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Breaking down the AFC title game

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By Pittsburgh The Tribune-Review
Sunday, Jan. 23, 2011
 

AFC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME

Steelers vs. Jets

6:30 p.m. today, KDKA-2

THREE REASONS WHY the Steelers will win

1. Ben Roethlisberger — Not only is he 9-2 in playoff games and 2-1 in AFC Championship games, but Big Ben's poise in the pocket prepares him for fourth-quarter comebacks and allows him to overcome an injury-riddled offensive line.

2. Heath Miller — Missed 22-17 loss to Jets in December, when backup tight end Matt Spaeth dropped two passes in end zone. Miller is Roethlisberger's "safety valve," especially on third-and-long situations.

3. Lawrence Timmons — Inside linebacker led the Steelers in tackles (135) this season and has three sacks and two forced fumbles, but it's his ability in pass coverage (nine passes defended, two interceptions) that will be the key.

THREE REASONS WHY the Steelers will Lose

1. Rex Ryan — Ryan boldly predicted a Super Bowl season, and has the Jets on the brink for the second consecutive season. He outsmarted Bill Belichick in beating the Patriots, and could have a surprising game plan to stop the Steelers.

2. Jets grounded — The Steelers allow a league-least 62.8 rushing yards a game, and can't afford to let LaDainian Tomlinson and Shonn Greene to continue their combined 135-yard average in the playoffs.

3. David Harris — No one talks about the Jets linebackers, but the Jets' MVP leads all NFL players in tackles with 21 and an interception this postseason. Harris could play a pivotal role in stopping Mendenhall and protecting midfield.

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