Monday Morning Locks
After posting a 5-1 record last week, Alex Sibley brings you five more locks.
By ALEX SIBLEY
All week long we heard Rex Ryan and the rest of the New York Jets turn every press conference into a war of words to try to get under the skin of the New England Patriots.
The majority of the time, I found myself laughing. Ryan makes for good TV when he gets on a roll in front of the reporters.
Then, at the conclusion of Sunday's game between the Pats and Jets, the laughing subsided and the feeling of disbelief hit me in my Hungry Howie's car as I was listening to the game.
They won? You've got to be kidding me.
Not only did I not want to see Ryan and his band of goobers and loud mouths playing for a trip to the Super Bowl this coming Sunday, but this upset broke my perfect record heading into my final pick in Monday Morning Locks.
Without Sidney Crosby the Pens fittingly fell to Boston Monday evening, while the Bears, Steelers and Packers all picked up victories heading into the final NFL game of the weekend.
Also, the Auburn Tigers won the BCS title game, which gives me an additional victory from my BCS predictions earlier in the month.
I thought for sure I'd be sitting pretty at 6-0 when the final horn in Foxborough sounded. But give New York credit, they went into the home of the best team in the NFL and got it done.
Plus, a 5-1 mark isn't too shabby. The five wins put my record at 9-6 heading into my third week of picks.
I'm above .500, which is where you want to be in sports. But there is always room for improvement, which is what I intend to do this coming week.
Lock No. 1 – The Green Bay Packers
One week the Pack wins with the ground game, the next week Aaron Rogers throws his team into the NFC Championship.
How do you stop them? More importantly, with just one week, how will Lovie Smith be able to make a game plan to stop a fearsome rushing and passing attack?
When Rogers is on, he's one of, if not the best quarterback in the league. And right now, he's more in sync with his receivers than Justin Timberlake was with his boy band.
Green Bay has proven they can win on the road the last couple of weeks and Jay Cutler is due for a blow up that only Cutler himself can orchestrate.
It's going to be a battle of the trenches, and with the Pack's defense being dominant throughout the season, I have to give them the advantage.
Take Green Bay.
Lock No. 2 – The Pittsburgh Steelers
Could you imagine the quotes reporters would get if Ryan and his Jets beat Pittsburgh to advance to the Super Bowl? SportsCenter would consider another show dedicated to the press conferences in New York.
But thankfully, I just don't think the Jets can win again at Heinz Field.
The Steelers may be a tad beat up after their war with Baltimore, but with Big Ben behind center, they always have a chance.
Say what you want about him and his past, but between the lines, Ben Roethlisberger is a winner.
It's a quarterback league, and because the Steelers have him, I have to give them the edge.
It's going to be close, real close. But when the dust settles, count on Pittsburgh heading to Cowboys Stadium to face Green Bay in pursuit of their seventh world championship.
Lock No. 3 – The Boston Celtics
Say, didn't the Orland Magic make all of those moves a month or so ago to be more competivie with the Eastern Conference powers like Miami and Boston?
They forgot to add a big man, which will haunt them come the playoffs, trust me.
It will also crush them Tuesday when they head to Boston with a clash against the Celts.
Kevin Garnett is expected to return after missing nine games, while Rajon Rondo and the rest of the team, which is cruising along at 30-9, are firing on all cylinders.
Heck, even veteran forward Shaquille O'Neal dropped 23 points while playing a season-high 35 minutes against Charlotte a week ago.
O'Neal is questionable for the contest at TD Garden, but with the stellar play of Rondo, along with the hot shooting of Ray Allen and the always clutch Paul Pierce, I like Boston in this game.
Oh, and the one big man Orlando has, Dwight Howard, well, he only scored six points the last time these two met.
Go with the Celtics.
Lock No. 4 – The Pittsburgh Penguins
On Tuesday, the CONSOL Energy Center in Pittsburgh will play host to a pair of teams that could be meeting in June to play for the Stanley Cup – The Detroit Red Wings and the Penguins.
Both teams are playing great hockey this season, with Detroit leading its division with a 28-11-6 record, while the Pens flip-flop with the Flyers on a daily basis for the top spot in the Atlantic Division.
This game could be missing some key players, as Wings' goalies Jimmy Howard and Chris Osgood are nursing injuries, while Sidney Crosby is still dealing with his concussion.
These two have played in two of the last three Stanley Cup Finals and appear to be heading that way again.
Jordan Staal is finally healthy and has had a lot of jump in the last three games.
He will be the difference. Go with the Black and Gold.
Lock No. 5 – The Miami Heat
Hey Heat fans, remember what your team was like before LeBron James and his Decision made your squad one of the Eastern Conference's elite team?
No? Here's a hint, take a look at the last three games Miami played while LeBron was resting a sprained ankle.
Those games consisted of three losses, while only being competitive in one of those.
With the Atlanta Hawks coming to town Tuesday and The King expected to make his return that night, the Heat's fortune should change.
Not all of the Big Three will be healthy, as Chris Bosh could miss the contest due to his own ankle injury. But who are we kidding; Bosh is the Ringo of the Heatles. You can live without him.
The Hawks are good, I'm not sure a lot of teams would want to see them come playoff time. But nobody ruins the return of James.
Take Miami in a landslide.
Season Record: 9-6