As many others have talked and written about, there has been an immense decline in trash talk this week. We went from chiding the Jets for talking too much, to praising them and expecting everyone to start talking trash, to now wondering where the trash talk has gone. In the AFC we have the two most prone to trash-talk defenses in the NFL, yet not a peep since Bart Scott's post game rant. And in the NFC we have the two oldest rivals in the NFL going at it, and yet, silence. Of course this doesn't mean the games will be any less intense, and I'm sure there will be plenty of talking on the field.
Unfortunately without good and/or dumb trash talk to sway me it makes it harder for me to decide which team I want to lose. Mind you I said who I want to lose, not who I want to win; I don't want the Jets or Steelers to win, ever. I may have wanted the Patriots to lose more than I wanted the Jets to lose last week, but I wasn't happy about the Jets winning either. Thankfully, I don't know many Jets fans, but those that I do are brash, loud and annoying. That said, they are better than Steelers fans and thus, I have to be for the Jets again this week.
Now, before I go any further let me apologize to Pittsburgh fans, talking to most any of you one-on-one you are fine, but when you get in a group you become intolerable.
The biggest problem is Pittsburgh fans love to pretend they are the best fans in the world. But where are they during baseball season? Sure they love the Pens now and like to call themselves great NHL fans too, but where were they when the team nearly moved to Kansas City? The Penguins were dead last in NHL attendance in 2003-04. Unless the product is good, Pittsburgh doesn't care, but when they are good they'll tell you time and time again that Pittsburgh loves its sports more than anyone.
Fans, I get that Pittsburgh has had hard times and as a result you cling to your football success, but learn to temper yourselves. Steelers fans will run up and down a bar screaming and giving anyone and everyone a high-five when they score a fourth quarter TD to take a 38-3 lead on the Panthers. They didn't just score a go ahead touchdown against a rival, they scored garbage points in a meaningless game.
Also annoying is the stigma that Pittsburgh travels well because there are Steelers fans at all road games. This isn't because they travel, this is because, one, everyone left Pittsburgh so their fans are spread all over the east coast; and two, they are the bandwagon fans' team of choice.
Sadly, I like Mike Tomlin and want to like his team, but I can't, not until his fans shut up.
(Admittedly, a slight bit of this comes from the bitterness of being a DC sports fan, which means I was nine the last time one of my pro teams achieved postseason success. But also, what the hell is yinz? You know that's not a word right?)
Last Week: 2-2
Home Team in CAPS
Packers (-3.5) over BEARS
The six-seed is favored over the two-seed on the road, yet I'm still picking the road favorite Packers. It's entirely possible that I'm underrating the Bears defense and the advantage of Soldier Field and how well the Bears have played against the Packers vaunted offense in two early meetings this season, but this Packers team is too hot not to pick.
Yes, Jay Cutler played great against Seattle, but that was Seattle, and need I remind you again, they are/were not very good. Green Bay's secondary has been scary good this postseason; if Cutler gets flummoxed he's likely to throw into coverage. Against this team that is about the worst thing that you can do. And as good as Cutler looked against Seattle, Rodgers looked even better in Atlanta. He's playing like a man on a mission.
I expect the Bears to keep it close for three quarters, until the Packers defense makes a game changing play at Jay Cutler's expense.
Final Score Prediction: Packers 24, Bears 13
Jets (+3.5) over STEELERS
Jets got too amped up for last week, they've quieted, and this isn't a team built to be quiet. They are quiet because they don't have the same fire they did last week. If they had the same vitriol as last week I'd be more confident in picking them for this game. But trash talk or no, this game is sure to be close. Both defenses are too strong for it not to be. The only way this game gets out of hand is if the Steelers can turn Sanchez into an interception machine, but I think the Jets will be all too content to run and rely on their defense until they are forced to pass the ball.
I expect this game to look pretty similar to the Ravens-Steelers game of last week. Defenses looking to set the tone, mistakes being some of the biggest plays of the game, and turnovers being a big key.
Seems like it's time for someone to miss an important kick that costs its team the game. This usually happens once or twice each playoffs but has yet to happen this year; Nick Folk and Shaun Suisham are both completely capable of shanking an important kick.
Final Score Prediction: Steelers 20, Jets 18