The Steelers sit at 8-5, one game ahead of Baltimore, and their remaining three games are against AFC North opponents. They control their own destiny. Win them all, and they win the division and could possibly, depending one what Oakland and Kansas City do, gain a first round bye in the playoffs. Who thought this was possible after that last minute loss to Dallas dropped them to 4-5?
One thing that I see as a very positive sign for the Steelers in 2016 is that their top three draft picks of last spring, Artie Burns, Sean Davis, and Javon Hargrave, are all starting for the team on defense, and are playing very well. Time will tell just how good these players will be, but this is a positive development, and when you consider the contributions of players like Bud Dupree, Ryan Shazier, Stephon Tuitt, and Cam Hayward, you realize that in the space of a season and half, the defense has gotten a whole lot younger. That is a very good sign for the rest of this season and for, perhaps, the rest of this decade.
The Pitt Panthers will be taking on Northwestern on December 28 in the Pinstripe Bowl in New York. I didn't want to let the season end without saying a few words about senior quarterback Nate Peterman.
Peterman was certainly no Dan Marino or Matt Cavanaugh, and maybe not even Alex Van Pelt, but he was, as a I said a very good QB for Pitt in his time here. I have no idea as to whether or not he has the goods to make it in the NFL, but I do know that the Panthers have some very big shoes to fill at quarterback when spring practice rolls around.
Here's hoping for a big game for Nate Peterman in his final game at Yankee Stadium in two weeks, and for a great future for him in any endeavor he chooses.
Pitt Football was in the news this week when offensive coordinator Matt Canada accepted the same position at Louisiana State. This is the second year in a row that Pitt has lost its OC to one of the "big boys" in the SEC. Joe Starkey of the Post-Gazette wrote a great column on this topic earlier in the week, and it highlighted the good news/bad news nature off this development. On the "Good" side, Pitt is obviously doing well enough that it's coaches are being coveted by the elite unlimited budgeted programs in the SEC like Georgia and LSU. On the "Bad" side is the stark reality that Pitt either can't or won't be able to compete with these football factories when they come to Oakland to strip the cupboard bare, and one wonders when, should Pitt's football successes continue, will one of these monsters come dangling a mega-contract under the nose of Pat Narduzzi? Narduzzi continues to say all the right things about how he's a "Pitt guy" and how he ain't going anywhere, but if Pitt keeps piling up eight or nine or ten win seasons, we all know what's going to happen, don't we?