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NFL Conference Championship Round Weekend Game Capsules

NFL Betting – Conference Championship Weekend Roundup

The NFL surprises us week in, week out – so imagine our surprise when the conference championship games turned out, well, exactly as most of us predicted. How surprisingly unsurprising.

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Packers 21, Bears 14

On the messy, soupy tundra of Soldier Field, the Packer and Bears gave us the ugly game we knew they would. The Pack didn’t take the route we expected them to take to reach Super Bowl XLV, however. Sunday wasn’t the Aaron Rodgers show, as it was at the Georgia Dome the week prior.

In all honesty – Rodgers was off in the second half. Maybe it was the helmet-to-helmet hit he took from Julius Peppers? He overthrew, underthrew and put balls in the dirt throughout the final two quarters. Luckily for Green Bay, plenty of other things went right. James Starks turned in a workmanlike 74 yards on 22 carries; the Packer “D” really stepped up to make some big plays – especially rookie corner Sam Shields. Between him, Tramon Williams and the freshly re-signed Charles Woodson, the Green Bay secondary looks set for the foreseeable future. Wasn’t it supposed to be a weakness a year ago?

The other big NFC Championship storyline was, of course. Jay Cutler. He was ineffective and indecisive early on before leaving with a knee injury. Then, after he stayed standing and didn’t limp on the sidelines for the rest of the game, people started calling for his head. Fans reportedly burned his jersey; players like Kerry Rhodes and Maurice Jones-Drew slammed him on Twitter. Admittedly, I too had the gut feeling that he could’ve returned to the game had he really wanted to. However, after hearing that he was in tears after the game upon hearing of the criticisms from fellow players, I’m not so sure anymore.

The better team booked its ticket to Dallas. Consolation prize goes to Caleb Hanie for a surprisingly competent relief effort at quarterback for the Bears. And by the way: could you make a case that Packers punter Tim Masthay was the player of the game?


Steelers 24, Jets 19

The final score here was about what we expected; as the Jets struggled to run early before falling behind, trying to pass their way back in the game and coming up just short.

However, a closer look at this game shows that the Jets may or may not have given this one away. For one – Shonn Greene averaged 5.8 yards per carry in this one yet ran the ball just nine times. Some Steeler detractors say their amazing run defense stats are inflated because of reputation, that they allow so few yards because teams simply don’t try to run on them, and Greene’s numbers support that theory.

Also – Mark Sanchez was by far the better quarterback yesterday. He completed 60.6 per cent of his passes and threw for two scores with no interceptions. If Big Ben Roethlisberger hadn’t come up with the one play that really mattered – the clutch third down conversion throwing on the run – he could’ve been the goat. He was just 10 of 19 for 133 yards and two interceptions.

That said – perhaps those quarterback stats are more telling about the defenses. Roethlisberger had to worry about Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie whereas the Steelers’ pass defense looked beatable, as it has on and off all season. It’s enough to make you wonder if the Packers are much happier about drawing Pittsburgh in the Super Bowl than they’d be if New York won.

Still – the Jets had a real chance to make the AFC Championship interesting when it was first and goal with the score 24-10 in the fourth quarter. Instead, Rex Ryan calls passes on second and third down, then a run on fourth down. Ouch.



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About Shea Matthews

Shea Matthews the Senior Writer at CP. Lives and breathes sports. He made the transition from athlete to sports journalist at a young age, writing in TV & national papers. Shea applies his knowledge to sports betting + handicapping daily, and shares winning picks with the world.