Wednesday Apple Pie

The fabulous writers of the site contend that the Pittsburgh Steelers are still alive (albeit barely) in the hunt for a playoff berth. I respect their opinions, but don't hold your breath Steeler fans. I'm here to tell you that unless a meteorite smashes into the United States and eliminates every city but Pittsburgh, the Steelers will be home licking their wounds this January.

No, the Steelers have about as much shot of making the playoffs as President George Bush has balancing the budget.

I'm sorry for the bleak outlook on the season, but let's say for instance that the Steelers somehow go 7 - 1 in the final 8 games. What then? A 9 - 7 sometimes is good enough for a wild-card berth. But the Steelers would be fighting against Denver (whom they've lost to) and Tennessee (whom they've lost to). Those finicky tiebreakers just pop up at the wrong time.

Okay, so they lose out to those teams, but they beat (hypothetically) Oakland, the Jets and San Diego. That's all icing, except those teams don't have a shot at the playoffs.

Other bad news for the Steelers: Indianapolis is undefeated in the AFC. This is bad because right now the AFC South is almost assured of having two teams in the playoffs. That leaves one last wild-card team, of which Denver owns the tiebreaker (which we've already established) and the Dolphins have the AFC tiebreaker.

I'm just looking at the perspective from a realist's point of view. I'm the one who predicted a 12 - 4 season for the Steelers. No one on either side of the field thought the Steelers would be this average. Chris Berman was at a loss for words on Sunday night ESPN Primetime. Bill Cowher has no answers. Tim Lewis admitted that it took him a while to understand the defense when he first started coaching with the team. Mike Mularkey pulled as much misdirection as he could out of the book on Sunday and it didn't work. Hines Ward has spoken, shut-up, spoken and shut-up, and his leadership hasn't worked. Jerome Bettis was inserted as the starter and it hasn't worked. Kendrell Bell was taken out of the dime package and it hasn't worked. Alan Faneca has been moved to LT and it hasn't worked.

In fact, nothing has worked this season. Well, when nothing works on a machine, a normal, logical person would take it to a service center and let someone else fix it. And if it's still broke, perhaps the problem then lies with the service center and not the machine.

For the Steelers to truly fix their problems, they must not make the playoffs, or even approach .500. I'm not saying we should all be hoping for losses, but when the losses inevitably come, that just means more parts aren't working and more answers are needed, as well as more hope that the ownership will come to realize that the man who should be fixing the machine isn't able to work any more magic.

I know Bill Cowher and the Rooneys are rooted together, but I'd have to think if the Steelers finish the season with less than 5 wins, it might be too difficult not to blame Cowher and order a changing of the guard.

But don't take my word for it. The Steelers could go 7 - 1 or even 8 - 0 and make the playoffs. Heck they could win the Super Bowl, but unless you've been living in a hole nothing that has transpired on the field can even begin to remotely harbor the possibility of a winning streak.

Apple Pix-Six: Week 9 Review

New England 30 Denver 26: A gutsy call by Bill Belichick, to take a deliberate safety, led to the win between these two banged-up teams in a close contest. Belichick figured he would have better field position with the free kick rather than a punt from the end-zone. That was based on faith in Adam Vinatieri. The Pat's wound up getting the touchdown instead. Dontcha' just hate it?

Green Bay 30 Minnesota 27: I wonder what kind of tirade Red's going to throw this week? His team got outplayed at home and worse yet, let the Packers right back into the NFC North race. It's still Bret Favre's team, but it sure is easier for him when Ahman Green is running the lights out.

Indianapolis 23 Miami 17: Both defenses early-on brought their A-Game, but the key to this one was the lack of yards by Ricky Williams. The Dolphins are just too dependent on his abilities. They need a #2 wide receiver to compliment Chris Chambers, who I'm not convinced is a #1.

San Francisco 30 St. Louis 10: The Rams left Pittsburgh claiming to own the "house", apparently that doesn't apply in Frisco, where the Niners behind Tim Rattay throttled the Rams. As these two teams take it out on each other, the Seahawks quietly steal the division.

Dallas 21 Washington 14: Here's a stat to grab your eye. The Redskins led 6 – 3 midway through the second quarter and had amassed all of -2 yards through the air. The Fun and Gun was corralled by the Cowboys. I know injuries have decimated the Redskins, but when an offense is built around passing the ball, -2 yards is a stat that the Skins should never see.

Arizona 17 Cincinnati 14: The Cardinals travel to Pittsburgh this Sunday and have a real shot at a 2-game winning streak. That's totally unheard of in the desert. As for the Bengals, well, they became the Bungles once again. Don't let anyone fool you, the AFC North is the Ravens' division to lose.

Apple Pix-Six

1. Miami at Tennessee (GOTW): Here's the deal. The Titans' have lost to the Patriots. They need to beat the Dolphins and hope the Dolphins can steal the division from the Pats. That would give the Titans the tiebreaker. The Dolphins already lost to the Colts. They can't afford another loss to a playoff contender. That's why it's the GOTW.

2. Tampa Bay at Carolina: Quietly, the Bucs are playing themselves out of the playoffs. The Panthers can take a big step to solidifying their position by sweeping the Pink Pirates. The Panthers, if they are for real, will win this game but, remember, they had trouble against the Texans last week.

3. Cleveland at Kansas City: Classic let-down game? Could the Browns pull off the huge upset? Probably not, but if they want to have a shot at the post-season, a win here would be vital. The Chiefs could coast into Colorado with an unbeaten record. It could happen.

4. Baltimore at St. Louis: The Ravens seal the division with a win and a Browns loss. It's not over mathematically, but let's get serious. The Rams on the other hand desperately need the win for wild-card purposes.

5. Philadelphia at Green Bay: The Eagles and the Packers - both teams fighting for their divisional title lives, and neither can afford a loss. Maybe this is the…no…I like Miami vs. Tennessee better.

6. Buffalo at Dallas: Meanwhile back at the ranch, the Cowboys face a rested and slightly ticked-off Bills team. The ‘Boys defense will hound Drew Bledsoe all day. Are there two teams that have fallen harder than the Bills and Steelers after thinking about their opening day victories?

The Complete Power Core Rankings: Week 10

  1. Kansas City – Get to smack the Browns a while this week. Sounds fun.
  2. Tennessee – They're still the only team that can beat the Chiefs right now.
  3. Indianapolis – The Colts defense has been "Dungied".
  4. New England – That was one heck of call, Bill Belichick. It's a good thing it worked.
  5. Seattle – Big jump for the Hawks as a bunch of teams lost.
  6. Dallas – You may have run Spurrier out of town. Thank you Dallas.
  7. Philadelphia – The Eagles face a big test in Lambeau.
  8. Green Bay – Ahman Green had his best game in two years on Sunday.
  9. Minnesota – Two losses at home and some definite questions for a team that looked so unstoppable.
  10. Baltimore – The Ravens keep getting better.
  11. St. Louis – Oh, the was an awful display in Frisco, but I'll keep you in the top 10.
  12. Carolina – Biggest game of their season is on Sunday.
  13. Tampa Bay – What's going on with the champs? Raymond James isn't much of a home field advantage.
  14. San Francisco – The Niners can't wait for Pittsburgh to visit.
  15. Miami – Ugly loss considering Ricky Williams may already be out of gas.
  16. Denver – The Broncos keep falling and the injuries keep mounting.
  17. Buffalo – Seems to me that Travis Henry's injuries and not his yards will do him in.
  18. NY Giants – The Giants got really lucky at the Meadowlands this week. But really, who cares?
  19. Washington – The Skins need to win this week or the playoffs will be just another mirage.
  20. Cleveland – Tim Couch a Steeler. Let's start the rumors now.
  21. NY Jets -- Pennington's wrist seems fine. The rest of the team doesn't.
  22. Washington – Patrick Ramsey's Christmas gift to his line should be coal.
  23. Detroit – The Lions ended the Raiders' season early.
  24. Houston –Tony Banks filling in for an injured David Carr can only be a bad sign.
  25. Chicago – Chris Chandler starts for the Bears. Why not let Rex Grossman get some reps?
  26. Pittsburgh -- Bill Cowher your flight out of town is ready for take off, now get on the damn plane.
  27. Arizona – The Cardinals have a chance for a two-game winning streak.
  28. Cincinnati – Back to Bungle-land.
  29. Oakland – This is the biggest collapse by a Super Bowl participant in 10 years.
  30. Jacksonville – Byron Leftwich is a fumble machine, the Tony Banks of the next generation.
  31. San Diego – Doug Flutie may start this week. That's how bad it's gotten in SoCal.
  32. Atlanta – Dan Reeves days are numbered.

Fruits of Labor (stock is rising)

  • Alan Faneca – Is he the left tackle of the future or the stop-gap?

Rotten Produce (stock is falling)

  • Bill Cowher – You've lost the team Bill. Fess up now, or you will be run out of town quicker than you can say Kordell Stewart.

Missed Point Opportunities (MPO)

TeamPittsburghSeattle
Drives2nd Drive (Punt after good field position)4th Drive (FG)
5th Drive (Blocked Punt)5th Drive (Punt)
6th Drive (FG inside 20)6th Drive (FG after turnover)
7th Drive (FG inside 10)
Score43

Season MPO Record: 2 – 6

Wisdom From the Girl Apple

Girl Apple: Are you taking me to Tarrytown this weekend?

Apple: Um…am I?

Girl Apple: Yes you are. I'll have you back for your silly football game.

Apple: "Silly"…that's your wisdom this week?

Girl Apple: No, the wisdom is that you must watch the game. Just because your team loses doesn't mean you stop being a fan.

Apple: That's it? But everyone knows that?

Girl Apple: They do? Then what happened to all the Jacksonville Jaguar fans?

Apple: You're good. You're very, very good.

Super-Fan Pappy Fried Chicken's Keys To The Game

  • I'm sitting here watching La Bamba starring Lou Diamond Phillips and the last thing I want to think about is how my beloved Steelers seem to keep finding ways to lose. The world was handed to them against the Seahawks in the form of dropped passes and some improved overall play on both sides of the ball. The Steelers in turn said "No thanks. We don't want your hand outs, but for your generosity, please block our punt and we'll throw in eleven penalties just 'cause we're tired of winning." Now of course no one actually said that, but if something isn't said soon. . .!?!
  • I had a li-ine and Offense was it's name. Since it left me-e I've never been the same. Sorry. I'm done now.
  • The penalties. They have got to stop. They also have to start. They have got to stop killing themselves on both sides of the ball.
  • Maybe it is time to just stick with a line combo and give it a chance. At the very least it would cut down on the off sides calls the more they suck together.
  • Plax might have had something there when he was talking about the lack of penalty calls in their favor. He and Ward could be a victims of their own success with physical play. Time to start fighting harder. Push off a little more and see what happens.
  • While it is a legit short term solution, Tommy Maddox, whom this super fan still has complete faith in, can not keep rolling out as much as he did against the 'Hawks or he will get killed.
  • Finally, Arizona is coming into our house this week. ARIZONA. And if Richard Valenzuela from the Barrio in California can make it to the big time and if Lou Diamond Phillips can sustain a career off of one movie, then the Steelers definitely have a chance to beat the Cards and climb out of the NFL cellar.

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