Wow what a messed up week last week. I came within an overtime fumble and a blatant and horridly wrong ref call of getting all three games wrong last weekend. Yikes! All three games should have been blowouts or at least comfortable victories, and the only one that was so was from the wrong team. Can somebody find Stinchcomb and Nicks please? Somebody replaced them with body doubles who can't play, and in one year the Saint OL went from very good to absolute crap. And they don't even have injuries to blame, at least we can blame our Bengal OL deterioration on an idiot owner/GM and a massive injury wave. They have neither (OK, it's debatable whether or not Tom Benson is an idiot, but he's also not the GM), and that's really got to be pissing off Drew Brees and Sean Payton. And can somebody PLEASE tell Goodell that he needs to spend a LOT more time on figuring out how to get these games called CORRECTLY before they worry about 18 games in a season? Of course, it's no surprise to Bengals fans that the Steelers are involved in yet another stolen game. Not one bit. Nor was our division the only wacky situations, a fair bit of the rest of the league had some really wacky scores (Oakland blowing out Denver, what the heck?) and upsets, disastrous turnovers, and even contested calls as well, but what a weekend.
Well at any rate, my record on the year is now 7-5, which is nice. Gives me a bit of cushion in case I blow my call again this weekend. With only one game to predict, at least I can't go in the hole.
Cleveland Browns - BYE
Not only will these guys not lose this weekend, but if they can play like they did last weekend, they are going to make some noise and score a few more upsets and wins over the rest of the year. Be fine with me if some of those are on Baltimore and Pittsburgh, just hope we aren't among them. On the other hand, for three years in a row now the Browns have defeated a defending Super Bowl Champion in a year they spent most of the rest of the season looking like pure crap and they haven't turned any corners just yet. So was it a fluke? Was it they finally came of age? Was it pure fate? Or was it just that the Saint OL played so horridly that they would let ME through to sack Drew Brees? I don't know yet, but we'll probably find out in a few weeks.
Baltimore Ravens - BYE
Half our division is on BYE in a single weekend. For some reason, I didn't think that very common. Was I wrong? Well either way, these guys will have a week to lick their wounds and wonder how the hell they let the worst team in the NFL actually have a shot at beating them. Overconfidence? Bad luck? Hopefully they just aren't as good as some people think and we'll have a shot to catch up with them. But only time will tell.
Pittsburgh Steelers at New Orleans Saints
Are you kidding me? The Saints are one point favorites in this game? Did anybody, I mean ANYBODY, in Vegas watch last week's games? If the Saints play like they did last week, they'll be lucky to not get shut out. I want to be wrong. I hope it was just bad luck, good schemes, and a really bad off-day for two-thirds of the Saint OL, but if it wasn't, they'll be lucky to keep it within three scores.
Then again, the Saint defense is actually playing fairly well. I know, what is this, 1990 or something? You can get back up and set your chair upright again now, but it's true. The Dome Patrol is long-gone and in fact the Saints' linebackers are probably the weakest part of the team. Their secondary is a combination of walking wounded and people just coming back from injury, and may be missing their two top cornerbacks yet again this weekend. Their front four can't get sacks either. Yet somehow they are actually ranked as a top-5 defense in yards per game. What. The. Hell? Some of that is without a doubt the fact that the offense is turning over the ball at an appalling rate and handing free points and/or short fields to the opponent. But some of it isn't, because the Saint Defense is still top-15 in scoring defense as well.
Add it all up and I suppose maybe the odds-makers aren't quite as insane to list this as essentially a pick-em game after all. But while I desperately want to be wrong -- because it would help both my teams if so -- I can't call this one for the Saints until they show me they still know how to play decent offense against a good defense, until the OL shows me it really can protect Drew Brees against a 3-4 defense (or any defense for that matter), etc. So while I'll be delighted to be wrong, for now I'm calling this one as Steelers 31, Saints 17.