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A Yinzer’s Guide to Week Three in the NFL

The picture is a little more clear. The cream of the crop is starting to separate — Pittsburgh, New England and Denver in the AFC, and, well...okay, maybe only the AFC is becoming clear. The NFC is pretty much a mess of possibilities with no one really wanting to take charge. Maybe it will look better after week three.

NFL: Cincinnati Bengals at Pittsburgh Steelers Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Top three storylines that might affect the Steelers

  1. I had to look up how to spell “Brisset”. The New England Patriots are in a very temporary bind: for at least the next two weeks, they will likely be starting their third-string quarterback, Jacoby Brisset. To be honest, I can’t even recall the last time their number-three quarterback saw the field for meaningful, regular-season snaps. What it means though, is the Steelers could have the inside track on the top seed in the AFC because of the next two weeks. While the Steelers play the improving-but-still-not-there Eagles in Philadelphia and the Chiefs in Pittsburgh, the Patriots host a rapidly rising Texans team and then the Bills. Despite the woes in Buffalo, this is basically Rex Ryan’s Super Bowl, so expect a hard-fought game. It’s likely New England loses one, and possible they lose both, before Tom Brady returns from his suspension. If Pittsburgh can come out of the first four weeks undefeated, that will give them as much as a two-game lead over the other team that is widely considered to be the class of the AFC in 2016, three weeks before the Patriots head to Heinz Field.
  2. Think of the children! This was just brought to my attention: the Browns had 14 draft picks in the 2016 draft, and every single one of them made it to their final roster -- along with two undrafted free agents. That’s 16 players. That means that nearly one third of the entire Cleveland roster was playing college football this time last year. It explains why they look so clueless so far this season; it does not explain why they seemed equally clueless for the previous 16 seasons. The worst part may be that four of them were supposed to start in week three — at least until Wednesday afternoon, when it was confirmed that rookie wide receiver Corey Coleman broke his hand in practice. Well, at least if they are getting hurt in practice, we know they’re trying.
  3. So you’re tellin’ me there’s a chance! Part Deux. I’m really not trying to predict nothing but doom and gloom for the Ravens in this space — as much as I want to — but I’m just not sold on them being anything more than a middle-of-the-road team. Case in point was falling behind by 20, in the first quarter, to what we already established is virtually a college team. Yes, they came back to win, but I’m pretty sure my co-ed, intramural, flag-football team from college could pull that off. And it’s not that I expect the Ravens to lose this weekend, but for the second straight week there is a stronger-than-normal chance of it against a perennial bottom-feeder. This week it’s the Jaguars, who are on the rise. Here’s why: the game is in Jacksonville. Since the start of the 2014 season, the Jaguars are 8-10 at home, but just 1-16 on the road. So, while the chances are probably less than 50-percent that the Jags win this weekend, it’s not out of the realm of possibilities.

Best game of the week with no hypocycloids

Denver @ Cincinnati

One has an offense that does just enough behind an inexperienced and unheralded quarterback and a defense that would do an ancient, piked phalanx proud. The other has an offense that can go on streaks of brilliance but was stifled by the Steelers last week to the tune of zero touchdowns until virtually garbage time, and a defense that is equally capable of excellence and astounding blahness. The Bengals have the home-field edge, but if Andy Dalton and Company couldn’t crack the Steelers’ still-jelling secondary, they’re going to find the going extremely rough against Chris Harris and Aqib Talib.

If I was forced to pick a winner in this game, I might consider seppuku to get out of it. My gut says Denver, but Cincinnati’s home-field advantage is nagging at me.

Worst game of the week, a.k.a. They Suck Outside of Cleveland, Too.

Cleveland @ Miami

This week’s Yinzer’s Guide has taken on an air of Cleveland bashing, and for once it’s been unintentional. Perhaps it’s just so ingrained in me after watching them flail for 16-plus seasons. Whatever the cause, you can’t blame this one on me. This is just a mediocre Miami football team playing against what I am just going to start referring to as the Ohio State University Junior Varsity Football Team.

Five pointless points

  1. Sam Bradford can look like a decent quarterback behind a line that, while not stellar, isn’t actively trying to let the opposing defense kill him. Who knew?!
  2. Jay Cutler, however, could have the massive rocks at Stonehenge blocking for him and would find a way to throw interceptions. When you’re Jay Cutler, it’s what you do.
  3. Two weeks into the season, just eight teams remain undefeated, and at least two of them are going to fall this weekend barring the always-unlikely tie between the Patriots and the Texans or the Steelers and the Eagles. Additionally, the Vikings and Giants both have at least a decent chance of falling, meaning there is a solid chance we will be down to four or fewer undefeated teams, and a near guaranteed that there will be no more than six, after just three weeks.
  4. We could be seeing the end for Adrian Peterson. He’s 31-years-old and is staring down the barrel of what is likely his second season-ending knee injury of his career. This is his tenth season in the league, and he’s been the primary back since his rookie year. For an NFL running back, he’s exceeded the expected shelf life. If he does choose to retire after this season (and for the record, there aren’t even rumors of that at this point, so this is all speculation), the league will be losing one of its best runners ever. It would also leave Le’Veon Bell as the de facto top runner. When he isn’t suspended, at least.
  5. And finally, I leave you with a Bengals limerick, because I have to fulfill my Burfict promise and after three weeks, I feel like I need to start getting creative with it (if you saw this in a comment of mine this week, yes, I’m taking the easy way out and reusing it):

There once was a Bungle from Cincinnati
It’s pronounced "Von-TEZ", not "Von-TAZ-ee”
AB was upended
So Vontaze was suspended
The jagoff still can’t shut up, can he?