Wednesday Apple Pie

Parity is a funny thing. Over the 90's the NFL morphed from an era of dynasties to an era of one-hit wonders.

The problem (or not) is that after what has occurred in the last three years, we've seen the era of parity turn the league into another case of have-nots and haves, but this time it's a little harder to distinguish between the two.

For instance, in 2001 there were 10 teams with double-digit losses. In 2002, probably the banner year for parity, only 10 teams had double-digit losses. Last year, 13 teams had double-digit losses. This season already 12 teams are on pace for double-digit losses. I haven't even counted the teams that are looking at 7, 8 and 9 losses on the year, but this season could have a record number of teams within that bracket.

What does that mean for the "haves"? Well it means that the chances of a team making the playoffs this season with 9 wins are pretty, pretty darn good. Last season, not one team with 9 wins made the playoffs. The magic number was set at 10 and even that wasn't good enough for the Miami Dolphins. But, generally a 10-win season, in theory, should get you a playoff berth this season.

For the Steelers, they are 7 wins away from the "magic" number. Looking at their schedule the rest of the way, the Steelers have 3 games where we can all beyond a measure of a doubt expect a win (Cleveland, Washington, at Buffalo). By my theory, that's 3 wins, making the total 6. We're 4 away.

Next, we can look at the winnable match-ups (at Cleveland, at Cincinnati, Baltimore, at NY Giants, NY Jets, at Jacksonville, at Dallas). Okay, that's 7 games, and if the teams goes 3 – 4 over that stretch, that leaves Pittsburgh at 9 wins, 1 away from the magic number.

This leaves two games left, the two hardest matches on the schedule (Philadelphia, New England). Both games are at Heinz Field and the Steelers should be able to pull out a split in these two games. That would leave the Steelers with a 10 – 6 record and a trip to the playoffs.

I know that many folks would rather not look ahead, but the Steelers, by going 3 – 1 to start the season and winning some winnable games, have put themselves into a fantastic position heading into the second quarter.


Apple Six-Pack Recap

1. St. Louis 24 San Francisco 14 – If I lose this week in my in-house fantasy football league it will be because the Rams played a prevent defense for the ENTIRE second half against Tim Ratty. He gobbled up close to 240 passing yards in the third and fourth quarter. That isn't right. He played horribly in the first half. And his team is just as awful.

2. Atlanta 27 Carolina 10 – Okay, so I like many others figured the Falcons would be better because of a healthy Michael Vick. I just didn't expect their defense to play as well. Or perhaps, just perhaps, Carolina isn't that good without its top two weapons on offense. Consider me not sold on Atlanta…yet.

3. Indianapolis 24 Jacksonville 17 – The Jaguars played a scrappy game this week, but really, did anyone in their right mind think they were ready to beat the big boys? It's pretty obvious that Buffalo and Tennessee are bad football teams. That win over Denver, though, is a gem. Seems to me that they are a little like the Steelers in that regard, beating up on bad teams and losing to the good ones. On a side note, I might have made a huge mistake trading Edge James away in my CBS league. I'll get to the trade later on and you can tell me if I got the good end of the deal.

4. Kansas City 27 Baltimore 24 – I'm confused. I thought Kansas City was supposed to be washed up and their season over? Apparently so did Baltimore. The Ravens totaled just over 200 yards against the "vaunted" Chief defense. Priest Holmes also made his return to Baltimore very memorable. Guess what Steeler fans, Baltimore is now 2 – 2.

5. NY Giants 14 Green Bay 7 – I listened to this game on the NJ turnpike on my way home and the collective silence in Green Bay was a testament to the end of two eras. The first is the past decade of intimidation old Lambeau Field terrorized opposing teams with and the second is the downfall of Bret Favre. Tough to see a player like Favre lose a game in which he would have willed a win, but the Packers should be looking for his replacement.

6. New England 31 Buffalo 17 – Tied 17 - 17 going into the 4th quarter, you could feel that this was the best shot any team would have to beat New England for the next 2 weeks. But, remembering that it was Buffalo and not, say, the Jets, the Patriots' streak lives. Everyone raise your hand if you are tired of seeing the Patriots somehow continue to win.


Power Core Power Rankings (Top 12)

  1. New England Patriots – How was David Patten THAT wide open?
  2. Philadelphia Eagles – Dispatched the Bears with no more than a flick of the finger?
  3. Indianapolis Colts – The only real threat to the Patriots…well maybe the Jets too.
  4. Seattle Seahawks – Repeat: The defense has allowed 1 touchdown all season.
  5. Minnesota Vikings – The Vikings are having the division handed to them, from the Packers.
  6. Denver Broncos – Running game is overrated.
  7. NY Jets – Can look forward to Week 7 in New England.
  8. Pittsburgh Steelers – An efficient win that was made a little closer by a couple of fumbles.
  9. Atlanta Falcons – Just keep winning in a weak NFC South.
  10. Dallas Cowboys – Oh, Cowboy Matt, only two weeks to go till the Steelers come to town.
  11. Baltimore Ravens – Not the type of Monday night effort that is expected from a Ray Lewis defense.
  12. NY Giants – Somehow, someway, this team finds a way to be 3 – 1. That's good coaching.

Apple Six-Pack

1. NY Giants at Dallas Cowboys (GOTW) – Huge game for both teams. With the Redskins dropping very quickly (and by the way my Super Bowl teams going a collective 1 – 7), these two teams battle for one of two wild cards. Dallas' problem is that they still don't have a running game. NY's problem is that Eli Manning is just a concussion away. The big key here will be whether Tiki Barber can run on the Dallas defense.

2. St. Louis Rams at Seattle Seahawks – This is another must win for the Rams. They are the only team that can catch the Seahawks and if Mike Martz tries to air it out non-stop, the Rams will never be in this game. Marshall Faulk must run well for the Rams to have a shot and the defense must create a few turnovers.

3. Tennessee Titans at Green Bay Packers Poor ABC. On paper this was a great match-up, but at this point in the season, only true fans of the game can appreciate its importance. The winner of this game will stay in the hunt for the playoffs. The loser can start thinking about the draft. It's that simple and that immediate.

4. Carolina Panthers at Denver Broncos – With only San Diego showing signs of life, the Broncos have a shot at owning the AFC West by default. The Panthers on the other hand need this game badly to overcome what has been a truly horrific start.

5. Oakland Raiders at Indianapolis Colts – Seems like an easy win for the Colts right? Not so fast. The Raiders have weapons and a staunch run defense. This may be closer than Tony Dungy would like and an upset special.

6. Detroit Lions at Atlanta Falcons – This is a big test for the Lions. It will determine what class they should be placed in. They aren't in Class A because they got slammed by the Eagles, but they aren't in Class F. I think they want to be in Class B with the Falcons, but they may have to live with Class C.


Seeds Of Wisdom From the Girl Apple

Girl Apple: Thanks for spending Sunday with my family, instead of with your silly football.

Apple: You're welcome. I just hate waiting for out-of-town radio updates.

Girl Apple: I know, but they won and you got to watch the game on video. Anything you saw that you liked?

Apple: Well, I don't like Duce Staley fumbling twice, but then again, I don't like Jerome Bettis finishing up Duce's long drives with gimmee touchdowns.

Girl Apple: Well, is that Jerome's job?

Apple: What do you mean? He's the short yardage specialist.

Girl Apple: And is it a short yardage situation?

Apple: Yes.

Girl Apple: Well…?

Apple: I guess you're right. Your wisdom today is hard to swallow, but I still think Duce needs a touchdown every once and a while. But, now that I think of it, I guess when Jerome is gone next season, Duce will have all the carries he could want. So, I guess I should just relax and let everyone do their jobs.


Apple's Fantasy Football Results

TheDallasCowboysSuck 78 IPeeOnSteelers 131: Record (2 - 2): Next Week vs. Les Locos Leprechauns (3 – 1)
When Yahoo! tells you that you have updated your lineup, don't believe them. I started 7 players on my 11-player team this week because of Yahoo!

The Woodside Geminis vs. The Mudsharks (Night): Record (3 – 0)
2 weeks ago, the Geminis defeated The Rebels with big games from McNabb and Terrell Owens 23 - 19. The early word on this week's game points to a 2-point swing towards the Gemini.

DCFB 57 The Astoria Ti-Teihy's 73: Record (1 – 3): Next Week vs. The Axis of Evil
I basically sacrificed a win this week for a winning record the rest of the season. I had 3 of the top 4 running backs in our league.
The trade:
I gave up: Edge James, Donald Driver and Antonio Bryant
I receive: Roy Williams, Aaron Stecker and Plaxico Burress


Bites

  • I hate the radio stations around New York City. The last out of town scoreboard I heard was at 3:45 and the Steelers had just taken a 21 – 17 lead. The next scoreboard I heard was at 4:40. I had also lost most of the color of my hair.
  • After watching a video of the game I can say that Duce Staley was the best pick-up since Jerome Bettis.
  • I know some of you are worried about Cleveland. Well, all the Steelers must do is stop Lee Suggs and limit turnovers and they win.
  • Cleveland and Houston are the worst 2 – 2 teams in the league. Pittsburgh and Jacksonville are the worst 3 – 1 teams in the league. Other than that, the parity isn't very evident this year.
  • The Steelers are starting to get some National respect. The CBS Sports number one team of Nantz and Simms will call the Steeler/Cowboy match-up in two weeks. That won't be the last time Nantz and Simms see the Steelers if they continue to win frequently.

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