Sunday • 6:30 p.m. • Heinz Field, Pittsburgh • TV » CBS • Radio » Sirius 124


1. Pick your defense » New York is ranked third defensively; Pittsburgh is second. The Jets are third against the run; Pittsburgh is first. If Pittsburgh shuts down the run, can New York rely on Mark Sanchez to take over? If he weren’t so inaccurate early the Jets wouldn’t play close games. The Steelers ran well vs. the Jets in the first game, but New York stopped QB Ben Roethlisberger (23-44, 264 yards) and he’s now playing behind a banged-up line.

2. Road rage » In the past two seasons, New York is 4-1 in the postseason — with all the wins on the road. Already this month the Jets have won at Indianapolis and New England. New York is a mentally tough team, able to overcome injuries (Jim Leonhard, Kris Jenkins) and underdog status. The ability to make plays in the return game, as they did in the December win, is also crucial. But Pittsburgh is a more balanced team than New England or Indianapolis.

3. Polamalu’s impact » By now, everyone knows this: Troy Polamalu missed the Jets 22-17 win over Pittsburgh in December. That represents the Steelers only loss in the past eight games. So his availability for this game makes it easy for Steelers fans to feel better. New York must account for his whereabouts. Even if he’s not 100 percent — he has just three tackles in his last two games combined — he’s still a dangerous playmaker. Especially in big games.


Steelers   Jets

WR Mike Wallace » Averaged 21.0 yards during the season; caught seven passes for 102 yards in December meeting.

 vs. CB Darrelle Revis » If he’s not the best cornerback in the league, he’s definitely in the top two.
OLB Lamar Woodley » James Harrison gets more acclaim, but Woodley (10 sacks) has a favorable matchup.  vs. RT Wayne Hunter » With starter Damien Woody sidelined, the seven-year pro will make his sixth career start. Yikes.
TE Heath Miller » If the wideouts struggle, Miller becomes dangerous over the middle. He didn’t play in the first meeting. vs. S Eric Smith » He replaced standout Jim Leonhard and has done fine, but he’s not a playmaker.



JETS » New York is as confident as any team remaining, or, more accurately, are more vocal about their confidence. But it’s led to a swagger that should scare any team it faces. They also have big-play receivers who will pose problems.

STEELERS » Pittsburgh is used to being in this spot. The Steelers already have won two of the past five Super Bowls, with many of the same key players. Roethlisberger has directed both those victories and borders on being underrated. He makes plays and wins games.


The heart says the Jets; the head says the Steelers. Listen to the head. The Steelers are more dangerous than the Colts or Patriots because of their defense.

Steelers 20, Jets 17