We're honored to welcome NFL Hall of Famer and New York Jets legend Joe Namath, who will join Yahoo! Sports and the Shutdown Corner Blog during the playoffs to break down the key games, players and moments through to the Super Bowl. Make sure you like the Official Joe Namath page on Facebook and visit the Broadway Joe site for plenty of other insight and gear from Namath.
On my mind today is the pressure and scrutiny a quarterback faces in the playoffs, especially one making his playoff debut.
In college, I had big games, bowl games, and I had big moments -- but there is pressure on a young quarterback playing in the postseason for the first time. Guys like Tim Tebow and Andy Dalton will face pressure this weekend, a pressure I didn't face until my fourth year in the NFL. The New York Jets didn't make the playoffs my first three years in the league. There is a lot on their young shoulders.
I know Tebow played in some big games in college and he's faced a tremendous amount of heat this season, which I think will help in the lead up to this game. He won't approach this game any differently than those big games at Florida or even the games he's had this season. He goes about his work the same way each time and that helps in a moment like this.
Dalton also had big games in his college career and he's stepped up this year, but he's a rookie. I don't think his prep would change much - mine certainly didn't when I was getting ready for a big game.
It's a matter of executing for both of them because how they approach the game shouldn't change. What does change is the fact that this is all about winning now because if you lose, you go home. You talk about the week leading up to the game and it shouldn't be different for these young guys. As far as my study habits, my preparation habits, it didn't change. It's just a mentality that the winner goes home. The reality is that you lose, you're out.
I think Dalton has a better chance of winning because of how the Cincinnati Bengals match up this weekend. As much as I like the Denver Broncos, I think they're outmatched against a very, very good Pittsburgh Steelers team.
The Weekend Forecast: I like football, period. On any given day, any team can win. We've seen wild-card teams win the Super Bowl. The Houston Texans vs. Cincinnati Bengals game will be tight and I do like the New Orleans Saints to handle the Detroit Lions. You can just see that Detroit has been up and down recently and I like the Saints ground game and, of course, that home crowd. From what I'm seeing, the Steelers have a good chance against the Broncos.
If I could only watch one game this weekend, it'd be the one in New York. I think the Atlanta Falcons upset the Giants. I like the running game for the Falcons as they've got a balanced offense. They're as good in the air like as they are on the ground. I don't think the Giants will win as it's going to be rough for them to protect Eli Manning and they will have a tough time running the ball against this defense.
Lots of talk about the cold weather being a factor for New York and giving them an advantage against a dome team but here is one thing people aren't talking about: Matt Ryan is a cold-weather quarterback. His time at Boston College playing in the cold will only help him, so don't look for him to be frozen on Sunday.
The Weekend X-Factor: Michael Turner will surprise the Giants on the ground. From watching the Giants this year, it's going to be a challenge for them to contain the running game and the passing game at the same time. Turner is terrific and could change this game with his physique and determination, he's a powerful guy. What else helps him here is that the Giants' safeties can't climb up there to give much help to the line and key-in on him because you have to be really careful with these Falcons wide receivers and the play of their quarterback. A tough game for sure — and one that doesn't favor the Giants.
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