As Ape’s last post pointed out, Steeler Nation is feeling quite football-starved about now. In depth coverage of Isaac Redman’s impressive accent to possibly-making-the-team status and the constant barrage of ESPN “Brett-Favre-Bonus-Bonanza Coverage” are what we have been reduced to.
Like every loyal and informed fan, when the schedule comes out for next season you take “Win, Loss, May be-Win” stock of what will be in store for the team beginning in the fall. But now we’re only weeks away and a lot of shit has gone down in the off season. Last year, this process actually turned out pretty well, so let's again take a look at our scheduled opponents. Because the rationale, "Screw Vegas, I make my own odds!" is so sound, I've taken the liberty of assigning my completely arbitrary "% Estimate of Victory" after each game:
TENNESSEE: Ok, so we know that some sort of Steve McNair post-mortem will be performed by Bob Costas, Keith Olberman, fucking Tim McGraw prior to kickoff. Originally, coverage was going to be all about the unresolved bad blood from last year’s “Towel stomping”. Whatever the case, The Titans’ ground game is nothing to take lightly, but their arial attack is. Cover Washington and Scaife, blitz Collins. I still like our chances against hedgehog Fischer. 65%
@Chicago: The addition of Cutler is an upgrade at that position and in my opinion will prove to be one of the most one sided trades ever. And let’s not forget that Forte can run, he put up 1,200 yards his rookie year and only had one damn fumble. Bears’ D isn’t that intimidating, ranking 30th against the pass last year. I’m still glad this road game is early on in the season, before the weather turns in The Windy City. Air it out, Ben. 60%
@Cincinnati: I’ve only seen one episode of “Hard Knocks,” but I couldn’t be happier. This team continues to be a train wreck. Is it just me or does the entire front office of the Bengals appear to be comprised of “muffin tops?” Nothing like getting told you’ve been placed on waivers by a guy who gets winded walking up the 4 steps to your training camp condo. The Bengals had a grand total of 17 touchdowns last year, let the guy who scored the most Houshmandzadeh (a whopping 4TDs) walk and have been unable to sign first-round pick Andre Smith. I am completely amazed Marv Lewis has a job still. 80%
SAN DIEGO: Remember how concerned everyone was about Darren Sproles going in to last year’s playoff opener? Well, the Charger’s running game only managed 81 yards in the two games against us. LT is should stand for “Losing Tempo” and it’s clear that coveted fantasy star Rivers has a hard time putting up a W at Heinz. Don’t lay the points, though. 65%
@Detroit: The word out of Detroit is that Daunte Culpepper is likely to be the starting signal caller. Calvin Johnson and Kevin Smith are your only prayer at not going winless again, head coach. Wait, who the hell is their head coach? Jim Schwartz? Schwartz when asked about the opportunity to coach the Lions: “You're not going to find a more passionate fan base in the NFL than Detroit. You talk about ownership and a commitment to winning. I think that's important. Without those two things, I don't think it's an attractive opportunity. I think Detroit offers both of those." Um, you HAVE been watching the NFL the last 20 years, right Jim? 85%
CLEVELAND: The other 4 win team in Ohio last season. Finally, we will witness the slow-motion train wreck that is Brady Quinn pull into station. I get giddy just thinking about how fair weather the Browns fans will be this year, calling for his bust at Canton before the opener and just his head by the end of the season. Of course, they’ll have Derek “20-TD drop off in production” Anderson to sub him out. That, plus the worst defense in the league last year oughtta keep the Brownies in the cellar. 75%
MINNESOTA: The 3-ring Favre circus comes to town! Some of the media hype will have died down by this point, but will the Vikes be as good as some are projecting? I just saw Marcellus Wiley pick the Vikes to open 6-0 until this game. Although, I think Wiley also picks his own scabs…he graduated from Columbia? The fuck? Remember: They are likely to be without their two best linemen for the first quarter of the season. But also remember: They have some of the most frightening offensive weapons in the league and just a cursory glance at their schedule shows what should be a worst-case-scenario 4-2 squad coming in with Lord Favre slinging his guns. Shit. 55%
BYE: Decent timing for the break. If I had my pick I’d probably choose week 9 or 10, just because it shortens the final stretch, but I’ll take it. If we don’t have at least 5 wins by this point, fans will be doing jack knifes off The 40th St Bridge.
Part 2 Next Week.