Each week, the Steelers Now staff is picking each NFL game.
Alan Saunders: 57-32
Parker Hurley: 52-37
Mike Asti: 49-40
Ron Lippock: 49-40
Mike Asti: 6-7
Parker Hurley: 5-8
Ron Lippock: 6-7
Alan Saunders: 9-4
Kansas City Chiefs at Denver Broncos
Asti: Chiefs. The real Kansas City has to stand up eventually and Denver just isn’t that good.
Hurley: Broncos, Chiefs are banged and traveling on a short week
Lippock: Chiefs. Standard good offense versus good defense matchup – and Denver is tough at home. I just think Denver’s offense is too poor to keep up with what the Chiefs can muster on offense.
Saunders: Chiefs, with the usual Thursday night caveats.
Los Angeles Rams at Atlanta Falcons
Lippock: Rams. Poor Falcons defense is the perfect remedy for the Rams. Rams will bounce back.
Saunders: Rams in a perfect bounce-back game.
Miami Dolphins at Buffalo Bills
Asti: Bills. I just can’t ever pick Miami.
Lippock: Dolphins. I’m going on the ledge with my upset special here. I’m not a believer in the Bills — especially with such a poor offense. They keep too many teams close and some Fitzmagic does them in.
Saunders: Bills continue to pile up weak wins.
Jacksonville Jaguars at Cincinnati Bengals
Lippock: Bengals. 2nd upset special. Bengals have played teams close and the Jaguars offense is bad enough to stay close and eek out a win at home.
Saunders: Jaguars. Remember what the Steelers running game did to the Bengals? Now imagine Leonard Fournette.
Minnesota Vikings at Detroit Lions
Asti: Vikings. Detroit needs this game more. It’s very evenly matched and could go either way.
Lippock: Vikings. Two nearly identical teams here but give the Vikings the slight edge with a better defense.
Saunders: Vikings. Torn by this pick. I like both teams.
Oakland Raiders at Green Bay Packers
Lippock: Packers. Two teams going different directions.
Houston Texans at Indianapolis Colts
Lippock: Texans. Two different teams – Colts rely on defense and low scoring offense and the Texans are somewhat of a mirror image. Watson is the difference maker here.
Saunders: Texans. I can’t figure out how the Colts keep winning
Arizona Cardinals at New York Giants
Lippock: Cardinals. Two awful defenses but a better offense in Arizona is the difference.
San Francisco 49ers at Washignton Redskins
Asti: 49ers. There’s no way the Redskins can deal with the San Francisco defense. Washington will be lucky to score at all.
Lippock: 49ers. Easiest call of the week.
Los Angeles Chargers at Tennessee Titans
Hurley: Titans, we learn that beating the Chargers and Bengals may not be all that impressive.
Lippock: Chargers. Titans offense is just too poor to keep up on the road.
Saunders: Chargers. Titans are a mess.
New Orleans Saints at Chicago Bears
Hurley: Bears, their defense shows up off of a bye
Lippock: Saints. Two very good defenses but Saints offense is marginally better.
Saunders: Saints, but this will be a tough test for Teddy Bridgewater.
Baltimore Ravens at Seattle Seahawks
Lippock: Seahawks. Home field advantage and suspect defense in Baltimore gives Seattle the edge.
Saunders: Seahawks, though the loss of Will Dissly could be a big blow.
Philadelphia Eagles at Dallas Cowboys
Lippock: Cowboys. Second-best offense in Dallas versus middle of road defense in Philly.
Saunders: Eagles, because no one should have to pick a team coming off a loss to the Jets.
New England Patriots at New York Jets
Asti: Patriots. Death, taxes and the Patriots beating the Jets.
Lippock: Patriots. Number one defense versus worst-ranked offense.
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.