Apple Pie: Friday Night Edition

Jacksonville and the New York Jets. That's about all you need to know the rest of the season.<br><br> No matter what happens over the next three weeks, the Steelers must remember this formula. Ten games remain, including Jacksonville and the Jets. Of the eight not included with the Jets, the Steelers can safely look to be distinct if not heavy favorites to win four. These wins would be against Washington and Baltimore at home, and Cincinnati and Buffalo on the road.

This leaves four games where the Steelers look like an underdog or the line will be even. These we will call "losses" for the sake of argument and they come against New England and Philadelphia at home and the NY Giants and Cleveland away. This leaves the Steelers at 9 wins and 5 losses.

This is where Jacksonville and the Jets come into importance. Both teams will be fighting for a wild-card spot and the Steelers will also be in that mix. Should the Steelers split the games, which is quite realistic, they would have a 10 - 6 record and would in all likelihood have a guaranteed playoff berth. On the other hand, should the Steelers drop both games, then they're looking at 9 - 7 with the tiebreakers going against them and... well, you get my point.

But, the best thing the Steelers can do is win their home games. This would give the Steelers a 10-win season.

Apple Six-Pack Recap

1. Cincinnati 23 Denver 10 – My buddy Kevin was trying to get me to trade for Denver's defensive unit. I almost considered it until the Bengals ran over this light unit. Champ Bailey fell on Chad Johnson's first long grab, got waxed on Johnson's second long grab of the night, and then intercepted Carson Palmer. Bailey later on got waxed again and the victory went to Johnson and in effect the Bengals.

2. New England 13 NY Jets 7 – When Dan Klecko fumbled in the second half, you could feel that the Jets would have their shot. Three downs later and the Jets were punting away. They would get the ball back, but Chad Pennington's insistence down the stretch to throw into double and triple coverage instead of his efficient dump-offs in the first half doomed this team. There is also no excuse for the typical reluctance of Herm Edwards to use Curtis Martin as a workhorse.

3. Jacksonville 27 Indianapolis 24 – Okay, now I am a believer. But, will anyone tell me why in heaven's name the Colts refuse to let Edge James run more often? I mean the Colts score sometimes at will, but they score so quickly that they don't ever give their defense a chance to rest. And that defense? They may be worse than last year's group.

4. Philadelphia 34 Cleveland 31 (OT) – Here is my theory on the Butch Davis Browns. They play really well and with a lot of heart when at home and against opponents that they have some sort of grudge against. That's the only reason I can explain the Browns you saw beat the Bengals, Ravens and almost Philadelphia when compared to the Browns that lost to the Giants, Steelers and Cowboys.

5. Green Bay 41 Dallas 20 – My IM away message urged anyone and everyone to make sure Cowboy Matt hadn't put his head in an oven after this thorough butt-whipping by Favre and gang. I really don't think Dallas is THIS bad, but I think the last minutes of last week's plunder against the Steelers had this team shell-shocked all week. They had to answer the questions all week of why they couldn't put teams away in the 4th quarter. Well, they didn't even get close to testing their theories this week.

6. Detroit 28 NY Giants 13 – Living in New York City, I got to watch this game in its entirety and the Giants didn't play the inspired defense that has been keeping them in games. They also didn't open holes for Tiki Barber on offense. And when Kurt Warner threw that interception in the end zone before half, you just knew that the Lions weren't going to give up this game that easily. This game had wild-card implications and the Lions just took hold of their destiny.

Power Core Power Rankings (Top 12)

  1. New England Patriots – And the train keeps on rolling.
  2. Philadelphia Eagles – Big scare, but Dorsey Levens saves the day. Wait, this isn't 1997 and these are the Packers.
  3. Minnesota Vikings – No Moss? No McNair. No problem.
  4. Pittsburgh Steelers – Does midnight strike for Big Ben on Sunday?
  5. Indianapolis – Okay, the defense must get much better.
  6. Jacksonville – Only behind the Colts in the rankings because they should be.
  7. NY Jets – Had their chances Sunday, but Pennington choked…
  8. Denver – Another Monday night disaster.
  9. NY Giants – At least they lost to a potential playoff team.
  10. Baltimore Ravens – At some point Kyle Boller will kill this team.
  11. San Diego – Keep an eye out on this team.
  12. Atlanta – This team is not as awful as they portrayed on Sunday.

Apple Six-Pack

1. Baltimore Ravens at Philadelphia Eagles – No Game of the Week for this Six-Pack since that honor goes to Patriots vs. Steelers (which I did pick this summer). But, this has all the makings of fabulous game. It's gut check time for the Ravens. Todd Heap will be doubtful to questionable again; Jamal Lewis will not be suited up; and the Ravens defense will be faced with stopping a high-powered offense. The last time they tried, they got slammed by the Kansas City Chiefs. T.O. and Chris McCallister will be locked on each other all game, but for the Ravens to have any shot at winning they must exploit the Eagles' lack of run defense. I just don't think the Ravens will have enough offense and offense from defense to pull out a win.

2. NY Giants at Minnesota Vikings – The Giants came of the bye with (surprise) another loss. But, they are still in the driver's seat for a wild-card berth. Detroit and Green Bay will be rooting hard for a Giants victory and if Randy Moss doesn't play, I can see the Giants stealing one from the Vikings. They will need to play tough defense, unlike the crap they spewed this past Sunday. Yes, that was Tim Lewis' defense that slept at the wheel in the Meadowlands.

3. Indianapolis Colts at Kansas City Chiefs – The whole plan was to beat Jacksonville and open up a two-game lead so they could take a possible mulligan against the Chiefs. But that party was spoiled; so guess what? The Colts, with the worst defense in the league, get to take on a Chiefs team that scored eight rushing touchdowns against the Atlanta Falcons - or should I say the former "No. 1 rated rushing defense in the league" Atlanta Falcons. Jacksonville could be looking at a two-game lead in the AFC South.

4. Atlanta Falcons at Denver Broncos – Everyone wants to know what's happened to Michael Vick? Well, teams aren't allowing his feet to beat them anymore. They're making him throw the ball. Opposing defenses aren't leaving their lanes and Vick therefore has nowhere to run. Thus he's forced to throw the ball and, well, you can take this from here.

5. Oakland Raiders at San Diego Chargers – Hush. Listen very closely. Do you hear that? That's the sound of the San Diego Chargers sneaking up on everyone in the NFL. Watch this team steal a wild-card berth. Just watch it happen.

6. Detroit Lions at Dallas Cowboys – While the Cowboys' season is over, the Lions on the other hand are right in the thick of the playoff rush. Things haven't been this interesting in Motown since 1991 when the Lions went to the NFC Championship Game. A win will also keep them ahead of those pesky Packers who always find a way to dominate them.

Seeds Of Wisdom From the Girl Apple

Apple: I'm going to Scruffy's on Sunday to watch the game!

Girl Apple: Is that such a good idea?

Apple: Why not?

Girl Apple: It seems like every time you go there the Steelers lose. Why not Blondies?

Apple: Well lets see here. The Steelers have lost to the Patriots, Titans, Ravens and Browns in my last five trips there over the last three seasons.

Girl Apple: You see my point.

Apple: Yes. I will not go to Scruffy's. This wisdom applies to anyone who has a lucky charm. Wear it. Use it.

Girl Apple: It does apply. But remember what you say silly Apple, "Only the players can execute the game plan, no unworn jersey has ever won a game before."

Apple: So true. Okay. No Scruffy's. And no watching Jeff Reed make field goals. Hopefully that's enough.

Apple's Fantasy Football Results

TheDallasCowboysSuck 160 IPeeOnSteelers Record 147 (3 - 4): Next Week vs. Los Loco Leprechauns (5 – 2)
Cowboy Matt still can't find a win. Neither with his Cowboys nor his fantasy team.

The Woodside Geminis 52 vs. The Grey Groose 34 Record (7 – 0): Next Week vs. The Charmed Life (4 – 3)
2 weeks ago, the juggernaut continued to role by defeating the Chaos Theory 27 – 13. The Gemini this week, on the heals of huge games from McNabb, T.O., Chris Chambers and Jeff Garcia, easily defeated the The Grey Groose to go 7 – 0 and extend their lead in the East Division to 2 games.

DCFB 71 vs. Queenz Projectile Chunkz 93 Record (2 – 5): Next Week vs. Glenolden Gold Diggers (2 – 5)
Even Big Ben wouldn't have helped my team in this game. Chris Brown and Thomas Jones are slowing down to a halt.

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