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 Teams Approve Playoff Expansion
NFL teams have voted to approve postseason expansion by two teams beginning with the 2020 season, the league announced in a press release Tuesday.
One additional Wild Card team from each conference will qualify for the postseason, bringing the total number of clubs in the playoffs to 14. Only the No. 1 seed in each conference will receive a bye.
The AFC and NFC will now have three games each on Wild Card weekend. The No. 2 seed will host the No. 7 seed, the No. 3 seed will host the No. 6 seed and the No. 4 seed will host the No. 5 seed. Three games will be played on Saturday, Jan. 9, with the remaining three being played on Sunday, Jan. 10.
CBS will broadcast one of the new Wild Card games, and livestream it on CBS All Access. In addition to coverage on CBS, a separately produced broadcast of the game will air on Nickelodeon that is “tailored for a younger audience.”
The other game will be broadcast on NBC, as well as Telemundo and their new streaming service Peacock.
This is the first time the NFL has expanded the playoffs since the 1990 season, when they increased from 10 to 12 teams.
Playoff expansion should come as welcomed news to Steelers fans, who know all to well how close Pittsburgh has come to making the postseason over the last few years.
Had the expanding of the postseason come seasons prior, the Steelers would have benefited the most. If the NFL had expanded the playoffs a decade ago, the Steelers would have been the last team in four times and made the postseason each of the last ten years.
The Steelers have missed out on the playoffs by just one game the last two seasons.
Report: Rift Between NFL, Teams on April Draft
While the NFL plans to go ahead with the 2020 Draft as scheduled amid the COVID-19 pandemic, general managers around the league reportedly want to see it pushed back, according to ESPN’s Dianna Russini and Adam Schefter.
The NFL’s General Manager sub committee suggested to commissioner Roger Goodell that the draft be postponed, a recommendation that the league apparently ignored.
New: The NFL’s General Manager subcommittee unanimously recommended to commissioner Goodell today that the draft be moved back due to COVID-19, however the league plans to stick with the 4/23-25 dates at this time, league sources tell me and @AdamSchefter https://t.co/nL9sLh9jNh
— Dianna (@diannaESPN) March 25, 2020
Teams are concerned that others will have an unfair advantage in preparing for the draft, with some teams still having access to their facilities while others do not. They are also concerned about not being able to do their normal due diligence scouting prospects, such as attending pro days, administering physicals and psychological testing and conducting interviews.
Commissioner Goodell put those concerns of unfairness to rest in a memo to teams Tuesday night, closing all league facilities moving forward.
While Goodell’s decision should help alleviate some of the worry amongst the general managers, teams now must focus their attention to the challenge of setting up their draft rooms remotely.
With the draft exactly one month away, there is still plenty of time for the league to change its mind. Still, no one with actual decision-making power around the league seems eager to reschedule.
Mic Drop: Tom Brady Leaves Patriots
Mike Asti cautions Steelers fans about piling on Patriots fans too much because of Tom Brady’s departure.