Mike Asti: 11-4-1
Parker Hurley: 11-4-1
Ron Lippock: 8-7-1
Alan Saunders: 9-6-1
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Carolina Panthers
Saunders: Panthers. Weird things can happen on Thursday night, especially in the season, and this could be a very sloppy game, but Carolina is the vastly better team.
Arizona Cardinals at Baltimore Ravens
Saunders: Ravens. As tough as the Steelers’ early-season schedule is, the Ravens’ has been the opposite. Steelers can’t afford to spot them too many games, though.
Dallas Cowboys at Washington Redskins
Saunders: Cowboys, even though they’re forever finding ways to lose games like this that they should win. Skins back Derrius Guice being back on the shelf should help Big D.
Indianapolis Colts at Tennessee Titans
Saunders: Titans. There was a lot of LOL, Cleveland after Tennessee’s Week 1 upset, but the Titans earned that win. The Colts are still finding themselves after Andrew Luck’s retirement.
Seattle Seahawks at Pittsburgh Steelers
Asti: Steelers. While the Seahawks will be a contender this year, the Steelers will win this one. Pittsburgh is usually a safe bet in its home opener and will be especially motivated after what happened in New England. With that said, Russell Wilson won’t be easy to deal with and losing to Seattle wouldn’t necessarily be shocking by any means.
Hurley: Steelers. The Seahawks have the better record but we can all agree it is easier to beat the Bengals at home than the Patriots on the road. The Seahawks have questions in their defense, and Andy Dalton having a strong day without A.J. Green does not ease those concerns. If the Steelers offense cannot get right against an average defense at best on the road, then the Antonio Brown loss is more devastating than believed. Look for the Steelers to get their offense back on track while holding the Seahawks ground attack in check.
Saunders: When I made my pre-season prediction for the Steelers, I put this game down as a loss, but I’ve since changed my tune. Seattle was unimpressive in their home opener against Cincinnati and the Steelers will be highly motivated after an embarrassing defeat in New England.
Steelers 24, Seahawks 13
Buffalo Bills at New York Giants
San Francisco 49ers at Cincinnati Bengals
Hurley: Bengals. The 49ers will spend their second week on the road after beating Tampa Bay in Florida last week. Now, they get Zac Taylor, a young coach who is familiar with San Fransisco due to his time with the Rams in the last two seasons. Taylor had a great gameplan for another NFC West team in Seattle last week, and despite the loss, optimism came, as the team took Seattle to the final whistle in his coaching debut. In his home debut look for him to keep Dalton in comfortable situations, while the 49ers defense may not be as great as the interceptions from Jameis Winston suggested last week. The Bengals should be able to walk away with a win.
Los Angeles Chargers at Detroit Lions
Saunders: Lions. A matchup between two of the NFL’s most underrated quarterbacks. A similar matchup of dynamic tight ends in rookie T.J. Hockensen and Hunter Henry won’t happen, as the latter is out with left knee fracture.
Minnesota Vikings at Green Bay Packers
Hurley: Vikings. The Packers survived a road division game but did not look impressive on offense with their new play-caller. Now, they get a defense as good as the Bears who knows them just as well in Minnesota. Minnesota established a dominant ground attack with a healthy Dalvin Cook and Gary Kubiak helping design plays. The Packers are very thin in their front and played dime almost exclusively against the Bears. Look for Minnesota to shake up an offense that is finding itself while having success on the ground for a second straight week. The Vikings make a statement and move into the driver’s seat of the NFC North with an impressive road win.
Jacksonville Jaguars at Houston Texans
Saunders: Texans. After losing a heartbreaker, the Texans won’t let me down two weeks in a row, especially against someone named Gardner Minshew II. I actually like the Minshew, but not as a fill-in rookie quarterback playing his first game.
New England Patriots at Miami Dolphins
Saunders: Patriots. By 50.
Kansas City Chiefs at Oakland Raiders
New Orleans Saints at Los Angeles Rams
Chicago Bears at Denver Broncos
Hurley: Broncos. This is a fascinating matchup as the Bears have to travel to take on their former defensive coordinator Vic Fangio. On paper, the Bears are the better team. However, Fangio was around when the team drafted Mitch Trubisky, and he knows what makes the quarterback tick. We know that Trubisky struggles to read defenses and while Matt Nagy may have talent on his side, Fangio is going to make it tough on their quarterback. On top of that, thee Broncos have a deadly home-field advantage in the early season due to the heat and altitude of Denver. If the Bears win, it will be because their defense shut down Joe Flacco and the offense squeaked by. If the Broncos do not turn the ball over, they could benefit from a rattled Trubisky.
Philadelphia Eagles at Atlanta Falcons
Saunders: Falcons. Atlanta always plays well at home, and after being stifled by Minnesota’s defense, which was No. 4 in the league with five yards per play against in 2018, they’ll find the sledding easier against Philadelphia’s 23-ranked unit.
Cleveland Browns at New York Jets
Saunders: Browns. I was leaning towards Cleveland before the Jets lost Sam Darnold to mono and Le’Veon Bell needed a shoulder MRI on Thursday.
Federal Judge Orders NFL, Class Counsel to Address Racial Concerns Brought by former Steelers in Concussion Settlement
The federal judge who overseas the NFL’s concussion settlement program is sending class counsel Seeger Weiss and the league back to negotiations resolve to the racial concerns in the raised by former players.
Judge Anita Brody of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia dismissed a lawsuit filed by former Steelers Kevin Henry and Najeh Davenport, telling the two sides to “address the concerns relating to the race-norming issue.”
Henry and Davenport have accused the league of discriminating against Black players who have filed dementia-related claims. The lawsuit alleged that the NFL used separate criteria for judging mental degradation in black and white athletes, making it more likely for white players to receive benefits.
Brody dismissed their lawsuit as “an improper attack on the Settlement Agreement,” but added that “the Court, however, remains concerned” about the reservations they raised. The NFL and Weiss will now appear before Magistrate Judge David Strawbridge to reach a new agreement on the concerns.
Davenport, played with the Steelers from 2006-08 and also spent time with the Green Bay Packers and Indianapolis Colts in a seven-year NFL career. Henry spent eight seasons in Pittsburgh from 1993-2000 after being drafted in the fourth round out of Mississippi State and played in Super Bowl XXX with the team.
The NFL originally settled with its former players in 2013 and agreed to pay out over $750 million to players that suffer neurological conditions from playing professional football. The settlement has been regarded as controversial overall, and there have been several attempts from players to re-litigate portions of it.
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.