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It's down to the nitty-gritty in the NFL playoffs

Green Bay and Chicago will battle for the NFC title and the New York Jets and Pittsburgh will do likewise in the AFC in two excellent matchups.

January 16, 2011|By Sam Farmer
  • A Chicago Bears fan looks forward to the NFC championship game next weekend against division rival Green Bay.
A Chicago Bears fan looks forward to the NFC championship game next weekend… (Jonathan Daniel / Getty…)

Green Bay Packers at Chicago Bears — As storied as their rivalry is, this is only the second time these teams have met in the postseason and the first since the Bears prevailed in a Western Division playoff in 1941 at Wrigley Field. These NFC North foes split this season, each winning on its home field. Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers and Chicago's Jay Cutler are coming off four-touchdown performances in their respective divisional victories over Atlanta and Seattle. One particularly compelling matchup to watch is not between players, but assistant coaches: Chicago's offensive coordinator Mike Martz against Dom Capers, the guru of the Packers' defense.

New York Jets at Pittsburgh Steelers — Coach Rex Ryan calls this game "Mission: Impossible 3," yet his Jets have defied the odds all along. They beat Peyton Manning in Indianapolis and Tom Brady in New England, so who is to say they can't beat Ben Roethlisberger in Pittsburgh? The Jets posted a 22-17 victory at Heinz Field on Dec. 19, beating the Steelers on the road for the first time in franchise history. Pittsburgh nearly pulled off a victory, however, as Roethlisberger drove the Steelers from their eight to New York's 10 in the final 2 minutes 8 seconds, only to end the game with two incomplete passes. The Steelers had a first-round bye and advanced to the championship game by beating Baltimore at home.

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