Steelers fans, be patient, our time will come tomorrow night when we look to extend our record streak of 13 straight victories on Monday Night Football.
Today's action has been littered with sloppy play. Here's what I saw:
- Poor Washington - my best friend blogs for this team, so I've taken an interest in them this year. Anyways, a win today against Tampa Bay would have put them in great shape to compete for a Wild Card in the NFC. 4 first half turnovers put them behind the 8-ball early though, which was especially disheartening and costly due to the fact that back-up Bruce Gradkowski was never forced to play from behind and make plays. Washington absolutely dominated the second half (I believe they had 16 2nd half first downs to TB's 0), but their inability to convert on 4th and inches inside the TB 5, plus two late Jason Campbell INTs, were too much to overcome.
- I didn't catch much of the game, but the Jaguars have reestablished themselves as legit contenders for either the #2 or #3 seed in the AFC. We'll find out just how tough Jacksonville is in the next couple of weeks when they travel to both Indianapolis and Pittsburgh. As of now, I'd put my fear factor of the Jags at a healthy 9 out of 10.
- There's lots of piss-poor football being played each week in this year's National Football League. Kansas City, San Francisco (although they are currently putting up a big number), Carolina, Miami, Oakland, and Baltimore have all falled into the 'unwatchable' category if you ask me.
- Would anybody be at all surprised to see Cincinnati run off 5 straight to finish the regular season? The Benglas hung 35 on the reeling Titans defense, with Chad Johnson hauling in 3 Carson Palmer TD passes. Holding the Titans inconsistent offense to just 6 points is nothing to get overly excited about, but if the defense can be just marginally better, I wouldn't be shocked if the Bengals offense went on a torrid run to end their disappointing season. Other than a trip to Heinz next week, the Benglas have a slew of winnable games left on their schedule: vs STL, @ SF, vs. CLE, @ Miami. By the way, that Week 16 matchup with the Browns could determine whether the Browns are playoff bound for the first time in the Romeo Crennell era.
- Speaking of Cleveland, kudos to them for taking care of business against the Texans at home. These are the type of victories that good teams win, and believe it or not, Cleveland is a good team, especially on offense. Another solid day for Anderson plus 100+ yards for Jamal Lewis was more than enough for the Browns today. The defense still leaves plenty to be desired, but for a day at least, they played well, limiting the occasionally explosive Texans offense to just 17 points. Cleveland travels to Arizona next week to play a Cardinals squad that is tough at home. Like the Steelers, the Browns have lost 3 of 5 on the road. Cleveland is three games into a 5-game stretch that includes 4 road games. So far, they're 1-1, with a loss at Pittsburgh and a win at Baltimore. It was important for Cleveland to take advantage of their one home game sandwiched between the four road games, and they did. A win next week at the Cardinals, who have legitimate playoff aspirations themselves in the NFC, should put the Browns in great shape to beat out, SD/Denver, and Tennessee for the final WC spot. Don't rule out a possible divisional crown for the Browns either if the Steelers aren't able to beat the Dolphins and Bengals at home in their next two.
- Coaches on the Hot Seat: the way I see it, the following coaches' jobs are in jeopardy: Herm Edwards, Brian Billick, Mike Nolan (a W today would be big for him), John Fox (I like the guy, but the sum never quite looks as good as the individual parts), Joe Gibbs (would never be fired, but he may walk away at the end of the year), Tom Coughlin (even though they're 7-4, the Giants suddenly look shaky and there's no telling if we've seen the worst of it).