The Pittsburgh Steelers are out of Latrobe and back at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, also referred to as the South Side Facility. We are already into the regular season, where everything is magnified and, you know, actually counts. The team is working through the highs and lows and dramas that go through a typical Steelers season.
How are the rookies performing? What about the players that the team signed in free agency? Who is missing time with injuries, and when are they going to be back? What are the coaches saying about what they are going to do this season that might be different from how it was a year ago?
These are the sorts of questions among many others that we have been exploring on a daily basis and will continue to do so. Football has become a year-round pastime and there is always a question to be asked, though there is rarely a concrete answer, as I’ve learned in my years of doing this.
Question: Bye Edition – How will the division leaders fare against two of the league’s hottest teams?
The Steelers, as you may be aware, do not play a game this week, as they are awarded a bye after playing their first six games. They compiled a record of 3-2-1 during that span, very near where they were at this time a year ago at 4-2.
That is where both the Baltimore Ravens and the Cincinnati Bengals are, however, and they do not yet get to rest. The Ravens will today be hosting the New Orleans Saints, coming off a bye week of their own with a 4-1 record and history on the horizon. The Bengal must travel to play the Kansas City Chiefs, whose only loss to date came late in a shootout courtesy of Tom Brady and the New England Patriots.
As I talked about yesterday, in other words, there is a more than fair chance that both teams will come out of this week’s schedule with losses, in doing so falling to 4-3 on the season. Based on winning percentages, that would give the Steelers the advantage, and temporary control of first place.
Integrally, it would give them fewer losses, meaning they would then control their fate from here on out in terms of being able to win the division. They would simply have to stay ahead of the Ravens and Bengals, rather than trying to play catchup after getting off to a 1-2-1 start to the year.
While both the Saints and Chiefs have played at a high level offensively—two of the very top teams in the league—they have also struggled on defense. The only team in this pairing that can legitimately claim to have a good defense right now is Baltimore, but New Orleans has the highest-scoring team in the league
So make your predictions now before the games start. The Ravens host the Saints in the evening and the Bengals will be in KC at night. Who will win, and where will they leave the Steelers?