Pocket Doppler Prognosticators: Conference Championships Weekend
During the NFL regular season, each Friday the 3 founding fathers of Pocket Doppler (yours truly, BigSnakeMan & Chris Richards) picked the winners of the Packers’, Sunday night & MNF games. During the Post-Season, we’ve invited favored stepson Rich to join in the fun.
After the Divisional Playoff round of the playoffs version of the PDP, our current standings are:
Chris: 5 (3 for 4 Last Week)
Rich: 5 (2 for 4 Last Week)
Wally: 4 (2 for 4 Last Week)
BigSnakeMan: 3 (2 for 4 Last Week)
Pretty much a log jam here but kudos to Chris for batting better than .500 on his picks. I have a feeling this may come down to a points tiebreaker in the Super Bowl.
Steelers over Jets – The Steelers have now become the Obi-Wan Kenobi to my Princess Leia; my last hope to destroy the Death Star that is Rex Ryan and the New York Jets and keep them from getting to the Super Bowl. Let’s hope they do a better job upholding my ‘honor’ than did the Patriots last week. At least the Steelers have something that New England didn’t have: namely, a defense. Plus, Steeler head coach Mike Tomlin isn’t likely to panic as “genius” Bill Belicheck did against the Jets in calling for a fake punt from his own 35 yard line in the first half of a 4 point game. The Jets have toned down the rhetoric for this one as opposed to last week’s game which makes me wonder whether they were so focused on avenging their blowout against New England that they may not have anything left for Pittsburgh. New York did beat the Steelers in Pittsburgh during the regular season but, Troy Polamalu will be starting at safety for the Steel Curtain this time. As we learned in Atlanta last week, regular season victories hold very little in the way of reference points in relation to the post-season. I’ll take Ben Roethlisberger’s two rings for the Steelers over the upstarts from New York.
Bears over Packers – I said last week that if the Packers got out of Atlanta with a win that I would start to believe in them and I do. But I’ve picked against Green Bay in both playoff games and they’ve managed to win. To quote John Candy from the movie ‘Splash’, “when something works, I stick with it”. Now is certainly not the time to start voting my conscience; not with an NFC Championship and Super Bowl berth on the line. I have no doubt that the Packers are the better team in this matchup. They’re better at quarterback and wide receiver, while the Bears probably have an edge in the running game. I think the Packers even have a better defense than the Bears. Here’s where the ‘but’ comes in, though–special teams. With this game being played at Soldier Field on that landfill of a playing surface, this figures to be another grind it out game of similar ilk to the regular season finale at Lambeau. Bears’ fans will tell you they played pretty ‘vanilla’ in that game but that’s not an advantage since they play that way all the time. The Packers were able to control Bears’ returner Devin Hester in that one but if they have another breakdown of the variety that allowed the 102 yard kickoff return against the Falcons, it might be just enough to turn the tide in Chicago’s favor. Here’s hoping that doesn’t happen ’cause I’m looking forward to the Super Bowl party extravaganza at Wally’s.
Steelers over Jets – I stuck my neck out last week in picking the Jets and it worked out. That’s about as far as I will go with Rex Ryan and company though. Overall, I feel the Steelers are the more complete team here and I think playing at home will benefit the Steelers more than it did the Patriots last week. Just as I said last week that the Football Gods wanted to see Green Bay & Chicago in a conference championship game, I think the same deities of the pigskin want to see the Steelers and ….
Packers over Bears – Yeah, no surprises here. While I will admit to under selling the Bears all year and thinking it was all just luck, I have to now admit that maybe they really aren’t as bad as I’ve thought they were. I do not though think they are better than the Packers. Pretty sure we won’t be seeing the Pack put up 40+ points this weekend due to the weather and facing a stouter defense but I do expect the Packers to put more on the scoreboard by the time the clock hits zero. Come 5ish on Sunday evening the Halas Trophy will not be hoisted on high by the team the trophy’s namesake founded, but rather the one he helped keep alive to the North.
Steelers over Jets – I picked the Pats to eliminate the Jets, so why would I pick NY to beat PIT? Yeah, I don’t know either. Truth is, I don’t like the Jets, perhaps that has colored my opinion of how good they really are. On the other hand, I just like the cut of the Steelers’ jib; I like the way they go about their business. I don’t expect them to pussyfoot around in stomping down the Jets.
Bears over Packers - I was optimistic about the Packers first two rounds of post-season play: I picked them to win both games. Surprisingly, my confidence was rewarded with two victories. But looking ahead to this Sunday, all I see is darkness. The concerns I outlined during the most recent edition of Packers Therapy:
- The nagging, irritating spate of Bears good fortune, punctuated by their easy draw into the NFC Championship.
- CHI’s home-field advantage.
- Match ups — mainly CHI’s D v. GB’s O — that don’t favor the Packers.
- GB’s stated distaste for playing in the cold.
- The weight of four previous weeks of elimination football combined with the accumulated stress of playing short-handed for most of the season is bound to catch up with them.
I am not saying that the Packers can’t overcome these things and find a way to win. Heck, the Bears might pee down their collective legs and make things easy for GB. What I am saying is that I don’t like how this game is setting up for the Packers. Perhaps 45 years of being a fan that has witnessed far more disappointment than ecstasy has conditioned me to expect the worst.I hate to say it, but I think it will be the Bears going to the Super Bowl…
Packers over Bears – I believe. I picked Green Bay to win each of the last two weeks, but that was more out of devotion to “my team” than actual faith in victory. Now, however, I’m a believer. With the weather in the mid-20′s and little to no wind, for Rodgers, they might as well be playing in a dome. The field may neutralize Green Bay’s speed, and Chicacgo has had all season to get used to it. But as BearHQ said via Twitter, “I’m crowning the Packers champions of the NFC. It’s sad but true. Beating the Bears is a formality.” I wouldn’t go that far, but I agree.
ps. Welcome back Cullen Jenkins.
Steelers over Jets – I despise Ben Roethlisberger. He doesn’t deserve to be a starting quarterback in the NFL, and it’s a shame he merely received a tap on the wrist for his (alleged) actions in the past. Still, I have a hard time betting against him at home. He’s a defensive tackle with agility and a big arm. The Jets have confidence and deservedly so, but neither the Colts’ nor the Patriots’ defenses are able to conjur up anything remotely similar to what the Steel City can bring. To be perfectly honest, I couldn’t care any less who wins, but Pittburgh it is.