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.
Maia Chaka Becomes First Black Female Official in NFL History
Maia Chaka has been added as an NFL’s game official for the 2021 season, making her the first Black female referee in league history.
Chaka previously served as an official at the college level in both the Pac-12 and Confederate USA.
Chaka was also selected to the NFL’s Officiating Development Program in 2014, which “identifies top collegiate officiating talent to expose them to some of the same experiences as NFL officials, working to determine if they have the ability to succeed as an NFL official.”
“I am honored to be selected as an NFL official,” Chaka said in a league statement. “But this moment is bigger than a personal accomplishment. It is an accomplishment for all women, my community, and my culture.”
When not officiating, Chaka is a health and physical education teacher from Virginia Beach. She graduated from Norfolk State University with a bachelor’s in education in 2006.
“Maia’s years of hard work, dedication and perseverance – including as part of the NFL Officiating Development Program – have earned her a position as an NFL official,” NFL Executive Vice President of Football Operations Troy Vincent Sr. said. “As we celebrate Women’s History Month, Maia is a trailblazer as the first Black female official and inspires us toward normalizing women on the football field.”
Ryan Switzer Asks for Prayers for COVID-19 Positive Son
Former Steelers receiver Ryan Switzer asked for prayers for his 9-month-old son Christian Saturday morning. Switzer’s son has been hospitalized after testing positive for COVID-19.
I’m asking everyone that this tweet comes across to please just take a second and say a prayer for our son Christian. He’s 9 months and currently in the hospital after he woke up in his blood. He’s Covid positive.
— Ryan Switzer (@Switz) March 6, 2021
In Switzer’s tweet, he asked everyone to say a prayer for the little guy. Thousands of fans have interacted with the tweet, with many voicing their prayers and well wishes.
The 26-year-old receiver signed a 1-year deal with the Cleveland Browns in January after spending time on their practice squad last season. Switzer was drafted by the Dallas Cowboys in the fourth round of the 2017 NFL Draft. He then spent both 2018 and 2019 in Pittsburgh before being released by the Steelers before the 2020 season.
NFL Considering Making Roughing the Passer Reviewable
The NFL is considering making roughing the passer calls subject to replay review, according to NFL.com’s Judy Battista.
Battista reports that owners are expected to vote on the potential rule change at the annual league meetings later this month.
There is no denying that roughing the passer calls have become increasingly questionable over recent years, as the league continues to emphasize the protection of its most valuable assets – the quarterbacks.
Still, the concept does conjure painful memories of 2019, when the league tried reviewing pass interference calls. The experiment proved to be an unmitigated disaster, and was scrapped after a single season.
While the new role could remedy some of the infuriating calls the Pittsburgh Steelers defense has been levied with in recent year, the chance could also open up an unintended can of worms.
Reviewing roughing the passer calls is not the only potential rule change the owner will reportedly consider.
According to Battista, owners will also discuss switching overtime back to sudden death, creating an alternative to the onside kick and voting on a rule reportedly proposed by the Buffalo Bills to delay coaching and general manager interviews until the conference championship round.