Well, well, well:
"Vic Carucci Ben Roethlisberger's being suspended for at least four games likely puts the Steelers into an early hole. O-line issues also a concern. Prediction: 7-9, third in AFC North Steve Wyche Ben Roethlisberger's suspension will hurt and the O-line play must improve. Defense will regain punch if Troy Polamalu stays healthy. Prediction: 8-8, third in AFC North Pat Kirwan Ben Roethlisberger missing at least four games will hurt. Defense is excellent, but offense needs to do its part without its starting QB. Prediction: 9-7, third in AFC North Bucky Brooks The ferocious defense returns to the ranks of the elite while keying the team's playoff run after missing out on the dance last season. Prediction: 11-5, first in AFC North Jason La Canfora Despite offseason injuries and turmoil, I can see this team galvanizing. Surviving without Ben Roethlisberger early will be tough. Prediction: 9-7, third in AFC North Michael Lombardi Their offensive line worries me, their corners worry me, and these worries make me feel they will be a .500 team. Prediction: 8-8, third in AFC North
Bucky Brooks you're excused.
"Expert Picks (Consensus: 3rd)
|DIVISION FINISH: 3 I like this veteran group, but not without its franchise quarterback for four games. The AFC North is simply too tough. But the Steelers could still challenge for a wild-card spot late in the season.|
|DIVISION FINISH: 3 Don't count out the Steelers despite Ben Roethlisberger's four-game suspension. The defense is tackling better than last season, plus the return of Troy Polamalu brings back the unit's swagger.|
|DIVISION FINISH: 2 If the Steelers can survive the first quarter of the season and the suspension of quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, they'll be poised for a sprint in the last quarter.|
|DIVISION FINISH: 1 I am predicting the Steelers will have the best defense in the league. Watch out for this team once Big Ben comes back to ignite a squad that goes 3-1 without him.|
ESPN The Magazine
|DIVISION FINISH: 3 Can the backups win until Big Ben returns? How will Mike Wallace replace Santonio Holmes? Is Troy Polamalu's knee healthy? We could keep asking, and that's just the problem.|
Matt Williamson, you know you're stuff. Schefter as well. The rest of you, hang your heads in shame. espn.com
"They were a 9-win team a year ago, with the quarterback generally upright and relatively upstanding. They were probably an 8-win team with the departure of Santonio Tweeter-dumb Holmes, probably a 7-win team in light of the formerly-upstanding quarterback's four- to six-week suspension. They look like maybe a 6-win team with Colon's Achilles unstrung."
7-9 it is."
"The Steelers have the look of a 9-7 team that will once again miss the playoffs."
I'm really getting concerned about our local reporters, I mean objectivity is great, but there's also something in this world called optimism. Good to know our guys are good and loyal though. This one is from Beaver County Times' own Mike Bires
"2010 Pittsburgh Steelers Analysis: The Steelers would have been a legitimate Super Bowl contender if none of this Ben Roethlisberger stuff went down. However, what's done is done, and Pittsburgh has a suspended and distracted quarterback on its hands who will be without his best offensive lineman. If Roethlisberger is indeed unfocused and unprepared for the 2010 season, the Steelers will not finish with a winning record; let alone make the playoffs.
Projection: 7-9 (Tied 2nd in AFC North)"
"This game is not for the faint of heart"
The great Bill Parcells knew what he was talking about. And from the looks of it, there are well over a dozen sports "experts" listed above that clearly weren't cut out for this game. That's not to say there are some exceptions on this list, but the majority are paid for spewing glorified bulls**t, on a week in week out basis. Seriously, any season preview that downplayed the suspension of Ben Roethlisberger, or didn't overemphasize the losses of Holmes and Colon, or didn't completely overlook the fact that this defense returned every starter from 2008 was crucified and dubbed ludicrous, or hopelessly overly-optimistic. Now, in week 14, the Steelers sit at the top of the AFC North, tied for the second best record in the league. Of course the journey is far from over.
This week presents a more formidable challenge than most would think. The Jets are a wounded beast, beaten but not broken. In my lifetime (born in 1993) the Steelers have lost to the Jets twice. They have only lost to them three times in their 19 meetings which span over a stretch of 50 years. I live in New York, and it seems that amongst Steeler nation, there is little animosity towards the the Jets. Let me tell you; I hate them, hate them nearly as much as the Ravens, and have far less respect for them, than I do for Ray Lewis and his crew. I hate the arrogance of their fans (many of which are good friends of mine), I hate the arrogance of Rex Ryan, and I hate losing to them. I remember the snowy game back in 2003 with vivid clarity. I barely followed football back then (don't worry I had a Lambert Jersey), but because of the smack talk that went back and worth between me and the Jets fans that week, I made sure I saw that game. The most memorable (in a bad way) play for me was watching Jeff Reed miss a 20 yard field goal in a snowy Giants Stadium, in a game that ended up being 6-0 Jets. Flash forward to November 18th, 2007, the first professional football game I ever attended. The Steelers entered the game at 7-2, the Jets were a mere 1-8, confidence was high, the tailgating was fun, and Steeler Nation occupied, by my count, 70% of Giants Stadium, with Terrible Towels making the typically green and blue stadium a beautiful shade of Black and Gold. Everything was going so great, I was loving it. Then the team can out flat and ending up falling in overtime to the hapless Jets. I, like so many of the rest of the Steeler fans present had screamed ourselves hoarse in support of the Steelers, and yet it had all been in vain. I still remember the next day, oh the Jets fans let me have it, but I took it on the chin, I memory serves I even wore a Steelers Jersey. So now here we are again in 2010, the Steelers come in the favorites once again, and once again Jet nation, despite the fact they have been dealt crushing losses in back-to-back weeks, are looking for a turn around, as are the team themselves. I have no doubt that the Steelers are the better football team, but the question is; will they play like it come Sunday? I think yes, but I thought that in those 2003 and 2007 matchups as well-for the record, don't think I forgot about 2004 when we beat the Jets twice. those are very fond memories-but this week I am truly confident that this time around, the Steelers will come out the victors. Here's Why:
1. LaMarr Woodley and Troy Polamalu catching fire:
Plain and simple, there has been no one better than the Steelers over the past 4 weeks at shutting down opposing team's offenses. The sports analysts are bitching and moaning over how our offense can't perform. As I recall, the team that won Superbowl XLIII didn't have much of an offense either. It had one tough QB, a couple big play receivers, the ability to pull victories out in last-second, thrilling fashion, and one helluva defense. Has this changed in 2010? I don't think so. But back to the defense. The recent return to dominance for 2010's version of the Steel Curtain has been in large part thanks to the fact that LaMarr Woodley and Troy Polamalu are heating up. Well, Troy is more of an inferno at this point, having forced at least one turnover in 4 straight games, but Woodley is coming off his best performance of the season, and we all remember what he did down the 2nd half of last year, as well as what he did in the 2008 playoffs. But I, like many others, will want to seem him finish up strong these last three games so that we can sleep well at night, having blissful dreams of seeing #56 tossing Tom Brady across the gridiron like a rag doll, knowing that it isn't out of the realm of reality. Plus, from what I have been told, the Jets starting right tackle Damien Woody will not be playing this coming week, leaving some poor backup with the responsibility of blocking one of the most ferocious pass rushers in the game. Somewhere in Pittsburgh LaMarr Woodley is smiling, while somewhere in New York, Mark Sanchez is crying.
2. Ike Taylor
In addition to Woodley resurgence, how bout the play of Ike Taylor of late. It seems that with Troy Polamalu flying around behind him, Taylor has regained his 2008 skill level and swagger. If Taylor spends of most of him time matched up with Santonio Holmes on Sunday, it'll be a tough, forgettable return for #10 in his first game back to da 'Burgh.
3. The Refs, Goodell, Anderson, the NFL in general:
Call it insanity but I like the fact that the refs consistently screw us, week in week out-at least to the point where we still win the game. Think about it: what is the best environment for this group of players to succeed in? One filled with adversity, and with that "us vs, the world mentality." That's exactly what the NFL has created in "making an example" out of the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Steelers that I have known in my lifetime have always thrived off adversity. It's what defined the 2005 and 2008 Super Bowl runs. Perhaps it will do so again in 2010. Now if these flags get so ridiculous to the point where it costs us a game, then of course "happy" will not be the word to describe my thoughts on the matter.
4. Mike Wallace:
I'm not expecting much from him this week as it's likely that Darrelle Revis will be the one assigned with the task of covering him this week, but that attention will free up the rest of the receivers to get an opportunity to stretch the field against a weak Jet's safety duo. Who knows, maybe Revis will be victimized by Wallace's speed, but don't get your hopes up.
5. The Playoffs are in sight:
With a win the Steelers would clinch a playoff spot in AFC, and another shot at another Superbowl. What more can you want?
Prediction: Steelers win 24-13