Each week, the Steelers Now staff is picking each NFL game.
Alan Saunders: 48-28
Parker Hurley: 47-29
Mike Asti: 43-33
Ron Lippock: 43-33
Mike Asti: 7-8
Parker Hurley: 10-5
Ron Lippock: 8-7
Alan Saunders: 7-8
New York Giants at New England Patriots
Asti: Patriots, although it would be semi funny if the Giants won based on the Super Bowl history.
Saunders: Patriots, but maybe Giants plus-17.
Carolina Panthers vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers in London
Asti: Panthers. There’s no way Carolina can lose twice to Tampa, right? Allen might actually provide a situation with less possible mistakes.
Hurley: Panthers, Kyle Allen beats a team that Cam Newton lost to earlier this year
Saunders: Panthers. This pick is sure to be wrong as I climb onto the Kyle Allen bandwagon three weeks too late.
Houston Texans at Kansas City Chiefs
Saunders: Chiefs in a close one.
Seattle Seahawks at Cleveland Browns
Asti: Browns. As much as Cleveland isn’t close to as good as their hype said they would be, they aren’t as bad as they’ve seemed recently either. This is a very critical game for the Browns, who especially need to get OBJ going.
Hurley: Browns, every week America overreacts to the Browns. This week they bounceback
Cincinnati Bengals at Baltimore Ravens
New Orleans Saints at Jacksonville Jaguars
Asti: Saints, despite Garner Mania
Hurley: Jaguars, Garnder Mania
Philadelphia Eagles at Minnesota Vikings
Asti: Eagles. Philadelphia is back on track and Minnesota has been up and down all year.
San Francisco 49ers at Los Angeles Rams
Asti: Rams. The 49ers are good, but the Rams are still the class of the NFC West, regardless what one bad game may say.
Saunders: 49ers defense is even better than the Rams is.
Atlanta Falcons at Arizona Cardinals
Asti: Falcons. Atlanta has too much talent to keep losing.
Hurley: Cardinals, Does Kyler Murray get Dan Quinn fired?
Saunders: Cardinals, I guess? Falcons have so much more talent. No idea why they’re 1-4.
Dallas Cowboys at New York Jets
Saunders: Cowboys by two dozen.
Tennessee Titans at Denver Broncos
Saunders: Titans are the better team. Is there still much of a home field advantage in Denver? I’ll roll the dice with Mariota and company.
Pittsburgh Steelers at Los Angeles Chargers
Asti: Mike Tomlin said it best, the Steeles are playing a Hall of Fame quarterback with their third string quarterback. While I do believe Devlin “Duck” Hodges will be just as effective as any available veteran would be, he’s still going to go through the usual rookie growing pains. It will be up to the Chargers to take advantage when those mistakes happen. Even though it hasn’t led to wins, Pittsburgh’s defense has got progressively better and TJ Watt is going to make life very difficult for Philip Rivers.
This is obviously a must win game for the Steelers, but Los Angeles can’t really afford a loss either, especially after suffering a defeat at the hands of the lowly Broncos last week. I’m a bit torn and could see this game going either way.
Steelers 23 Chargers 20
Hurley: The teams the Steelers lost to are 12-3 in other games, while the Chargers 3 losses are to teams that are combined 3-7-1 with wins against Miami and Indy in overtime. Since trading for Minkah Fitzpatrick the Steelers allow just 41% of passes to be successful and lead the league in TFL, while ranking second in QB hits and sacks. The Chargers offensive line has been a liability with Russell Okung out and Mike Pouncey leaving Sunday with an injury. The Chargers defense has allowed 54% of passes to be successful. The Steelers defense should keep them in it while the Chargers defense can blow a game. Add in a limited home field advantage and this game is screaming upset
Steelers 20 Chargers 17
Lippock: The Chargers have been a very mediocre team this season. They edged the Colts week one and blew out the Dolphins for their only two wins of the season so far – losing to the Lions, Texans, and Broncos. This is a very beatable team – bottom half of NFL on offense and while top 10 on defense, they played some pretty anemic offenses to date. The Chargers are one of those teams that, if healthy. the Steelers should handle.
But, the Steelers aren’t healthy – they are without too many offensive weapons. Down to their third-string quarterback, no Samuels, no Washington, and a banged-up McDonald. And on the road against a West Coast team, where they traditionally struggle. It’s just too much to expect that a third string rookie quarterback can carry this team to a victory under those circumstances – no matter his confidence level.
The defense will keep this one close – this isn’t the same defense that collapsed versus the Rivers-led offense last season. But ultimately I see Hodges making 1-2 errors – as one would expect with a rookie quarterback, starting for the first time, on the road against a good defense. And a frustratingly patient Rivers isn’t likely to reciprocate. Rivers will pick and choose his spots, and it will be just enough. Chargers 24, Steelers 16
Saunders: I have zero faith in the Chargers being able to put away an out-gunned opponent, but make no mistake, the Steelers are out-gunned. I love Devlin Hodges, but without Jaylen Samuels and James Washington, this is quickly becoming an offense devoid of weapons. I think the Steelers defense can keep it close, but that’s it.
Chargers 20, Steelers 14
Detroit Lions at Green Bay Packers
Asti: Packers. Even though the Lions are legit, the Packers and Aaron Rodgers own Detroit in big games.
Saunders: Packers don’t lose Monday night games to the Lions.
NFL, NFLPA Announce Zero Positive Cases Among Players
The NFL had zero positive cases among players and just five among staff members in their last round of COVID-19 testing, the league and NFLPA announced Tuesday.
This week’s results mark a slight improvement from the last testing period, where two players and five staff tested positive.
In the period spanning from Sept. 13 – 19, the league administered 36,664 total tests to 7,845 players and staff.
14,074 tests were distributed to 2,438 players. 5,407 staff members received 22,590 coronavirus tests.
As the 2020 season approaches week 3, the league’s COVID-19 protocols appear to be working perfectly with no significant virus outbreaks to date.
The Pittsburgh Steelers have not had any virus-related issues since running back Jaylen Samuels was removed from the COVID-19/ Reserve list on Aug. 13.
Around the NFL: Ravens Roll as Texans Fall to 0-2
Welcome to Around the NFL, where Cale Berger of Steelers Now will recap the week’s action and take a look ahead at some of the most important matchups from the Pittsburgh Steelers perspective.
Baltimore Ravens 33, Houston Texans 16
Houston’s nightmarish start to the 2020 season went from bad to worse Sunday, as they have now started 0-2 with losses to the Chiefs and Ravens.
The Texans did fairly good job of keeping quarterback Lamar Jackson contained on the ground, but Baltimore’s plethora of running backs picked up the slack. Gus Edwards, Mark Ingram II and J.K. Dobbins combined for 176 yards and a touchdown, averaging a startling 8.38 yards per carry.
Jackson still found a way to make an impact with his arm, throwing for 204 yards and a scores. He completed 75% of his passes and connected with nine different receivers.
Baltimore’s defense did their part as well, making like difficult for quarterback Deshaun Watson. They sacked him four times and intercepted him once. Former Steelers linebacker L.J. Fort also returned a Keke Coutee fumble for a touchdown.
With the Ravens firing on all cylinders and Pittsburgh also sitting at 2-0 on the year, their Oct. 25 meeting cannot come soon enough.
Things will not get easier for either team in Week Three. The Ravens are set for another heavyweight slugfest on Monday Night Football next week versus the Chiefs, while the Texan’s brutal opening slate continues against the Steelers at 1 p.m. Sunday.
Los Angeles Rams 37, Philadelphia Eagles 19
A week after he was sacked eight times by Washington in the season opener, Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz struggled again on Sunday, but the pass protection was not to blame this time. Philadelphia’s patchwork offensive line did not allow a single sack to star defensive tackle Aaron Donald and company, yet Wentz still looked inaccurate and inconsistent.
The former No. 2-overall pick went 26 of 43 for 242 yards and no scores with two costly interceptions. Wentz was even booed off the field after missing a wide-open receiver on a crucial third down. Unfortunately for Wentz, there were no fans in attendance at Lincoln Financial Field.
Even in a pandemic, Philly gonna Philly.
Carson Wentz was getting booed off the field with NO FANS in Philly 💀pic.twitter.com/MZ7pfQruTn
— Complex Sports (@ComplexSports) September 20, 2020
The man picked prior to Wentz in the 2016 NFL Draft looked great in contrast, as quarterback Jared Goff completed 20 of 27 passes for 267 yards and three touchdowns. All three of Goff’s touchdown tosses went to tight end Tyler Higbee, who made his fantasy owners across the country jumping for joy.
Former Steelers defensive tackle Javon Hargrave made his Eagles debut yesterday, but played sparingly and recorded no stats. In comparison, Hargrave’s replacement on the Pittsburgh defensive line Tyson Alualu was a problem for the Broncos’ offense all afternoon, posting a sack, a tackle-for-loss, batting down one pass and hitting the quarterback twice.
The Rams will travel to Buffalo next weekend. The Eagles will host the Bengals and visit the 49ers, before travelling to Pittsburgh in Week Five.
Arizona Cardinals 30, Washington 15
Reigning NFL Rookie of the Year Kyler Murray was stellar again on Sunday, accounting for three total touchdowns (one passing, two rushing) and accounted for 353 yards of offense, as the Cardinals improved to 2-0 to start the year.
Murray also looks to have seamlessly built a rapport with his newest weapon DeAndre Hopkins, who had eight receptions for 68 yards and touchdown in the win. The duo has already combined for 22 completions and 219 yards through two games.
Running back Kenyan Drake also rushed for 86 yards, as Arizona looks like a contender in a stacked NFC West division.
Washington’s offensive duo of the future did not disappoint either, with quarterback Dwayne Haskins completing 19 of 33 passes for 223 yards and a score. Fellow Ohio State Buckeye Terry McLaurin was the biggest beneficiary Sunday, catching seven passes for 125 yards and the score. Still, their connection was not enough to overcome their porous defense.
Washington will battle a pair of AFC North foes in the Browns next Sunday and the Ravens Week Four. Arizona faces Detroit next at home.
REST OF THE SCHEDULE
Cleveland Browns 35, Cincinnati Bengals 30 (Thursday)
Chicago Bears 17, New York Giants 13
Dallas Cowboys 40, Atlanta Falcons 39
Green Bay Packers 42, Detroit Lions 21
Tennessee Titans 33, Jacksonville Jaguars 30
Indianapolis Colts 28, Minnesota Vikings 11
Buffalo Bills 31, Miami Dolphins 28
San Francisco 49ers 31, New York Jets 13
Pittsburgh Steelers 26, Denver Broncos 21
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 31, Carolina Panthers 17
Kansas City Chiefs 23, Los Angeles Chargers 20 (OT)
Seattle Seahawks 35, New England Patriots 30
New Orleans Saints at Las Vegas Raiders, 8:15 p.m. Monday, ESPN
Around the NFL: The Browns’ Backs Pummel Bengals
Welcome to Around the NFL, where Cale Berger of Steelers Now will recap early-week action and take a look ahead at some of the most important matchups from the Pittsburgh Steelers perspective.
THURSDAY NIGHT HIGHLIGHTS
Cleveland Browns 35, Cincinnati Bengals 30
An AFC North rivalry kicked off Week Two on Thursday night, as the Cleveland Browns rode their power running game to a victory over the Cincinnati Bengals.
Running backs Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt made their case as the league’s best rushing tandem, carrying for a combined 210 yards and three touchdowns on the ground. Hunt also caught a score. The Bengals, who had the worst rush defense in the league last year, had no answer for Cleveland one-two punch, which looks even better with the addition of fullback Andy Janovich this offseason.
Success in the running game led to play-action opportunities for quarterback Baker Mayfield, which he and his receivers took full advantage of. Mayfield finally got on the same page with wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., with the two connecting on a 43-yard score in the second quarter. Thursday showed that new head coach Kevin Stefanski’s system can work when the Browns are successful in the running game early and often.
The Browns defense battered quarterback Joe Burrow all night, sacking him three times and hitting on plenty more occasions. Still, Burrow was impressive in front of a national audience Thursday, remaining calm and collected under constant pressure from the ferocious Browns pass rush. He completed 37 of 61 passes for 316 yards and three touchdowns.
Cleveland will host Washington next, and Cincinnati will travels to Philadelphia for their second-straight road game.
AROUND THE NFL THIS WEEKEND
Los Angeles Rams at Philadelphia Eagles, 1 p.m. FOX regional
A week after allowing quarterback Carson Wentz to be sacked eight times by Washington, the Philadelphia Eagles will welcome the league’s most fearsome pass rusher to Lincoln Financial Field on Sunday when the Los Angeles Rams and defensive tackle Aaron Donald come to town.
Donald dominated the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday Night Football last week, recording a sack, a tackle-for-loss and four quarterback hits. His success opened up rush lanes for his teammates as well, as the Rams had three sacks, three tackles-for-loss and six hits as a team.
Luckily for the Eagles, reinforcements are on the way. Not only will they return tackle Lane Johnson, but they will also get back starting running back Miles Sanders. Both will have to provide a major boost in pass protection for Philadelphia to get back to their winning ways.
Also, former Steelers defensive tackle Javon Hargrave will make his Philadelphia debut on Sunday as well after missing their season opener with both a pectoral and hamstring injury. He should provide a big boost to an Eagles defense that allowed two rushing touchdowns to Washington last week.
Washington at Arizona Cardinals, 4:05 p.m., WPGH-TV
Following the Steelers’ home opener against the Broncos, fans in the Pittsburgh area will be treated to a duel of young quarterbacks in the late afternoon slot when Washington visits the Arizona Cardinals. Both teams are also coming off upset victories over division rivals.
Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray earned Rookie of the Year honors in 2019 behind 3,722 passing yards and 24 total touchdowns. Murray was just as good kicking off 2020, posting 321 total yards and two touchdowns in Arizona’s shocking 24-20 win over San Francisco.
While his numbers may not be as eye-popping as Murray, Washington quarterback Dwayne Haskins also led his squad to a Week 1 win behind 178 passing yards and a touchdown.
The two 2019 first rounders have been solid early, but both have struggled to protect the football throughout their short careers. Murray has 15 turnovers in 17 career games, Haskins has nine giveaways in ten.
As is often the case with young quarterbacks, success for Murray and Haskins on Sunday and going forward will be predicated on and determined by their ability to take care of the football.
Baltimore Ravens at Houston Texans, 4:25 p.m. Sunday, KDKA-TV
No team was dealt a tougher hand to start the season than the Houston Texans, who begin 2020 facing three AFC juggernauts. Sandwiched between their opening night loss to the Chiefs and a Week 3 visit to Pittsburgh, the Texans will battle reigning MVP Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens this Sunday.
Sunday’s matchup will be decided by which team dominates the redzone. The Ravens were phenomenal in the redzone offensively last season, scoring a league-leading 43 touchdowns. Houston was not as stellar defensively, allowing opponents to score touchdowns on 71.4% of their trips, the highest rate in the league.
The story was the same for Houston last week against Kansas City, as they allowed the Chiefs to score on seven of their eight redzone trips.
Baltimore also continued their trend of success from last season, scoring in the redzone at an 83% clip against the Browns last Sunday.
The Texans may have to do the impossible this week to get their first win of the season, which means stopping Jackson and Baltimore’s abundancy of running backs from finding the goal line.
REST OF THE SCHEDULE
New York Giants at Chicago Bears, 1 p.m. CBS regional
Atlanta Falcons at Dallas Cowboys, 1 p.m, FOX regional
Detroit Lions at Green Bay Packers, 1 p.m., FOX regional
Jacksonville Jaguars at Tennessee Titans, 1 p.m., CBS regional
Minnesota Vikings at Indianapolis Colts, 1 p.m., FOX regional
Buffalo Bills at Miami Dolphins, 1 p.m., CBS regional
San Francisco 49ers at New York Jets 1 p.m., FOX regional
Denver Broncos at Pittsburgh Steelers, 1 p.m., KDKA-TV
Carolina Panthers at Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 1:00 p.m., FOX regional
Kansas City Chiefs at Los Angeles Chargers, 4:25 p.m., CBS regional
New England Patriots at Seattle Seahawks, 8:20 p.m., NBC
New Orleans Saints at Las Vegas Raiders, 8:15 p.m. Monday, ESPN