NFL Playoffs: Which Remaining Team Is in Need of a Super Bowl Most?

Ryan CookFeatured ColumnistJanuary 18, 2011

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

There are some things you just don't talk about in the NFL. When it comes to referencing a team's championship drought, this is often an area best left for the professionals when engaging in a friendly one-on-one chat.

Four teams now remain this postseason. New York, Pittsburgh, Green Bay and Chicago will all set their sights on the Super Bowl come this weekend, in perhaps one of the most intriguing championship rounds in recent memory.

That won't deter Rex Ryan, though.

But don't be fooled by Ryan's conditioned outer shell, this weekend is detrimental toward the Jets' confidence as a whole in New York. Not be outdone, however, both Green Bay and Chicago have a few things to prove in the next two weeks, leaving the Pittsburgh Steelers in the "villain" role—and not for the first time.

Who needs a championship more?

Vince Lombardi was never an easy character to persuade. Still, the NFL's most recognized head coach isn't biased toward any team at all.

Chicago Bears

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The Bears' last title came in 1985, during a game that saw Chicago's dominating defense crush the often overlooked New England Patriots, 45-10. 

A lot has changed in 15 years, though. The Bears are no longer purely just a defensive unit, and after annihilating an unconditioned Seattle Seahawks team on Sunday afternoon, head coach Lovie Smith is ready to go for the kill once again. 

Unfortunately, that kill won't be easy. Division rivals the Green Bay Packers will now take a trip to Soldier Field on Sunday—a game that is already being deemed as the most meaningful match up in the contests 182 affairs. 

Yet somehow this alarming factor can easily play into the Bears' hands. Beating Green Bay would be the sweetest feeling for an energized home crowd, and if Chicago is to reach the Super Bowl for the second time in the past five years, expect a massive turnout at Cowboys Stadium in two weeks time.

But how dire is a championship?

Quite frankly, it is a must-have. Chicago originally acquired defensive end Julius Peppers six months ago for this very reason—to win a Super Bowl. Anything short of success would make general manager Jerry Angelo look foolish.

One ring will never be enough for the Windy City, nor will another blown Super Bowl chance be acceptable. "Da Bears" are back, and Jay Cutler is funnily enough leading the way on offense.

Green Bay Packers

The Packers know what they are up against this week. And in all reality it isn't a very welcoming factor right now.

A trip to Soldier Field is tough for any opposing team, but when the Super Bowl is on the line along with 90 years of history, the stakes grow that much higher.

Speaking of growth, the Packers have matured immensely in the past month. Eliminating the injury factor was a tough task for head coach Mike McCarthy, but with pesky penalties, sloppy special teams and a rowdy run game now in tact, Green Bay are the hottest team in contention.

That doesn't necessarily spell out a championship.

The problem that plagues the Packers is the weight of Green Bay, or should I say Brett Favre. Not since 1996 have the Packers hoisted the Lombardi Trophy, and in that time endless years of Favre heroics have become the trademark for one of America's biggest franchises.

Now, Aaron Rodgers attempts to bring Lombardi back to his hometown, although that is easier said than done. 

If Packer fans wish to hang their hat on one thing, it might as well be the fact that Rodgers has been by far the best quarterback in the past three weeks. Precision, vision and decision making have made up Rodgers' postseason resume, not to mention a quick release that saw No. 12 score three touchdowns last week against Atlanta.

Green Bay were preseason favorites, and are now just living up to the hype. If you are a Packers fan, winning it all is much more serious than a matter of life and death. If you are a Bears fan, you hope to end that very thought.

Favre answered Bart Starr's winning ways, and now it is Rodgers' turn to do the same.

New York Jets

Enter one of the most controversial teams of the past two years, Rex Ryan's New York Jets.

Since the early days of Giants Stadium a cloud has hung over the Jets as a whole. The team struggled with coaching and consistency, and after Brett Favre signed with the team during 2008, you got the feeling that things were finally picking up for New York.

That certainly happened.

The Jets now have a new coach, with an attitude fitting to earn himself a role in a Hollywood movie. Meanwhile, the Jets also have a boastful young offense equipped with Mark Sanchez, and of course star wide receiver Santonio Holmes.

Like Green Bay, though, all of this skill doesn't equal a title.

For the record, the Jets were in this situation a year ago. Only last time, New York faced the Indianapolis Colts for the AFC Championship, a game that saw Ryan taste his first postseason defeat in green and white.

Bless the Jets, however; they've fought back strong.

A championship for New York would be more than just meaningful. Neighborhood brothers the New York Giants continue to dangle the Super Bowl carrot before the Jets' very eyes, waiting for the glorious day that sees their interstate foes finally hoist one.

Perhaps the years of "Broadway" Joe Namath are slowly fading out thanks to the new look Jets. Until the much rejuvenated Ryan way of coaching pulls a title in for his team, the Jets' postseason struggles will continue to be criticized.

Pittsburgh Steelers

Mike Tomlin's Pittsburgh Steelers are the one remaining team that is granted the opportunity to stick with what they know. Steel Nation saw their team come back against a forceful Baltimore Ravens last week, taking full advantage of Ray Rice's crucial turnover.

The Steelers have won six Super Bowl titles—this much we know. Yet what remains unbeknown to every fan, is whether or not Pittsburgh is destined for another appearance in the big dance after this weekend.

New York will be the judge of that.

If the Steelers are to push their way into the Super Bowl scenario, it won't be without a true team effort this weekend. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger threw for 226 yards and two touchdowns against Baltimore, a typical statistic of the Steelers postseason passing game.

Winning it all isn't pivotal to the Steelers like it is to the remaining teams. That isn't to say that a year of Terrible Towel waving has been worth nothing. 

Pittsburgh beat Baltimore this time two years ago to face the Arizona Cardinals in Super Bowl XLIII. With one game to go and an equally strong defense, Tomlin isn't prepared to relinquish the role of "spirit breaker" anytime soon.

Who Needs a Championship the Most?

A case could be made for either team.  With that being said, the Jets' tumultuous years of hard work and no reward easily makes them the top favorite with one week to go in the playoffs.

The Jets have experienced limited success since their 1968 Super Bowl win, and this factor alone makes Rex Ryan's weekend nerve-wracking stepping into the unwelcoming confines of Heinz Field on Sunday.

Broadway Joe may be gone, along with Chad Pennington.  The Jets do have an upset win against the New England Patriots under their belt, though.  And that says a lot prior to February 6.

Follow Ryan Cook on Twitter.

Ryan Cook is an Australian author for Acme Packing Company, and a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. He is also a guest writer on PackerChatters, and a contributing writer to Detroit Lions Talk, Gack Sports and Sports Haze.

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