Saturday, December 31, 2005


Picks



Sonny is asleep at the wheel, so I give you this week's lines, Dan Signor is joining the fray again so hopefully everyone else will see this before kickoff tomorrow.


Happy New Year


CHARGERS (-11) broncos
giants (-9) RAIDERS
COLTS -6.5) cardinals
Ravens (-3.5) BROWNS
Bills (-1.5) JETS
Panthers (-4.5) FALCONS
VIKINGS (-4.5) Bears
STEELERS (-13) Lions
PACKERS (-5) Seahawks
PATRIOTS (-5.5) Dolphins
BUCS (-13.5) saints
JAGS (-3.5) Titans
Bengals (+7.5) CHIEFS
Redskins (-7.5) EAGLES
NINERS (+1.5) Texans
COWBOYS (-12.5) Rams

Thursday, December 29, 2005


Chin Music


by Jim Dunn


This time of year is a time of reflection.

Steeler fans Don't often reflect or give thanks, We are a rare breed, loyal to our team, almost to a fault, yet ready to run a player/coach/trainer/owner/alum out of town on a whim at any time.

Sometimes, we all need to sit back and look at things objectivley. Here are some things we should look back at, not only for the season in our rearview, but the past seasons that have shaped this team into a serious contender today:


Cowher vs Donahoe
    Remember, there was an actual debateover which guy to keep within Steeler nation. Look at the past 3 drafts Pittsburgh has put together compared to Buffalo. Donahoe has really made a mess up there. Questionable picks in high rounds such as Losman, Evans and McGahee (whatever you say, it was too high to take him and they had other needs) and free agent busts like Drew Bledsoe and letting guys like Peerless Price walk, Price has been terrible with Atlanta and Dallas, but, you think Moulds missed him those 2 years with Bledsoe at the helm? Meanwhile, Cowher and Kevin Colbert continue to make smart decisions, drafting solid players (Roethlisberger, Polamalu, Taylor, Hope, Starks etc, etc) never making huge splashes in Free Agency, but getting a guy when they have to (Staley, Wilson, Kriedwalt) and continuing to win games. The organazation made the right move and for that, we are thankful.

    Drafting Troy Polamalu and Ben Roethlisberger in succesive seasons

    In a 2 year span, this team was able to draft the face of the Offense and Defense for the next 10 years. Terrible Secondary play in 2001 & 2002 from Mike Logan, Brent Alexander, Lee Flowers, Chad Scott and Dewayne Washington pressured Pittsburgh to land a big time playmaker in 2003. I can still remember the analysts and fans critisizing...."Draft Larry Johnson, we need a RB" "Moving up 11 spots and losing a Third rounder is too big of a step just to get a safety" blah, blah, blah.....Like I said, be thankful. If anyone thinks that our Defense would be as dangerous as it is without the 43 car out there, well, you're wrong. In 2004, the Coaching staff and personel people overlooked terrible O-line play for the 6-10 season, they didnt make excuses for Tommy Maddox and despite his best efforts, they drafted Big Ben, Does anyone think we wouldve been 15-1 with Maddox out there? For all of this, we are thankful.

    Myron Cope retires

    Come on, he was terrible those last 2 seasons. For this we are quite thankful.

    Tommy Maddox

    Yeah, that's right, Im thankful for Tommy Maddox, if we dont lose the games to Jacksonville and Baltimore, we are battling for a division title with Cincy and probably win it. Clearly, playing at home in the playoffs is not a strong suit of this team... instead, we are on the road, with a chip on our shoulders, the Team no one wants to see in the playoffs......

    For that, oh, yes, We are thankful. (Trust me)






Tuesday, December 27, 2005

James Harrison for President

I don't know if anyone was posting today, but let's at least take a moment to reflect on how much fun it is to give Cleveland an asskicking. It's right up there with the new Browns' return to football (a.k.a.--The Drew Carey game), the Tommy Maddox Wildcard Round comeback and beating them three times in the last year of existence of the old Browns.

Let's take a minute to digest: 41-0, sealing the shutout with a wicked hit, Harrison nearly killing a drunk fan (see above) and former Brown Quincy Morgan catching the touchdown, running over to the dogpound, and simply pointing to the Steelers symbol on his helmet.

Good stuff.

Steelers 41, Browns 0

What it means: Pittsburgh controls its own destiny; win and they're in (thanks, KC)

(if San Diego beats Denver on Sunday or the Chiefs lose to San Diego, they are also in)

Player of the game: Pro-bowl "alternate" Casey Hampton, who obliterated the Cleveland offensive line, stuffed the run and made Charlie Frye backpedal quickly just to get out of the way of his own center.

Play of the game: From the Cleveland Plain Dealer,

"On an otherwise balmy Christmas Eve afternoon, things got nasty with 9:17 remaining when a man clad in Browns sweats jumped from the grandstand wall behind the Browns' bench and ran onto the field.
The man continued toward the Steelers' backfield until Pittsburgh linebacker James Harrison, who played at Kent State, left the Pittsburgh bench area, lifted him from behind and tossed him to the ground. It was a fairly good imitation of Joe (Turkey) Jones' famous takedown of Terry Bradshaw.
By that time, Steelers fans wearing black and yellow outnumbered Browns fans in the near-empty stadium. They cheered and had a merry time sticking it to their rivals yet again."

Play of the Game Part II: Willie Parker's 80-yard blast up the middle to give the Steelers a 27-0 lead--allowing me to switch bar stool and watch the Chiefs-Chargers game.

B-level celebrity worth dedicating this win to: Drew Carey

Quote of the post-game: "No rival game is supposed to look like that," said Browns tight end Steve Heiden. "I don't know, maybe [the Steelers] don't even call it a rivalry anymore."


Thursday, December 22, 2005

Good Coaches Win. Great Coaches Cover.

Standings

  1. Dunn 3-1 Overall; 1-0 Lock
  2. Connors 2-1 Overall
  3. Sonny 2-2 Overall; 1-0 Lock
(Connors: Pick 4 plus one lock. Jimmy and I will pick 3 and a lock to even things out. Anyone else (if anyone else reads can pick too.)

Favorite/Points/Underdog

Saturday’s Games
WASHINGTON -3 N.Y. Giants
CINCINNATI -14 Buffalo
Pittsburgh -7 CLEVELAND
San Diego -1 KANSAS CITY
MIAMI -5 1/2 Tennessee
Jacksonville -6 HOUSTON
NEW ORLEANS -3 Detroit
CAROLINA -5 Dallas
TAMPA BAY -3 Atlanta
ST. LOUIS -9 San Francisco
ARIZONA -1 Philadelphia
SEATTLE -9 1/2 Indianapolis
DENVER -13 Oakland

Sunday’s Games
BALTIMORE -2 1/2 Minnesota
Chicago -6 1/2 GREEN BAY

Monday’s Game
New England -5 N.Y. JETS

The Case for "Q"


On September 6, 2005, one day after being cut loose by the Tuna, the Pittsburgh Steelers made possibly their largest free agent acquisition of the offseason by signing Quincy Morgan to a one year deal. Traditionally, the Steelers have chosen to build their team through the draft, utilizing the free agent market to supplement a primarily homegrown roster. Having been signed so close to the start of the regular season, Morgan was left with little time to assimilate himself with the offense. But looking at his raw numbers (6'1", 215 lbs, sub 4.5 speed), I wondered then if the Colbert/Cowher crew hadn't stumbled upon an answer at wideout.

Hines Ward is arguably the Steelers' best specialist in the last decade. But valid questions arose when thinking about who would play in the #2 spot. Steelers Nation was force fed the idea that Cedrick "The Non-Entertainer" Wilson possessed the ability to stretch the field and that his considerable talent was masked in San Francisco due to a dearth of talent around him and a lack of opportunity. What we have learned thus far is that Wilson is a "there's an 'M-E' in T-E-A-M" guy, and that he was genuinely surprised to learn that the Steelers offense is first and foremost a ground-based operation. That makes him both ignorant and ineffective. And as exciting as Antwaan Randle El is with the ball in his hands, it's difficult for a 5'8", 4.5 40 guy to be physical enough to create his own space against corners and safeties that are just as fast and twice as big.

When they say football is a game of inches, I wonder if they didn't mean that you would have problems at wideout if you didn't have at least one receiver who didn't measure over 70 of them. Enter Mr. Morgan (a robust 73 inches tall), the fifth year product from Kansas State who was taken 33rd overall in the 2001 draft. In his second season in the league, Morgan had 56 grabs for 964 yards and 7 TDs. And that was with Tim Couch chucking him the melon. He fell out of favor with Butch Davis because he didn't matriculate to Miami (among other reasons), and fell out of favor with Parcells because he didn't play for the play for the 1995 Patriots (he was only 19 years of age at the time). He was a talented enigma that was at the end of his rope, landing in Pittsburgh, his third team in three years.

Through the first couple weeks of inactivity, I wondered if "Q" would ever see the field. And then came San Diego on a Monday night. Morgan took a short kickoff back 37 yards, running through tackles and giving the Steelers terrific field position in a game that might turn out to make or break their season. He has gone on to post a return average of 26.4 yards, 3rd in the AFC with those having more than 15 returns. And his lone reception against the Bengals in week 13, a 25 yard touchdown grab, was more about grit and determination than the delusion running past an opponent (or attempting to lambada around them) and stretching your 36 inch wingspan towards the ball in the sky.

Because this is the site for the intelligent Steelers fan, and I like to think of myself as such, you won't hear me calling to bench Randle El or Wilson. Quincy Morgan is a #4 receiver who doesn't fully know the offense. Though frustrating at times, Coach Cowher insists on sticking with his veterans...probably because he knows exactly what type of effort and performance he will get from them on a weekly basis. It's the type of professionalism that professionals like Cowher understand. But Morgan, unlike Randle El or Wilson, has #2 talent, and should be given an opportunity in sets other than Shotgun - 4 Wide to make plays.

For the Steelers offense to be most effective, Roethlisberger needs a viable third target behind Ward and 2005 NFL Draft "Steal of the Year" Beast Miller. Whether it's designing a package for him to contribute, or even beginning a possession with a bomb downfield just to loosen up the defense, I believe the time has come for the Steelers to try and get Mor(gan) out of Quincy. It doesn't make sense to talk about who we can sign in the offseason, because that doesn't help with the playoff race in 2005. So what are your thoughts on how the Steelers can utilize their current personnel differently to make the offense more dangerous?

Wednesday, December 21, 2005


Browns Week

Is there anyway the Steelers lose in Cleveland? That is the question. Let's not focus on Jacksonville, San Diego and Kansas City in this post, Let's discuss the business at hand, the Cleve Brownies. Clearly, Pittsburgh is more physical, more talented and needs the win more. They are facing a very young quarterback making his 3rd NFL start and will throw a very complex blitz scheme at him, that Cincy and Oakland couldn't. They face a front 7 they pushed around in Heinz Field several weeks ago and, for the only time this season, actually beat a team after Tommy Maddox took the field. So what can go wrong? Here are some possibilities.
  • Holiday Travel.....I Hate when a team has to leave home on a holiday, they tend to lose focus. Remember Thanksgiving '98?
  • Scoreboard watching....Forget about these other Teams, handle your business!!!
  • Division Road Game. They split with an awful Ravens squad and Cincy. Can they sweep Cleveland
  • Reuben Droughns, I know we won pretty handily, but, man did he run hard last time we faced them.
  • Romeo Crennel. Yeah, um, He knows a thing or 2 about beating Pittsburgh.
So, thoughts? Do they get to 10-5 ? Let's discuss what can go wrong here.....

Tuesday, December 20, 2005


Inside the Scenarios

As I watched the ticker last night, I realized that our worst nightmare might come into fruition with regards to the playoffs. In laying out AFC playoff scenarios, ESPN's Bottom Line informed me that the Jaguars would clinch a playoff spot with a victory this week against the lowly Texans. Considering the caliber of both teams, and the fact that the Texans don't want to lose ground in the Reggie Bush sweepstakes, a victory for the Jags this week is inevitable. A win would also mean that the Jags would lock up the #5 seed, and have nothing to play for in week 17 against Tennessee...who took Seattle to the wire this past week.

You all know that the magic formula for the Steelers making the playoffs is two victories, and either a SD loss or two Jaguars wins or two Jaguars losses. I think that the scenario envisioned above means that we cannot count on the Jag-ovs to do the deed. So let's take a look at the Whale's Vagina Chargers remaining games to see if there any sparks of hope...

- Week 16: San Diego @ Kansas City
Kansas City is still technically alive for a wildcard spot, though they are fourth in a four team race for two spots. They absolutely need to win this week to remain eligible, and will have an opportunity to square off against one of the teams they are chasing in the comforts of raucous Arrowhead Stadium. Can Dick Vermeil's swan song energize the Chiefs defense to a level where they actually make tackles once they put their hands on an opposing ball carrier? Barber shredded them last weekend, but will L.T. actually take the field this week? And does it matter, because Michael "the Burner" Turner is certainly capable of a monster game?

- Week 17: San Diego v. Denver
Will Denver still be playing for a first-round bye at this point? It depends on our friends in Cincinnati. If Cincinnati can defeat Buffalo this weekend, and Denver can overcome the Raiders (which should happen if for no other reason than because Shanahan would love to stick it to Al Davis while he's down), they'll both be playing for the next week off. However, in a cute little scheduling quirk, the Chargers play San Diego on Saturday in week 17, whereas the Bengals don't take the field until 1:00 on Sunday. So Denver will not have the ability to watch the scoreboard, and will want to take matters into their own hands.

Of course none of this matters if the Steelers don't take care of business and beat two inferior football teams. So I ask you, Educated Steeler Nation, which of the following things worry you most about the playoff scenario and why:

A) The Steelers not being able to beat Cleveland and Detroit
B) The Chargers overcoming long odds to beat three playoff-caliber teams in successive weeks
C) The Jaguars being able to lock up a spot this week, so that they rest their starters in week 17

Monday, December 19, 2005


Steelers 18, Vikings 3

OPEN DISCUSSION MONDAY ( I say we hash out the game on Monday and get to the details and the looking ahead on Tuesday...I'll try to keep it to one post per day. And this week, other writers start posting too.)


My opinions that can certainly be debated:

What it means: It thought it was 100% Grade-A Top Sirloin "Control Your Own Destiny" Goodness...but it's not, completely.....


WILDCARD SCENARIOS: Even if the Steelers win, they still will need some help. If the Steelers win out, they either need San Diego to lose one game or Jacksonville NOT to split (either to win both games or lose both.)

If the Steelers-Chargers-Jags end up in a three-way tie at 11-5, the Steelers lose out because they would tie the first three-way head-to-head tie and the second tiebreaker is AFC record...which they would lose and become the first-ever 11-5 team NOT to make the playoffs.

But anyway...BACK TO THE GAME......


Key stat of the game: Vikings red-zone trips-3, Vikings points off trips to the red-zone- 3.
Player of the game: Ben Roethisberger (I want to give it to the defense, but that's a cop out because I don't know who to single out. But if you do, please explain how your picking over a guy with a broken thumb managing a good game, rushing for a touchdown and really making no mistakes in what is essentially a playoff game against a motivated team.)

Random Steelers list of the week: Top 5 Steelers performances this year: 1) San Diego 2) Chicago 3) First Cincinnati 4) Green Bay 5) Minnesota. (Please don't tell me Green Bay sucks, I know this. But, remember, they would be in deep shit without that win and did it handily with Mr. Batch at QB)

Who Cares? Stat: Steelers are 8-6 against the spread.
Who Cares Stat Part II: Hines Ward has been the team's leading receiver seven times this year...he had the least yards of any player with a catch yesterday (2 for 11 yds.)

My Totally Off the Cuff Game Notes:
--Damn, I love safeties. Especially ones where a a defense drives an offense into the endzone (rather than bad snaps on punts, etc.) And there is no better lead to extend with a safety than from 13 to 15.....love it. Did anyone see what celebration cost them 15 yards? because my second favorite part is watching punters boot from the 20.

--Parker had 5.8 yards so I won't complain too loud here, but is Staley completely out of the plans now? Hunkele saw him drunk on Thursday night and guest bartending on the Southside. He might as well get drunk on Sundays from now on too. Or pick up some extra money bartending.

--The Steelers have the best blocking wide receivers in the league. Was is Morgan with a great block on a quick pass to Randle El on 3rd and 20 that he turned in to a first down? It's like Hines does a clinic in training camp...did you even see Burress holding those blocks for Tiki? He didn't learn that in NYC.

--Speaking of 'Twaan, some of my family members were insisting Randle El needs to benched, which is an obvious "he makes plays, but makes too many negative ones to be worth it" statement. Tell me if my Hoosier bias is coming in to play here (I realize he makes bonehead plays), but that's a ridiculous statement. He more as many good plays out of nothing than he does bad ones out of nothing. (not sure if that made sense)

--Anyone think the Vikings should think twice before unloading Culpepper?

-- My Shut the F-Up of the week: The new football version of dumb hockey fans shouting "SHOOT THE PUCK" during the power play is fans yelling "STOP DANCING/GET UP FIELD" on punt returns. Do these people think that returners could always run straight down the field for touchdowns, but choose to juke back and forth just for fun? There are 10 and eventually 11 coverage men on a punt. I'd like one of these fans to receive a punt and sprint full-speed directly into 240-pound reserve linebacker.

--With his big belly and shoulders back running style, Jermaine Wiggins looks like those old clips of Babe Ruth rounding the bases (an observation made in CC's basement and reinforced in this game)

--Around the NFL: Thank you Giants/No thanks to you Colts (do we need a team on our heels (San Diego) that just got the biggest confidence boost, um, ever...)/Steelers wins that look even better after this week: Chargers and Bears.

Quote of the game: In response to Johnson's quote that the Steelers don't have Joe Greene any more, "They don't have Fran Tarkenton or Chuck Foreman either," Larry Foote said after the game. "And as domes go, for the Steelers, the Metrodome was no RCA Dome. This game turned into a fun experience. "

Chuck Foreman? You know Larry broke out the media guide for that one. And he purposely kept the comparisons white....they don't have Randall Cunningham or Warren Moon, either.

Friday, December 16, 2005



Meet Your Week 15 Opponents
and Read All of the Details below !!!
Who's the big winner in the room? Mikey, that's who.

You know, the guy behind the guy behind the guy.....

Okay, gimme your picks of the week.....three picks and a lock......


Home team in CAPS

Saturday's Games
NEW ENGLAND (-4 1/2) Tampa Bay
NY GIANTS (-3) Kansas City
Denver (-9) BUFFALO

Sunday's Games
WASHINGTON (-3) Dallas
Pittsburgh (-3) MINNESOTA
INDY (-7 1/2) San Diego
JAX (-16) San Francisco
Seattle (-7) TENNESSEE
Arizona (-1) HOUSTON
MIAMI (-8 1/2) N.Y. Jets
Carolina (-9 1/2) NEW ORLEANS
Cincinnati (-7 1/2) DETROIT
OAKLAND (-3) Cleveland
ST. LOUIS (-3) Philly
CHICAGO (-3) Atlanta

Monday's Game
BALTIMORE (-3) Green Bay

Some facts and issues to comment on for Vikings week:

- Who is the Steelers MVP thus far and why?

-Roethisberger could go two seasons without losing to a team that didn't win its division: Indy, Cinci, and the Pats.

-The Vikings are below 20th in the NFL in both offensive and defensive production.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Okay, first post. I'm excited. Every week, I'm going to try to include a question/prediction/poll and since I didn't get this puppy running until late Thursday night, I'm going to start with the question (hopefully this will help everyone learn how to post).

Three games left...how do you think the AFC Playoff picture will shape up by the end of the year? Give me your seedings.

1. (divisional winner--if you get this one wrong, you're kicked off the site)
2. (divisional winner)
3. (divisional winner)
4. (divisional winner)
5. Wildcard
6. Wildcard

And why do you think it will finish out this way?