AFC Championship Preview: Jets vs Steelers

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On Sunday, the unlikely 6th seeded Gang Green locks horns with the 2nd seeded Steelers on Heinz Field in the AFC Championship game. What exactly do you need to know about this game? The Jets were 11-5 in the regular season, and while they didn’t really get as much credit as they would probably have deserved towards the season’s end, they only finished slightly off the 12-4 pace set by the Steelers.

Despite the apparently even regular season results, the Steelers have the obvious edge in heads-up confrontations: they’re 14-6 against the Jets. Just to make things as blurry as possible: the last game between the two contenders was won by the Jets who won 22-17 on Heinz Field on Dec. 19.

For Gang Green this marks the first time in the history of the franchise that the team reached the Championship game in two back to back seasons. Furthermore, just to underscore the momentum the Jets are currently enjoying: they’ve just become the first team in NFL history to win two road playoff games in back to back seasons. QB Mark Sanchez has just improved to 4-1 in road playoff games. A possible win at Heinz field would give Sanchez a 5-1 road playoff record, which would be the best in the NFL.

Looking at the game from Pittsburgh’s perspective: besides QB Ben Roethlisberger, who is 2-1 in Championship games, another key figure for the Steelers could be RB Rashard Mendenhall, who ran for 99 yds and a touchdown against the Jets during the regular season and seems to be riding a nice momentum coming into this game.

LB LaMarr Woodley needs a sack in this game to become the 10th player with 10 playoff sacks in the league since 1982. Moreover, a win for the Steelers would mean that the team would notch up 33 playoff wins, thus tying the Cowboys for the league’s best in this respect. A win would also lead to an 8th Super Bowl appearance for Pittsburgh, which would tie another Cowboys record.

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