Rating the Divisional Games
Obviously the New England/Indianapolis matchup is greatly anticipated, giving us the battle between the current season's MVP and the two-time Super Bowl MVP. Has there ever been a playoff matchup between a team that won 14 (New England) and 13 (Indy) games during the regular season? Yep, in 1999, Jacksonville hosted Tennessee for the AFC title and was far too gracious, allowing the Titans to slip past them to the Super Bowl. And the year before that, the 15-1 Vikings faced the 14-2 Falcons for the NFC title with the home team again bowing. Interestingly, in 1990 the San Francisco 49ers were 14-2 and the NY Giants 13-3 during the regular season, and once again the visitor earned the right to go to the big dance. Is this a trend?
The Jets-Steelers game will also be interesting as the postseason debut of Ben Roethlisberger. Can he keep his streak alive? Chad Pennington racked up his first road playoff victory last weekend. But the Jets lost to Pittsburgh at Ketchup Field only a month ago, 17-6. The Steelers are one of only 4 15-1 regular season teams, following in the footsteps of the 1984 49ers, 1985 Bears and the 1998 Vikings. All of those teams won their first round playoff game, and the 49ers and Bears went on to the title.