Surmising the Smizik Prediction

Bob Smizik is at it again. The much-maligned Pittsburgh sports reporter is making bold and unwarranted predictions based on last season's Pittsburgh Steelers season. But, the folly in these predictions isn't that. Even though they aren't meant to be taken seriously, you just know that he sort of hopes you in fact do take this as biblical law.

This isn't an attack on Bob Smizik. I'd have to get on a line that stretches the length of the Ohio River to let my rant be heard. Rather, this is an analysis of his predictions. Banal? Maybe. Worthless? Probably. Fun? You bet.

Smizik opens this little cherub by talking about how the Steelers deserve no respect for their season. That's why they didn't get a Monday Night Football game. What he fails to mention, though, is that it wasn't purely the 6 –10 season. That had a lot to do with it, but teams with worse records and bigger television markets (i.e. New York Jets and Dallas Cowboys) have repeatedly enjoyed the fun of Monday Night Football.

Next he begins to mention the Steelers big "break" by getting a rather easy schedule. We've been down this road before and I'm tired of the sights. It's sort of like any trip that takes me on the PA Turnpike its familiar and rather uninteresting to traverse. The Steelers the past two seasons have entered opening day with one of the easiest schedules in the NFL. This is due in part to the weakness of the AFC North, but the pure fact nowadays is that no schedule can be considered "easy." Parity is so strong in the NFL these days that no team can safely assume a win any longer. Fans will hear about this perceived "easy" Steelers schedule all during training camp. They'd do well to ignore it.

Now onto the picks:

Smizik gives the Steelers the nod over Oakland in the opening game of the season. I don't see why not, but remember, bad things usually happen when the Steelers win their opening game. I mentioned this very fact to my buddy Pappy seconds after the Steelers toasted the Ravens last September. He didn't appreciate the comment, but it sure was prophetic.

Disclaimer: I am not a prophet.

In the second game of the season, Smizik says that Duce Staley gets stifled by the Raven's defense and the Steelers lose. Why is it always the running back's fault? How about, "the Steelers offensive line breaks down quicker than sugar in water." But remember the Steeler fan mantra: blame the quarterback first, then the defense, then the running back, then the head coach and finally we'll might start talking about linemen.

In Game 3 the Steelers get pasted by the Miami Dolphins. Smizik says that A.J. Feeley picks apart the Steeler defense. Just because Captain Cody Carlson dissected an overrated Steeler defense over 10-years ago doesn't mean that the Steelers will be victimized by every career back-up quarterback. Kelly Holcomb-type performances don't happen every year.

Game 4 finds the Steelers back to 2 – 2 with a win over the Cincinnati Bengals. Why? Because they are the Bengals, that's why. If this game was deeper in the season, I'd have issues with his pick, but I'll let it slide.

The Steelers then go on a 4 game losing streak against Dallas, New England, Philadelphia and Cleveland. Will someone please tell me when the "easy" part of the schedule starts?

The Steelers win again in Cincinnati, but…Injury! Maddox goes down with an injury. Oh, the horror. Charlie Batch comes in and saves the Steelers fledging season and creates a quarterback controversy. Of course he does. What reporter (and I use the term loosely for some of these guys) doesn't want a quarterback controversy? Heaven forbid the fans grow fond of one quarterback for more than half a season.

At this point, Smizik probably writes a "Charlie Batch will the save the season and here is why" column.

Batch enters the next game on fire and he throws…three interceptions. The love affair lasts six whole days. Steeler fans start wishing David Woodley would come out of retirement. One fan officially starts a petition asking for Hines Ward and Antwaan Randle-El to act as dual quarterbacks on every play, which in theory would be quite cool, but it must be illegal. Doesn't it?

Finally, just to show his disdain for Bill Cowher and Tom Donahoe, the Steelers and Bills play to a tie. The Steelers miss the playoffs again. And Smizik and Co. have four months of "Why the Steelers Are Broke?" columns to fill the pages.

You've got to love the optimism. Why not just start writing about the 2005 draft. What? Mel Kiper's already done that you say? Oh the horror of it all.

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