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New York Jets At Pittsburgh Steelers - Comparing the Defenses

Comparing the two defenses that will face off in the AFC Championship Game...

When the Jets are on defense -

200.6 passing yards allowed per game - 6th in the NFL

90.9 rushing yards allowed per game - 3rd in the NFL

Defensive Line - They didn't put forth their best effort in the earlier meeting between these two teams, however for the most part Sione Pouha, Mike DeVito, and Shaun Ellis have been solid against the run all year. Ellis is also coming off a career effort against the Patriots, where he recorded 2 sacks and was constantly in Tom Brady's face. Trevor Pryce will also be a factor in the rotation. It will be interesting to see if the Jets activate another defensive lineman like Marcus Dixon or Vernon Gholston, considering how much Pittsburgh runs the ball compared to the previous two teams the Jets faced in the playoffs.

Linebackers - David Harris and Calvin Pace came up with big plays last week and will need to do the same against Pittsburgh. Jason Taylor probably had his most memorable moment as a Jet in the December meeting of these two teams with his 4th quarter safety. He has been invisible in the playoffs so far and needs to get after the quarterback in this game.

Secondary - Darrelle Revis is playing at the level he did last year, which is bad news for opposing receivers and cornerbacks. It remains to be seen how Rex Ryan will use him this week. Antonio Cromartie must continue to be physical, especially against these Pittsburgh receivers who have more size and strength than New England's. Eric Smith and Brodney Pool have been playing much better lately and need to key in on Heath Miller and provide support in the rushing defense. Drew Coleman had a big game against the Steelers in the previous meeting with 2 sacks and 2 forced fumbles but needs to step up his coverage against Pittsburgh's slot receivers.

When the Steelers are on defense -

214.1 passing yards allowed per game - 12th in the NFL

62.8 rushing yards allowed per game - 1st in the NFL

Defensive Line - Big Casey Hamption leads the way up front on Pittsburgh's stellar run defense. Defensive end Aaron Smith isn't going to play this Sunday. Brett Keisel and Ziggy Hood both have had strong seasons up front, supporting Hampton.

Linebackers - Pittsburgh has one hell of a collection of play-making linebackers. Lawrence Timmons finished with 135 tackles, 3 sacks and 2 interceptions, James Farrior also had over 100 tackles and 6 sacks. James Harrison finished with 10.5 sacks and had 3 in last week's divisional round game. Lamar Woodley finished with 10 sacks and 50 tackles to round this impressive group.

Secondary - Bryant McFadden and Ike Taylor are a good, but not great starting duo of corners and can be beat down the field. Troy Polamalu didn't play in the previous match-up and is arguably the best defensive player in football. He didn't look 100 percent healthy last week but is always a threat when he is out there. Ryan Clark finished with 90 tackles and 2 interceptions at the other safety spot.


Advantage - Steelers - By a slight margin, their front seven has an advantage over the Jets and if Polamalu is healthy, their secondary matches the Jets in talent.