2011 AFC Championship Game Betting Preview

Written by:
Carrie Stroup
Published on:
2011 AFC Championship Game Betting Preview

This 2011 AFC Championship game betting preview is courtesy of Sportsbook.com, where the current line was -3.5 with a total of 39

The Jets seek their first trip to the Super Bowl in 42 years when they travel to Pittsburgh to face a Steelers team that is two wins away from claiming its seventh Super Bowl title. The last time the Jets visited Pittsburgh was one month ago in Week 15. Although the Steelers outgained New York that day, the Jets left town with a 22-17 victory, their first win in eight all-time trips to Pittsburgh. Neither team committed a turnover in that game.

Before the Week 15 meeting, both the Jets and Steelers had combined to go 13 straight quarters without an offensive touchdown. Since that game, New York has been much better on offense, averaging 29.3 PPG in the four contests. QB Mark Sanchez has had his ups-and-downs this year, but he was certainly up for last week’s upset win in New England, completing 64% of his passes for 194 yards, 3 TD and 0 INT. Sanchez is now 4-1 in his playoff career (all on the road) with 922 passing yards, 7 TD and 3 INT in five postseason starts. His only loss was last season’s AFC Championship in Indianapolis where he threw for 257 yards, 2 TD and 1 INT in a 30-17 defeat.

RBs LaDainian Tomlinson and Shonn Greene have both been great recently, helping the Jets average 172 rushing YPG in their past four games. Tomlinson has three touchdowns in two weeks and will be fully healthy for the first time in an AFC Championship, after only getting two carries in the conference title loss to New England following the 2007 season. Greene has rushed for 146 yards in the two wins this postseason. The duo combined for 89 yards on 23 carries in the Week 15 win at Pittsburgh. Another big factor in this game is special teams. Brad Smith, who is expected to play despite a groin injury, opened the last game against the Steelers with a 97-yard kickoff return touchdown.

Despite allowing a season-high 106 yards to the Jets, only one other opponent has gained more than 75 rushing yards against Pittsburgh this year (New England, 103). Since the loss to New York, the Steelers have allowed just 50.7 rushing YPG, including holding a quality Ravens rushing offense to 35 yards on 18 carries last week. Safety Troy Polamalu continues to play through a strained Achilles, which is a great sign for Pittsburgh considering the team is 31-8 with Polamalu in the lineup and 6-7 without him since 2008. The Jets also have a great defense that ranks third in the league in rushing yards (91 YPG) and sixth in passing yards allowed (201 YPG).

Like Sanchez, Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger has also had a successful postseason career with a 9-2 record and two Super Bowl rings. His stats in the 11 games aren’t stellar (88.7 QB rating, 17 TD, 12 INT), but they have been good enough to win consistently. Roethlisberger threw for 226 yards and two touchdowns in the third quarter of last week’s win over Baltimore, giving him 5 TD and just 1 INT in his past four postseason games. But Roethlisberger averaged a season-low 6.0 yards per attempt in his last meeting with New York. RB Rashard Mendenhall ran for 99 yards on just 17 carries against the Jets, but has averaged a mere 49.0 rushing YPG in his three games since. However, Mendenhall does have four touchdown runs in his past two games.

At Sportsbook.com, 74% of action on spread in NFC game is backing the Pack.  For the AFC game, 62% are behind the Steelers -3.5, but 71% are taking the Jets on the moneyline  +165.

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- Carrie Stroup, Gambling911.com Senior Reporter

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