After watching the Week 17 matchups, Scouts Inc. shares some observations about this year's playoff teams.
No one seems to be talking about it of late, but the Bears won the Jay Cutler trade with Denver. Cutler didn't do much against the Packers in Week 17, but he has played very well of late. The problem Sunday was an old one -- pass protection. Green Bay's speed gave Chicago's protection all sorts of problems. And Cutler didn't help by often holding the ball too long. And yes, the interceptions came back again to haunt the Bears. All that being said, Kyle Orton had a fine season, but no way does he lead the Bears to the No. 2 seed in the NFC this season. This is exactly what Chicago envisioned when it made the blockbuster deal for its franchise quarterback.
A lot is going right at the right time for Pittsburgh. The Browns were abysmal at home Sunday, but the Steelers look very strong right now. Troy Polamalu returned and made an immediate impact. The defense was aggressive and made a ton of big plays. The offense was nearly flawless. But in terms of the big picture, the Steelers will be able to rest while their divisional-round opponent plays a very difficult first-round playoff game. And they could potentially add Aaron Smith to an already terrific defense. Maybe most encouraging, with Ben Roethlisberger leading the way, Pittsburgh's offense is really playing well right now in both facets. Winning at Heinz Field in the divisional round is going be very difficult for any opponent.