NFL: New York Jets Will Win the AFC Championship, Beat Steelers

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There was plenty of talk this year that 9 of the Jets 11 regular season wins were against “soft” teams. On top of that, many of the pundits in the media dismissed even some of those wins as a fluke. You know what I’m talking about. Against the Denver Broncos it was a questionable pass interference penalty that helped them win, against the Detroit Lions it was a bad coaching decision by the other team to throw on 3rd down compounded by a late it that helped them win, against the Cleveland Browns it took overtime against the Houston Texans it was the league’s worst pass defense unable to even play prevent defense.

Whether you thought the Jets were a playoff caliber team or not, 11-5 in the AFC East was good enough to get them into the tournament, and in the NFL, that’s all you need. There are no apologies for how you win games in the NFL and whether you blow a team out or win by a point in an unlikely manner, a win is a win and in the NFL, wins are precious commodities. There was so much talk about the Jets 45-3 Week 13 loss to the New England Patriots this year. In hindsight, was it worth anymore than the Jets 28-14 win over the Patriots in Week 2?

The Jets make headlines for the brash quotes they give out each week and so many people seem to be offended. How is it that people don’t understand that this is all planed? It’s an act, it’s part of the company line because this is how the owner wants it. That’s why the Jets were on Hard Knocks, that’s why they have the boisterous Rex Ryan as their coach, that’s why they are so quotable. In the eyes of Jets owner Woody Johnson, almost any PR is good PR and staying on the back page of the paper is good for business. When you see Bart Scott’s on filed interview after the Jets beat the Patriots last week, didn’t it seem like a WWF skit?

If the New York Jets to get to Super Bowl XLV in Dallas, they will have beat the No. 2 seed Pittsburgh Steelers after first taking care of the No. 3 seed Indianapolis Colts and then No. 1 seed New England Patriots. Attaching seed numbers wouldn’t do the happenstance justice but when you think of the fact that they will have defeated Peyton Manning, Tom Brady and Ben Roethlisberger in three consecutive weeks, quarterbacks who have been to eight of the last nine Super Bowls and winning six, that’s a Hat Trick for the ages. The 1985 Patriots, 2005 Steelers, and the 2007 Giants are the only teams to win three road playoff games on the way to the Super Bowl and none of them faced a 1-2-3 combination punch like Manning-Brady-Roethlisberger.

The best reason I heard from a Jets disbeliever was that teams can’t go into Pittsburgh twice in a season and win. Well, how about this stat courtesy of Gary Meyers of the New York Daily News.

“On Dec. 16, 2007, in the 14th game of the season, the Jaguars beat the Steelers at Heinz Field, 29-22. As the No. 5 seed in the playoffs, the Jags went back to Pittsburgh 20 days later and beat the No. 4 seed Steelers 31-29 in the wild-card game. The Jets won, 22-17, in Pittsburgh on Dec. 19, surviving two Roethlisberger darts into the end zone from the 9-yard line in the final 10 seconds. That was also the 14th game. The Jets are going back 35 days later.”

The Jets are now 13-5 on the season and I don’t hear anyone talking about soft wins anymore. That doesn’t stop people from stating why they won’t win this week though, as most everyone is caught up upon the fact that Troy Polamalu who missed the first game between these two teams will be back in the starting line-up. As Adam Foster pointed out on Monday, Mark Sanchez is now 4-1 in playoff games in his young career and in only his second year, that’s not too shabby. In the past two years, Sanchez and the Jets have won 4 playoff games on the road beating Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Philip Rivers, and Carson Palmer (just pointing out Palmer in case that’s’ worth something to anyone anymore.) The Jets were underdog in every game they played and came out on top 80% of the time. Those are some pretty damn good odds.

Against the Patriots in Sunday's AFC Divisional Game, Sanchez had a QB rating of 127.5 going 16/25 for 194 yards with 3 TD’s and 0 INT’s. Still think you can’t win with Mark Sanchez as your quarterback? Last year the Jets led the league in rushing in the regular season running for an absurd 172.2 yards per game doing their best 1980’s Nebraska Cornhuskers imitation. The Jets only rushed for 148.4 yards per game this year leading to the general consensus that 'ground and pound' was gone. That’s couldn’t be further from the truth as they were 4th best in the league in rushing this year and have averaged 144.5 yards on the ground in the two playoff games they had this year. Were the Jets a more balanced offense this year? Unquestionably, but that's not a bad thing.

The Jets were the only team to run for more than 100 yards against the Steelers this year running for 106 yards the last time these two teams met, far above the Steelers league leading 62.8 yards per game given up on the ground, so don’t fall into the trap of believing that the Jets only way to win this game is through the air. The Jets will not be intimidated going into Pittsburgh for this one, for the Jets, it’s “been there done that” and they expect to win. This team knocked on the door last year with a rookie quarterback leading the AFC Championship game 17-6 late in the second quarter before they were beaten by a more seasoned team. The Jets are 3.5 point underdogs but in my eyes they are a group now rich with recent playoff experience and as talented as anyone in the league, playing their best football of the year.

The Call

I know many of you have been piggybacking my wagers all year so I’ll give you my take. If you have been with me all year you are up quite a bit but that doesn’t mean that you should do something stupid and just give it all back. So before I tell you how I’m playing it I’d like to remind you that if you are following me, and wagering the way I am, it should only be because YOU THINK what say makes sense to you, not because you’re just doing what I’m doing. Never take a wager that lightly, no matter how small it is. If you don’t have the conviction yourself, you should never place a bet just because someone else is.

As you likely have figured out by now, this piece was a huge Jets endorsement talking about some of the reasons that I think the Jets win this one outright. I’m going to take the Jets money line here as I think the Jets advance to the Super Bowl. Just as in the last two Jets playoff games, I’m going to be prudent and hedge myself and also take the Jets getting points (3.5 in this instance) because I just don’t see a scenario where they lose by more than a field goal. For those who are less risk averse, for what it’s worth I would opine that taking the Jets 3.5 is safe and that there is risk of the line coming down to 3 or even 2.5 prior to kickoff, particularly if Brad Smith is active for the game, so my suggestion is that if you are playing this one from the Jets side to place your wager now, and if you are playing it from the Steelers side to wait as long as possible and possibly improve your risk reward.

Those of you who have commented and emailed me that I was nuts before picking the Jets against both the Colts and the Patriots the past two weeks must think I’m a huge Jets fan. I’m not, in this business you can’t afford to be a fan, you just have to be objective as possible and go by what you see. If I saw what I perceived as an opportunity to win a bet by betting on a Jets opponent to win, I would be the first one to attempt to capitalize on it and report those findings to you. I’m just looking at the facts objectively and trying to capitalize on the best risk rewards opportunities I see.

No matter how you play it, good luck. I’ll be back with my thoughts on the NFC Championship game tomorrow.- Robert Fairchild

RoberFairchildHeadShotRobert is a professional sports gaming professional. He legally wages on professional and collegiate sporting events for a living. Robert is NOT suggesting that you quit your day job and try to wager on sports for a living. He is contributing his thoughts and experience to assist you in a recreational activity that you as an informed adult may choose to take part in. 

You may email Robert directly at [email protected]. - Best Sports Blogs, Sports Blogger Rankings

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