Top three storylines that might affect the Steelers
- It just dawned on me that Maryland has two NFL teams. One of the more intriguing matchups this weekend is the Washington Redskins at the Baltimore Ravens. Both teams have had moments when they’ve looked good, and when they’ve looked bad. They are a 45-minute drive apart, which makes the home-field advantage the Ravens enjoy a bit less impressive than it would if they were playing, say, the Cowboys. Now, I’m not about to go out on a limb and claim that the Redskins are going to win, because I honestly can’t figure out which is the better team. What I will say, though, is this isn’t the best game of the week, or the worst, but it may be the most interesting.
It’s good to be the
kingonly undefeated team in the AFC. The Broncos currently have the inside track on the top seed in the AFC because, well, they’re the only remaining undefeated team in the AFC. Math is math, and all. But, they are facing what could be their biggest challenge so far when the high-scoring Atlanta Falcons come to town Sunday. I’ve got more on the matchup, itself, a little further down, but this game could have a sizable impact on playoff seeding, so it’s worth keeping an eye on.
- Even Ripley might be skeptical. In weeks five and six, the Steelers play the Jets in Pittsburgh and then go on the road to face the Dolphins. The Patriots have a road game against the Browns, then head home to face the Bengals (where Vontaze Burfict is still keeping busy by being a jagoff). The AFC North-leading Steelers play the bottom two AFC East teams in the same stretch that the AFC East-leading Patriots play the bottom two AFC North teams. Both teams play one at home and one away, but on opposite weeks. Then they play each other in week seven, in Pittsburgh. I said it in week one’s Yinzer’s Guide, and I will say it again: the parallels between these two 3-1 teams right now are better than the plot of any episode of The Twilight Zone.
Best game of the week with no hypocycloids
Falcons @ Broncos
It’s time to find out if one of these teams is a pretender.
In one corner, it’s the most explosive offense in the league so far in 2016, the Atlanta Falcons -- and their featured duo of quarterback Matt Ryan and receiver Julio Jones. In the other corner, it’s the league’s best defense, complete with a dominant secondary. Meanwhile, Atlanta’s defense doesn’t inspire confidence, while Denver’s offense is still working to find its identity behind a lot of unknowns at quarterback due to the retirement of Peyton Manning and the injury to his replacement, Trevor Siemian. A game between two division leaders that got there by completely opposite means? Yes, please.
Worst game of the week, a.k.a. The Fight for the Top Draft Pick, Round One
Only a small part of this is the fault of quarterback Andrew Luck, but the Colts are just hard to watch. The offense is disorganized and the defense is stopping opponents’ offenses about as well as whitey-tighties stop flatulence. On the flip side, you know your offense is bad when Brian Hoyer is a major improvement. But, that’s what you get when you build your team around Jay Cutler, who gives out interceptions like they are candy on Halloween.
Five pointless points
- Well, it looks like my hope that Tom Brady would become enamored with the maxin’-and-relaxin’ lifestyle was for naught, as he was on the practice field Wednesday. He’s getting a soft welcome-back, too, as the Patriots take on
the Ohio State University Junior Varsity Football Team a semi-pro practice squadthe Cleveland Browns.
- A note from the past: I was doing some film review of the Jets so far this season in preparation for another article, and I thought it would be fun to go back and watch them play the Bills on Thursday Night Football. I was wrong. That was even more painful from multiple angles. I’m convinced the Bills created a new defense. We have Cover-4, Cover-3, Cover-2, Cover-1 and Cover-0; the Bills may have given us “Cover-(-1)” because their coverage was so bad, it looked like they were writing the Jets’ receivers IOUs as a promise to cover them at some later date. Either that, or they are really bad at bracket coverage: when the cornerback is in a trail position, it’s probably a good idea if the safety is not.
- The Steelers’ point differential has been a roller-coaster ride the last three weeks. Following their week-two matchup against the Bengals, the Steelers were second in the league at a +30 differential. A week later, that had dropped all the way to -1. Now, they are tied for fourth with the Falcons at +28. All of that happened in a 15-day span.
- Speaking of point-differential oddities...the NFC West-leading Los Angeles Rams have a 3-1 record, and a -13 differential. Meanwhile, the Arizona Cardinals are firmly at the bottom of the same division with a 1-3 record...and a +12 differential. Oy vey.
WARNING: Does not contain football content! I am actually relieved that the final two weeks or so of the Major League Baseball regular season ended without the Pirates having any real shot at sneaking into the back door of the Wild Card game. After the Steelers’ week-three debacle that can’t even be called a “contest” or a “game” because it was just that bad, I don’t think I could have handled the stomach acid that would have resulted from watching the Buccos get yet another unfavorable pitching matchup in the only meaningful event in a 162-game season that isn’t at least a best-of-three series, and then lose because they typically have a rotation built to win series, not individual games. And then I would have spent a lot of time in prayer to repent for all the four-letter words I said or thought.
God bless you, subpar baseball season.