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So, anybody know what’s been going on with the Baltimore Ravens?

I kid, I kid.

As if preordained by the Football Gods, the team that has been at the center of a media firestorm this past week happens to be playing in one of the league’s featured prime time contests. When CBS chose Pittsburgh Steelers vs Baltimore Ravens for their inaugural telecast of Thursday Night Football, I imagine they did expected another epic chapter in one of the NFL’s most heated rivalries. They surely didn’t expect the Ratbirds to be one of the central players in an ongoing drama that spilled over to the mainstream media.  Continue reading »

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Welcome to the first “Know Thy Enemy” of the 2014 NFL season. Accept no substitutes! In previous years – going all the way back to my days running Nice Pick, Cowher – I used these posts to write an obnoxiously long insanely detailed breakdown of the upcoming game. It was a chore for me to write and (I suspect) a chore for most of you to read through.

So this year, I’m going to change things up a bit. Instead of an intro and then analyzing their offense vs our defense then our offense vs their defense, I’m just going to write some general thoughts/observations/expectations about us and our opponent. Hopefully, I’ll still get all the pertinent info across, just in more tidy format. This way it’ll be more fun for me to write and much easier for you to slog through.

With that out of the way, let’s talk about the Pittsburgh Steelers first opponent of 2014: the Cleveland Browns. Continue reading »

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lebeaureading

Welcome back. I hope everybody had a great Christmas. If you’re anything like me, I’m sure it included at least one piece of Pittsburgh Steelers related swag. At this point, I think I have more Black and Gold related dvds than NFL Films.

With time running out in both the year 2013 and the 2013 NFL season, I think we should pick up where we left off on Monday. Thanks to an improbable set of circumstances last Sunday, the Steelers are still mathematically alive for the AFC Playoffs. In order for them to leapfrog three teams and earn the second Wild Card slot, there are only three games we need to keep an eye on. Continue reading »

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Packers Bikini Girls

When the Pittsburgh Steelers take to the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field on Sunday afternoon to face the Green Bay Packers, their slim playoff hopes may have already been dashed. Unless the Dolphins lose to the Bills and the Jets beat the Browns earlier in the day, the last two games of the season will officially be meaningless. Which is probably for the best because a high draft pick is more important to the Steelers future than a pointless Wild Card game anyway. Not that a playoff game is likely with the improbable set of dominoes which must fall in precise order to get the Black and Gold into the post-season.

I tried explaining the AFC’s playoff scenario earlier this week. I’ll try to sum it up again briefly. Basically, Miami’s head to head victory means the Steelers cannot overtake them. However, the rules for breaking a tie between 3 or more teams state that first you match division foes up with each other and eliminate teams until each division is only represented by one team. Then you start the process over again with the remaining teams. That’s why the Jets must win out – if they end the season tied with Miami (and us), they do us the favor of eliminating them by virtue of a better division record just like we do the Ravens.

Like I said, improbable to say the least. Meanwhile, our Super Bowl XLV opponents, the Packers, are in a far less complicated playoff battle of their own. They need this game every bit as much as we do. Although they’ll be going into the game without their biggest gun. Continue reading »

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Misery loves company.

That was Bill Cowher’s famous rallying cry the last time the Pittsburgh Steelers were eliminated from playoff contention with weeks left in their season. The final game of Coach Cowher’s legendary Steelers career came against this week’s same opponent, the Cincinnati Bengals. In that game, the Steelers had nothing to play for but Cincy needed a win in order to qualify for the post season. Thanks to an overtime touchdown pass from Ben Roethlisberger to Santonio Holmes, the Chin walked off the field one final time as a winner.

The Steelers can’t knock the Bungles out of the playoffs on Sunday night. Cincy has the AFC North well in hand with an eye toward maybe even getting one of those first round byes. And the Steelers aren’t technically eliminated from the playoffs, although it would take a nearly miraculous series of events for them to back-door into the Wild Card game. However, it’s still Cincinnati-Pittsburgh so you know both sides are going to play hard. Continue reading »

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The Pittsburgh Steelers host the Miami Dolphins this Sunday at Heinz Field. Ordinarily, I’d begin this preview by trying to come up with some compelling reasons to get fired up for the game. In this case, hype really isn’t necessary. For the Steelers’ razor thin playoff hopes to live another week, they quite simply must win on Sunday.

Miami is currently one of the two remaining 6-6 teams in the AFC. I know I’ve been saying all along that the AFC’s second Wild Card might be 8-8 and I still believe that. With four games remaining, can anybody confidently predict ANY of the AFC teams in the hunt will run the table? Regardless whether that second Wild Card is 8-8 or 9-7, the last playoff spot is almost certainly going to come down to tiebreakers. Which is why the Steelers must beat the Dolphins – if they lose they can possibly make up the  game in the standings but they will never be able to make up the tiebreaker. Continue reading »

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The Pittsburgh Steelers and the Baltimore Ravens. There really isn’t much to add to that. It has already become one of the NFL’s most heated rivalries. While the departure of guys like Hines Ward and Ray Lewis has taken away some of the on-field animosity, the rivalry will continue to burn as long as these two teams continue to face each other in big games.

And make no mistake, this is a huge game. About a month ago, the joke going around was NBC probably wishes they could flex Ravens-Steelers out of the coveted Thanksgiving night prime time slot. Both were mired at the bottom of the standings and looked like a couple of teams going nowhere. Thanks to modest winning streaks and the mediocrity of the AFC, both Baltimore and Pittsburgh now find themselves in the thick of the Wild Card race.

As if Ravens-Steelers isn’t important enough. As if a showcase on Thanksgiving wasn’t important enough. Now we get to throw in major playoff implications. With seven teams basically tied for the second Wild Card, head-to-head victories and Conference Record are going to be the difference between a trip to the playoffs and an early off-season.

While I fully expect another close game, let’s just hope it doesn’t go to overtime. We all remember what happened last time the Steelers played an OT game on Thanksgiving. Continue reading »

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C’mon, you knew I was gonna use that video at least once.

This Sunday, the latest chapter in one of the most storied rivalries in NFL history takes place in Cleveland as the Cleveland Browns host the resurgent Pittsburgh Steelers. I’ve been loathe to use the p-word in association with the Steelers but in all honesty, the AFC is a complete disaster. Only the Broncos and Chiefs have broken away from the pack and would anybody be shocked if either or both were one and done in the playoffs? The rest of the conference is comprised of teams that have their strengths but also have some fatal flaws.

The Browns and Steelers are not as far apart as Steeler Nation would like to think. I’ve been hearing a lot of confident talk from Steeler fans acting like this week’s game is chalk. First of all, even when the Steelers were good and the Browns were abjectly terrible the games were tight. Rivalry games tend to have the affect of evening out talent levels.

Or does nobody else remember Josh Cribbs? Continue reading »

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Tajh Boyd

A few weeks ago, I mentioned that one of the weird little quirks of this season has been the fact NFL Network’s Thursday Night Football has featured really good games. Last night, the Colts overcame a horrible first half to eventually edge the Titans and take commanding control of the AFC South. If the Pittsburgh Steelers were remotely in the playoff race, the Titans losing would be the important key news coming out of last night. But these are strange and unsettling times, my friends.

Going into halftime, the insufferable announcers teased “Steelers in Disarray” as one of the topics of discussion. Who should show up but alleged “insider” Ian Rapoport, to once again repeat his asinine and wholly unsubstantiated “scoop” that Ben Roethlisberger will be traded this off-season. This time, as to lend credence to Rapoport’s apparently made-up rumor, they brought somebody named Mike Silver out to add the Steelers are happy that Ben is studying harder this year but still displeased he’s “no Peyton Manning” when he’s away from the facility.

The crowning jewel on this comedy of misinformation was the earth-shattering news that GM Kevin Colbert was at last night’s Clemson game, apparently to scout quarterback Tajh Boyd.  Continue reading »

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Bills-Stevie-Johnson-Why-So-Serious-Shirt-Bengals

The Pittsburgh Steelers host the Buffalo Bills this weekend at Heinz Field. Feel the excitement!

If you’re going to Sunday’s game, well, I assume this is your first Steelers game because some season ticket holder realized what a dumpster fire the Steelers are and decided to pass his tickets off to you. What you need to know is always wave your Terrible Towel during commercial time-outs to increase your shot of getting on TV. The scoreboard operator will play “Renegade” to fire up the defense at some point during the game so cheer loud. And, for you ladies, please adhere to the NFL’s Clear Purse Policy.

For the rest of us, it’s an epic battle between a 3-6 and a 2-6 team. Maybe the Steelers will win. It certainly wouldn’t be shocking as the Bills aren’t very good. But who cares? Any wins by the Black and Gold just ruin their draft position. Continue reading »

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