AFC Championship Game - Heinz Field - Pittsburgh, PA
The AFC No.6 seed New York Jets shocked many last week in their 28-21 victory over the New England Patriots. Sunday, they look to take the NFL's 4th best rushing offense into Heinz Field to battle The Pittsburgh Steelers, who own the league's best rushing defense, allowing a paltry 62.8 yards per game.
Online sportsbooks list the Pittsburgh Steelers as -4 point home favorites against the New York Jets, with a game total of 38 points. My wife, Diana, is holding on to a six point teaser, Bears +9 1/2, Jets +10. What's your play?
Both teams are defensive juggernauts. The Jets rank third against the rush, sixth against the pass, and sixth in points allowed, giving up only 19 points per game. The Steelers answer with a defensive squad that stops the run better than anyone else in the NFL, and also allows the fewest points scored, giving away a meager 14.5 points per game.
Despite Troy Polamalu's dominance, Jet's QB Mark Sanchez (17 TDs, 13 INTs) will look to connect with receivers Braylon Edwards, Santonio Holmes and TE Dustin Keller. The Steelers finished the regular season ranked 12th in the league in pass defense, allowing 214.1 receiving yards per game. LaDainian Tomlinson and Schonn Greene combined for 1680 rushing yards and 8 TDs during the regular season. They will need to establish some success if they hope to keep the Steeler's blitz packages and pass rush away from Sanchez.
Pittsburgh will look to establish their own ground game behind running back Rashard Mendenhall, who bullied his way to 1273 rushing yards and 13 TDs during the regular season. QB Ben Roethlisberger (17 TDs, 5 INTs) will take aim at receivers Mike Wallace, Hines Ward and TE Heath Miller. The trio combined for 2524 receiving yards, as well as 17 TDs during regular season play.
AFC Wild-Card Rematch of Jets-Colts
Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts (10-6) have seven AFC South titles in eight years. Today they host the New York Jets (11-5) who are looking for revenge after having been eliminated by the Colts in last year's AFC championship game.
Online sportsbooks have posted the Indianapolis Colts as -2 point home favorites over the New York Jets, with a game Total pf 44 1/2 points.
Peyton Manning ranks 2nd in the NFL in passing yards completed, 4700, and touchdowns, 33. Although he has also thrown 17 INTs, Manning has been without many of his usual weapons, including at times, Reggie Wayne, Austin Collie, and Dallas Clark.
As a team the Colts rank first in passing offense, however they are close to bottom of the league in rushing, ranking 29th and averaging only 92.7 yards per game. Running backs Brown and Adai have combined for 992 rushing yards on the season, only slightly more than Jet's running back, LaDainian Tomlinson, who has amassed 914 yards on the ground and another 368 receiving yards.
Mark Sanchez is expected to be fully recovered from a previous shoulder injury and ready for Saturday's AFC wild-card game. The Jets quarterback will look to connect with receivers Braylon Edwards (7 TDs) and Santonio Holmes (6 TDs). The Colt's have a respectable if not feared pass defense, ranking 17th in the NFL. The Indianapolis run defense however allows 127 yards per game, ranking 25th in the league. As a team the Colt's are giving up 24.3 points per game, compared to the Jet's defense who rank 6th in the NFL, allowing a meager 19 points per game.
Jets Coach Sal Alosi Trips Nolan Carroll
The Jets are struggling. The pressure is building. And the Jets' strength and conditioning coach, Sal Alosi, decided to take matters into his own hands, (or feet) during Sunday's 10-6 loss to the Miami Dolphins.
Alosi joined the Jets in 2001 as a strength and conditioning intern. He returned to the Jet's organization in 2006 after a brief stint with the Atlanta Falcons. Alosi is a former linebacker from Hofstra University, where he was awarded the Mayor's Trophy, recognizing the spirit of fair play, both on and off the field, as described by the university's media guide.
Alosi offered an apology after the game.
Nolan Carroll, a rookie corner back signed in the 5th round out of Maryland, said he wasn't angry about the incident.
Some of Carroll's teammates were less restrained when asked for their reactions.
Crowder went on to add,
The Jets fell to 9-4 after the loss to the Dolphins. In week 13, the Jets were embarrassed by the New England Patriots in a 45-3 blow out. The Patriots (11-2) now control the AFC East and leave the New York Jets scrambling for a position in the post-season.
The Jets play next on the road against Pittsburgh (10-3) on Sunday, December 19 at 4:15 PM.