1. Houston (5-0, 1). Tougher than expected game in New York, but a win is a win. Texans come home for two big matchups against a pissed-off Green Bay and the AFCN-leading Ravens. With Brian Cushing out, the cleanup spot will now be manned by… Tim Dobbins? Didn’t he used to, like, date Susan Sarandon?
2. San Francisco (4-1, 2). After losing in Minnesota, the Niners have beaten two New York teams by a combined score of 79-3. I mean, the Jets and Bills suck, but still.
3. Atlanta (5-0, 3). Still perfect, but didn’t exactly dominate Carolina and Washington.
4. Chicago (4-1,
. Since the hiccup against Green Bay, Bears have outscored opponents 98-27, and the Bears and Pack have headed in different directions. Cutler can pout that he has nothing to pout about right now.
5. New England (3-2, 6). No giant comeback needed for a win over Manning’s Broncos. Belichick continues to tinker, adding a strong mix of running with Ridley and Bolden. Young defense is starting to shine. Still need to improve OL protection and do a better job of allowing fewer points. Trip to Seattle could be a trap.
6. Baltimore (4-1, 4). Could easily have lost both to the Browns and the Chiefs. In some ways configured very much like the Patriots. The Texas gauntlet will tell us a lot before the Birds go on a bye: they host the rested Cowboys, then travel to Houston. I think they lose at least one of those two.
7. New York Giants (3-2, 9). Struggled early against Cleveland, and the secondary is still shaky. But the offense is going to push this team until the secondary is healthy, with Eli as the general. Still plenty of passing options even with Hakeem Nicks gimpy. Tough slate ahead will tell us what the men in blue are really about: road trip to San Fran followed by NFCE tilts hosting the Redskins and at Dallas, then a pair of AFCN bouts hosting the Steelers and at Cinci.
8. Minnesota (4-1, 14). Vikings may not be beating top level of competition, but they’re winning. Ponder is showing steady development, AP is still a monster, and the defense is getting tough again, with 5 players racking 2 or more sacks already. The 5 games before the bye (@ Washington, Arizona, Tampa Bay, @ Seattle, Detroit) could be favorable for the Vikings. Is it really possible that the Vikings, and not the Packers, could be second in the NFCN behind the Bears this year?
9. Green Bay (2-3, 7). To the Packers players whining about how the refs are out to get you: shut the fuck up and play better. Team with plenty of weapons on both sides of the ball, but suddenly they look very shaky. I realize the Colts wanted to win one for Pagano, but seriously… the Colts? You couldn’t beat the Colts
? Too much talent here (especially when Jennings returns) to ding them farther, but Packers could certainly tumble in the rankings if they don’t put up. Road trips to Houston and a suddenly chippy St. Louis won’t be easy. Pack will need to play with urgency.
10. Denver (2-3, 10). Comebacks in Atlanta and New England fell short, but Manning is still showing he can lead a team like the Manning of old. Broncos are still putting it together, but have the talent to win their division despite trailing the 3-2 Chargers. Oh, and the Broncos travel to San Diego this week before packing in for the bye. Interesting.
11. Philadelphia (3-2, 11). This team is guaranteed to drive everyone crazy this year. Eagles fans, fans of teams that play them, bettors, analysts. They can turn the ball over a bazillion times and eke out a one-point win over a crappy Browns team, or turn the ball over a bazillion times and come back against what I consider a superior Ravens team to eke out a 1-point win. They’re moldy fireworks. They’re the brilliant mathematics professor who can’t stop giggling as he burns the bagel in his toaster. They’re the roller coaster car with the wheels shedding bolts. There’s plenty of talent here, but where’s it all going? Mike Vick won’t last the season intact, that’s for sure.
I’ll just keep posting the same Eagles analysis week after week until something changes. Update: like the Broncos, I’m keeping the Eagles steady in the rankings. A close road loss to a desperate Steelers team doesn’t change my opinion of the Eagles, really. This week, they host a bye-rested Lions team that’s spiraling. Should be fun.
12. Pittsburgh (2-2, 20). See lengthier review, elsewhere.
13. St. Louis (3-2, 19). Fisher’s scrappy Rams exposed the Cardinals as a team that can be shut down. This week, they meet another scrappy team on the rise as they travel to Miami before hosting the Packers and “hosting” the Patriots (in London). If the Rams can come out this 4-4, that will be good enough to keep them afloat in the division. If they come out 5-3, pencil them in as a potential front-runner with the Cards offense sputtering.
14. Cincinnati (3-2, 12). Overrated Bengals lost to a scrappy Dolphins team, but can get healthy against a banged-up Browns team before hosting Pittsburgh. After that latter matchup, the Steelers should edge the Bengals in the division, 4-2 to 4-3.
15. Arizona (4-1, 5). Losing Ryan Williams was a huge blow to this Cards team already without Beanie Wells. The offense was totally bollixed against the Rams, and the magical aura is a bit faded. Cards will continue to lean on their defense, but they need answers on offense. Fast.
16. Seattle (3-2, 15). Well, it wasn’t pretty, but the Seahawks won on the road in Carolina. The defense keeps doing enough to allow Russell Wilson to eke out wins, despite some rookie moments. Now for the bad news. Seahawks host the Patriots before going on the road to San Fran and Detroit, where the Lions are in desperation mode. They then host the upstart Vikings and a NY Jets team that is in many ways similar to this Seahawks team (minus a beast RB). Yikes.
17. San Diego (3-2, 13). Chargers ran into a buzzsaw in New Orleans, but remains a game ahead of the Broncos. I think the Broncos have a good chance to even that up, even in San Diego. I’ve said for a while that the Chargers are just a middle of the pack team. After their bye, the Chargers run the AFCN gauntlet, and I like the AFCN’s odds.
18. Miami (2-3, 24). Well lookie here. Someone’s starting to win. I thought the Dolphins might win 2 games – all year. They catch a likewise scrappy Rams team at home this week, and after the bye go to NY for a rematch with the Jets, who scraped by with a 23-20 win in OT… when they had Holmes and Revis.
19. Dallas (2-2, 17). We’ll see if the bye week brings more consistency to this Cowboys squad. At Baltimore is not favorable, but the Cowboys could surprise there before going on the road to Carolina and then hosting the Giants. Cowboys need to come out of these three games 4-3 at the very least.
20. Buffalo (2-3, 16). Outscored 97-31 the last 2 games. Promising young defense is still MIA, and now the once-explosive offense is down the shitter. The disparity between potential and actuality in Chan Gailey’s team is amazing. Really. They go to Arizona against a Cardinals team whose own offense is MIA and then host a shitty Titans team before staggering into the bye. The time to turn things around is now.
21. Detroit (1-3, 18). Speaking of a disparity between potential and actuality… Last year, Jim Schwartz was able to whip the offense into one of the league’s best, and the defense was coming together nicely. This year, the fixer-upper has blown a head gasket and was pushed a mile to the shop, smelling of smoke. More bad news. Lions travel to Philly, who will be angry as hornets about their late loss to the Steelers, then to Chicago, a team that is playing lights-out, before hosting a very good Seahawks defense. Looks like they could easily be 2-5, if they’re lucky.
22. Washington (2-3, 21). Washington played an undefeated Falcons team very well, and despite injuries to its defense, the Redskins seem ready to turn the corner. When they turn it is another thing. They host a 4-1 Vikings team before hitting the road to the NY Giants and to Pittsburgh. Welcome to the NFL, rookie.
23. New Orleans (1-4, 27). Bye week for the cursed Saints. Yes, they won, yes, Drew Brees is Johnny Unitas, yes, they still have a zippy offense. Out of the bye they head to Tampa Bay and Denver before hosting the Eagles and Falcons. I don’t think their mojo has undergone some magical revival. They’ll win some games, but they’ll lose more than they win this year.
24. NYJ (2-3, 22). Jets played the Texans close, but close ain’t good enough except with hand grenades and chili farts. Hosting the Colts before they hit the road to New England, then back home for the Dolphins before going into the bye. 3-5?
25. Indianapolis (2-3, 29). The Glistening Gnome Bruce Arians pulled out the highly unexpected upset of the Packers. We can list all kinds of excuses for the Pack, but the fact is that the Colts are going through growing pains but show some real potential to build on.
26. Tampa Bay (1-3, 23). Scrappy, but need to start winning.
So said I last week, when the Bucs were on the bye, so say I now. A bunch of teams rated lower than the Bucs won, so they drop. Oddly, Bucs at 1-3 are second in their division, ahead of 1-4 Carolina and 1-4 New Orleans. They host the Chiefs and Saints and could come up to 3-3 in short order.
27. Carolina (1-4, 25). Good time for a bye. You can smell Cam Newton’s frustration. Losses to Seahawks and Falcons were 4 points and 2 points, meaning this Panthers team could be3-2 rather than 1-4. Out of the bye they host the Cowboys, then are at Chicago and at Washington. Chicago is almost certainly a loss, and both NFCE teams will be tough. Best they can hope for is 3-5. At the very best.
28. Kansas City (1-4, 26). Stay classy, Chiefs fans. Chiefs go to Tampa Bay before heading to the bye, then host the Raiders before road trips to San Diego and Pittsburgh. Good luck with that.
29. Cleveland (0-5, 30). With Weeden improving and Trent Richardson running hard, the Browns are the best 0-5 team in the league right now. Injuries to the defense won’t help add any wins though.
30. Tennessee (1-4, 28). Just the sort of shit team the Steelers could lose to. See Raiders, Oakland.
31. Jacksonville (1-4, 31). After the bye, Blaine fucking Gabbert and the lads take on the Oakland fucking Raiders on the road. Two worst teams in the league. Classic.
32. Oakland (1-3, 32) All you need to know is that the Raiders are the worst team in the league. And they beat us.Lengthier Review of the Steelers. Here.
Well halle-fucking-lujah, a two-point win over a team the defense skinned, cooked, and boiled in a pot. Even with all that, it came down to a FG as time expired. Go fucking figure. How the fuck do you do that? I’m about to fucking tell you. For one thing, you come out of a bye week after a ridiculous fucking loss to a piss-poor Raiders team looking sloppier than a crack whore in a 7-11 at four in the morning. I’m talking about you, Willie Colon, and the receivers.
Steelers had 9 penalties for 106 yards. Shady McCoy ran for 53 yards. Let me do the fucking math for you, fuckheads: we gave up twice as much fucking penalty yardage as we did rushing yards to Shady fucking McCoy. Twice as much. Exactly twice as fucking much. I don’t know if I can remember a sloppier team from the past ten years. They should have had laser focus going into the bye, and they sure as fuck should have been crisp as a motherfucking suit straight from the fucking dry cleaner coming out of the bye. I forget exactly how many of those penalties belonged to Willie Colon, but I’ll guess and say fucking one hundred percent of them, because every time we got called for something, it was Willie motherfucking Colon’s enormous gut getting shown on TV. Troy Aikman, the fag, said that it was OK that Willie was getting all these stupid fucking penalties because he’s so good as a rush blocker. Fucking fuck that bullshit. You’re at home
[/i], Willie, why are you even getting a false start? Huh? HUH?
Now I will say some nice things. It was nice to have Mendenhall back, adding a sorely missing spark to the offense. Night and fucking day between the first three games without Mendy and this one. I also fucking love how he holds the pigskin like a fucking discus and our coaches have done fucking nothing to correct this, but the Eagles stupidly fucking did not do what the Raiders did the week before, which was to punch the ball at every chance. I’m sure as fucking hell that no other team will try to exploit this flaw in Mendy’s running technique. His fumble out of bounds was also a magical thing. Maybe the ball was wet, maybe Mendy felt like it was too much work to outrun one single defender for what could have been 6. I don’t fucking know. But the team was certainly better with him back. Thanks, fucking Mendy!
I wish I could say the same thing about the receivers. True, the Eagles DBs were basically mugging them every play, with the refs apparently thinking about plans for later in the evening involving midget hookers, hot tubs, floaties for the hookers, champagne, lots of chili, and balloon animals made from fart gas (fucking refs are a weird fucking bunch), but even when Roethlisberger got the ball to them in the clear, their job of actually, you know, catching the fucking ball
was too much of a fucking hassle. These guys have the potential
to be one of the best receiving squads in the entire fucking league, but I have the potential
to be a researcher of, say, the fucking epigenome, and that motherfucking shit sure as fuck ain’t happening, you know what I mean? Good news: we didn’t trot a bigassed check Mike Wallace’s way in the off-season. Bad news: we did trot one Antonio Brown’s way. Dudes: catch the fucking BALL.
Now here is where I am going to say more nice things. Special teams did what they are supposed to do. The punting was good, Suisham came through when needed and even kicked off well, and cover teams didn’t allow any big returns. Demarcus van fucking Dyke ran out of bounds on one punt, but he was only 13 when the out of fucking bounds debacle against the Patriots went down in the AFCC January 27, 2002. Not that it fucking chaffs my nuts to think about that call, fucking FUCK FUCK FUCK.
But overall, STs were solid.
I will also say nice things about the defense. They’re alive. They’re fucking alive!
Maybe it was getting back Silverback and Troy, although Troy barked up that calf again and was a non-factor, but the defense passed the eyeball test, for the most motherfucking part. Harrison wound up with 2 tackles and no sacks, but he was breathing down Vick’s neck all night and made good things happen. Jason Worilds, who replaced Lamarr Woodley early in the action, was also ready to play. He came up with 4 tackles and sack, and has 10 tackles and 2 sacks on the year compared to Woodley’s 9 tackles and 1 sack. He doesn’t waddle around like he spent the day at the fucking Waffle House, either. Just fucking sayin’.
Ziggy didn’t look like a workout warrior, he actually came to play, notching 3 tackles and his first sack of the season before leaving with a groin strain. Last week I bitched that Casey wasn’t doing much, and to be honest I still think he’s a fucking step slow any more, and how we haven’t seen Steve McLendon or Cam Heyward. Well fucking surprise! Heyward was in on 9 snaps, McLendon 8, and even Al fucking Woods got 7. Casey was good against the run, but McLendon and Heyward were actually getting up the fucking field and into Vick’s comfort zone. It will be interesting to see if these guys continue to get more reps in rotation.
In terms of yards per game allowed, the Steelers are third against the pass (behind Dallas and San fucking Fran), and are finally finding their spine against the rush at 11th in the league. Larry Foote got juked badly on the Shady TD run, but that’s like asking a brachiosaurus in a tar pit to catch an F-16. Fucking can’t be done. Maybe one of the most miraculous turnarounds was the other ILB, fucking Lawrence Lazarus Timmons. Timmons looked like a fucking rabid badger unleashed onto the field. If an Eagles player had the ball, Timmons was on him like Politifact on Romney. Can we do this for the rest of the season, Juan?
Of course, with 8 sacks on the year, the Steelers are bottom third in harassing opposing QBs, and one interception – fucking ONE
– is awful. The Bears have fucking 13 of the fuckers. But at least the front 7 were doing the old familiar bob and fucking weave pre-snap, instead of standing bolted to the turf like fucking lard statues.
I hope one narrow win doesn’t fucking catapult this team back into complacency, as they have this maddening fucking habit since for fucking ever
of playing to the level of their competition. Meaning, yeah, we can bottle up an explosive Eagles team, but drop a very winnable game to the fucking Raiders. The fucking Raiders, of all teams! Up next, the fucking Titans. You know what the Titans are good at? Sucking fucking shit through a straw. Chris Johnson has ran like a fucking turd. Their mobile QB Jake fucking Locker is out. Teams are running all..the fuck… over them.
If this Steelers team shits the bed again, against the fucking Titans, I’ma break my foot off in somebody’s fucking ass. Thursday Night Special
Steelers (-6) at Titans (43).
All you need to know is that the Steelers play shitty teams shitty. They can’t live up to a spread of more than 4, and the fucking Titans, man, they suck horseshit. If, if, if they play to potential this could be a blowout. Haven’t seen it yet. Hope this is a reverse-jinx. Steelers 17, Titans 14.