Free NFL Pick: New York Jets at Pittsburgh 01-23-2011

January 22, 2011

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New York Jets at Pittsburgh Steelers

Sunday January 23rd, 2011 6:30 PM EST

Line: Pittsburgh -4

Overview:

The Pittsburgh Steelers have been here time and time again. They lead the NFL with six Super Bowl titles. This is their fifth conference championship in the last ten years and 15th in the history of their franchise. Almost everyone on the roster has a Super Bowl ring. They remain the NFL’s most consistent franchise and do not have a heavy amount of turnover anywhere in the building, especially at head coach. Nobody on the roster is going to be content with an AFC Conference Championship. Everyone is gunning for Dallas.

The Jets have a roster packed with players who are craving a Super Bowl. Jason Taylor, LaDainian Tomlinson, and a number of other veterans might never get another shot like this in their careers. They have had a tough road, facing Indianapolis and the “unbeatable” New England Patriots. This could be their toughest battle yet. Although they may be built similarly, the teams could not conduct themselves any differently. The extroverted Jets “can’t wait”
for the Steelers. As for the Steelers, well, they are going about their business as usual.

Keys to the Game:

  • Mark Sanchez could be the most underrated quarterback in the NFL, but if he somehow manages to win a Super Bowl, he will establish some credibility throughout the league. He faced Peyton Manning and Tom Brady already this post season and played well enough to take them both out. His counterpart this week has two Super Bowl rings. There is a good chance Mark Sanchez will have faced three future Hall of Famers prior to even getting to Dallas, should he go. Football is a team game, but the fact that Sanchez has survived the best quarterbacks in the game is impressive.
  • The Pittsburgh Steelers have to address the tackle position this offseason. They were forced to reach way down into the barrel when tackles started dropping last week. They are able to get away with having less than impressive bookends because Ben Roethlisberger is the hardest stationary quarterback to tackle in the entire league. Teams are able to apply pressure to Roethlisberger fairly easily. The plays he is able to create while being under fire is nothing short of incredible. He is able to extend plays and get the ball down the field to his playmakers. More importantly, he has been here before.
  • Both teams love to run the football, but the Steelers are the best team in the NFL at stopping the run. The Jets are third in the NFL, but the discrepancy is jaw dropping. Pittsburgh allows just shy of 63 yards a game on the ground, while the Jets allow 90.9 rushing yards per game. The Jets have an impressive run defense, while the Steelers have an unbelievable one. Rashard Mendenhall will not get any easy carries, but LaDainian Tomlinson and Shonn Greene could go silent.

Key Matchup:

Mike Wallace Vs. Darrelle Revis

  • Mike Wallace is an elite deep threat receiver. It is not uncommon for him to haul in three or four passes while racking up over 100 yards receiving. He averages over 20 yards a catch on his career and can flat out fly. Hines Ward is Pittsburgh’s possession receiver, while Wallace stretches the field. In their last meeting, Wallace dominated with seven catches for 102 yards.
  • Darrelle Revis can run the gauntlet of routes, backwards. He can run stride for stride with virtually any receiver. That being said, Mike Wallace presents a challenge for Revis. The Jets love to run man coverage. Often times the safety is not available for help over the top. Running wind sprints with Wallace is going to test the durability of Revis. If Wallace starts breaking away, as he did the last time he faced the Jets, Rex Ryan is going to be forced to drop back a safety to help prevent the big play. Even if it takes away from the run, preventing Wallace from getting loose takes precedence over limiting Rashard Mendenhall.

Wrap Up:

The Steelers are probably the favorite at this point to win the Super Bowl. Even so, the Jets proved in Week 15 that they could take out the Steelers in Pittsburgh. The Steelers are playing their best football, but the Jets haven’t backed down to anyone. Who will punch their ticket to Dallas?

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