What a weird year this has been. The NFL kicked off on Thursday to the sounds of piped-in crowd noise and yet more controversy over the anthem and kneeling. The very first game demonstrated how truly weird it is. In the loudest stadium in football they had a bare minimum of fans, they put “END RACISM” in the end line, and the crowd booed the Moment of Unity and then went right into the Tomahawk Chop. Talk about mixed messages.
But I digress. This thread is about how my Steelers will win the Super Bowl this year. And yet, unlike other years I don’t know where or how to start, with last year’s 8-8 performance only proving that the defense is beast. The offense was in shambles the moment Ben went down for the year and it only got worse from there. Salvaging 8-8 out of that while starting a third-string QB for 6 games and trotting out no less than 6 running backs was miraculous.
Obviously it all starts with Ben. If his reconstructed arm holds up and he plays at even 90% of the level he played at 2 years ago they’ll give the Ratbirds a run for the division. Lamar Jackson is surprisingly legit, usually running QBs get figured out quickly, but he tore the league up last year. They are loaded with an excess of riches. They’ll be tough to beat, but it’s not like the Steelers are a bunch of bums. It really is amazing the difference a quarterback can make, isn’t it? JuJu and James Conner are the happiest players in football right now, because now they actually have a chance at performing. You can’t run when they stack 8 in the box, and you can’t catch when a noddle-armed QB can’t hit you with the ball. Ben changes things. With the addition of Chase Claypool they have that Bryant-type deep threat without the baggage, and All-Pro Minkah Fitzpatrick was this year’s number-one pick, gifted a year early.
As for the rest of the division, the Browns looked terrible yesterday and the Bengals have Joe Burrow, which won’t be enough to challenge for the playoffs. The Ohio teams are bound for mediocrity, as usual.
So the big obstacles are the Chiefs and the Rats. The Patsies aren’t exactly dead, but they’re a shadow of what they were with the COVID sit-outs and a rebuilt Cam Newton under center throwing to Edelman and a cast of nobodies. The Titans still have Tannehill under center, which means Henry carries another monster load, and that sort of load kills running backs so Tannehill has to do more. I’m not sure he can. He had a career year last year, can he repeat? Time will tell.
My prediction for Pittsburgh: 13-3, division title, and then they get the Saints in the Super Bowl.
And that’s it. No real trash talking, no overhyping, just a certainty that my beloved Steelers can do it this year. Whether or not they will remains to be seen. It starts tonight against the G-Men.
As an aside, I have been doing since my son was born. He is now a senior and is old enough to vote. If that makes you feel old, imagine how it makes me feel. In any case, enjoy the season. If we’re lucky they may even get to finish it.