New York Jets
(13-5, 11-7 ATS)
(13-4, 11-6 ATS)
Just a month ago, Head Coach Rex Ryan and Head Coach Mike Tomlin exchanged pleasantries following a 22-17 win for the New York Jets over the Pittsburgh Steelers. You could plainly see Tomlin tell Ryan good luck for the playoffs. Ryan responded with, “We’ll see you there.” Little did either one know that they would be the last two teams left standing in the AFC playoffs. Here is our AFC Championship Game preview and our NFL odds analysis of the duel between the Jets and Steelers.
The Jets have made a real habit out of running their mouths over the course of the last two seasons, but we have to give all the credit in the world to Ryan and company. This isn’t just a team that talks the talk. It walks the walk as well. This defense is just downright nasty, and though it allowed 21 points to the New England Patriots last week in the Divisional round of the playoffs, it really should be proud to know that it has held Tom Brady and Peyton Manning to just 37 points in two games combined. New York has accounted for six sacks and countless pressures so far in the second season, and it can say that it did the unthinkable on Sunday. It picked off Brady, marking the first time that he had been intercepted since October. RB LaDainian Tomlinson has already visited the end zone three times in these playoffs, while QB Mark Sanchez has thrown for almost 400 yards and has three TDs against just one INT. In fact, the one pick that he threw in the end zone near halftime against the Indianapolis Colts was the team’s only turnover in this stretch.
Pittsburgh knows that it really had to survive against the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday, but survive it did. It hasn’t always been easy, nor has it always been a thing of beauty, but the Steelers just keep finding ways to get the job done, and there is a reason that they are favorites on the AFC Championship Game odds this week. QB Ben Roethlisberger has the tendency to just make the big plays when he really needs them. He threw the two TD passes that tied the score and erased a 14 point deficit against the Ravens on Saturday, and he was the one that threw that 58 yard pass to Antonio Brown on 3rd and 19 on the offense’s final meaningful drive of the game that set up the game winning score. The black and gold defense is always one of the best in the league, and this is no exception this year. Running the ball is darn near impossible, as the Steelers are allowing just 61.1 yards per game this year on the ground, and as a result, they only conceded 15.1 points per game this year. The ‘D’ only legitimately gave up 17 against Baltimore, as the offense gave up the other seven in the first quarter.
Why not, right? It’s been one of these years that we have just grown to expect the unexpected. The Jets were good enough to come in here once and knock off the Steelers, and there is a good chance that they can do it again. Regardless, the last six meetings in this rivalry have been decided by an average of 5.6 points per game. We definitely want all the points that we can get, and while the hook is still available, we’re grabbing it.
AFC Championship Game Free Pick: New York Jets +3.5