At the beginning of the season, I said that the Steelers would "win twelve games, win the AFC North Division and gain first round playoff bye, win the AFC Championship, and win the Super Bowl." Today the team sits at 4-1 and are one, two, and three games ahead of their AFC North rivals, and are playing at a level that is almost impeccable. Yes, they did fall behind the Jets at one point yesterday, but was there ever a moment in that game when you felt that they were NOT going to comfortably beat the Jets?
There have been injuries to some key players, but it hasn't appeared to slow them down a bit. And, yes, there have been times when that bend-bit-don't-break defense can get a bit scary, but they have been more than adequate, in fact, they have been quite good, when it comes to surrendering points, and all four of those wins have been laughers.
Well, there was that blip in the form of that 34-3 loss to the Eagles in Week Three. Not sure how you account for that, and I am thinking that when the season is over, that game may well qualify for the NFL Aberration of the Year Award.
And as long as none of those key injuries happens to #7, I see no reason to back off of my pre-season prediction.
And while none of us can look past the Dolphins next week (it's the kind of game that the Steelers have lost in recent seasons), that match-up with the Patriots at Heinz Field on October 23 is shaping up as a possible AFC Championship preview.
Then there are the Pitt Panthers.
They are half way through the season and are 4-2 (1-1 in the ACC). Save for the opener against Villanova, everyone of the Panthers games have been high scoring, decided in the final minutes of each game, and wildly entertaining. Pitt could very easily be 6-0 today. They also could very easily be 1-5. They are just that kind of a team, and it has been that kind of a season.
What remains before them are home games with Virginia Tech, Duke, and Syracuse, and road games with Virginia, Miami, and Clemson. The only game among those six that appears to be a sure thing is a loss to Clemson. Of the other five, it would be a surprise but not a shock if Pitt went 4-1 or 5-0. It would also not be a shock to see them go 1-4 or 2-3.
Two more wins are needed for Pitt to gain Bowl eligibility, which is no great shakes in today's college football scene, but winning their division in the ACC is also in play given some help from some other schools. My buddy Bob Middleman, who has forgotten more about Pitt football than I will ever know, told me before the season that he thought Pitt would be a 7-5 team this year, maybe 8-4. Those numbers are attainable, so if that is how it ends up, I suppose that you would be able to call this a reasonably successful season. It will then be up to Pat Narduzzi to continue to bring in his kinds of players and continue to coach 'em up.
And no knock on Nate Peterman, but a top flight college quarterback would be nice. And more guys named Quadree.