Up The Gut Week 9: 16-0 is on the table for Big Ben, Steelers

Ben Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh Steelers still have a long way to go, but they are nonetheless “set up for immortality,” Shaun Morash says

The DA Show
November 04, 2020 - 3:52 pm
Big Ben Steelers

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By Shaun Morash

Cold Open
The Steelers are now under the microscope for a 16-0 season. Before you shoot it down, take a peak at that schedule. A Ravens rematch on Thanksgiving night will be tastier than your aunt's awful stuffing recipe. Outside of that, games with the Bengals, Browns, Jaguars, Broncos, all remain. A Week 16 game with the Colts could pose a problem, I suppose, but in reality the Steelers last two weeks against the Titans and Ravens have set them up for immortality, whether we take it seriously or not.
2020 has been surreal in all phases of life, including sports, so would we really be surprised if we get a 16-0 regular season in the NFL? The irony here is these Steelers, at 16-0, could still be an underdog at home in an AFC Championship game should they meet the Chiefs. I don't fully understand why the Steelers feel underrated. Talk to anyone and it is a "Yeah, the defense is great, Roethlisberger is playing well, but..." 

There should be no but. The Steelers are playing at a different speed than the rest of the AFC not named the Chiefs at the moment, and the quest for 16-0 is officially a real possibility. 

Ten Yard Gain

1-Ben DiNucci did look overwhelmed on Sunday Night Football, and now Andy Dalton is on the COVID list. Could AAF MVP Garrett Gilbert or the Giants’ end-of-training-camp cut Cooper Rush look any better? The Cowboys aren't going to leave premier games on our TV over the coming weeks, including against the Steelers this week. This embarrassing circus is only going to get uglier. 

2-Isaiah Ford is not a household name. He is a fine slot receiver who can come through with clutch first downs on drives. Making it even more ridiculous the Dolphins traded him to the welcoming arms of Bill Belichick. The Dolphins have no more use for Ford, and that is fine. They had 30 other teams to send him to, and they traded him to the Pats. The blood is on their hands if Belichick finds the next Wes Welker here. 

3-I sure hope Joe Douglas, the Jets’ general manager, is just saying the right thing and lying out of his teeth when he says that Adam Gase is part of the solution in New York. Gase has now lost more games by three scores than he has won any games as a head coach. Not exactly a ringing resume. 

4-Safe to say the Browns may, in fact, miss Odell Beckham Jr. after all. On the one hand, I truly believe a quarterback could benefit from not having a diva receiver coming back to the huddle begging for the ball. On the other hand, when you score six points at home in bad weather because the QB isn't getting bailed out by said diva, it brings home just how porous Baker Mayfield's game is. 

5-What the heck happened to the Titans? I will admit I am annoyed with Tennessee, as their no-show cost me in my picks in this column and also sent me packing in my knockout pool. However, after a heart-breaking loss to the Steelers, you would think the focus on righting the ship versus a team full of guys wondering about the trade deadline should have been a lock. Games like this are why as good as the Titans are, they are still missing the "it" factor when it comes to trusting them against the other AFC elite.

6-Four straight games of blowing leads of at least 16 points for the Chargers, three of which have resulted in losses, is enough for me to see in Anthony Lynn. Lynn breaths football and came across as a genuinely good guy on Hard Knocks this summer. As a head coach, though, he appears more friend than teacher, and I worry for the future of Justin Herbert if the franchise waits too many years to realize Lynn isn't that guy to get them over the hump. 

7-Another week, another overrated performance for Tom Brady and the Bucs. If Aaron Rodgers doesn't turn the ball over twice early three weeks ago, we would be viewing the Bucs as a team that lost to the Bears, lost to the Packers, beat the Raiders, and are a properly officiated final play away from overtime with the lowly Giants. Super Bowl pretenders reside in Tampa. 

8-I am thankful Teddy Bridgewater was not more seriously injured last Thursday night. While everyone focused on the spear hit he took, let's not overlook the dirty trip by Dante Fowler that set up the hit that injured him. The Falcons played dirty and the one NFL player you don't want to see in that situation, perhaps other than Alex Smith, is Teddy Bridgewater. 

9- What a Hail Mary by Doug Marrone to turn to Jake Luton as his starting quarterback over Mike Glennon. Jake who? We know what Mike Glennon will bring to the table; he is a fine backup QB to have if you are a contender and lose a quarterback for a week or two. The Jaguars are not contenders and Marrone has a job to try and save. Luton is nothing more than a lottery ticket that, if he plays well, Marrone can use to try and convince ownership that they may have found their franchise quarterback. Don't expect that lottery ticket to cash. 

10-Golden Tate has every right to be frustrated. He is on a bad team as a veteran, and he isn't getting any younger. However, having your wife throw the team and your quarterback under the bus on Instagram is low-class. If I were the Giants, I would park Tate on the bench. You can lose with him or without him; don’t reward family drama. With Tate, there has been too much of that.

Five Games to Chew On

5 Ravens @ Colts: The Colts need a heaping helping of victory after a brutal loss to the Steelers that has left more questions than answers when it comes to their offense. The Colts’ defense remains underrated after another ho-hum win for Indianapolis. The Colts are positioned for a Wild Card berth. The Ravens may be headed that route as well with the Steelers atop the North. If the Colts’ defense suffocates the Ravens’ passing game this week, things may get real interesting in Baltimore.

4 Panthers @ Chiefs: The Panthers have been a plucky team under Matt Rhule and now welcome back Christian McCaffrey in a game where they need to control time of possession and keep the ball out of Patrick Mahomes’ hands. Conventional wisdom says the Chiefs will continue to roll by beating up on a reeling Panthers team, but my gut says we are in for a fun game decided in the fourth quarter here.

3 Bears @ Titans: Two straight losses for the Titans is leaving everyone second-guessing our belief in that team. A third straight loss will have the Titans’ second-guessing themselves internally. The Bears’ offense is worse on the eyes than me shirtless on the beach. The Bears’ defense, though, may swallow the run and dare Ryan Tannehill to beat them. This has all the feels of a contender-versus-pretender bowl. 

2 Seahawks @ Bills: The Bills have been fortunate to beat the Jets and Pats in back-to-back weeks thanks to crucial mistakes by their opponents. They cannot bank on a Russell Wilson-led team to make those same mistakes. Both of these teams love to play close games, seemingly refusing to blow out teams they should blow out. That makes this matchup in Western New York fascinating and sure to make the hair on the back of Scott Hanson's neck stand up in the “Witching Hour” on NFL Red Zone.

1 Saints @ Bucs: A juicy Sunday Night Football game highlights this week's slate of games. This Week 1 matchup in New Orleans was a lot of fun. The Saints’ defense forced Tom Brady into some mistakes, and that unit was the difference. If Michael Thomas can finally get on the field, maybe the Saints’ offense can look like the Saints offense again. Playing games in the 20s has been what the Saints like to do this year, but the Bucs at home – and welcoming in Antonio Brown – may be looking to play this game in the 30s. The Saints sweeping their two games with the Bucs would be devastating to Brady and company.

My Picks

Yet again a 1-2 record hits, for the third straight week. Now my hot start has sunk to 14-10 on the year. Luck has to come back here, right?

Ravens -2.5 @ Colts: The Ravens need to get back to their offensive explosions and get that locker room believing again after a tough-to-stomach division loss to the Steelers. I expect the Colts’ defense to give them problems. I do have my questions about the Ravens’ defense this week after dealing with COVID-positive tests and contact tracing. This feels though like a game where Philip Rivers turns into a pumpkin against a good team. I will lay the 2.5 gladly with the better team here. 

Giants +3 @ Washington: The heat is on Daniel Jones as the Giants have now lost six games this year by 10 points or fewer and in all six have had Daniel Jones turnovers as to why the games were not won. The one thing Daniel Jones has not struggled with? The Washington Football team. He is 3-0 against them, and three of his four career wins in total have come at the hands of Dan Snyder's bunch. The Giants’ defense did enough to slow Washington's offense just a couple weeks ago and more of the same should happen here. The Giants get their second win of the season.

Steelers -14 @ Cowboys: Two touchdowns is a lot to lay, I understand. In reality, I will likely buy the half a point to get this down to 13.5. That being said, the Cowboys could not decide by midweek who their starting quarterback is, and their defense was awful even before the offensive problems hit. Oh yeah, that Cowboys offensive line? Dreadful. This has all the making for a 35-9 type of blowout. 

Football Food of the Week

Breakfast Nachos.  We've discussed Bob's Bar a bunch on The DA Show, and Sunday Brunch became a theme during the pandemic. Well, why in the eight years of Football Foods of the Week have we avoided breakfast food here in the column? 1 p.m. games on a Sunday or noon games on a Saturday (Eastern Time) should not be ignored in the Brunch wheelhouse, so let's get the eggs cracking. Heck, even West Coast fans get started at 10 a.m. on a Sunday.

Get your tortilla strips laid out on a pan, cook bacon, crack a couple of eggs and chop up those two classic breakfast items after they are cooked and sprinkle on top of the chips. I would add some chopped jalapeño, shredded Mexican cheese, and – if you want to get real nuts – add some breakfast sausage or even some diced breakfast potatoes (already cooked) to the top of the chips. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. When done, add salsa and sour cream to the top and serve. The classic feel of nachos during football with the taste of Sunday Brunch all rolled into one. How about that?

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