As much as we hate both teams, it is remarkable how closely contested and tense every Ravens vs. Steelers game turns out to be. Baltimore's 21-7 start to the game was shocking, but Pittsburgh's 24-3 advantage in the second half wasn't so surprising. I had visions of the Steelers rallying in the 2001-2002 playoffs to beat Kelly Holcomb and the Cleveland Browns. Only this time, T.J. Houshmandzadeh acted as a substitute for Dennis Northcutt. Seriously, though, the turning point in the game was Ray Rice's fumble to give all of the momentum to the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Even though I picked the Falcons to win in the second game, I had no problems with the Packers winning. Green Bay was the team I initially hoped would come away with the victory, but I changed my mind at the last second because of how consistent the Falcons had been during the regular season. They fell apart in the playoffs, from not being able to take down Aaron Rodgers with the pass rush to Matt Ryan throwing uncharacteristic interceptions to cost his team dearly.
Let's get to the preview of today's games.
Game: Seattle Seahawks vs. Chicago Bears
Date/Time: Sunday, January 16, 2010 at 1:00 p.m. EST
Local Television: WJW/FOX, Channel 8 (Cleveland)
If fans out there are rooting for the underdog, then Seattle is your team to root for. I'm sure they gained a lot of supporters following their unbelievable performance last week at home, and all eyes will be on Marshawn Lynch today to see if he can resurrect his "beast mode" style of running. Seattle remains a dangerous team though because everyone still expects Chicago to win. Seattle also beat Chicago in Chicago earlier this season, so it is up to Jay Cutler and the Bears to get their act together this time around. Whereas the Saints failed to get pressure last week or play tight coverage, that won't be the case this week. Brian Urlacher and Julius Peppers will pressure Matt Hasselbeck, and I doubt he'll match his career day from a week ago. Cutler has to have a mistake-free game too. My Pick: Bears win 23-20.
Game: New York Jets vs. New England Patriots
Date/Time: Sunday, January 16, 2010 at 4:30 p.m. EST
Local Television: WOIO/CBS, Channel 19 (Cleveland)
The first time around, the Jets came away victorious. The second time around, which wasn't too long ago, the Patriots just destroyed the Jets. Tom Brady is playing the best football of his career, and ever since New England's loss to Cleveland (Yay!), they have been unstoppable. When the Jets were blown out, they had just lost safety Jim Leonhard to injury and were picked apart in the secondary. They have had time to make adjustments and have gotten better since then, as seen last week when they were able to hold Peyton Manning in check. I hope this game is closely contested, but Brady and company will prevail again. My Pick: Patriots win 28-20.