Wednesday Apple Pie

As we hit the mid-way point of the 3rd quarter of the season (Week 11 for those drinking at this moment), we've learned that the Steelers can beat the Arizona Cardinals, Cincinnati Bengals and Baltimore Ravens.

We've learned the Ravens have neither a quarterback nor receivers. We've learned the Browns have no consistency and run defense. The Bengals are still more Bungle than Bengal, but "the times they are a changing."

We've learned the Miami Dolphins, Washington Redskins, NY Giants, and NY Jets were all overrated once again and that the Buffalo Bills and San Diego Chargers weren't nearly as good as advertised this off-season.

We've learned that Bret Favre is reaching the end of his tenure in Green Bay and that Tampa Bay's Super Bowl win was a fluke. We've learned that Atlanta is a one-trick pony and the Colts have at least two tricks to their game.

We've learned that the best quarterback in all the land is Steve McNair and his Titans will go very far this January. We've learned the Jaguars have fight, the Bears have none, and the Lions are a bigger mess than they were before Matt Millen.

We've learned San Francisco lacks skilled depth and Seattle lacks a premiere wide receiver. We've learned Kurt Warner got old very quickly and that Marc Bulger may end up being a bigger headache than Warner ever was to Mike Martz.

We've learned Arizona has at least two young playmakers to build a franchise around, that is until they leave for greener pastures. We've learned that age finally caught up with the Raiders and the Broncos can't buy a healthy season from their star players. They must have made a deal with the devil for those two Super Bowls.

We've learned that the Houston Texans need Stacey Mack more than they ever thought they would. We've learned that only Bill Parcells could make Jerry Jones shut up. We've learned that Jim Haslett doesn't have a prayer in New Orleans and that the Carolina Panthers may go all the way.

We've learned that Vikings owner Red McCombs is a lunatic and Kansas City is the best team in the land.

Yes, we've learned a lot in the first 10 weeks of the season, but most importantly, we've learned parity reigns supreme. Last year's wonders become this year's blunders and teams thought to be left backstage take center and find the spotlight.

That's the beauty of professional football. The storylines don't end with Shaq, Kobe and wife-beater of the week, instead we can talk Jake Delhomme, Steve McNair and Dante Hall.

Grab a seat and strap in because the beauty of pro football is that anything will happen, you just better be around to watch it unfold.

Apple Pix-Six: Week 10 Review

Tennessee 31 Miami 7: So, when Tennessee and Kansas City meet in Arrowhead in the AFC Championship game, the Titans will win. There is no doubt in my mind. They have the only run defense to stop Priest Holmes and Steve McNair won't make the mistakes that have plagued other teams that have had their chances at beating K.C.

Carolina 27 Tampa Bay 24: Ricky Proehl, whom I didn't start this week in my FFL #1, has his best day as a Panther. I hate when I don't start players who play well. Speaking of that, I also started Tom Brady, Kevin Faulk and Joe Horn among others in my various leagues. I just wasn't with it this week, which is the same feeling I think Keyshawn Johnson, regardless of what he said, will have when he realizes that his team really doesn't have a good shot at the playoffs.

Kansas City 41 Cleveland 20: The Browns kept this one close, going into the half tied at 17. But, come on, did anyone think they would hang with the big bad Chiefs? I must admit I didn't, although I think the Chiefs had better take the Bengals seriously or the Miami Dolphins circa 1974 will be breathing easy.

St. Louis 33 Baltimore 22: Oh what the Ravens would be with good receivers and a good quarterback. Unfortunately, 6 turnovers, including a killer fumble by Jamal Lewis when he got a helmet to the kidney, did this team in. It was funny, ESPN shows a graphic; Joe Theismann gushes over Lewis; and the next play he fumbles. Not that funny? Well, it made me laugh.

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.

Dallas 10 Buffalo 6: The Cowboys are winning ugly and you can imagine what they'd be with a star running back manning the backfield. I can't imagine Peerless Price was as important to this team as the drop-off in offense shows, but something tells me that Drew Bledsoe's head isn't in this thing right now. Just like me and this past FFL week.

Apple Pix-Six: Week 11

1. Green Bay at Tampa Bay (GOTW) – Oh, here is the first major do or die game of the season. It's as simple as this folks. The Buccaneers will lose any shot at the playoffs if they lose to the Packers. Why? Well, the Pink Pirates won't win their division after being swept by Carolina and they won't get a wild card unless they beat the Packers for tiebreaker reasons. The Bucs have the tiebreaker over the Eagles and Cowboys, but lost out to the Niners and can't afford to lose out to the Packers also.

2. Baltimore at Miami: Shh…listen very carefully. You'll hear the sounds of an oncoming Bus in the distance. That sound is the Pittsburgh Steelers and you can be sure that they'll be watching the Ravens with eyes wide open. The Ravens dropped a winnable game in St. Louis and lost a game on the Steelers. If they lose in Miami and the Steelers win, then the division is once again up for grabs. The Dolphins need a win and desperation has now hit. They have lost to both the Titans, Colts and Patriots, which means they are fighting for the last wildcard spot against the Broncos, Ravens, Bengals and Steelers.

3. Dallas at New England: This should be a complete defensive masterpiece. The over under will be under 30. The Patriots will win the #2 seed in the AFC if they keep pace with the Titans and the Titans win the AFC South.

4. Kansas City at Cincinnati: No one other than Chiefs fans want to see a perfect undefeated season. But Steeler fans don't want the Bengals to win any more games than needed. Oh the dilemma, but how about this - let's hope for Bengals win and a Steelers win coupled with a Browns loss and Ravens loss. I can deal with that.

5. NY Giants at Philadelphia: The Eagles pulled out the difficult win in Green Bay and now have to come home to face a demoralized Giants team. Regardless, these two teams will play it close for the full 60 minutes, but the Eagles should and will prevail, keeping the pressure on the young Cowboys.

6. Minnesota at Oakland: The Raiders can only play spoiler and the Vikings, after losing two straight, can't afford another loss, what with the Packers breathing down their neck.

The Complete Power Core Rankings: Week 11

1. Kansas City – Nine down, ten to go.

2. Tennessee – The Titans are in a league of their own…and Kansas City's.

3. St. Louis – They go up one because of the win, but I don't feel good about it after the pitiful offensive display on Sunday night.

4. New England – Can Tom Brady score on the Cowboys?

5. Carolina – Carolina with homefield advantage? It could happen.

6. Dallas – Winning ugly and Texas loves it.

7. Philadelphia – Donovan McNabb needs to throw some touchdown passes at some point this season.

8. Indianapolis – Succumbed to a trap game in Florida.

9. Tampa Bay – The Bucs could be sitting at home this January.

10. Seattle – Can't win on the road. That doesn't bode well for the playoffs.

11. Minnesota – A sweet season is turning sour in the great north.

12. Miami – Their record isn't good enough to combat the yearly December slump.

13. Green Bay – Ahman Green is a great runner who fumbles too often.

14. San Francisco – Ouch, all of a sudden the Monday night match against Pittsburgh doesn't look so sexy.

15. Denver – Getting Plummer back is big news for this hurting team.

16. Baltimore – Now that Boller's out, the quarterback situation gets worse.

17. Buffalo – That high-powered offense is failing its team.

18. Cincinnati – Another win for the Bungles. Another game closer to the unthinkable.

19. Washington – The Skins need to win this week or the playoffs will be just another mirage.

20. Pittsburgh – Is the win a start of something new or just a burp?

21. NY Giants – Jim Fassell will be looking for a job this off-season. Bob Stoops to NY anyone?

22. New Orleans – Jim Haslett and his buddy Bill Cowher may both be looking for jobs.

23. Cleveland – Hung tough and then hung out to dry.

24. NY Jets – Jets win. Who cares?

25. Houston – Maybe that win over Miami wasn't a fluke because Miami sure looks pretty bad right now.

26. Atlanta – The Little Engine That Could: The Warrick Dunn story.

27. Jacksonville – Nice win for the Jags. It's something to build on.

28. Oakland – Losing to the Jets hurts, but losing for a 7th time in nine games is worse.

29. San Diego – Wow, that was some game David Boston, now will you do that next week?

30. Detroit – The Lions win for only the second time all year.

31. Arizona – A three-game winning streak was too much to ask.

32. Chicago – Takes the bottom spot because they lost to the Lions.

Fruits of Labor (stock is rising)

  • Jerome Bettis Yes he fumbled again, but he did have a 4.4 yards per carry average after the first half.

Rotten Produce (stock is falling)

  • Plaxico Burress You opened your mouth and the flies flew in. He's slowly reverting back to his rookie year form.

Missed Point Opportunities (MPO)

TeamPittsburghArizona
Drives2nd Drive (Missed Field Goal)3rd Drive (No points after missed FG)
5th Drive (Punt after 3rd time in Pittsburgh territory)
6th Drive (FG after turnover)
7th Drive (Fumble)
9th Drive (Downs inside opposing 10)
Score15

Season MPO Record: 3 – 6

Wisdom From the Girl Apple

Girl Apple: Your Steelers won? That's great!

Apple: Yes it is, but I hope the fans still realize the team has many problems.

Girl Apple: But they won, right?

Apple: Yes, but Plaxico Burress didn't show up again and Jerome fumbled.

Girl Apple: But they won…right?

Apple: But Coach Cowher's still got a problematic offensive line and the running game still isn't up to par; oh and Jeff Reed even missed a chip-shot field goal.

Girl Apple: BUT THEY WON RIGHT?

Apple: Yes, but it was just Arizona…

Girl Apple: Do I really have to repeat myself again?

Apple: No, I get it. Just be happy for once this season.

Girl Apple: Right, silly, silly boy.

Apple: Just more wisdom from the Girl Apple.

Super Pappy Fried Chicken's Keys to the Game

  • There is hope in the 'burgh in the form of better play on both sides of the ball. Now let's just hope the Steelers can continue this increase in quality of play Monday night in San Fran.
  • I would feel much better about the game if it were to be played in Pittsburgh, considering the 49ers are 4-1 at home and 0-4 away even though the home team is 2-8 on Monday night this season. Let's just hope the Steelers find some of that Monday night magic we love to see.
  • With Terrell Owens on one side of the ball and Ward and Burress on the other you might think this is going to be a shoot-out, but this game is going to be decided in the trenches. The winner of this game is going to be the team that gets the best containment and the most pressure in the opposing backfield.
  • Nobody has been able to run against the Steelers, but the Steelers have not been able to run against anybody. The difference this week is the offensive line has been improving and the blitzing on defense has stifled and even at times spanked the opposing QBs.
  • Kudos goes out to Plaxico Burress for fighting back against the no-calls by the refs. The so-called 'push off' against Arizona was necessary. They are starting to take notice. Now Plax has to get back to playing his game and toying with corners as if they were Lincoln logs.
  • The screen pass and dump off have never been my favorite, but they seem to be a good fit with Verron Haynes on the receiving end. Lets give this kid more third downs.
  • It was nice to see wide receivers that were actually covered. Granted it was mostly because of the pressure on Jeff Blake, but even when he got the pass off Deshea Townsend was there to make some sort of play. Good move. Now if we can get Ike Taylor to take over for Chad Scott there will still be uncertainty, but at least there will be hope of him rising to the challenge.

Thoughts Assisted By Yuengling

  • Just think how good the Ravens could be if they had a quarterback and receivers. That defense stifled the Rams and Jamal Lewis was impressive even though his fumble was the killer.
  • Don't look now, but the New England Patriots are working their way into the #2 seed in the AFC. They beat the Titans and still have yet to face the Colts.
  • The way it looks now the AFC wild-cards will come out of the South and either the North or the West. I have a funny feeling the East is once again overrated.

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