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NFC & AFC Championship Game Previews & Predictions – Inside The Wheelhouse

The Green Bay Packers are one win away from a Super Bowl appearanceNFC Championship Game:
Green Bay Packers vs. Chicago Bears

The longest rivalry in Football meets this Sunday with the NFC Championship and a berth to the Super Bowl on the line. Besides being one of the longest rivalries in Football history it is also one of the most intense rivalries in Football. The franchises, the players and the fans do not like one another. If you think the Jets vs. Patriots is intense, this rivalry has been that intense for years.

These two teams met each other twice this season splitting the season series at 1 at a piece. Both wins came from each team’s home field, this Sunday’s game will be played at Soldier Field in Chicago. The Bears ended up getting the best of the Packers in the regular season winning the NFC North division and the #2 seed in the NFC side of the playoffs.

When these two teams first played in prime time in Chicago it was the Green Bay Packers that beat themselves having 18 penalties in the game, a franchise record. The Bears ended up winning that game 20-17. Had the Packers not caused 18 penalties in the game who knows if Chicago still would have won.

In Week 17, with the Packers playoff berth on the line at Lambeau Field, the Packers would win 10-3. They didn’t beat a Chicago team of scrubs or secondary players either as the Bears gave them everything they had, trying their best to prevent the Green Bay Packers from making the playoffs. The Bears failed that day and now people are wondering if that NFL Week 17 matchup could come back to bite the Bears back.

All season in these blogs I have openly discussed my displeasure with the Chicago Bears. Multiple weeks I have said they are a “smoke & mirrors” team. I voiced my opinion not only here in the blog but also on my radio show “The Wheelhouse.” I have never given the Bears the credit that many Bears fan probably feel they deserve.

With that being said I will give the devil it’s due and say the Chicago Bears are a pretty good team. If you make the NFC Championship game and are one of four teams left playing in the NFL then you are a good team. Chicago I apologize for my bashing all season long.

Despite being wrong about the Bears this season, I still feel like they are an inferior team to the Green Bay Packers. Green Bay should have won their first season match this season, the Packers beat themselves, not the Chicago Bears, but a win is a win. Green Bay showed in Week 17 that they were playoff caliber as they played a Chicago Bears team that was at full strength and won in a crucial, playoff mindset, type of game.

I feel like the Green Bay Packers are the best team in the NFL right now. They beat the New York Giants in Week 16, the Chicago Bears in Week 17, the Philadelphia Eagles in Philadelphia in the NFL Wild Card round and they beat the best team in the NFC on their home-field, the Atlanta Falcons, in the Divisional round. Those credits has not only made this Packers team confident, but it has made them dangerous.

Aaron Rodgers had the game of his life in Atlanta and looks to have a repeat performance against a very strong Chicago Bears defense. He is not going to have an easy time like he did in Atlanta but will look for that confidence to roll over into Chicago. He is showing that he is the caliber of one of the best quarterbacks in Football.

These two teams defenses are evenly matched and it will be the team who’s defense slips up the most that will be the winner. The thing going for the Packers defense versus the Bears defense is they are taking on Jay Cutler, who is one of the most overrated quarterbacks in Football. The swarming Packers defense will look to force Cutler to make more mistakes then he tends to do under center.

Cutler is a QB who gets sacked a lot and throws his fair share on interceptions. Look for the Packers defense to take it to him early and often in this game. Cutler is going to be a key player for the Bears success on Sunday afternoon. If Cutler plays better then Rodgers then the Bears will win the NFC Championship.

As much as I am painting the picture of the Bears being inferior to the red hot Packers team, do not count them out. The Bears can force Aaron Rodgers and the depleted running back core to make more mistakes then the Packers D can. The Bears have been in this spot before and there players are looking to take it back to the Super Bowl once again.

With everything being said and looked at, you have to go with the Green Bay Packers in this one. They have one of the best four weeks in Football then any other team in all of the NFL. They have beat the top 3 NFC teams in consecutive weeks and beat a team that just missed the playoffs. The Bears last win was against a team who won the division despite being under .500.

Green Bay is red hot and is all of a sudden becoming the sexy pick to win the Super Bowl now that New England is out of the playoffs. Can the Packers live up to the hype? They most certainly can if they have a performance as dominant as they did in the Georgia Dome. This is the Packers game to lose despite being on enemy turf.

Prediction: Packers 17 Bears 10

AFC Championship Game:
New York Jets vs. Pittsburgh Steelers

These two teams clearly displayed in the Divisional Round that they are two of the best teams in the AFC with their big wins this past weekend. Both teams didn’t have a victory that could be looked at as “easy” and they won their games in competitive fashion. They now standing between each other from a berth to the biggest game in all of sports.

The New York Jets shocked just about everybody but themselves and their fan base this past Sunday in New England. After a week of trash talking, the Jets went into New England and beat the Patriots in front of their home crowd. They defeated the Super Bowl favorites and the best team in all of Football this past Sunday, which when you look at it, you may have to now consider the Jets the best team in Football.

Similar to the Jets, the Steelers came back in the 2nd half to defeat a very strong Baltimore Ravens team at home. The Steelers looked like a shell of themselves in the first half of the game and were nearly costing themselves a shot to play in the AFC Championship Game. But in the 2nd half they were led by one of the best playoff Quarterbacks of All-Time, Ben Roethlisberger and were able to overcome the deficit to win a very big game on Saturday.

This won’t be the first time these two teams have played this season as they both met, at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh towards the end of the season. It was a must win game for the Jets and they showed up to beat the Steelers at home. The Jets will look to do the same thing again but with a Super Bowl berth on the line.

Both of these teams have this certain “swagger” about them that shows how positive and confident they are in themselves in reaching their ultimate goal of a Super Bowl. Come this Sunday evening the team with the better swagger will come out on top and represent the AFC in Super Bowl XLV. One thing is for certain this will be one hell of a Football game.

When you look at these two teams offenses you have to see a great deal of similarity we don’t see in many Football clubs. They are a dynamic offense with high power explosions like some teams possess. They are both led by Quarterbacks who, by the accounts of many public eyes, believe are overrated. I don’t know how both Quarterbacks can be perceived in that light due to their successes, but they are.

They may not be a Manning, Brady or a Brees but they are successful quarterbacks, especially when it counts the most. In the past 5 years these two quarterbacks have been some of the best QBs when it comes to postseason play. Ben Roethlisberger is a 2-time Super Bowl winning quarterback but can’t seem to get a lick of respect from most people, due to his play and due to some outside instances that have plagued his personal life. Sanchez, in his 2nd year, is going to his 2nd AFC Championship Game; his career postseason record is 5-1.

It’s amazing how these two players careers have paralleled one another so far with the lack of respect they receive from most people. Whether you like it or not, one of these QBs will be under center in Dallas, in front of a grand stage at the Super Bowl. Will it be Roethlisberger for the 3rd time or Sanchez for his 1st?

The two defenses are evenly matched with the edge going to the Pittsburgh Steelers. Reason being is because this defense is a Super Bowl winning defense. While the Jets defense is good, they don’t have the finger hardware to back up being a top notch defense while the Steelers do.

Pittsburgh has the defensive edge and the home field advantage which are two intangibles that should be beneficial in driving into Dallas to play for the Vince Lombardi trophy right? Wrong.

The New York Jets, while maybe not being as strong as the Steelers, are the most confident team in Football. When you talk a big game before playing the best team in the NFL and walk into their home & win in a pivotal playoff game, you are a really good Football team. The Jets have had these instances of luck throughout the season that has made me wonder if luck is on their side and maybe this is finally their year.

The momentum they are building is like a racing locomotive train driving right towards Dallas via Pittsburgh and I feel that at the end of the day it will be the New York Jets serving as the AFC representation in the Super Bowl. They have backed up everything they said they were going to do this season and have made it to the Final Four of Football. I don’t see this train derailing in Pittsburgh and I believe it will be the Jets first Super Bowl berth since the 60’s.

It’s going to be an intense battle in Pittsburgh but the Jets will make all the right decisions when it’s all said and done.

Prediction: Jets 14 Steelers 10

As always for more NFL coverage check out my sports podcast “The Wheelhouse”over at www.wheelhouseradio.com!

Jeff Peck is the producer for the “Wheelhouse Radio” program that airs every Sunday – Thursday @ 8pm ET/5pm PT at www.blogtalkradio.com/thewheelhouse and at www.errorfm.com @ 2am ET/11pm PT

Jeff also co-hosts “The Still Real to us show” with Eric Gargiulo which can be available at www.wheelhouseradio.com and can be downloaded in the “Real Guy Radio” section of the site..”

If you would like to subscribe to “The Wheelhouse” on iTunes simply subscribe for free at iTunes by typing in “Wheelhouse Radio!”

You can follow “The Champ Jeff Peck” on Twitter at www.twitter.com/therealjeffpeck you can also follow Wheelhouse Radio on twitter at www.twitter.com/thewheelhouse and you can e-mail them @ [email protected].

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Eric G.

Eric is the owner and editor-in-chief of the Camel Clutch Blog. Eric has worked in the pro wrestling industry since 1995 as a ring announcer in ECW and a commentator/host on television, PPV, and home video. Eric also hosted Pro Wrestling Radio on terrestrial radio from 1998-2009. Check out some of Eric's work on his IMDB bio and Wikipedia. Eric has an MBA from Temple University's Fox School of Business.

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