I'm going to ask a very simple question, and I hope to receive a very simple answer.
Why, after a three point loss, in the last minute mind you, with their third string quarterback, to one of the top three teams in the league, have the Pittsburgh Steelers immediately fallen from the good graces of the talking media heads who now say with certainty, "Let me tell you what. Right now, as we stand here today, in the National Football League, there are no elite teams prepared to do what it takes to win a Super Bowl. And oh by the way, nobody is playing consistent football, and parity reigns supreme in the National. Football. League." I could go on, but I'll spare us the torment.
I tried avoiding cliched statements in that paraphrase, but I fear the constant usage of such phrases has permanently damaged my ability to write cohesive, original sentences. I'll continue to give it my best effort though, because in the end it's all about the kids.
(Wait, is that not the line I was supposed to use? Let's just move on.)
The Steelers sit at 3-1 on the season with the best defense in football and an offense ready to ignite once they have an NFL-caliber quarterback behind center. It just baffles me how after three weeks, everyone gushed about Pittsburgh and their toughness, then everyone conceded they would lose to Baltimore due to the circumstances, and now that it happened the Ravens have skyrocketed past the Steelers in the AFC.
Short term memory is the name of the game in sports media, and thankfully, it works to our advantage. By our, I mean of course those of us who are in it for the kids. And the making of money.
Currently, the Steelers are 10 to 1 to win the Super Bowl, down from 9 to 1 last week. That of course was before their terrible three point loss to one of the best teams in the NFL with Charlie Batch behind center.
The Steelers have a bye this week, and I foresee the following taking place: a team like the Texans, Colts, Chargers, Jets or Ravens playing very well and winning convincingly on Sunday. Analysts peg one of these clubs the favorite to come out of the AFC, again forgetting the idle Pittsburgh Steelers (at least until Tuesday when everyone remembers Roethlisberger is returning).
What does this all mean? The Steelers are going to have 11 to 1 or 12 to 1 odds to win it all at this time next week. Be patient, ye intelligent recreational profit-accumulators of the world. Your time is coming to make a big move.
What better way to substantiate that bankroll than to win some games this week in preparation for the return of Big Ben? The NFL picture is slowly starting to come together, and this is a week where pretenders begin to step aside.
Picks in bold.
Denver at Baltimore (-7). Denver can't run the ball. Baltimore has a great defense that will shut down a one dimensional offense. Flacco may not crap the bed anymore now that he's learned to throw to Bolden and Houshmadzadeh (I spelled it right on the first try! I'm way too proud of myself for this accomplishment, as it should not have garnered a fist pump).
Jacksonville at Buffalo (Pick). Let down game for Jacksonville, me thinks. The Bills really are horrendous, but perhaps now that Marshawn Lynch is gone, C.J. Spiller will be free to go nuts. Really, please do C.J.. I look like a fool for picking you in Fantasy.
Kansas City at Indianapolis (-7). I have a bad feeling I'm wrong about this game, but I really don't have the guts to go against Peyton at home after a really bad loss. But the Chiefs are coming off a bye. And Charlie Weis and Romeo Crennell are a combined 47-0 (approximately) against Manning as coordinators. And the Colts really aren't that good. And their defense is injured, thereby accentuating their overall suckiness. Oh well. If you feel frisky, take the Chiefs with the moneyline.
St. Louis at Detroit (-3). The Lions get off the schnide! I feel badly for Detroit, because I think they're a halfway decent football team. Yet here they stand 0-4 once again and their franchise quarterback hurt his shoulder, again. I don't care. Shaun Hill guides this baby home.
Atlanta (-3) at Cleveland. So is Atlanta bound to lose one of these close games after barely escaping the past two weeks, or is this the sign that the Falcons are a championship level team that typically finds a way to win? I'll go with the latter, although a Browns victory wouldn't surprise me (Copyright, Michael Wilbon).
Tampa Bay (+7) at Cincinnati. I think I'll just make this a weekly comment: Carson Palmer stinks. I watched the Bengals game last week, and his impressive stats are so misleading it's unbelievable. Tampa off a bye may win this outright, but I wouldn't count on it. I don't see Cincy blowing anyone out all year though, so I'll take the points.
Chicago at Carolina (-1). Jimbo Clausen gets his first career win, which makes me happy. Having to watch Todd Collins attempt to run an NFL offense at this point in his career does not make me quite as happy. I give it 1.5 quarters before Collins gets pulled.
Green Bay at Washington (+3). The Packers have been begging to blow every big lead they've built this year except in Week 2 against Buffalo. They are not an accomplished enough team to take their foot off the collective gas the way they consistently have so far: Week 1 at Philadelphia, up 27-10, won 27-20. Week 3 at Chicago, up 10-0, lost 20-17. Week 4 vs. Detroit, up 28-14, won 28-26. The Packers will eventually prove to be the better team by the end of the season, but Washington is hitting them at the right time.
New York Giants at Houston (-3). Last week's Giants vs. Bears game reminded me of the Giants vs. Redskins contest from a year ago. The Giants, with their backs up against the wall, faced off against a team just begging to get destroyed. End result? Giants 45, Redskins 12. Every analyst thought the Giants defense was back and Coughlin was off the hot seat. Problem for the Giants? The next week Carolina brought them down to earth with a 41-9 drubbing. Look for Schaub and the Texans to do the same in Houston.
New Orleans (-7) at Arizona. Max Hall is probably an upgrade over Derek Anderson, and the Saints are now 0-3-1 against the spread so far. Perhaps the Saints offense will do something for the first time all season against an abominable defense.
San Diego at Oakland (+6). Oakland is pretty good at home, and they had a chance to take Houston to overtime last week. San Diego, coming off a landslide victory at home over the atrocious Cardinals, are bound for a game where they once again expect to simply show up and win the game. Gradkowski for the win!
Tennessee at Dallas (-7). Chris Johnson may make Dallas look silly. Vince Young may make the Titans look silly. I don't really know which way to go in this one, so I'll take the Cowboys at home.
Philadelphia (+3.5) at San Francisco. Because it's just too easy to take the 49ers. I think San Fran may win by a field goal, but that's why that .5 is so important. Kolb will be fine with a week of preparation, but on the other hand, Philly has looked awful on the west coast the last few years. This is the 49ers last shot to save their season, so I like Philly to cover but San Francisco to win late.
Minnesota at New York Jets (-4). It may take more than four days for Favre and Moss to get on the same page, and the Jets are rolling. The Vikings will be sitting at 1-3 after this week and everyone will write them off, only to look foolish when they recover in a short amount of time.
Season to Date: 30-29-3