Steel City Pre-Game

<b>Pittsburgh vs. Cincinnati</b><p> After watching Tommy Maddox's press conference, there's no doubt why the fans of Pittsburgh and the NFL in general have fallen love with the 31-year old quarterback. His story is one of legend. He has been sent emails, cards, and well-wishes by fans all over. This is all well and good and shows real class by fans everywhere.<p> But there is another quarterback that needs your support. His name is Kordell Stewart. And he's come to save the season.<p>

What strange bedfellows the fans of Pittsburgh and Stewart have become. Yet the marriage between the two will end this season. There is no reason to believe Stewart or the front office would consider extending his lucrative contract. Regardless, for 7 years we have been dazzled by his ability and frustrated by his inability.

Stewart, in all honesty, will give his best because he not only is playing for the Steelers, but he is also playing for the rest of his career. Because of that, he should be able to help the Steelers out-distance Cleveland for the division title in the next two weeks.

Consider: If Pittsburgh defeats both Cincinnati and Jacksonville, they will move their record to 7 - 4 - 1. Cleveland, on the other hand, must travel to New Orleans this week and then have a home game against Carolina. They must go 1 - 1 in the next two weeks, or the Steelers would only need to win 2 out of their last 4 games to win the division. Cleveland still has difficult matches against the aforementioned New Orleans, Atlanta, at Baltimore, at Jacksonville, and Indianapolis. Regardless, the Steelers still control their destiny, but it's nice to know that the Browns schedule works in the Steelers' favor.

So, send your well-wishes, prayers, and support to Tommy Maddox, but while you're out buy another card or say an extra prayer for the quarterback who is in charge of saving the season: Kordell Stewart.

Pittsburgh - NFL Rank 18 (Rush 5th, Pass 27th). The Steelers 3rd down defense once again struggled last week. It's mental now as the Steelers tend to over-pursue, thus ending up out of position. Eddie George converted on a big 3rd down inside the 10 last week due to over-pursuit.

Cincinnati - NFL Rank 17th (Rush 31th, Pass 11th). The Bengals will see a heavy dose of Jerome Bettis. But can they stop him?

Advantage: I like the Steelers to abuse the Bengals in retribution for last week's embarrassment.

Pittsburgh - NFL Rank 7th (Rush 10th, Pass 7th). Bettis should have a big day on the ground. He got his only 100-yard game of the season this year against these same Bengals.

Cincinnati - NFL Rank 22th (Rush 14th, Pass 21st). The Bengals still have too many questions on defense, although they've gotten more cohesive as the weeks have gone by. Chad Johnson is the biggest threat on defense and he may break one on Chad Scott.

Advantage: The Steeler offense should put the points on the board.

Kordell Stewart only needs to hand the ball off and be efficient on third down. If he can do those two things he won't hear the boos all day.

Can someone please explain why Jon Kitna would rather be a starting quarterback for an awful franchise than be a quality backup on a team that is competitive? Oh right. Money.

Advantage: Kordell is the lesser of two evils.

Outlook: I sense another Wesley Willis tune. Pittsburgh by 10.

--The Steel Apple

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