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Steelers Fan

What Steelers Ugly Loss says about Future of 2014 season? posted by Steelers Fan

The Steelers had looked like the unstoppable team in the AFC. With Roethlisberger setting passing records and the defense shutting down every offense it faced.

However, when the Steelers faced off against the one win New York Jets Sunday, what Steeler team showed up was a far cry from the dominating presence that had been there for the last several games.

While one loss or one win doesn’t usually say much about the future of a team’s season, when a first place team loses to a one loss team, AND loses to that one loss team in a humiliating, demoralizing way, then there is cause for concern.

From the start of the game, the Jets ran the ball all over the Steelers D, going up 10-0 early in the game, but instead of rallying the Steelers had their next 3 drives end with turnovers. Hardly a display of urgency on a part of the offense, as they went into the half only scoring 3 points.

In the second half, Roethlisberger was picked off again, one of 4 Steeler turnovers on the day. While the stats look good on paper, it was the complete lack of urgency from the Steelers' offense. The no-huddle, which has paid major dividends in the last three weeks and the last two in particular, didn't make an appearance until the final minutes of the game. 

To watch the Steelers on Sunday against the Jets, one would not believe this was a team tied for first place.

They played down to an inferior opponent. They abandoned everything that worked on offense. Losing to a one-win team isn't going to help convince anyone that the Steelers are truly legitimate threats to reach the playoffs, let alone win a Super Bowl. This was a major step back that the Steelers should not have made. 

Continue reading "What Steelers Ugly Loss says about ..."


Steelers Fan

The 2014 Pittsburgh Steelers posted by Steelers Fan

The Pittsburgh Steelers won six of their last eight games last season, salvaging what looked like a lost campaign and ending the year with an even 8-8 record. This season, the team looks forward to building from that strong showing and perhaps entering the playoffs.

Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is coming off one of the best seasons of his career, throwing for 4,261 yards and 28 touchdowns with only 15 interceptions. Like his team, he started slowly with six scores and six picks in his first four outings. But he caught fire late in the season, and the Steelers hope he’ll bring that momentum in the new season.

But he’ll have to play without Emmanuel Sanders who was their starting receiver. Antonio Brown is still there and the receiver was impressive last year with 110 receptions. Still, the Steelers will need another receiver to step up.  Some of the more promising candidates to step up to the challenge are rookie Martavis Bryant and third-year pro Markus Wheaton.

The improved play of the Steelers offensive line was one of the top stories for the team last year. Guards David DeCastro and Ramon Foster were their top blockers last year, surrendering only two sacks.  Left tackle Kevin Beachum also did a stellar job of protecting the blind side of their quarterback, surrendering only one sack in the last six games of the season.

The Steelers have always taken pride in their defense, but they were uncharacteristically a step slower on defense the past year. In fact they allowed opposing teams to score 23 points per game against them.  The team hopes that two rookies--- Ryan Shazier and Stephon Tuitt---- would provide the spark in defense. Michael Mitchell was also signed to boost the defense as he’ll start next to Troy Polamalu and in lieu of the ineffective Ryan Clark.

Continue reading "The 2014 Pittsburgh Steelers"


Steelers Fan

NFL Betting and Pittsburgh Steelers In 2013 posted by Steelers Fan

Some betting experts discourage people from placing a wager on their favourite team or even the season’s favourites. They instead advise people to remain objective as they place wagers on the teams. Most newbies tend to focus on their own team and this leads them to vote for teams with very poor chances of winning. Pros do their homework. They bet on a team based on facts instead of feelings. If you do this it can dramatically increase your chances of winning.

If you're a newbie, or simply can't bring yourself to bet against your own team then you might be better suited for other sides of online gambling, like for example online casinos. Take your pick from literally hundreds of slots machines available at places like Lucky Nugget who can be found at http://www.luckynuggetcasino.com/online-slots/ If you're not looking to branch too much into the world of casino game then don't be intimidated. Even though some people do enjoy intense games like poker, a bit of light-hearted, sports based fun like the slots found at the above URL can earn you a fair deal of money too. If this doesn't appeal to you at all, then do read on and we will try and ensure you a winning betting slip this weekend!


It is also important not to be too withdrawn; it takes away the fun and is counter intuitive. In order to follow the game closely, you need to have passion. If you are planning to engage in sports betting for the first time you may want to pick a sport that you love. Your experience, knowledge and willingness to learn will help you make better choices.
NFL Football betting is by far the most popular sports that people wager on. While baseball gives more options on how you can wager, football is simple and uncomplicated. This makes it easier for beginners to understand and feel comfortable with. If you are a Steels fan then you need to brace yourself for an unpredictable but exciting season.

Continue reading "NFL Betting and Pittsburgh Steelers In 2013"


Joe Anello

The Opening Drive: Week 16, 2012 posted by Joe Anello

Week 16 in the NFL season has arrived! With two weeks left in the season, I don’t need to tell you how important these games are for those teams still in the hunt. It’s time to get into all the storylines in The Opening Drive!

(12-2) Atlanta Falcons at

(4-10) Detroit Lions

Saturday night football has arrived! And it’s… relatively meaningless. The Falcons are very close to locking down their one seed (only need one win) and the Lions could be another embarrassing loss away from blowing things up. This could be an entertaining (but non-competitive) contest to open the week.

(6-8) New Orleans Saints at

(8-6) Dallas Cowboys

I’ve already seen a LOT of coverage for this game, which only features one possible playoff participant. The Cowboys can win the division if they win their final two games, and that starts with an interesting match-up against the Saints. Drew Brees won’t take it light on a Dallas secondary that has been hit-or-miss this year. But I think the Saint defense won’t play as well as it appeared to last week versus the Bucs.

(5-9) San Diego Chargers at

(6-8) New York Jets

Wait. There has to be a reason I put this game on the list. THE GREG MCELROY ERA HAS BEGUN! But honestly, I don’t know if any of the Jets’ quarterbacks will be on the roster next season. And the Chargers? They’re a train wreck. AND I LOVE IT.

Continue reading "The Opening Drive: Week 16, 2012"


Joe Anello

The Final Drive: Week 14, 2012 posted by Joe Anello

There were some wildly surprising results from week 14 in the NFL. Before we move on from the weekend’s action, it’s time to recap the best stories in The Final Drive!

(7-6) Dallas Cowboys 20

(7-6) Cincinnati Bengals 19

Not only is it impressive that the Cowboys focused up and found a way to win on the road against a quality opponent, but they did it while facing such enormous adversity. Losing a teammate 24 hours before the game has to be a shock to their system, but they maintained composure and kept themselves in the playoff race. Meanwhile, Cincy lost out on a prime opportunity to pull away from the Steelers, who lost a shocker. They dropped a nine-point lead in the fourth quarter and couldn’t get A.J. Green the ball. Both of which are concerns for a supposed playoff team.

(9-4) Indianapolis Colts 27

(4-9) Tennessee Titans 23

Dude. Andrew Luck. Stop it. We get it. You’re SUPER clutch. Next time you face an inferior team can you just blow the doors off them right away and not spot them points by throwing stupid interceptions? Obviously I love the drama, but I’m betting your fans could use less heart attacks.

(5-8) San Diego Chargers 34

(7-6) Pittsburgh Steelers 24

This was definitely the WTF game of the weekend. How the Steelers came out this flat at home against a team in such turmoil we’ve never know. Norv Turner pulled out all the tricks in this one, but this is just the biggest damn fluke I’ve ever seen. Shame on you Pittsburgh. Shame.

Continue reading "The Final Drive: Week 14, 2012"


Joe Anello

The Final Drive: Week 13, 2012 posted by Joe Anello

Week 13 of the NFL put a lot of races in the proper perspective. Teams began to clinch playoff spots/division titles and can now aim for loftier goals. Other teams had their struggles, including one squad that faced the unimaginable. It’s time for The Final Drive.

(11-1) Atlanta Falcons 23

(5-7) New Orleans Saints 13

Can we all just stop thinking the Saints are making the playoffs? Because it’s REALLY not happening. This may not have been the throat-stomping win for Atlanta that everyone wanted, but it was a solid victory that can only build on their confidence as they streak toward the number one seed in the NFC.

 

(8-4) Indianapolis Colts 35

(4-8) Detroit Lions 33

Luck does it again. I’m not a huge fan of all the interceptions he’s thrown, but he’s brought his team back all year long and has them primed for a playoff spot. It’s extraordinarily impressive. And he’s just going to get better. For Detroit, this is just another crushing loss in a season of disappointments. Put them out of their misery.

(8-4) Green Bay Packers 23

(6-6) Minnesota Vikings 14

Even when Adrian Peterson goes off for 210 yards on only 21 carries, Aaron Rodgers refuses to let his team lose. It’s pretty stunning what he can do sometimes. The Packers dominated time of possession, keeping Peterson on the sideline for almost two-thirds of the game. That’s the way to win.

Continue reading "The Final Drive: Week 13, 2012"


Joe Anello

The Opening Drive: Week 10, 2012 posted by Joe Anello

Capped by what can only be called “putrid” primetime contests, week 10 of the NFL season isn’t actually all that bad! We have some very interesting divisional match-ups, including a “losing coach gets fired” match in the NFC East and a possible trap for our lone undefeated squad. Let’s hop into The Opening Drive!

  

(5-3) Indianapolis Colts at

(1-7) Jacksonville Jaguars

Gross NFL Network. Gross. Indianapolis is a winning team, sure. But they’re not good enough to make this game overly enjoyable. Well, unless you like watching bad football. Like this guy. Jacksonville will entertain me all night long.

(6-3) New York Giants at

(3-5) Cincinnati Bengals

The Giants are apparently “slumping” after losing to the Steelers, so of course they’ll probably come out this week and expose the Bengals as pretenders. Hakeem Nicks says he’s going to play, so Eli will likely bust out of the passing rut he’s in. Cincy hasn’t proven that they can beat the good teams, only that they can hang with them. That shouldn’t change on Sunday.

(4-4) Detroit Lions at

(5-4) Minnesota Vikings

Early this year we thought the Vikings were for real and that the Lions were terrible. A handful of bad Christian Ponder performances in Minnesota and special teams adjustments in Detroit have since leveled the playing field. A win Sunday can put one of these teams in the clustered mix for a possible wildcard spot. (Because let’s face it, neither of them are winning the division.) I like the Lions’ one-dimensional offense over the Vikings’ one-dimensional offense.

Continue reading "The Opening Drive: Week 10, 2012"


Joe Anello

The Opening Drive: Week 7, 2012 posted by Joe Anello

The NFL is full of parity through six weeks of this season, clearly evident by the fact that only two teams in the AFC are above .500. In week seven we get to see new takes on division rivalries and a battle for supremacy in the AFC. Let’s break down some games!

(4-2) Seattle Seahawks at

(4-2) San Francisco 49ers

Rookie QB Russell Wilson has been hit at home and miss on the road so far in 2012. Tonight, he gets to take on one of the best defenses in football. Unfortunately, they were embarrassed by Eli Manning last week and will probably take their frustration out on him. The Niners don’t like to play from behind, but I’m unconvinced the Seahawks are capable of pulling away. Seattle needs to keep this one close or else they could lose out on the division race.

(3-3) Green Bay Packers at

(3-3) St. Louis Rams

It’s been some time since a game between the Packers and the Rams would have been this intriguing. I’m not saying it’ll be close though. Green Bay is pulling itself out of a deep hole and is facing a stringy defense that likes aggressive, physical coverage. Aaron Rodgers could light up the scoreboard for a second straight week, leaving Sam Bradford and the out-manned Rams offense in catch-up mode. They just won’t be able to put up the same level of points if their defense can’t hold up. If the Rams are going to win this game, it’ll be because their defensive line pounded Aaron Rodgers into the ground. And with that Packer o-line? It’s a possibility.

Continue reading "The Opening Drive: Week 7, 2012"


Amari Harris

First Down Friday: Week Two posted by Amari Harris

First Down Friday

Evening football fans,

Week one of the NFL season is in the books and week two is on deck.  We’ve already seen the Packers vindicate themselves on Thursday night football after their week one loss, but this definitely doesn’t look like the 15-1 team from 2011 or the Super Bowl team from 2010.  Everyone had high expectations for the Bears after some offseason upgrades (Brandon Marshall & Michael Bush), and they seemed to justify those expectation with a week one drubbing of the Colts 41-21.  But last night’s game seemed to foreshadow the unpredictability of the 2012 NFL season and it feels as though we may know less after week two than we did after week one (if that’s possible).  Here are my thoughts about this upcoming weekend’s games:

  1. Scoring up?  Big Whoop!

Many fans and experts alike took note of the record breaking scoring that went on in week one, and a majority seemed concerned that this was a bad sign for the league.  The fact remains that the NFL has evolved into a more fast paced, passing-centered game that will result in more high scores.  Almost all new developments in the game are designed to enhance the passing game, increase the scoring, and bring more excitement to the game.  The NFL’s researchers know that audiences love the air shows that quarterbacks like Drew Brees, Aaron Rogers, and Tom Brady conduct on a weekly basis. 

However, there is still room in this game for punishing defense and an effective run game.  That’s how the 49ers were able to beat up on that 15-1 Packers team from a year ago despite the Pack’s upgrades at several positions.  That’s how the Cowboys were able to get revenge on the Super Bowl champion Giants.  While the passing game will get you points, put you in a position to win games, and get you to the playoffs, defense and the running game keeps the other team off the board, ends games, and wins you a championship.  Some will argue that the last few Super Bowl champions didn’t have great regular season defenses, but if you look at any of those teams playoff runs, you will see that each of those defenses was playing the best at the time.  We’ll see if that trend continues or if the league will completely shift to an offense dominated game. 

Continue reading "First Down Friday: Week Two"


Charles Bisbee

Another Unpredictable NFL Season On the Way posted by Charles Bisbee

With the 2012 NFL season fast approaching, pundits are busy serving up another round of fearless predictions. I enjoy reading these predictions because 1. they are bold and 2. more often than not they prove be woefully inaccurate.

This is the great thing about the NFL: no one has a clue and anyone who says they do is full of baloney. The league has mostly been a crapshoot over the past 10 years (save for the Pats, Steelers, and Manning-lead Colts), with teams jostling for position like ping pong balls in a lottery draw.

And still some writers insist on using phrases like “up and coming” and “back of the pack” in an attempt to project a team’s un-chartable trajectory. History should have taught us that in the NFL the up and coming team is generally an illusion. Look at the Buccaneers, for example, who went a “promising” 10-6 in 2010 and then fell to 4-12 in 2011 (despite having largely the same roster). Now Si.com’s Don Banks predicts new head coach Greg Schiano  “easily will better the Bucs’ record of last year and have [the] club being identified by year’s end as one to watch in 2013.” Only in the NFL can a team go from up-and-comer to bottom of the pack to up-and-comer again in the span of 12 months.

The 49ers, on the other hand, flipped the script after a dismal 6-10 campaign in 2010, hired a new coach and finished 13-3 in 2011. Meanwhile, the Rams went a "promising" 7-9 under rookie quarterback Sam Bradford in 2010, kept the roster largely intact and then finished 2-14 last year. Where is the rhyme? Where is the reason? What can account for this anual see-saw?

Continue reading "Another Unpredictable NFL Season On the Way"

Pittsburgh Steelers News

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Steelers cut LeGarrette Blount after reportedly leaving field early (Shutdown Corner)

Week 11 in the NFL from now on shall be known as the week when participation became optional. There were some strange player opt-out decisions on Sunday, such as the San Francisco 49ers' Ahmad Brooks taking off his cleats and benching himself and the Seattle Seahawks' Marshawn Lynch deciding not to join his teammates in the locker room at halftime. That theme carried over to Monday night's game, too, it appears. [ Join FanDuel.com's $2.5M Week 12 fantasy league: $25 to enter; top 21,840 teams paid ] Pittsburgh Steelers running back LeGarrette Blount might have been on the winning side in a 27-24 victory over the Tennessee Titans, but he reportedly was upset at receiving zero carries in the game. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Ed Bouchette reported that Blount left the field before the end of the game and suggested that at least one teammate felt the Steelers should have left Blount in Nashville. He might have made it back to Pittsburgh, but the Steelers decided enough was enough — they released Blount on Tuesday. “We believe the decision to release LeGarrette is in the best interest of the organization and wish him the best of luck,” Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin said in a statement released by the team. One reason Blount was passed over was because No. 1 back Le'Veon Bell was having a career night , bashing his way through Titans defenders like bowling pins for 33 carries, 204 rush yards and a touchdown. But another, per the Bouchette report, might be more telling: It suggests that the Steelers have grown weary of Blount's ways — that he has been "an internal problem for at least a month" — and that he might be dragging down Bell, although there clearly was no sign of that at LP Field. Releasing Blount certainly backs up those claims.  Both Bell and Blount were arrested for marijuana charges in the preseason, and it was Bell that time who was left behind — the Steelers forced him to make his own way to the team's game against the Philadelphia Eagles. Although neither were suspended, Tomlin was upset with the news. For Blount, his NFL chances might be running out. After being suspended in college at Oregon for punching a player, he has led a wayward NFL existence, playing for four teams in five pro seasons. Blount had a resurgence at the end of the 2013 season with the New England Patriots but was allowed to walk in free agency to sign with the Steelers. Blount now has seen Bell and the Patriots' Jonas Gray, who has emerged in the Blount power-back role in New England, carry the ball 33 and 38 times, respectively, and has to wonder where it all went wrong. - - - - - - - Eric Edholm is a writer for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at edholm@yahoo-inc.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Eric_Edholm [read full article]

From Yahoo Sports

Steelers release running back LeGarrette Blount (Yahoo Sports)

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From Yahoo Sports


Shutdown Corner NFL Power Rankings: Trouble in Denver? (Shutdown Corner)

Maybe Peyton Manning needs to take a cue from Aaron Rodgers this week. Everyone might need to R-E-L-A-X on the Denver Broncos a bit.  In this violently changing NFL, it would be surprising if a team didn’t have a bad loss on their record. The Arizona Cardinals are 9-1 and even they have a 21-point loss, to Denver, on their resume (albeit when they played a decent part of that game with third-string quarterback Logan Thomas). The Broncos’ 22-7 loss to the St. Louis Rams wasn’t good. It’s quite possible we look back on it as the game that cost the Broncos a first-round bye, or the AFC West. But it’s also somewhat understandable. The Rams played well. It happens. And when the Broncos lost Emmanuel Sanders, Julius Thomas and Montee Ball during the game, it eliminated a big part of the game plan. Andre Caldwell and Jacob Tamme just can’t do the things Sanders and Thomas do. The Broncos still should probably score more than seven points, but one bad game doesn’t mean they’re not a good team. The Patriots have taken a couple bad losses. The Cardinals were blown out once. The Packers have a few uncompetitive losses. Now the Broncos have a couple, too. If the Broncos’ injuries linger longer than expected, maybe we will have to reevaluate them. And who knows, if the Kansas City Chiefs beat them in a couple weeks at Arrowhead Stadium (don’t discount that happening, with how well the Chiefs are playing), maybe the Broncos will just be one of those really good teams that has to settle for a wild-card spot. But we’ll see about all that. For right now, the Broncos are just fine, even with two losses in three games. A few teams might be playing better, but I wouldn’t rank many ahead of them. The talent on that roster is too good for them to be average. Relax. Here are the rest of the post-Week 11 NFL power rankings: 32. Oakland Raiders (0-10, Last Week: 32) Every week that Darren McFadden and Maurice Jones-Drew gets carries ahead of Latavius Murray, the Raiders are showing they don't really get it. I don't know if Murray, a big, physical second-year player, is any good. But neither do the Raiders, and that's the problem. 31. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-9, LW: 30) The Jaguars went 4-12 in Gus Bradley's first season. They'd have to go 3-3 the rest of the way to match that. I hope ownership doesn't overreact if their record is worse, because I do think Bradley is the right guy there. 30. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-8, LW: 31) Mike Evans was the first rookie receiver with 200 yards and two touchdowns in a game since Anquan Boldin in 2003. Even in a potentially historic receiver draft class, Evans might be the best one. It's a debate that will be fun to track. 29. Tennessee Titans (2-8, LW: 29) We're getting pretty close to a point where Zach Mettenberger has locked up the 2015 starting quarterback job. After what he has shown, is there any chance the Titans won't use next season to give him a legitimate look? 28. New York Jets (2-8, LW: 28) Is there a number of wins in New York's last six games that Rex Ryan could hit to save his job? I'd probably put it at a minimum of four. 27. Washington Redskins (3-7, LW: 26) Jay Gruden very specifically criticizing Robert Griffin III on Monday seemed like him saying, "Nothing else is getting through, let me try this approach." 26. New York Giants (3-7, LW: 24) Sadly, the Giants probably would have won Sunday's game against the 49ers had Eli Manning thrown just four interceptions. Alas, he threw five. 25. Carolina Panthers (3-7-1, LW: 23) A team that has lost five straight is a half-game out of first place. 24. Atlanta Falcons (4-6, LW: 27) There is, by the way, a scenario in which the NFC South could be won by a 5-11 team. That's mathematically possible. In related news, I better not get one "How can you rank a first-place team so low???" emails or tweets this week. 23. Minnesota Vikings (4-6, LW: 21) Sunday's loss to the Bears was the fifth time in six games the Vikings didn't reach 20 points. And it was against the Bears, who give up 14 by the time the National Anthem is done. Lot of work to be done there. 22. Chicago Bears (4-6, LW: 25) Four of the Bears' last six games are at home. If they can win those, and upset the Lions on the road on Thanksgiving, then go into Week 17 at Minnesota with nine wins ... I'm sorry Bears fans, I don't know why I just did that to you. 21. New Orleans Saints (4-6, LW: 19) Rookie receiver Brandin Cooks wasn't dominating this season, but he was pretty good, and it's going to be very hard for the Saints to replace what he does while he's out four-to-six weeks with a broken thumb. 20. St. Louis Rams (4-6, LW: 22) They should be in so much better shape than 4-6. 19. Houston Texans (5-5, LW: 20) The first question of Bill O'Brien's Monday press conference was why Ryan Mallett didn't start before Week 11. His answer was basically that he wanted to make sure Mallett was ready. But he probably has (or will) wonder if things would be different if he pulled the trigger earlier. 18. Buffalo Bills (5-5, LW: 17) Nobody checked the expiration date on Kyle Orton. It has passed. 17. Cincinnati Bengals (6-3-1, LW: 18) How do you evaluate a team that looked so bad at home against the Browns and so good on the road at the Saints in an 11-day stretch? 16. Pittsburgh Steelers (7-4, LW: 16) it just shouldn't be that hard against really bad teams. 15. Cleveland Browns (6-4, LW: 13) The good news is Josh Gordon is back. The bad news is they won't get that loss to the Texans back. They really could have used that one. 14. San Diego Chargers (6-4, LW: 15) There were a few times on Sunday when it didn't seem like Philip Rivers would be getting up. It's no surprise to hear he has been playing through injuries. 13. San Francisco 49ers (6-4, LW: 12) NaVorro Bowman as cleared to return to practice. Hopefully he makes it back this season, because that would be a great story for a great player. 12. Miami Dolphins (6-4, LW: 14) Well, if you have to play Denver this might be a good time for it. The Dolphins could use an upset like that, too. 11. Baltimore Ravens (6-4, LW: 11) In the AFC North logjam, it seems like the Ravens have the best team. They could take a huge step by winning at New Orleans next Monday night. 10. Detroit Lions (7-3, LW: 9) It's pretty clear they're heading toward a wild-card berth , but I'll say this: They're going to be a tough out in the opening weekend (unless Matthew Stafford plays like he did at Arizona, of course). 9. Seattle Seahawks (6-4, LW: 8) A lot is being made of Marshawn Lynch , like he's a reason for the Seahawks' issues. Let's think this through. Do we think Lynch debuted a new personality this year? No. And how were the Seahawks with all of Lynch's "distractions" or whatever you'd like to call them the past few years? 8. Dallas Cowboys (7-3, LW: 7) They still have four road games left, but the good news is that three come against bad teams (Giants, Bears, Redskins). 7. Indianapolis Colts (6-4, LW: 5) You can't discount Andrew Luck getting hot and carrying this team deep in the playoffs, but they're just not one of the elite teams in the conference. 6. Kansas City Chiefs (7-3, LW: 10) They beat the defending champs with 11 completions and 108 yards. Old-school football fans, this is your squad. 5. Philadelphia Eagles (7-3, LW: 3) A close loss at Lambeau would have been no big deal. But that blowout loss? Not a good look. 4. Denver Broncos (7-3, LW: 2) The running back situation is an issue. Ronnie Hillman and Montee Ball are out a while. The Broncos can't just ditch the run, like they did at St. Louis. 3. Arizona Cardinals (9-1, LW: 6) Maybe Drew Stanton is just one of those stories, where his NFL history doesn't matter and he has a great season. He looked just fine against the Lions. 2. Green Bay Packers (7-3, LW: 4) I hear you Cardinals fans. But I pick Aaron Rodgers and this team over the Cardinals on a neutral field right now. Simple. 1. New England Patriots (8-2, LW: 1) The gap is pretty wide between No. 1 and No. 2 at this point. They could lose a game (and with that schedule, it's likely) and I'm not sure I'd drop them from this spot. - - - - - - - Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shutdowncorner@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YahooSchwab [read full article]

From Yahoo Sports

Le'Veon Bell started, ended game for Steelers only way he knows how (Shutdown Corner)

Le'Veon Bell started and finished the Pittsburgh Steelers' 27-24 win over the Tennessee Titans on Monday night. He carried the ball the first six plays of the game, and before two Ben Roethlisberger kneeldowns to close it out, Bell carried the ball on the game's final seven plays. Power football. Steelers football? Maybe. We'll get to that in a bit. All told, Bell ran 33 times for 204 yards —the fourth-most ever by a Steeler, and the most by a Steeler on a Monday night —plus a score in the win. Time and time, Bell ran through contact, gaining almost half his yards after he was hit by a Titans defender. The Steelers built a 10-point first-half lead, went down by 11 points in the fourth quarter and figured out that Bell was the antidote for a Titans rush that confounded the offensive line much of the night, sacking Roethlisberger five times and hit him hard several more. [ Join FanDuel.com's $2.5M Week 12 fantasy league: $25 to enter; top 21,840 teams paid ] Roethlisberger on Bell: "We don't have enough time to talk about what he did tonight." —Scott Brown (@ScottBrown_ESPN) November 18, 2014 Are the Steelers an air-it-out club like we saw in Roethlisberger's back-to-back six-TD games in Weeks 8 and 9 games? Or are they a slam-it-down-your-throat running team like we saw in wins over the Cleveland Browns, Carolina Panthers and the Titans? That's something to chew on. It would be great if they could be both, of course. But it also would be great if they could be a more consistent team that is able to play as well against top competition —wins by 18 over the Panthers, by 17 over the Indianapolis Colts and by 20 over the Baltimore Ravens —as it does against the league's also-rans. This Steelers team is better than to let teams such as the one-win Jacksonville Jaguars and two-win Titans hang around all game and for teams such as the two-win Tampa Bay Buccaneers and two-win New York Jets beat them. Right now, the Steelers are in first place in the AFC North, escaping Monday despite a terrible end to the first half that cost them 14 points. One reason: The Titans mismanaged things, too, throwing a pick-six on the opening play of their first drive, failing to go for in on fourth down twice with little to lose on either (including taking a field goal from the Pittsburgh 2) and challenging a Bell non-catch late in the game that he clearly hadn't had control of. Lacking that additional time out at game's end, the Titans could not stop the clock —or Bell. The Steelers have won all four games this season and all nine games in Bell's two seasons in which he has carried the ball 20-plus times. Yes, the Steelers try to throw it to him often, and after Monday he has 57 catches through 11 games. There's clearly a place for power football and continuing to feed hot backs who seemingly don't tire (see Bell and Gray, Jonas from Sunday night's New England Patriots victory) in an era of football where nickel and dime backs see the field far more than burly, run-stopping linemen. There's also a value, as it relates to the Steelers, to have a player who can take pressure off a defense that is flawed. The Steelers can make plays, mind you, as William Gay's interception return showed. But Gay also was a horrible victim by authoring some of the worst end-of-half coverage you might ever see on Nate Washington's 80-yard bomb with 44 seconds left in the second quarter. (Seriously, what was he doing biting on that route in that situation?) This defense is not going to erase teams. Yes, it made Andrew Luck look relatively human in the Colts game, but otherwise there have been shortcomings littered throughout the season. Grinding Bell an extra 4-5 carries a game can help keep those defenders fresh —or maybe better yet, off the field entirely. Bell's running also takes significant pressure off Roethlisberger to have to win games by himself. He's an elite quarterback many games, and Antonio Brown might be the best wideout in the game right now. Brown's buzzsaw of a route on his touchdown reception should be shown to young wideouts the country round. But Roethlisberger also is capable of some bone-headed throws such as his first-half pick, which not only cost the Steelers points but led to the Washington score on the next play. It's not going to work out this way every game, but Bell has shown he wants the ball —and can take the pounding —every time out. And sometimes, it's much easier just turning around and handing it to him than it is trying to find him in space on a screen, option route or with him split wide, which he also occasionally will be asked to do. For offensive coordinator Todd Haley, it sometimes doesn't have to be so hard. Monday is pretty decent proof of that. - - - - - - - Eric Edholm is a writer for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at edholm@yahoo-inc.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Eric_Edholm [read full article]

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Steelers rally from 11 down, beat Titans 27-24 (Yahoo Sports)

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