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