Green Bay Packers (12-6)
Chicago Bears (12-5)
Sunday Jan. 23 - 2:00pm (cst)
Soldier Field on Sunday will be cold a high in the mid teens with a 20 percent chance of snow. The game will put the NFL's longest rivalry in history, since 1921 these two teams have gone at it. The Bears have the historical edge 92-83-6 to date. In postseason play the last time they met was Dec. 14, 1941. This year they have already battled it out twice, both being close games. The first in week 3 the Bears won 20-17 and in the second game week 17 the Packers won 10-3 which put them in the playoffs. So, coaches Mike McCarthy and Lovie Smith should have enough game film watched and studied to put together many ways to beat the opposition.
Will the Bears 20th ranked pass defense be able to hold off the onslaught of passes that Aaron Rodgers, who last week took down the number one seed Atlanta Falcons with the best performance of his career? He did a great job evading defenders and as he spread the field found his open receivers. Aaron has eight career wins against the Chicago Bears and would love to get the ninth to earn a spot in the Super Bowl. In their last meeting with Green Bay Jay Cutler was sacked 6 times and threw 2 interceptions a day he will have to prevent on Sunday! The Packers do have the 5th best pass defense in the league and will be looking to make Jay earn every yard. But, Cutler can run as evident in last weeks game against the Seattle Seahawks when he scored two rushing touchdowns to go along with two passing touchdowns. Jay is 1-4 against the Packers with nine interceptions and only 5 touchdowns. He will need to keep an eye on the skilled play of corner back's Tramon Williams and Charles Woodson both had a Pro Bowl like season and both are like vacuums when balls are in their zone. There may be a large dose of running back Matt Forte to help with clock management and to help eliminate possible mistakes in the passing game. Aaron will need his track shoes on Sunday to avoid the constant relentless pressure that Brian Urlacher, Julius Peppers and Lance Briggs are going to bring at him. Both defenses are outstanding, Packers were 2nd and Bears were 5th in points allowed this season.
Two key variable of what if's and a possible hero's Sunday are Devin Hester and his play making ability on special teams and the place kickers Mason Crosby and Robbie Gould. With a possible close game special teams may be called on to win the game. Let's hope we do not see the dreaded Ray Finkle Award in the playoffs.
New York Jets (11-5)
Pittsburg Steelers (12-4)
Sunday Jan. 23rd - 7:30pm (cst)
The New York Jets are coming into the game with just taking down Peyton Manning and Tom Brady is Ben Roethlisberger their next triumphant victim? Only these three quarterback have been in the Super Bowls all the way back to 2003. So is toppling the trifecta in place to get a new franchise quarterback in Mark Sanchez to the Super Bowl? Mark is 4-1 in postseason play in his early career and is looking to extend that to 5 and get to the Superbowl. The defense of shut down corner Darrelle Revis, the play maker on defense has been stellar in the playoffs. Another cornerback Antonio Cromartie will be looked upon to help seal the secondary and not let the Hines Ward and Mike Wallace show happen. "Big" Ben Roethlisberger and his 6'5" 241 pound frame will be tough to bring down so the hands of Revis and Cromartie will need to bring their "A" game on Sunday! Keeping the ball in Steelers hands will be aided by Pro Bowler Troy Polamalu and his fine ability to see the coverage and react to it with great speed and determination. The air is not the only place the Jets will be looking to win this Sunday, the running backs Ladanian Tomlinson and Shonn Green will try and balance the offense and keep the Steelers defense honest. On the other side of the ball, Rashard Mendenhall will attack the defense hard and try to throw off the rhythm of the Jets secondary trying to keep them closer to the line of scrimmage giving that long ball option to speedy Emmanual Sanders and Mike Wallace or the middle to tight end Heath Miller.
Like in the first game we will need to keep and eye on the special teams of play Jet's Brad Smith if healthy and his threat of returning a kickoff for a touchdown and place kickers Jet's Nick Folk and Steeler's Shaun Suisham because a point may make the difference.
Good luck to all four teams!