Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Bogged Down

Ok, so the Steelers wanted to lay down new turf for the rest of the season as Heinz Field is always in tough shape this time of the year. That’s great, but did anybody bother to check the 48 hour forecast. Would it have made sense to wait and do it over the course of this week? I’d have to imagine so. The field was basically unplayable last night. Now the question is, can the field be ready for the game Sunday night against the Bungles?

Despite the horrible conditions, there were two good things to come out of this game. One being a Steelers’ win, of course. The other was that the game was only two and half hours long. This was a direct result of a lot of short passes, running plays, and that nobody could get out of bounds.

Like all Steeler fans, I was looking forward to seeing how this team would bounce back from the terrible loss to the Jets. The weather and field conditions wiped that all away though as it was a struggle for both teams. It probably helped the Dolphins more as things were evened up a bit. In games like this, you play not to make mistakes. The Steelers made one to the Dolphins two. There’s the game right there.

It’s also very tough to analyze this game. I thought the Steelers started to move the ball well on a couple of drives, but costly penalties wiped out crucial third-down conversions that could’ve put points on the board earlier in this game. The Steelers played well enough in the muck where they wouldn’t lose and that happened to be just good enough. We can all be happy that nobody on the Steelers’ side of the ball got seriously hurt and that we should get some critical players back for a Bungles team coming off a good win.

We’re 8-3, a game up in the division, and probably need 2 more wins to make the playoffs.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The Steelers Can Beat the Patriots

Let me start this post of by saying that even though I live in New Hampshire (part of New England), I cannot stand the Patriots. This team, its coach, and owner just disgust me with their overblown egos and pompous attitudes. I don’t want to see this team go 16-0 and I surely don’t want them to win another Super Bowl.

Now, can the Steelers beat the Patriots? Yes, I think they can. I was feeling much more confident before the terrible loss to the Jets, but I think that might just be the kick in the butt this team needs. We all remember the run we went on in 2005 when the team was facing elimination every week. That Steelers’ team found that motivation and played at a level that I think this year’s team is also capable of. How they come out on Monday will tell us all how the rest of season may go.

Here’s how I think Steelers can beat the Patsy’rots:
Hit Tom Brady hard and often: Other teams have barely touched Brady this year. The Steelers need to set the tempo by hitting him early. I think they even can afford a roughing penalty or two to just get it done. History has shown that when Brady gets pressured, he has problems. And, if by chance Brady is forced out of the game, this one will quickly swing the Steelers’ way.

Cover Randy Moss: Ike Taylor may be one of the best one-on-one cover guys in the league. Moss has not faced a corner like Taylor this year that can match his speed with physical play. Moss has wilted in the past when he continually gets hit coming of the line. I would put Taylor exclusively on Moss. The Patsies’ biggest weakness is a lack of a running game, which should let the Steelers key on the pass.

Don’t have a special teams’ meltdown: Contain the return game and don’t give up the big play. Sounds simple often. Also, Sepulveda needs to get his leg back and start booming kicks the way he is capable of.

Time of possession: Willie Parker must have a big game. If he can get back to 4-plus yards a carry, the Steelers can control the clock. It will also open things up for Big Ben in the passing game.

Don’t panic: If the Steelers are losing at any point, they must stay calm. This team has the weapons to come back. They proved it against Cleveland. Big Ben can make the clutch plays and the defense is capable of big stops when they need to be made. The team needs to stick to its game plane and execute.

Monday, November 19, 2007

What an Embarrassment!!!

If the first play of the game wasn’t enough of an embarrassment, it just got worse as the day progressed for the Steelers. A 100 yard rusher for the first time since forever, seven sacks given up, only 50 yards from the team’s top rusher, just 13 points against the league’s worst defense, another bad special teams performance -- that’s a bad day. This team is a lot better than this performance, but they need to be consistent. Did they still have a chance to win this game despite playing such a terrible game? Surprisingly, yes. But, they didn’t deserve it and that’s why they lost.

Tomlin needs to become a veteran coach as this season progresses. It was looking like the team would be 10-2 heading into the game against the cheaters (Patriots), but obviously the best we can hope for is 9-3 now. That 10-2 record probably would have been enough to lock up a playoff spot.

This team needs to look at this loss and learn from the many problems they showed they had. If they don’t, they will lose to the Patriots badly. Is this team still good enough to knock the Patriots down? I think they are. When everything is clicking, the Steelers are a legitimate Super Bowl contender. They need to focus and get their swagger back.

In these next six weeks, Tomlin will define whom he is as a coach in the fans’ eyes for years to come. If this team wins the division, Tomlin will begin building his legacy. If Cleveland edges the Steelers out, Tomlin will struggle to regain the fans’ trust. I still really like Tomlin and his approach to the game, but he needs to get this team back on track and playing at a high level.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Soft Stretch for the Steelers

Wow, I thought last week’s game was going to be fairly close, but not that close. Besides the initial drive by the Browns and the terrible kick coverage, the Steelers played a very solid game. When you look at the box score, you would have thought the Steelers won that game by multiple touchdowns. All in all, it was a great win for the team as they showed they could come back, which should give them more confidence for the rest of the season.

Now we’re coming into a three-week stretch against teams with a combined 4-23 record. Hopefully, the Steelers can stay sharp in these games, as they’ll next face the hated Patriots. A 10-2 record at that point should pretty much ensure a playoff spot. However, a win against the Patriots would position the Steelers as a legitimate Super Bowl contender.

The Steelers face the 1-8 Jets this week, who just look awful. This was a playoff team last year that has significantly underperformed. Not much has gone right for the Jets this year and I just don’t see the Steelers folding this Sunday. My prediction is Steelers 31 Jets 16.

Some key stat projections:
Roethlisberger: 250 yards, 2 TDs
Parker: 120 rush yards, 3 rec 20 yards, 1 rush TD
Davenport: 40 rush yards, 2 rec 20 yards. 1 rush TD
Ward: 6 rec 70 yards
Holmes: 5 rec 70 yards, 1 TD
Miller: 4 rec 40 yards, 1 TD
Defense: 4 sacks, 1 fumble recoveries, 3 INTs

Friday, November 9, 2007

Week 10: Steelers 31 Browns 23

This is not the same Browns team the Steelers saw in week 1. Their offense is greatly improved and they’re scoring a lot of points. However, the Browns’ defense is still not very good at all and that is why the Steelers will win this game. I think the Browns will find a way to score some points against the Steelers, but the Steelers should be able to score at will against them. Look for a high scoring game that may stay close until the third quarter.

My prediction: Steelers 31 Browns 23

Some key stat projections:
Roethlisberger: 275 yards, 3 TDs, 1 INT
Parker: 130 rush yards, 3 rec 30 yards, 1 rush TD
Davenport: 40 rush yards, 2 rec 25 yards
Ward: 6 rec 80 yards, 1 TD
Holmes: 5 rec 100 yards, 1 TD
Miller: 4 rec 40 yards, 1 TD
Defense: 4 sacks, 2 fumble recoveries, 2 INTs

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

James “the Animal” Harrison

Wow!!! What more can you say about James Harrison’s performance against Baltimore. I haven’t seen a more dominating defensive game since Spicoli wrecked Charles Jefferson’s car in Fast Times at Ridgemont High.

Jefferson's Brother: My brother's gonna kill us! He's gonna kill us! He's gonna kill you and he's gonna kill me, he's gonna kill us!
Jeff Spicoli: Hey man, just be glad I had fast reflexes!
Jefferson's Brother: My brother's gonna s@#$!
Jeff Spicoli: Make up your mind, dude, is he gonna s@#& or is he gonna kill us?
Jefferson's Brother: First he's gonna s@#$, then he's gonna kill us!
Jeff Spicoli: Relax, all right? My old man is a television repairman, he's got this ultimate set of tools. I can fix it.

He’s sure making us all forget that Joey Porter is still in this league. The biggest point of optimism to take from Harrison’s performance is this is the exact level of play the Steelers will need to beat the Patriots on 12/9. Harrison is creating chaos and disruption and that is a good thing.

Friday, November 2, 2007

This Week’s Prediction: Time for Revenge

OK, feel free to criticize me as I’ve picked the Steelers every week so far. When looking at the preseason schedule, I had them at 5-2 at this point with losses to Denver and Cincinnati. But as the season went on, I thought they were the better team going into every game. Yes, they lost to Arizona and a Denver, so my predictions are not perfect. I can’t make any excuses either for those losses as I don’t make any team decisions. As an outsider though, it appears as though the team was not as well prepared for those games. I think that Tomlin does a great job of getting this team ready to play, but those two games were breakdowns for whatever reason.

My final preseason prediction had the Steelers at 10-11 wins and challenging for the division title. They are still on that pace coming into the halfway point. With a win against Baltimore, they will be well positioned to win the division.

There will be no breakdown this week. The Steelers are going to be well prepared for the Ravens. After what happened last season in the two embarrassing games against Baltimore, the Steelers will be ready. In fact, they are the better team on both sides of the ball this year. Will this game be a lopsided Steelers’ win? No way. It will be a typical trash-talking, slugfest between two teams that hate each other. Joey Porter isn’t here to stir the pot, but that won’t matter.

My prediction: Steelers 23 Ravens 13

Some key stat projections:

Roethlisberger: 180 yards, 1 TDs, 1 INT

Parker: 105 rush yards, 2 rec 10 yards

Davenport: 30 rush yards, 2 rec 10 yards, 1 rush TD

Ward: 6 rec 60 yardsHolmes: 4 rec 60 yards

Miller: 4 rec 30 yards, 1 TD

Defense: 3 sacks, 1 fumble recovery, 2 INTs