The New York Jets postseason run, labeled “Mission Impossible” by some, now takes them to the AFC Championship game in Pittsburgh against the physical Steelers. Gang Green has been listed as a three to four point underdog for this game, which is a rematch from week 15 of the regular season where the Jets came out victorious 22-17.
As we begin to breakdown the match-ups for this AFC Championship game I think that it is safe to say that the results from week 15 do not mean much in the grand scheme of things. While both teams may have been able to learn a thing or two about their opponent, there is a good chance that the Jets and Steelers will enter the game with substantially different strategies.
I think Gang Green is set to face three new challenges in Pittsburgh and they are as follows:
Bringing back the emotion- The Jets “us against the world” approach reached its peak on Sunday as they took care of one of their biggest rivals in the Patriots. Gang Green made the game personal and played a physical, aggressive style of football that was not displayed often this season. So the question begs to be asked, can the Jets bring their fire and anger back against the Steelers? Can Rex Ryan find the right buttons to push to re-energize his team? The initial response will be that any team one game away from the Super Bowl will not suffer an emotional letdown. While that point remains true, there has to be some concerns as the Jets put everything they had physically and mentally into beating the Patriots.
The Polamalu factor- Back in week 15 when the Jets beat the Steelers, Pittsburgh was without their All-World safety Troy Polamalu. Polamalu is expected to play on Sunday, which will give the Pittsburgh defense a dramatically different look. Troy is the type of player that must be accounted for at all times and can easily disrupt an offense if not properly contained. The Jets must find ways to keep Polamalu off balance where he cannot stack the box and start making plays behind the line of scrimmage.
New offensive weapons- Over the past couple of games the Pittsburgh Steelers offense has done an excellent job of spreading the ball around which has helped them identify new receiving threats. Rookie Antonio Brown has emerged as an explosive deep threat, while another first-year player Emmanuel Sanders continues to put up consistent numbers. Add in the return of tight end Heath Miller and the Jets are going to be facing a completely different offense than they did in week 15. As in weeks past Gang Green must find a way to defend a spread formation with several vertical threats.
As the week goes on we will continue to look at some of the match-ups that could dictate the outcome of the game. I think this has the potential to be a very exciting, physical AFC Championship game.
1) Now the Jets are classless? Maybe the Jets went a little overboard with their post game celebrating, but lets keep it real here the Patriots are far from innocent when it comes to celebrating and taunting. It is all fun and games until the shoe is on the other foot.
2) Crazy ticket prices- For those of you Jets fans looking to make the trip out to Pittsburgh, brace yourself for ridiculous ticket prices. One would never believe that the country was in a recession after seeing some of the asking prices for upper level tickets. One tip of advice: Keep an eye out for scams and be sure to pay with some type of secured method like Paypal. I cannot begin to tell you how many scams I encountered last year for the AFC Championship game in Indianapolis.
3) Bart Scott video- Am I the only one that cannot stop watching Bart Scott’s post game rant?