Each week, the Steelers Now staff picks each NFL game.
Alan Saunders: 97-48
Mike Asti: 87-58
Parker Hurley: 87-58
Ron Lippock: 86-59
Mike Asti: 5-8
Parker Hurley: 7-6
Ron Lippock: 5-8
Alan Saunders: 5-8
Atlanta Falcons at Carolina Panthers
Saunders: Panthers. Couple of teams I can’t figure out. Spinning the wheel.
Dallas Cowboys at Detroit Lions
Saunders: Cowboys. No Matt Stafford? No win.
Jacksonville Jaguars at Indianapolis Colts
Saunders: Colts with a healthy Jacoby Brissett.
Houston Texans at Baltimore Ravens
Asti: Texans in a shootout and game of the day.
Lippock: Texans over the Ravens in an upset. I like this Texan offense – and it matches up well with this Ravens defense. This will be a track meet and I think the Ravens won’t be able to keep up.
Saunders: Ravens, but don’t be surprised if this comes down to the wire.
Denver Broncos at Minnesota Vikings
New York Jets at Washington Redskins
Saunders: Redskins behind Duane Haskins, forcing all Redskins fans to wonder what had happened if he’d started the season.
New Orleans Saints at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Saunders: Saints can’t lose two gimmes in a row, can they?
Arizona Cardinals at San Francisco 49ers
Cincinnati Bengals at Oakland Raiders
New England Patriots at Philadelphia Eagles
Lippock: Patriots. If I had more guts I’d pick the Eagles over the Patriots. But they Eagles’ defense rush isn’t what it used to be.
Saunders: Patriots in a bounce-back win.
Chicago Bears at Los Angeles Rams
Saunders: Rams in a squeaker.
Kansas City Chiefs at Los Angeles Chargers
Saunders: Chiefs, I guess? Not exactly exuding confidence as of late.
Pittsburgh Steelers at Cleveland Browns
Asti: Steelers, 23-16.
I actually think the game may even be closer than my score perfection indicates. While Cleveland has struggled, they are coming off a huge win. Even though Baker Mayfield has been more careful with the football lately and Pittsburgh can’t rely on always getting turnovers, it feels they will make one (or two or three) will happen in this game. I also expect Rudolph to play well enough to win again. He was making quicker decisions with the ball last week, and if that continues, the Steelers offense will only get better, especially IF it can mustard some semblance of a running game.
Hurley: Browns, 21-20.
For the second straight week I will call for Pittsburgh to cover the spread but lose in a close one. That prediction worked out for the Steelers last week. The addition of Kareem Hunt has helped the Browns run more misdirection. The Steelers defense went wire-to-wire with two good offenses in Indy and LA. On a short week, if Mason Rudolph does not put up points and avoid turnovers, the defense may not have enough gas to score a TD this week.
Lippock: Steelers, 23-20
This will be a close, see-saw battle. Cleveland has gotten a bit more conservative as of late, relying more on the running game and trying to minimize Baker’s mistakes.
Baker has not thrown an interception over the last two games. He’s due. I think this will be a game of chicken between these coaches to see who makes the most mistakes. I think Baker will make one too many.
Saunders: Steelers 28-13
Baker Mayfield has thrown 12 interceptions this season. He’ll throw two more and set the Steelers’ offense with a couple of short fields.
Ravens Will Defer 2020 Season Tickets To 2021
The Baltimore Ravens announced Wednesday they will defer 2020 season tickets until 2021.
Single-game ticket sales for the 2020 season will also be discontinued, with refunds being issued to fans that have already bought them, the team said in a press release.
2020 Ravens season tickets will be deferred to 2021.— Baltimore Ravens (@Ravens) July 8, 2020
If permitted under state and local government regulations to have fans attend games in 2020, a reduced seating capacity at M&T Bank Stadium will be in place of fewer than 14,000 seats per game.
📰: https://t.co/Y83BkJUYDV pic.twitter.com/FN9jWTyTea
Still, the Ravens are holding out hope that fans will be allowed in stadiums this season, albeit in a limited capacity, with an expectation of less than 14,000 seat available. Baltimore added that attendance by fans and overall volume will be determined by “social distancing guidelines and fan safety protocols developed by health experts, governmental officials and the NFL.”
“To offer a proper level of safety for fans who want to attend games, a reduction in capacity is necessary,” stated Ravens president Dick Cass. “We are disappointed that this will be a disruption for many ticket buyers, but we have an obligation to our fans and our community to keep M&T Bank Stadium as safe as possible.”
While the Ravens appear to be lacking optimism regarding fan attendance in 2020, the also said they would resume selling tickets if the NFL releases a seating manifest that allows for fans come the fall.
“With over 62,000 season tickets already sold, there is no equitable way to accommodate in a limited stadium capacity all PSL Owners who are interested in maintaining season tickets for 2020,” stated senior vice president of ticket sales and operations Baker Koppelman. “Under these unusual circumstances, it’s best to simplify the ticket sales process and allow fans to decide which games they want to attend, while giving our PSL Owners priority in accessing tickets.”
The NFL has not made any definitive decision regarding empty stadiums, but the Ravens seem to be the first organization to take a proactive approach fearing the worst.
Pittsburgh is still selling single game tickets, but in a limited capacity in anticipation of social distancing guidelines. The team also has a disclaimer on their website warning buyers of potential rescheduling or postponement of games, stating full refunds will be available for games that are not played.
James Conner Surprises Mom with New House
Pittsburgh Steelers running back James Conner warmed hearts last month when he surprised his father with a new truck.
Now, he is taking care of mom.
Conner recently surprised his mother with a brand new house, sharing her emotional reaction to Twitter on Saturday.
Welcome HOME Ma! You’ve sacrificed so much and we can’t thank you enough! You’re the reason I go to work day in and day out, to finally give you a place you can call Home. I Love you❤️🏡💪🏽💯🙏🏽 pic.twitter.com/c25KyOphAo— James Conner (@JamesConner_) July 4, 2020
Conner was able to pull off the surprise for his mother, Kelly Bibbs, with the help of his brothers. While Bibbs may have not realized what exactly was going on at first, seeing her son James and the golden balloons arranged to say “Welcome Home” quickly gave it away.
Steelers running backs coach Eddie Faulkner and Cleveland Browns wide receiver Jarvis Landry shared their thoughts on the big surprise, among other on social media.
Wow! The best thing I’ve seen in a long time! https://t.co/BO3x1RkvDL— Eddie Faulkner (@coachfaulk) July 4, 2020
❤️ Absolutely, man that’s a amazing feeling… Making sure your people Straight forever ✊🏾✊🏾✊🏾— Jarvis Juice Landry (@God_Son80) July 5, 2020
Conner’s gesture is a continuation of an offseason of giving that saw him gift his father a brand new truck back on June 6.
Bought my pops a truck! He was hype 😂🙏🏽💪🏽 pic.twitter.com/QSrH2bdiTS— James Conner (@JamesConner_) June 6, 2020
Entering his fourth season out of Pitt, Conner is looking for a bounce back season following an injury plagued 2019 campaign. He rushed for 464 yards and four touchdowns, but played in only ten games for the Steelers.
Last season was a far cry from 2018, when Conner was a breakout sensation replacing Le’Veon Bell. He ran for 973 yards and 12 touchdowns, earning Pro Bowl honors.
Entering the final year of his rookie contract, the 25-year-old has something to prove in 2020.
Report: NFL Teams Could Trim Training Camp Rosters More Than 13%
NFL teams are reportedly considering bringing fewer players than normal to training camp this year in an effort to combat COVID-19, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
Instead of bringing the regular 90 players, Schefter’s sources say teams could bring just 80, or even 75 players to camp this August.
In an effort to combat COVID-19, NFL teams are likely to bring fewer than the regular 90 players they ordinarily bring to training camp, per league sources. One source is predicting 80 per team, another 75, but no one is expecting 90. More coming up on https://t.co/rDZaVFhcDQ.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) July 2, 2020
While it appears teams have the right idea in mind by trying to minimize the risk of COVID-19, shrinking training camp rosters will limit opportunities for fringe players attempting to find a landing spot.
Still, smaller rosters will allow for proposed social distancing in training camp in compliance with the league’s protocols announced last month. There are also plans to expand practice squad rosters to handle the likely inactives that will arise from positive tests, which will return roster slots to those barred from camp.
In another move to combat the coronavirus, several reports indicate the league is slashing the 2020 preseason in half. Each team will play their Week 2 and 3 exhibition games, but Weeks and 4 will be canceled. The Hall of Fame game between the Steelers and Cowboys has already been called off.
These last two moves by the league are the first two instances of the NFL bending to the virus. The league had previously held the NFL Draft and free agency on time unimpeded, and is currently still planning on having fans in attendance this season, although that seems like a long-shot currently.