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Week 8 Recap: Steelers 20, Lions 15

The Steelers played for the second time at Ford Field in Detroit since their victory in Super Bowl XL in 2006, and it was a game with plenty of excitement. As the Steelers looked to continue their winning ways, Detroit was fresh off of a bye week, trying to recover after losing two straight. Here are the good, the bad, and the ugly from Sunday night in Detroit

The Good

  • The defense’s performance in the red zone. The defense allowed the Lions to get into the red zone five times (more on that in just a bit), but the stingy defense denied Matthew Stafford and company entry into the end zone, including two stops on fourth down inside the ten yard line. The Lions were tied for fifth in the NFL in red zone touchdown efficiency, scoring 60% of the time they get inside the 20, but the defense did their job with their backs up against the wall and made the Lions go for it or settle for field goals.
  • JuJu Smith-Schuster. He had a career night, catching seven passes for 193 yards, including a 97-yard touchdown on third down-and-nine. JuJu showed elusive speed, getting behind the coverage, while Ben Roethlisberger read the safety’s coverage pre-snap, the rookie receiver and veteran quarterback connected for the play of the game. JuJu had an almost flawless night (one crucial drop on a third down), but his performance was much needed Sunday night, as the offense struggled most of the night.
  • The Steelers’ third down efficiency was vastly better Sunday night, converting 7-of-14 third downs, a much higher percentage than their season percentage going in, which was 36%. Ben looked sharp on third downs, making smart throws and not forcing much on crucial third downs. This is one area of the Steelers’ offense that has mightily struggled all year, and they elevated their game in this crucial scenario.

The Bad

  • While the offense was much better on third down, they struggled in just about every other in some form or fashion Sunday night. Eli Rogers dropped a sure touchdown on the opening drive of the game, forcing the offense to settle for a field goal, leaving four points off the board. Big Ben sailed a pass to Antonio Brown into triple coverage, which was intercepted, and killed a promising drive moving down the field. Sure-handed Le’Veon Bell fumbled on a 3rd-and-1 on another promising drive near the end of the first half, which gave the ball to Detroit, who went down the field and got three points before the end of the half. The offensive line struggled to establish the running game, granted, against a stout Detroit run defense that was ranked 7th in the league going into the game. The lack of a running game forced the offense to throw a bit more than they wanted. Overall, there was too much lack of execution, which put the Steelers in bad predicaments constantly throughout the game.
  • The Steelers, for the most part, struggled to pressure Stafford and make him uncomfortable. They did register two sacks, but this was against an offensive line that has struggled protecting their expensive quarterback most of the year. The lack of pressure on Stafford definitely attributed to the amount of “chunk plays” as head coach Mike Tomlin referred to at halftime, which will be addressed shortly.
  • Ben Roethlisberger wasn’t too sharp tonight. Some people on social media were really hard on him, and he definitely missed some passes, but he wasn’t awful. He sailed at least three passes, one of which was intercepted, and had a couple other forced throws picked off. He made a couple nice throws, but overall, his performance wasn’t great, which the Steelers need him to be better. That’s why he ends up with “The Bad.”

The Ugly

  • There’s really only one thing ugly about the Steelers Sunday night, and man, it was a stinker. Going into the game, the Steelers were the highest-ranked pass defense, allowing only 147 passing yards against per game. Matthew Stafford threw all up and down the field against the Steelers’ secondary, racking up 423 yards the air. They were getting beat in man coverage, and then getting eaten up in zone coverage later on in the game. Detroit virtually had zero issues moving the ball down the field, where as stated before, the defense tightened up and didn’t allow the Lions to get in the end zone. It was still an alarming performance. A team like New England, who is the team the Steelers are trying to get over the hump against, will not settle for field goals every time. While the pass rush struggled, the secondary struggled at keeping receivers close to them. There were a few nice plays made, but most of them were in the red zone. This should be a wake up call for a secondary that has had a great first half of the season up until Sunday night. Overall, it looked like lack of execution more than anything. And unfortunately when that happens, especially when playing man coverage, it forces defensive coordinator Keith Butler to draw up more soft zone coverage, which quarterbacks like Stafford (and Tom Brady) will devour and pick apart all night, and that’s exactly what happened.

Final Thoughts

While a win is a win and you take as many as you can, especially when you’re trying to keep ahead of the Patriots, the Steelers still have much to work on, especially on the offensive side. The third down efficiency was a positive, but the lack of execution, especially in the red zone, is still staggering. This is an uber-talented offense, and with the way they’ve performed this season, calling them overrated isn’t a hot take. They’ve got to work out the issues they’re having to finish off drives and get the ball in the end zone.

The secondary should get a pass for being lit up like a Christmas tree in Times Square. They’ve been solid all year and it took eight games to have a bad performance. However, this is an eye opener if the front seven can’t pressure the quarterback. Guys like Burns and Haden need to be able to lock down man coverage so the defense doesn’t have to revert to the soft zone coverage that teams like New England pick apart.

What’s Next

The Steelers are now 6-2, and sit atop the AFC North, and via tie-breakers, the entire AFC. The Steelers have their bye week in week nine, but then travel to Indianapolis to face the Colts in week 10 on November 12th. It is a 1:00 P.M. ET kickoff.


Week 8 Preview: Steelers vs. Lions

Sunday night, the Steelers will travel to Detroit and take on the Lions in a prime time showdown. Pittsburgh soundly beat the Cincinnati Bengals last Sunday while the Lions allowed 52 points, but scored 38, in a loss to the Saints. Here is the preview for the game. First, the away team:

Pittsburgh Steelers (5-2)

  • Offensive Points/Game: 21.0 (18th)
  • Total Offense: 359.7 Yards/Game (11th)
  • Passing Offense: 246.0 Yards/Game (10th)
  • Rushing Offense: 113 Yards/Game (16th)
  • Defensive Points Allowed/Game: 16.6 (3rd)
  • Total Defense: 258.7 Yards/Game (2nd)
  • Passing Defense: 147.0 Yards/Game (1st)
  • Rushing Defense: 111.7 Yards/Game (15th)

The Steelers are full of distractions over recent weeks between Ben Roethlisberger‘s comments about retirement, Antonio Brown throwing water coolers, and Martavis Bryant‘s trade request. This seems to have only fueled them to a 5-2 start, one of those wins dethroning Kansas City who was the only undefeated team left.

The Steelers offense will have a lot to prove this weekend after Mike Tomlin‘s announcement that Bryant will be benched this weekend for his actions on social media over the past two weeks. With Bryant out, the Steelers will rely more heavily on JuJu Smith-Schuster in the passing game while sprinkling in Darius Heyward-Bey and Eli Rogers behind number one reciever Antonio Brown.

This offense has relied heavily on the run in recent weeks giving the ball to Le’Veon Bell and having him run it down teams’ throats. While Bell is one of the most talented backs in the league, he will be going against one of the better run defenses in the NFL. He likely will still top 150 all-purpose yards because of the volume of touches he gets on a weekly basis.

Defensively, the Steelers have made it clear that they won’t let teams beat them with their passing game. Allowing only 147 passing yards a game, they rank the best in the NFL at stopping the pass. With veterans and youngsters alike, the secondary has been very effective all season long at defending passes and not allowing quarterbacks to gain much of a rhythm. They made Alex Smith, the perennial MVP early in the season, look like his former self.

Something the Steelers will have to do better that the Lions have the clear advantage in is their third down and red zone efficiency.

The Steelers have given too many possessions away offensively due to their 36.0% third-down efficiency rate which ranks 24th in the league. Their red zone efficiency is strikingly worse (accounting for touchdowns only). There are only two teams that score less touchdowns in the red zone. Lots of points being left off the board.

The key to victory will be shutting down Marvin Jones in the passing game. Matthew Stafford doesn’t have a ton of weapons to throw to. He often looks for his running backs, Ameer Abdullah and Theo Riddick on some passing downs but it hasn’t led to a ton of passing success. If the duo of Artie Burns and Joe Haden shut down Jones, this shouldn’t be much of a game.

Detroit Lions (3-3)

  • Offensive Points/Game: 26.8 (8th)
  • Total Offense: 298.0 Yards/Game (26th)
  • Passing Offense: 214.0 Yards/Game (19th)
  • Rushing Offense: 84.0 Yards/Game (26th)
  • Defensive Points Allowed/Game: 24.8 (28th)
  • Total Defense: 338. 5 Yards/Game (19th)
  • Passing Defense: 244.2 Yards/Game (22nd)
  • Rushing Defense: 94.3 Yards/Game (7th)

In a season where Stafford signed a massive extension in the offseason, the Lions committed to their franchise quarterback that is about their only offensive bright spot. They have a guy like Jones at wide out, but replace Stafford with any other quarterback and I’m not sure they come close to making a playoff since Stafford’s arrival in 2009.

Their running game is suspect as well. Abdullah and Riddick are okay running backs, but don’t pose anywhere near a dual threat as the Falcons or Saints possess in their running game. They’re 26th in the run game and any production from the running backs will likely come from the passing game. Offensively, the Lions don’t have enough weapons to beat a Steelers defense that seems to only be getting better every week. The Lions still have the league’s 8th highest scoring offense, so it work for them.

On the other side of the ball, the Lions have a solid front seven that stops the run, an obstacle the Steelers and Bell will have to overcome. Their secondary is a different story. They allow a lot of yards, and the defense as a whole is 28th in keeping points off the scoreboard.

As previously mentioned, the Lions do have a sizable advantage as far as red zone and third down efficiency. They are middle of the pack at converting on third down but they don’t leave many points on the board as they punch it in the end zone 60% of the time so far this season.

To win, Stafford will have to find a way to beat the Steelers’ secondary because the Steelers’ offense should have a field day.

Prediction: Steelers 30, Lions 13

COLUMN: A Letter To Martavis Bryant

Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver-slash-enigma Martavis Bryant was told by coach Mike Tomlin on Wednesday that he will not be playing Sunday in Detroit. Bryant’s multiple remarks on social media and to the media have made it perfectly clear that Bryant isn’t happy with his current role in Pittsburgh. 

Now that the news reporting is out of the way, here’s the commentary I want to give on the matter, or rather, a message straight to Bryant himself.

Dear Martavis, shut up. You’ve lost all credibility with at least most of the fans that whole-heartedly support the Pittsburgh Steelers, the ones that claim to bleed black and gold. Now, obviously, you’re a professional football player, and for most professional athletes, those colors you wear on gamedays don’t quite permeate your very being like they do for fans. 

I get it. I understand your frustration. You are one of the most gifted receivers I’ve seen on the last 10 years. Your size and talent combination is lethal. Your role this season has been limited after being out an entire season. I’m sure you were itching to get back to it. I can’t imagine what you went through. 

Here’s what I don’t get and you will never be able to explain it to me: why, oh why, stoop to the level you have? Your anger and frustration of the situation does not permiss you bashing a fellow teammate who has had a great rookie year so far. JuJu deserves praise for what he’s done in his short career so far. Yeah, he’s not going to to hall-of-fame yet, but he’s done exactly what he’s been asked to do and executed to the best of his ability. That deserves respect.

And for you Martavis, what exactly have you accomplished in your career to think you can demand this kind of respect from your coaches, teammates, and fans? You shown several flashes of just how talented you are. Some of the plays you’ve made have left us all with our jaws on the floor. But what did you do for your encore? You’ve violated the substance policy twice. While I understand how badly you wanted to get back after that year, I have no sympathy for you. You’re the only reason you got suspended. 

Now what about Le’Veon Bell? He’s been suspended twice. Yeah, but look what he’s done since coming back. He’s 2nd in the league in rushing and has been an All-Pro running back. Yeah, he touches the ball way more than you or even Antonio Brown do, but what are you doing with your targets and touches? Last game, you had only one less target than JuJu, yet his impact on the game was way bigger than yours. He even made plays down the field when he wasn’t touching the ball. You should know receivers don’t have to touch the ball to make an impact. Just ask Hines Ward

You might want to learn a little something about what it is to be a teammate. You don’t have to look too far away. As a matter of fact, all you have to do is go downtown to PPG Paints Arena. Remember Marc-Andre Fleury? Pittsburgh sure does. They revere him and honor and praise him, despite the fact that he’s stopping pucks for another team now. You know, he had his job taken by a rookie. Twice. During a playoff run no-less. Did he go to social media and whine and complain about how much better he was than Matt Murray? Did he tear down his fellow teammate? Did he sulk and whine about not being between the pipes at the most crucial points of the season? Nope. He took him under his wing and mentored him. He swallowed his pride and did what was best for the team. And look what it helped produce for the Penguins: back-to-back Stanley Cups.

Do you want to win Super Bowls, Martavis? Do you want to be part of a great team? Because this team is on the verge of being great, and instead of trying to be a piece of a 53-man team, you’re trying to only get yours. 

Grow up.

 Every receiver wants the ball more than they get it, but you have to believe that the Steelers aren’t done with you. After everything you’ve done to be a distraction or detriment, they still say they’ve invested too much in you to just dump you. Remember, this is an organization that traded away a Super Bowl MVP in Santonio Holmes because of off-the-field issues. If after everything you’ve done and the Steelers still don’t want to trade you, it shows you they believe in you. So please for our sake and your own, just shut up. 

Do you want to know why there’s so much outrage against you right now? It’s not because fans always need something to whine about or media needs something to write about, but because you acting like this is a waste of so much God-given ability. We want you to succeed and make the big catches for the Steelers in big games. Not everybody likes the hand their dealt, but you live with it and continue to work hard until your dealt your next hand. We care too much to see you act like a man-child. 

No amount of talent is worth having a cancer on your team. If you can’t change your attitude, we don’t want you here. Good riddance. 

Three Takeaways: Steelers Top Bengals 29-14

The Steelers had one of their worst games in recent memory against Jacksonville two weeks ago at Heinz Field. Since then, they have bounced back significantly with a stout performance in Kansas City beating the then-undefeated Chiefs. The question going into Sunday’s game hosting the rival Bengals was if they could follow up a solid performance with another one. 

They sure did. The Steelers won convincingly 29-14, going a perfect 3-0 in division play so far this season. It wasn’t a perfect performance, but convincing enough. Here’s three things that stood out from the game Sunday:

The Defense

It’s not the Steel Curtain, the Blitzburgh defenses from the 90’s, or the 2008 defense, but this unit is playing some strong ball. They are getting after the quarterback this year, and registered four more sacks Sunday, and are tied for second most in the NFL. 

Remember when the main concern for this defense was the secondary? Well, can you guess who’s first in pass defense? Yep, the Steelers are. You can give whatever reason you want for it. You could say it’s because of the pass rush or any other anomaly, but the fact is that this defense is atop the league right now in passing yards against. 

If anything, the concern for the defense is against the run. They’re 15th in the league right now, so they’re right in the middle of the pack, but more often than not, they allow big runs at bad times. They’ve also had two games this year allowing over 200 yards. They held the Bengals to 71 yards on the ground Sunday, but rookie Joe Mixon had seven carries for 48 yards, averaging almost seven yards per carry. They’ll need to clamp down on that going forward.

They allowed Cincinnati to move the ball pretty well in the first half, but they shut down the Bengals in the second half. The Bengals only had 19 offensive yards in the second half. That’s outstanding. This group has been impressive, and will give the Steelers great opportunities to win with play like this.

Ring The Bell

If there was any doubt Le’Veon Bell was back, there shouldn’t be now, and the coaching staff seem to have all the trust in the world with him again. He’s carried the ball more than 30 times two weeks in a row now, and is becoming more active in the passing game. While Bell wasn’t the most efficient on the ground yesterday, only averaging 3.8 yards per carry, he made more than enough positive plays, moving the chains for the offense. He also ripped off two large receptions after Ben Roethlisberger dumped it off to him, on play so memorable we’ll remember this stiff arm for a while.

The offensive line is playing great in front of him, but Bell is making everyone forget about his holdout and slow start in September with his play now. With him in top form again, the Steelers offense has become much more lethal.

Ben’s Still Got It

Remember the five picks against Jacksonville? Ben doesn’t look like the same guy from two weeks ago. He’s looking a lot more like the future Hall-of-Famer that he is. Now granted, he only had to throw 24 times yesterday, but he made them count. His first touchdown was a very impressive throw in a tight window to Antonio Brown. He didn’t force a lot of throws into tight coverage, which has always been a risk Ben is willing to take, trusting his receivers to make plays. His play over the last two weeks against stout defenses has given reason to trust him going forward. If the Steelers win anything this year, it will have to be with Ben. They aren’t winning without him. 

Three Causes For Concern

Martavis Bryant was non-existent, getting only two targets, one of which he had a bit of separation on a deep ball, but couldn’t locate the ball in the air. He later took to Instagram and replied to a comment saying that fellow receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster is better and his reply was questionable at best.

-3rd down efficiency was poor, especially on 3rd and short situations. The Steelers finished 2-for-11 on 3rd down, something that will need to be addressed this week in practice. The offense didn’t have much of a problem moving the ball and getting into or close to field goal range, but then would stall and be unable to convert 3rd downs. They will have to get better at that to keep pace with the elite of the AFC.

-Red zone efficiency continued to be an issue, going 1-for-6 in touchdown efficiency inside the 20. Chris Boswell bailed out the offense, making five field goals on the day. Again, this needs to be an area of improvement going forward. When playing teams like New England, putting three points on the board for every red zone trip usually doesn’t cut it.

Final Thoughts

This was a very good win for the Steelers. They needed to follow up a good performance with another good one. Showing some consistency like this shows signs that debacles like games against Chicago and Jacksonville are behind them. 

The defense has been great the past two weeks. They regrouped at half time after a mediocre first half and were flat out dominant in the 2nd half. This is a great sign for this young group and it may be coming together faster than expected. 

Week 2 Preview: Vikings at Steelers

In week two, the Minnesota Vikings travel to Heinz Field to square off with the Pittsburgh Steelers after both teams picked up victories in their week one match ups.

Previewing The Vikings

Week One Result: Vikings 29, Saints 19

The Vikings picked up a win on Monday Night Football over the Saints with a good showing from a few offensive players.

While the Saints have an awful defense, so the performance on the Vikings’ offensive side of the ball may be deceiving. Time will tell when they run into a much more solidified Steelers unit on Sunday.

Sam Bradford had one of his best performances Monday night. He completed 84.4% of his passes last night while tossing for 346 yards and three touchdowns. Bradford, the NFL’s leader in completion percentage in 2016, did what he does last night and completes passes.

People forget Bradford was the number one pick in 2010 out of Oklahoma when the, formerly known, St. Louis Rams, made him their guy. He wasn’t good there just as Jared Goff, has yet to really show off in Los Angeles. But Bradford had everything needed to be a reliable quarterback. He won’t be a franchise saver for anyone. But, when the Vikings came calling after Teddy Bridgewater snapped his knee last season, Bradford has been nothing but consistent for the Vikings.

Bradford however, is injured and Case Keenum will start in his place. This is a big loss for the Vikings offense.

Two receivers, Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs had breakout games and accounted for the majority of what Bradford’s stat line looked like.

Thielen had 157 yards on nine receptions and really saw the ball thrown his way often last night. Diggs only had 93 yards but was Bradford’s touchdown target as he caught two of Bradford’s three. The Steelers cornerbacks may have their hands full keeping these guys in check Sunday.

It is inevitable that Bradford will likely complete 70% of his passes or more. Include rookie running back Dalvin Cook into the mix and this Vikings offense could pose a big threat for the Steelers defense.

As far as the Vikings defense goes, they won’t make a ton of splash plays, but they are a solid unit. They aren’t a bad defense by any means, but they don’t have many big-time playmakers. Harrison Smith and Xavier Rhodes are the big splash players for Minnesota. Their secondary also includes names such as Trae Waynes, Marcus Sherels, and Terrence Newman.

The offense will win the game for the Vikings if they are to be victorious.

Keys for the Steelers

The offense has to play better. Whether it’s the gameplan or the execution, it has to get better from last week’s putrid performance in Cleveland. They need to clean up the penalties, which should help the offense play with shorter yardage situations. The Steelers look to be solid in the red zone, but they will need to sustain long drives and control the clock.

The defense was pretty solid last week. If the Steelers can play the classic “bend, but don’t break” defense, they should be fine as long as the offense scores like they should. The Vikings don’t have a lot of explosive weapons on offense, so the defense needs to make sure they don’t give up the big plays. 


Steelers Inactives

No. 5 QB Joshua Dobbs

No. 11 WR Justin Hunter

No. 27 S J.J. Wilcox

No. 65 OT Jerald Hawkins

No. 71 OT Matt Feiler

No. 89 TE Vance McDonald

No. 91 DE Stephon Tuitt

Vikings Inactives

No. 8 QB Sam Bradford

No. 12 WR Rodney Adams

No. 24 CB Tramaine Brock

No. 63 G Danny Isidora

No. 76 T Aviante Collins

No. 90 DE Tashawn Bower

No. 94 DT Jaleel Johnson

Watt Else Did You Expect?

The Pittsburgh Steelers have almost become “First-Round LB University” over the past ten seasons. Countless picks have been spent on linebackers. Even in 2017 when the Steelers had more glaring needs, they decided to take outside linebacker TJ Watt as the eventual heir apparent to James Harrison.

Through one game, the decision is already paying off.

Watt had two sacks of Cleveland Browns quarterback DeShone Kizer and picked him off once on a play where he had to elevate to get up. Add five tackles to that stat line and you will have Watt’s first career stat line in a regular season game. He is the third player in NFL history to record two sacks and have an interception in their first career game. Not too shabby for the rookie.

While his brother, JJ Watt, has been dominating the NFL in the Houston Texans front seven for a few years, Watt will have the opportunity to rival his brother. It’ll be tough to live up to JJ’s standards as he is potentially the best defensive player in the entire league. That doesn’t mean he can’t reach it, though.

Watt is a bit under sized for an ideal linebacker but that didn’t stop him at Wisconsin and he won’t let it affect him in the big leagues. Watt is a dynamic linebacker who certainly may not have the pass rushing abilities as fellow outside linebacker Harrison, but he may be more athletic in the sense that he can make a splash play on the ball. Harrison specializes in pass rushing.

While it can’t be expected that Watt will have 32 sacks and 16 interceptions this season, it is okay to maybe boost your expectations for him a little higher than you previously had. It looks like he will get the majority of the time in the regular season. The postseason may be given to Harrison. Maybe not all the time, but he will pick up more time as he’ll be fresh and more experienced.

He is still JJ’s brother, so Watt else did you expect?

Game By Game Predictions Of Steelers Season

After falling short in the AFC Championship game last season to New England, the Steelers will soon embark upon another opportunity to win their seventh Super Bowl before any other team gets six.

Many believe that Pittsburgh’s only obstacle will be New England, yet again. They will play in week 15 this season in a game that could determine home field advantage for the playoffs, if it isn’t already.

The Steelers schedule includes six games against the AFC North, as usual. They will also play the NFC North and some other notable matchups. So, I’ll break it down game by game.

Week One (Sept. 10): at Cleveland Browns, 1:00 PM

The Steelers have tortured Cleveland ever since Ben Roethlisberger came into the league. Cleveland, of course, hasn’t been all that great of a franchise lately, anyway.

After having THREE first round picks including the number one selection in which they took Myles Garrett, the Browns retooled their defense. Jabrill Peppers and David Njoku were the other two first round selections.

Couple that their selection of DeShone Kiser, the Browns have some more potential than in recent seasons but this matchup and season likely won’t favor them.

Predictions: Steelers 27, Browns 6

Week Two (Sept. 17): vs. Minnesota Vikings, 1:00 PM

The Vikings got off to a 5-0 start last season despite the loss of star quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. It looked as though Sam Bradford may have rediscovered himself with his new team and was prepared to lead the Vikings on a deep playoff run.

Well, that didn’t happen.

The Vikings fell short but with additions like Latavius Murray and Riley Reiff while drafting former Florida State running back Dalvin Cook and Jaleel Johnson, their season, and this game should be rather exciting.

Prediction: Steelers 24, Vikings 21

Week Three (Sept. 24): at Chicago Bears, 1:00 PM

Chicago selected quarterback Mitchell Trubisky in the first round in the offseason’s draft even after signing Mike Glennon to a rather not-so-backup-quarterback-contract. The Steelers got torched on the road by a rookie QB on the road in week three last season (Carson Wentz), but that shouldn’t happen this time around. The Bears are still a pretty awful team. Yes, I have Trubisky starting by week three.

Prediction: Steelers 38, Bears 10

Week Four (Oct. 1): at Baltimore Ravens, 1:00 PM

Fresh off a 3-0 start to the season, the Steelers head to Baltimore and take on their nemesis. Baltimore’s hunger to avenge Pittsburgh for the Antonio Brown Christmas magic that sealed the division victory and their home-field advantage in the game provide the boost they need to win an early season important game. Though, a very close game throughout, the defensive battle goes to Baltimore.

Prediction: Ravens 17, Steelers 14

Week Five (Oct. 8): vs. Jacksonville Jaguars, 1:00 PM

The Steelers get the Jaguars in week five after a depressing loss the week before. They’ll take on a prettt mediocre offense that struggles to get anything going. The Steelers end up having a defensive clinic with three sacks and two interceptions in a rout of the Jaguars.

Prediction: Steelers 24, Jaguars 3

Week Six (Oct. 15) at Kansas City Chiefs, 4:25 PM

The Steelers handled the Chiefs easily in the regular season last year and barely beat them with field goals in the playoffs. They’ve got a really good quarterback in Alex Smith and their newest draft pick in Patrick Mahomes. Their still one of the league’s premier teams. Thus, presenting one of the biggest challenges on the schedule this year. I think the Steelers get the job done.

Prediction: Steelers 28, Chiefs 17

Week Seven (Oct. 22) vs. Cincinnati Bengals, 1:00 PM

Now, maybe more exciting than Ravens games, the Bengals come to Heinz Field to impose their will on the Steelers. Head coach Marvin Lewis will do as he usually does and come oh-so-close to a victory but fall short. While the running back trio of Gio Bernard, Jeremy Hill, and Joe Mixon will be tough to prepare for, Andy Dalton will struggle and the Bengals fall victim to the Steelers again.

Prediction: Steelers 14, Bengals 10

Week Eight (Oct. 29) at Detroit Lions, 8:30 PM

Sunday Night Football on NBC! Roethlisberger and Matthew Stafford engage in a duel for the win. This is a game, if they are a plus team by week eight, that I can see the Lions winning. The Steelers are going to show up ready to play but Stafford, on a mission to prove the doubters wrong on national television in regards to his new contract, outlasts his QB counterpart and the Lions prevail in a thriller.

Prediction: Lions 38, Steelers 30

Week Nine: Bye Week

C’mon, only the Jets and Browns manage to lose to the bye week. Steelers sit at 6-2 and first place at the bye.

Week Ten (Nov. 12) at Indianapolis Colts, 1:00 PM

This is a hard game to call right now. The health of Andrew Luck seems to be of question heading into the year. Whether or not he plays by this time won’t matter. The Steelers should prevail anyway. But, of the Colts want any chance at winning games this year, they’ll need him. If Luck isn’t starting, expect newly-acquired back up Jacoby Brissett to crumble against this defense. Steelers win big.

Prediction: Steelers 32, Colts 3

Week Eleven (Nov. 16) vs. Tennessee Titans, 8:25 PM

Thursday Night Football and the beginning of a four week stretch of primetime games, the Steelers face one of my more intriguing dark horses of this year, and my pick to win the AFC South, Tennessee. The Titans young QB, Marcus Mariota, is a stud in the making and has some weapons at his disposal again this season. They will make it an exciting game but one the Steelers will win. My bold prediction is that Le’Veon Bell will rush for 150 yards and have two touchdowns. Big fantasy day on Thursday to start your fantasy week out with a big lead.

Prediction: Steelers 20, Titans 18

Week Twelve (Nov. 26) vs. Green Bay Packers, 8:30 PM

Talk about a good primetime football game. Aaron Rodgers vs. Big Ben at Heinz Field. The Packers, one of my favorites heading into the year, pose a threat to the Steeler in this game. Rodgers might be considered the best QB of his generation, at least in my eyes, if he had even one more Super Bowl. He has a better skill set than Tom Brady and don’t argue with me otherwise. My man crush on Rodgers makes me hesitant to bet against him. The Packers get a win on the road.

Prediction: Packers 27, Steelers 17

Week Thirteen (Dec. 4) at Cincinnati Bengals, 8:30 PM

Primetime. Steelers vs. Bengals in Cincy. I’m not even going to bother with this one.

Prediction: Steelers 24, Bengals 3

Week Fourteen (Dec. 10) vs. Baltimore Ravens, 8:30 PM

Their final primetime game of the season, Pittsburgh at home against Baltimore. Ravens won the first meeting at their house. The Steelers win the latter meeting at theirs.

Prediction: Steelers 30, Ravens 17

Week Fifteen (Dec. 17) vs. New England Patriots, 4:25 PM

I shortened the last two weeks because I already previewed those teams and everyone circled this game on their calendar. “It’s going to determine home-field in the playoffs!” I’ve got news for you. No, it won’t. The Patriots are going 15-1. The consolation? The Steelers are the one. Last year, back up QB Landry Jones had to play and, honestly, looked pretty okay doing it in Foxborough and gave the Steelers a chance to win where no one ever does. The Steelers will, hopefully, have Roethlisberger and a healthy core while adding Martavis Bryant back into the mix. They’re going to be the “1” in the Patriots’ loss column and play inspired in front of their home crowd.

Prediction: Steelers 24, Patriots 20

Week Sixteen (Dec. 25) at Houston Texans, 4:30 PM

Christmas time and the Steelers will play in it again. Last year, the Christmas miracle heaved them to a division title. This season, such won’t be necessary. But, TJ Watt and JJ Watt both record 1.5 sacks trying to outdo each other. TJ’s team wins in a game where points will be hard to come by.

Prediction: Steelers 13, Texans 7

Week Seventeen (Dec. 31) vs. Cleveland Browns

Back-ups will play just as last year’s week 17. Steelers back-ups still beat Browns’ starters.

Prediction: Steelers 17, Browns 3

AFC Wild Card Round

The Steelers finish the regular season at 13-3 and get the second bye behind the Patriots. The three-seeded Raiders beat the six-seeded Bengals in round one. Fifth-seed Chiefs defeat the four-seed Titans. AFC Divisional round features the Patriots vs. Chiefs and Raiders vs. Steelers.

AFC Divisional Round

Man, this will be a fun game for me to watch as I am a fan of Oakland. As I will undoubtedly root for the Steelers, it will be exciting to watch Derek Carr and Roethlisberger battle it out. The Raiders potent offense will show. But, their suspect defense ends up being their demise. Watch out, though. 2018 could seriously be their year. Patriots handle the Chiefs easily.

Prediction: Steelers 38, Raiders 28

AFC Championship Round

Here is your rematch, folks. It is, yet again, in Foxborough. Remember, the Pats don’t lose there. It won’t change here. The Steelers pulled out a huge victory in week 15 but the Patriots and Tom Brady will get the best of the Steelers again. It sucks to say it. Want more consolation, though? The Seahawks will revenge the Patriots in the Super Bowl from the Pete Carroll decision to pass on the two yard line.

Prediction: Patriots 24, Steelers 20