he continues to do so, the Jets will be tough to beat.

7. The Less-Heralded Secondary Players Are Stepping Up

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    INDIANAPOLIS, IN - JANUARY 08:  Brodney Pool #22 and Marquice Cole #34 (L) of the New York Jets react after a defensive play aganst the Indianapolis Colts during their 2011 AFC wild card playoff game at Lucas Oil Stadium on January 8, 2011 in Indianapolis
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    The Jets have struggled with third/fourth receivers and tight ends all year.

    But New York's safeties and nickel cornerbacks stepped up in a big way, bothering Tom Brady's numerous targets all night long.

    Pittsburgh's third and fourth receivers (Emmanuel Sanders and Antonio Brown) have been playing extremely well of late, but if the Jets do what they did against New England, it won't matter.

6. Their Running Game Is Rolling

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    INDIANAPOLIS, IN - JANUARY 08:  LaDainian Tomlinson #21 of the New York Jets against the Indianapolis Colts during their 2011 AFC wild card playoff game at Lucas Oil Stadium on January 8, 2011 in Indianapolis, Indiana. The Jets won 17-16. (Photo by Jonath
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    The Jets won't have a huge day against the Steelers defense on the ground, but they ran for 106 yards in the teams' first meeting.

    And after watching them explode for some big-gainers against New England, don't be surprised if they are able to top 100 yards again.

5. Mark Sanchez Isn't Making Mistakes

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    FOXBORO, MA - JANUARY 16:  Mark Sanchez #6 of the New York Jets drops back against the New England Patriots during their 2011 AFC divisional playoff game at Gillette Stadium on January 16, 2011 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
    Elsa/Getty Images

    Mark Sanchez threw a pick against Indianapolis, but none against New England, the team with the most interceptions in the NFL.

    Pittsburgh has the ball-hawking Troy Polamalu, but if Sanchez keeps making good decisions, it won't matter.

    That's a big if, though.

4. They Are Getting Pressure On Quarterbacks

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    FOXBORO, MA - JANUARY 16:  Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots looses the ball as he is sacked by Calvin Pace #97 of the New York Jets in the third quarter of their 2011 AFC divisional playoff game at Gillette Stadium on January 16, 2011 in Foxboro,
    Al Bello/Getty Images

    The Jets defense struggles when it can't get pressure on opposing quarterbacks, leading to embarrassing performances like the one against Chicago.

    But they got to Brady repeatedly on Sunday.

    Ben Roethlisberger is tougher to bring down, but he holds onto the ball longer and if the Jets can wrap him up, they should have success.

3. They Have One Turnover in Two Weeks

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    FOXBORO, MA - JANUARY 16:  Braylon Edwards #17 celebrates with Dustin Keller #81 and Mark Sanchez #6 of the New York Jets after Edwards scored a second quarter touchdown during their 2011 AFC divisional playoff game against the New England Patriots at Gil
    Jim Rogash/Getty Images

    Not only is Mark Sanchez not making mistakes, but the Jets are just playing smart football all around.

    They've only turned the ball over once in their two playoff games.

2. They Have Two (or Three?) No. 1 Receivers

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    FOXBORO, MA - JANUARY 16:  Jerricho Cotchery #89, Braylon Edwards #17 and Santonio Holmes #10 of the New York Jets celebrate their 28 to 21 victory over the New England Patriots during their 2011 AFC divisional playoff game at Gillette Stadium on January
    Al Bello/Getty Images

    Stopping both Santonio Holmes and Braylon Edwards isn't an easy thing to do.

    They didn't have huge games statistically against New England, but they both had enormous touchdown catches that showcased their incredible ability.

    Pittsburgh's only semblance of a weakness on defense is their cornerbacks, who will struggle against the Jets.

    And with 5 catches for 96 yards, Jerricho Cotchery reminded fans of the days when he was the team's No. 1 guy.

1. They Won't Back Down

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    EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - DECEMBER 12:  Bart Scott #57 of the New York Jets reacts the Miami Dolphins at New Meadowlands Stadium on December 12, 2010 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
    Nick Laham/Getty Images

    The Jets talked and talked and talked, but backed it up.

    They believe in themselves and their coach, and everyone has each other's back.  Not that New England or Pittsburgh doesn't have that same thing, but the Jets are rolling on all cylinders.

    Matt Rudnitsky is a student at the University of Michigan and a Featured Columnist/writing intern at Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/Mattrud

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