I have said it before, and it bears repeating, prediction columns are ridiculous, but fun, so here goes my 2019 Steelers game-by-game predictions:
Week 1, at New England – Automatic loss, right? Right. The Steelers will be close, but there is just a magic that happens with Tom Brady, Bill Belichick and Gillette Stadium, and the Steelers will fall victim, 27-24 to start 0-1.
Week 2, vs. Seattle – The Steelers get back on track at home against the Seahawks, but it isn’t easy. Chris Boswell saves the day by making all four field goal attempts including the game-winner in overtime. 26-23 Steelers.
Week 3, at San Francisco – The trap game, right. The type of game the Steelers always seem to lose. A mediocre to bad team, on the road, on the west coast, the perfect storm, right? Steelers win, 34-17 to move to 2-1.
Week 4, vs. Cincinnati – The Steelers shut down the Bengals’ offense and start their divisional schedule with a 20-10 win.
Week 5, vs. Baltimore – Why does this seem to happen every year? The Steelers gain some momentum and somehow stub their toe against the damn Ravens? Steelers lose, 21-19 to fall to 3-2.
Week 6, at Los Angeles Chargers – The Chargers are the darlings of the AFC. It was very alarming when they overcame a big halftime deficit to overwhelm the Steelers at Heinz Field last year. The Chargers hold serve, 31-24 and the Steelers are 3-3.
Week 7, bye – Why am I talking about a bye week? Because it is NOT a bye week, it is an off week. A bye is advancement to the next round of a tournament without competing. The NFL regular season is not a tournament, hence, “bye” is incorrect. I am an English teacher, after all.
Week 8, vs. Miami – The Steelers have a bad habit of stumbling out of the off week – the Dolphins will be the perfect solution to that problem. Steelers win, 27-13 and move to 4-3.
Week 9, vs. Indianapolis – The Luckless Colts arrive for the middle game of a three-game home stand, and the Steelers keep it going with a tougher than anticipated 24-20 win.
Week 10, vs. Los Angeles Rams – The Steelers play a complete game and handle the defending NFC champions, 31-21. Pittsburgh is 6-3 and looking better.
Week 11, at Cleveland – The renewed rivalry. The Steelers come into action against the Browns tied for first place with Cleveland in the AFC North. The Browns seize control of the division with a 23-19 win over the Steelers.
Week 12, at Cincinnati – The Bungles Bungle, and the Steelers take advantage, 37-10.
Week 13, vs Cleveland – Revenge and redemption. The Steelers tie the Browns again for the division and move to 8-4 with a 30-17 win over Cleveland.
Week 14, at Arizona – There it is again – the trap game. That pesky road game against an inferior opponent that always seems to bite the Steelers. Not this year. Pittsburgh wins big, 34-17. 9-4 and still tied with the Browns.
Week 15, vs. Buffalo – The Steelers close out their home schedule going 7-1 at Heinz Field with an exclamation point win over the Bills, 45-10. The Browns keep pace with a win at Arizona, and the teams are tangled at the top of the AFC North at 10-4.
Week 16, at New York Jets – Le’Veon Bell wants to show the Steelers how big a mistake they made when they did not pay him what he wanted, but he is a non-factor, as are the Jets, by Week 16 of the NFL season, and the Steelers beat the Jets 27-17. Happily, the Ravens take out the Browns in Cleveland, and the Steelers are alone atop the AFC North at 11-4.
Week 17, at Baltimore – Everybody plays as the Steelers try to clinch both the AFC North and the 2-seed in the AFC. Big Ben and company come through with a 24-20 win. The Steelers finish 2019 at 12-4, win the AFC North and are the 2-seed in the AFC playoff bracket. Now the Steelers get a true bye week.
I will wait to predict the playoffs when we get there. Here is how I think the AFC will shake down, though:
Division winners, L.A. Chargers (1), Pittsburgh (2), New England (3) and Houston (4). Wild Card teams will be Kansas City (5) and Cleveland (6).
All that remains is for the games to be played. Let’s all hope I am wrong about the games I say the Steelers lose, and right about the wins.
- Much more annoying and concerning than the fact that Kenny Pickett is just not a very good quarterback is the fact that Pitt’s defense is in serious trouble without junior defensive end, Rashad Weaver, who was lost for the season to a torn ACL suffered in training camp. I get that Pickett will spend 2019 running for his life because of a young and bad offensive line, but Pitt is already in big trouble in the ACC Coastal, and need to find solutions fast. And if Panthers fans think Ohio U is an easy win, think again. Ohio U is very good, and Pitt will need a terrific effort to avoid an 0-2 start with Penn State and Happy Valley looming.
- Still can’t figure out the Ryan Switzer thing. Maybe he is a good NFL punt returner but just hasn’t shown that so far in his career. Maybe he is a valuable slot receiver who can convert first downs and force defenses to respect him in the middle of the field, but just hasn’t shown that so far in his career. I’m betting his is what he is so far in his NFL career – a below average punt returner, a non-factor as a receiver, and a good team guy, a good teammate who sticks around because guys like Big Ben love him. Better to have friends in high places than to actually be good, I guess. Just like my season predictions, I really hope I am proven wrong by Switzer and he justifies his place on an NFL roster.