Each week, the Steelers Now staff picks each NFL game.
Alan Saunders: 107-51
Mike Asti: 97-61
Parker Hurley: 97-61
Ron Lippock: 96-62
Mike Asti: 10-3
Parker Hurley: 10-3
Ron Lippock: 10-3
Alan Saunders: 10-3
Indianapolis Colts at Houston Texans
Asti: Texans, but could go either way. The Colts seasons has gone downhill since the loss in Pittsburgh.
Saunders: Colts, I suppose. Not a confident matchup.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Atlanta Falcons
Asti: Falcons. Atlanta is finally playing up to their talent level and Winston is a walking turnover machine.
Denver Broncos at Buffalo Bills
New York Giants at Chicago Bears
Pittsburgh Steelers at Cincinnati Bengals
Asti: Steelers, 19-6. Even with as bad as the Steelers looked against Cleveland and the fact they may have been more lucky than good in some recent wins, there’s just no way the Bengals can score enough without making critical mistakes against the Pittsburgh defense. Cincinnati is so bad they will hell the Steelers get the win, regardless of how Mason Rudolph and the offense plays.
Hurley: Steelers, 13-10. This is going to be an ugly game. Mason Rudolph has not shown progression and is now on the road without his top weapons. The Steelers defensive line should dominate the Bengals offensive line, and the Steelers will likely rely on another defensive dominated performance. Still, do not be surprised if the 0-10 Bengals are competing into the fourth quarter against the wounded Steelers offense.
Lippock: Steelers, 20-13. A conservative game where each offense tries to make as few mistakes as possible knowing the other offense isn’t going to run away with the game. Betting on the Steelers defense to cause 1-2 more turnovers to make the difference.
Saunders: Steelers, 21-9. This defense against Ryan Finley? Could score more than they give up. Steelers offense needs to get the running game going to make this a laugher. Benny Snell will help, but that’s probably still a week or two (and James Conner and Maurkice Pouncey) from happening.
Miami Dolphins at Cleveland Browns
Hurley: Browns, do not be surprised if they get caught in a look-ahead spot, as they have worried about the Steelers all week and play them next week. This game will be closer than some think.
Saunders: Browns. Defensive absences could make this interesting, but Cleveland has so much more talent.
Carolina Panthers at New Orleans Saints
Oakland Raiders at New York Jets
Asti: Jets. This is mostly just a gut feeling.
Hurley: Jets, the progression of Sam Darnold could be on display.
Saunders: Raiders, but wary of this pick. They aren’t as good as their record. Long road trip against a lackluster opponent makes this a trap game. Raiders could look ahead to next week’s matchup with Kansas City, as well.
Detroit Lions at Washington Redskins
Seattle Seahawks at Philadelphia Eagles
Saunders: Seahawks, as the Eagles’ leaky defense continues to let them down.
Jacksonville Jaguars at Tennessee Titans
Saunders: Titans defense is underrated. Nick Foles still shaking the rust off.
Dallas Cowboys at New England Patriots
Green Bay Packers at San Francisco 49ers
Hurley: 49ers as long as they have Kittle and Sanders
Saunders: Packers. Was unimpressed by the 49ers a week ago and Aaron Rogers is usually his best in prime time.
Baltimore Ravens at Los Angeles Rams
Saunders: Ravens take a classic strength vs. strength matchup. Lamar Jackson is the truth.
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.