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 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.