TheDC sports columnist Andy Hayes: Conference Championship picks

Finished last weekend 3-1 (because the Pats didn’t show up). That leaves me 6-2 for the playoffs and 141-119 overall. Some great games coming up Sunday.

  • Packers vs Bears. The Bears’ record when Brian Urlacher is on the field: 56-33. Their record when he’s not: 7-16. Urlacher’s return this year has been huge. He is the soul of a Chicago defense that was made better by the additions of Chris Harris and Julius Peppers. Strong play from Charles Tillman, the always steady Lance Briggs and the re-emerging Tommy Harris has helped too. This is a good defensive team. And obviously with Hester (and the unheralded kick returner Danieal Manning), the special teams for the Bears is…special. The offense is a different story. I hesitate to bring up the now cliche references to Good Jay and Bad Jay – but it’s hard not to because his inconsistent play affects his team significantly. Take a look at Cutler’s last 5 games for example. In 3 of those 5 games he’s had a QB rating of more than 104, but in the other two games the QB ratings were 43.5 and 32.9. (The 43.5 QB rating, incidentally, was against the Packers at Lambeau in Week 17). Jay Cutler struggles with what Dom Capers throws at him and his tendency to get sacked and turn the ball over could really hurt the Bears this weekend. But as much attention as Cutler, the Bears’ D, Hester, Rodgers and the Packers’ offense are getting in the media before this game – I think the silent key Sunday will be whether or not the Packers can slow down Matt Forte. In 4 of the 5 Bear losses this year, Forte was largely absent. When Forte is running well and/or catching lots of passes, the Bears’ offense opens up considerably, Cutler doesn’t press as much and the Bears typically win. But when Forte is a non-factor, that’s when Cutler starts forcing passes and getting sacked a bunch. You can bet that Dom Capers will be setting up the Packers D to stop Forte (both running and catching the ball), daring Cutler to chuck it around against a Packer secondary that has been playing well lately. For the Packers, I wouldn’t be surprised if Mike McCarthy leans heavily on rookie RB James Starks early in an effort to set up play action and open up the passing game. Then I wouldn’t be surprised to see Aaron Rodgers eventually go nuts. In keeping with my pre-season pick of the Pack winning the Super Bowl, I’ll take the Pack to roll here.  Packers 31, Chicago 16.
  • Jets vs Steelers. The Jets impressed last week by not flinching at all in Foxboro against the mighty Patriots. They took their brand of football right to the favored Pats and ultimately, made the Pats look pretty bad. Tom Brady in particular looked incredibly bad when considering he’ll likely win the MVP award. But I’m still not convinced. I still don’t think the Jets are that good. While there are an number of folks who believe the Jets are destined to knock off Pitt and continue their run, I’m not one of them. And the main reason why I can’t jump on board is the Jets’ offense. I still think the Jets have one of the most vanilla offenses in the NFL. The plays are simplified so that Sanchez can manage the game. Not a dumb strategy with a young QB – but a strategy that should make veteran D-Coordinators salivate. When the Jets played the Packers earlier in the year, I predicted a Packer victory (despite the Pack being a 6.5 point dog), mostly because I assumed Dom Capers would see right through the vanilla offense. He did – the Jets scored 0 points. Against good defensive teams (and the Pats, by the way, are not a good defensive team), the Jets offense should do very little. Yes, the Jets put up 22 on Pitt in Week 15, but 9 of those points came from their special teams/defense and importantly, Troy Polamalu wasn’t playing. My guess is that the Jets score no more than 10 points this Sunday and Pitt wins comfortably. Polamalu being back in the lineup can’t be underestimated – he’s the best player on a defense loaded with good players. The Jets only chance this week is for Brad Smith to go nuts with a run back or two. Pitt 24, NYJ 10.

  • nycon

    Thats ok. The Jets will win a lot sooner then you will inherit a brain.
    Byeee LOLOLOL

  • thekidd

    Hey nycon,

    1. Andy is 25 games above .500 picking against the spread so objectively speaking his picks haven’t sucked.

    2. It would be better to wait until after the Jets win something to start yapping about them. BTW, are they going to win something this year finally or is your greatest moment of the season once again going to be draft day where we all get to laugh at all the loser Jets fans going crazy as their picks are called?

    3. In your second sentence it’s “You’re” not “Your.”

  • nycon

    Andy, your picks have sucked all year. Your just another JET hater anyway.

    • nycon

      I guess YOU ARE a whining PATSY fan eh? LOL
      I will explain this so even an idiot like you can understand. His picks regarding the JETS have been WRONG all year!! I know the JETS have only beaten Manning, Brady etc.
      Go cry in your chowda. Cmon back and post, your my bitch.

      • thekidd

        Same old losers. So sorry. Have fun at the draft.

        • nycon

          I knew you would come back, my little bitch. Hey at least we were in the Div Championship game. WHere were you? LOL panty wipe.

          • thekidd

            From the NYPost:

            “Fourteen thousand nine hundred and seventy six days have passed. Six hundred thirty one regular season games have been played. Twenty three playoff games have been played. Fourteen different head coaches have coached. Nine U.S. Presidents have held office. Yet the beat goes on for the tortured and teased Jets and their fans.”

            America’s biggest losers.

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