Question of the Day: Who will be playing in the Super Bowl?
Sam Farmer, Los Angeles Times
Many of us have repeatedly been proven wrong by the four remaining teams, so it wouldn’t be surprising to see these championship games go either way. But I like the New York Jets in the AFC because of A) the way they covered New England’s receivers, and B) how they got after Tom Brady. We’ve seen what can happen when Ben Roethlisberger holds onto the ball too long, which is pretty frequent. In the NFC, I like the Packers because of the way Aaron Rodgers and their defense are playing. Jay Cutler is coming off a great game, too, but the Bears are 1-3 against the Packers with him at quarterback, and he has four touchdowns and nine interceptions in those games. Also, in those four games, the Packers sacked him 14 times. Rodgers’ numbers from those games are slightly better, but not a stark contrast: three touchdowns, three interceptions, 12 sacks. I think Rodgers will outplay Cutler. I’m predicting a green Super Bowl -- Jets vs. Packers.
Dan Pompei, Chicago Tribune
When you get to this point of the NFL season, quarterbacks are more important than ever. That’s why I think the Packers and Steelers will meet in the Super Bowl. Aaron Rodgers is playing the position as well as any quarterback. He is so confident and so poised and so well-prepared that if he has a significant role in deciding the outcome of the NFC championship game against the Bears, it’s difficult to envision anything but a Packers victory. One qualifier: Rodgers has not looked like the player he was against the Falcons in games against the Bears defense. As for the Steelers, Ben Roethlisberger is a seasoned quarterback who has played and won on the big stage before. He can win even when a defense does everything right against him.
Kevin Van Valkenburg, Baltimore Sun
Much of the world seems to believe it's a virtual lock that it's going to be the Packers vs. the Steelers in the Super Bowl, and for that reason — among others — I predict it's going to be the Bears vs. the Jets.
Why not? The most unpredictable NFL season in a decade needs a fitting ending, and the thought of watching Rex Ryan and Jay Cutler on Super Bowl media day fills me with glee.
This entire year has been the football gods’ attempt to thumb their noses at conventional wisdom. I love that Ryan and the Jets' outward bravado drives uptight football fans and observers a little bit bonkers. I love that Cutler is kind of an anti-social weirdo in a position where every pundit insists that leadership is the most important attribute.
If the labor situation doesn't get sorted out, and this is truly the last NFL season for 18 months, then I want it to have the wackiest ending possible. That means Ryan's Jets and Cutler's Bears.
[Updated at 1:00 p.m.
Mike Berardino, South Florida Sun Sentinel
If these NFL playoffs have proven anything, it’s that the whole concept of seeding and home-field advantage is vastly overrated.
Road teams are 5-3 through the first two weekends, and I see little reason not to roll a pair of sixes (seed-wise) now.
The Packers are peaking at the perfect time after sneaking into the tournament off an injury-plagued regular season. They beat the Bears to get into the playoffs, and they should beat them again to reach their first Super Bowl in 13 years.
On the AFC side, the Jets have shown a winning playoff formula two years running. The Steelers have serious offensive line issues and a history of blowing AFC title games at home.
For the first time since Joe Willie’s guarantee, the Jets reach the Super Bowl.]
Photo: New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees celebrates the Saints' 2010 Super Bowl victory against the Indianapolis Colts. Credit: Mark Humphrey / Associated Press.