Each week, the Steelers Now staff picks each NFL game.
Alan Saunders: 92-40
Mike Asti: 82-50
Ron Lippock: 81-51
Parker Hurley: 80-52
Mike Asti: 9-5
Parker Hurley: 7-7
Ron Lippock: 9-5
Alan Saunders: 11-3
Los Angeles Chargers at Oakland Raiders
Asti: Chargers. While neither of these teams has made any sense this year, the Chargers have the better roster.
Saunders: Chargers, I guess. Can’t figure either of these teams out.
Baltimore Ravens at Cincinnati Bengals
Asti: Ravens in the sure thing of the week.
Saunders: Ravens by 100.
Buffalo Bills at Cleveland Browns
Asti: Browns. My pick is based solely on the fact, that while Cleveland was clearly overhyped in the offseason, they shouldn’t be as bad as they’ve been. Conversely, Buffalo has played a bit above themselves and something has to give.
Saunders: Bills beat the bad teams, and the Browns are pretty close to one of those.
Detroit Lions at Chicago Bears
Asti: Bears. Chicago’s offense is awful, but their defense will cause enough problems for Stafford and company. Additional reason: I also need to make up ground on Alan.
Saunders: Lions, because I don’t trust the Bears to score at all.
New York Giants at New York Jets
Saunders: Giants, because not even a black cat curse can help the Jets.
Kansas City Chiefs at Tennessee Titans
Arizona Cardinals at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Saunders: Buccaneers thanks to a rookie quarterback, 1 p.m. East Coast game, more than because I have faith in Tampa.
Atlanta Falcons at New Orleans Saints
Miami Dolphins at Indianapolis Colts
Saunders: Colts, with or without Jacoby Brissett.
Los Angeles Rams at Pittsburgh Steelers
Asti: Rams. The Steelers have been more lucky than good lately. This game has blow out potential for LA if Rudolph takes too long to make decisions with the ball. Donald could be prime for a big day back in Pittsburgh.
Hurley: Rams. The Steelers defense will keep this close, and they will cover the four point spread. However, Mason Rudolph has been too unsure in the pocket and will struggle to score points as well.
Rams 16, Steelers 14
Lippock: Rams. The Rams offense is 8th in the NFL, and it’s defense is on par with the Steelers’. What’s kept the Steelers alive this season has been their ability to force an excessive amount of turnovers. The Rams don’t turn the ball over often. I think their offense will be too much to keep up this week. If the Steelers get off to their typically slow start against this Rams team, I think they won’t have much luck catching up to the Rams.
Rams 27, Steelers 17
Saunders: Rams. The LA defense would be trouble for a healthy Steelers offense, and it is looking like the Steelers are not going to have a healthy offense.
Rams 23, Steelers 13
Carolina Panthers at Green Bay Packers
Minnesota Vikings at Dallas Cowboys
Asti: Cowboys. Dallas has their issues, but I don’t trust Minnesota much either.
Seattle Seahawks at San Francisco 49ers
Asti: 49ers. I’m very tempted to go with Seattle simply because San Francisco has to lose at some point though. Richard Sherman picks off his former quarterback.
Saunders: Seahawks, mostly because I don’t think the 49ers will go undefeated.
NFL Insider John Clayton: Steelers Out of Running for J.J. Watt
One of the league’s most prominent insiders believes the Steelers are out of the running for free agent defensive end J.J. Watt.
Joining The PM Team on 93.7 The Fan on Wednesday, NFL insider John Clayton said Watt will not be joining his brothers T.J. and Derek in Pittsburgh.
Clayton sees the Tennessee Titans, Green Bay Packers and Buffalo Bills as the favorites to land Watt’s services.
For a potential dark horse, Clayton says the Las Vegas Raiders as an outside-the-box candidate to sign the veteran pass rusher.
.@JohnClaytonNFL says JJ Watt won't be coming to Pittsburgh. Tennessee, Green Bay, and Buffalo are the 3 teams. Raiders as a dark horse.— Andrew Fillipponi (@ThePoniExpress) February 24, 2021
Watt leaves Houston as one of the greatest players in franchise history. He was selected to five Pro Bowls, named First-Team All-Pro on five occasions and earned three NFL Defensive Player of the Year awards.
A future Hall of Famer, Watt is the Texans’ all-time leader in sacks (101), tackles-for-loss (172) and forced fumbles (25).
Watt recorded 52 total tackles, 14 tackles-for-loss, five sacks, two forced fumbles and returned an interception for a touchdown in 2020.
NFL Hosting Women’s Careers in Football Forum
The NFL is hosting its fifth annual Women’s Careers in Football Forum from Feb. 24-25, the league announced in a press release Tuesday.
The event will be held virtually and “connect 40 women, 75% of whom are women of color, with leaders in professional football to help those women network and build relationships in the areas of coaching, scouting and football operations.”
Those participating in the event will join panel discussions, breakout sessions and have networking opportunities with industry leaders, such as head coaches and team executives. All portions of the event are aimed at building connections that will result in hirings and subsequent representation.
Since its inception in 2017, the two-day event has assisted in developing “a more diverse talent pipeline by connecting high-potential women to career opportunities in football.” According to the league, 118 opportunities for women in football have been created as a result.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and wife Jane Skinner Goodell will speak, as well as NFL Chief Football Administrative Officer Dawn Aponte. In addition, three owners, seven head coaches and six general managers will also join the conversation.
Sarah Thomas made history earlier this month becoming the first woman to officiate a Super Bowl. The champion Tamp Bay Buccaneers also had a record number of women on their coaching staff this past season.
Report: 2021 NFL Salary Cap Expected at $182-183 Million
The 2021 NFL salary cap is expected to be around $182 or $183 million, according to a report by Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk.
That is just slightly above the bare-minimum figure of $180 million agreed to by the NFL and NFLPA last week, and aligns with Steelers Now sources that predict the cap will fall between $180 and $185 million.
The Steelers are one of several teams that will be significantly over the salary cap, regardless of what figure is.
According to Pro Football Talk, those teams have been lobbying to increase the 2021 salary cap at the expense of future years to minimize the impact the pandemic has had on NFL operations.
Doing so would essentially amount to an interest-free loan given by the owners to the players, something that some owners have balked at.
That final figure could still be impacted by the league signing new television contracts for the 2022 season before the salary cap is finalized, which is expected some time in March.
The new league year starts on March 17, which is the day that all teams must be under the new salary cap.