Championship Game, Baby! This is what it’s all about. Gotta love it
I’ve spent quite a few years touting Ben Roethlisberger. It started with his 2nd preseason game in August of 2004. I can remember it like it was yesterday. I had just recently begun doing a sports talk show on Saturday nights. A thought occurred to me as I watched him play.
The thought was that this quarterback had more poise than any Steelers quarterback that I had ever seen since Bradshaw.
Even in those very early days, Roethlisberger never seemed out of place. I came on theshow that Saturday night and said that Ben should start game 1 because he was already better than any Steelers quarterback since Bradshaw.
My first caller that evening said, “You are an idiot!” Ha!
So it goes…..
Rex Ryan is the best coach in pro football. His team is outplaying their stats and it’s because of Ryan’s defensive schemes and his brilliant work as a psychologist. But unfortunately for dear Rex, his message is going to be a tough sell this week.
All of the situations play to Pittsburgh. The Jets just beat the Colts and Patriots in successive weeks. The Colts had knocked the Jets out of the playoffs last year. The Patriots just beat the Jets 45-3 a few weeks ago.
Do you think the message was hard to get across? Absolutely not.
But all of this plays against the Jets this game. Road playoff teams off 2 straight up underdog wins are just 3-11 lifetime.
What will the Jets energy and emotional level be this game? The above stat gives you quite a clue.
There is more bad news for Rex Ryan. He can’t even say to his players that we got our asses handed to us in Pittsburgh last time! But you better believe Tomlin will be taking advantage of that 5 point loss to New York this season.
The Steelers are 10-1 when revenging a game against an opponent last three years.
The Jets have the superior advantage in special teams. But the fact that they got a big return TD against Pittsburgh in the previous game makes you think that the Steelers will be extra focused to not allow that to occur in this game.
Finally, Pittsburgh is 17-2 off a home win the last 3 years.
The Steelers are not only in a better spot. Pittsburgh is the much better team. The public thinks the Jets have a great shot to win. But they are wrong.
Yards per play differential
Steelers +1.0, Patriots +0.4, Colts
+0.1, Jets +0.1
Yards per pass differential
Steelers +1.8, Patriots +0.9, Colts +0.4, Jets +0.1
How can the Jets even compete here?
This game should be very simply to handicap. The Steelers will stuff the Jets running attack behind a great run defense and a frenzied crowd, and force Mark Sanchez to beat them with his piss poor 6.2 Net yards per pass average.
Rex Ryan has major problems with his game plan here. Does he stick to his run first mentality and lose? Or does he come out throwing in an attempt to win the game? If Ryan chooses plan B, it will be his only chance to pull off a win. But this would be a tough call for him to make.
Cowher had issues with this for years. He would never want to get away from what he does best. Because if it backfired, he would most likely regret it for 6 months. This is all brought on by having a less than championship quality quarterback.
Run first teams don’t win championships. If they did, Earl Campbell, Barry Sanders, OJ Simpson, Eric Dickerson, Tomlinson, would all have at least 1 Superbowl between them.
The Steelers defense will shut down the run and force Sanchez to beat them. His lack of efficiency will become amazingly apparent in this game.
The Jets will walk away wondering if he can ever get them to where they want to go.
Rex Ryan will become known as a coach who can’t win the big one. That would be very unfair to him of course. But that label has been tossed around to a lot of great coaches that willed their team as a far as they could possibly go with mediocre talent at the Quarterback position.
Meanwhile Pittsburgh enters the game with a defense that seems to better each game. Pittsburgh allows just 4.5 Yards per play against a schedule of offenses that gain 5.4 yards per play on average. The Jets offense meanwhile gains just 5.2 yards per play against a schedule of teams that would allow 5.3 yards per play defensively on average. In other words the Jets may not be able to move the football much at all in this game.
The Jets are in a lot of trouble.
Roethlisberger is in a great spot. The Jets defense dominated the Colts and Patriots offenses. Roethlisberger said that he doesn’t know what he can do against them. Oh yes he does. You have to love this situational spot for big Ben. You just get the feeling that he is in a great frame of mind.
If we take the Steelers +0.7 net yards per play differential and divide by 0.15, you would get about 4.6 points. Now add 3 points to the home team and all of the situational angles that play into Pittsburgh’s favor, and we should see a Steelers victory reach double digits.
This really isn’t that hard folks.
Pittsburgh 27 Jets 13