Last updated 11/24/2020 at 9:31pm
STEELERS LOOK UNBEATABLE; COWBOYS COULD WIN NFC EAST
I know that when I figure out my Pro Picks on the weekly Fearless Forecast that I’ll have two automatic wins if I pick the Pittsburgh Steelers to win and the Dallas Cowboys to lose.
That was true during the first half of the 2020 National Football League season, but it may not be entirely true in the second half.
I believe that if the Steelers can get past tomorrow night’s meeting at Baltimore against the hot-and-cold Ravens, they very well could run the table by winning the remaining five games in the season.
Of course, aging quarterback Ben Roethlisberger MUST stay healthy and the COVID-19 must not camp out in northwestern Pennsylvania for any unusual length of time. The defense needs to play as solidly as it did Sunday in Pittsburgh’s 27-3 victory over feeble Jacksonville.
The rest of the Steelers’ opponents (Baltimore, Washington. Buffalo, Cincinnati, Indianapolis and Cleveland) seem very beatable with maybe the red-hot Indianapolis Colts giving them as much or more problems on Dec. 27 than the Ravens will tomorrow night.
However, many teams choose to rest their starters after they either clinch the division championship or assure themselves of a lofty playoff berth. That has stopped a couple of past teams from running the table undefeated.
There have been 17 other NFL teams to start the season 10-0 since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970. The last teams to accomplish that feat were the Carolina Panthers and the New England Patriots in 2015.
And 10 of the previous 16 teams to do so, made it to the Super Bowl, according to last week’s issue of the USA Today Sports Weekly. The first team to be included in the group was the 1972 Miami Dolphins—the only team in NFL history to go unbeaten throughout the entire season, including the playoffs.
Pittsburgh has faced only three opponents with winning records—Baltimore. Cleveland and Tennessee—and have four of their remaining games against teams with winning records—Baltimore, Buffalo, Indianapolis and Cleveland.
Let’s look at the weak NFC East Division. If the Dallas Cowboys continue to play defense like they did Sunday at Minnesota when the chips were down and the outcome of the game was still in balance, they could very well finish as the division champions.
It’s a sure bet no other division members will have a shot at the playoffs. The scenario will be winner takes all!!
All four members of the East Division have won only three of 10 games. The Philadelphia Eagles (who were favored by the preseason prognosticators) lead the division due to their 23-23 tie with Cincinnati in Week 3. The Eagles have six losses while the other three have suffered seven setbacks.
Eagles’ fans and Philadelphia media have begged Head Coach Doug Peterson to bench quarterback Carson Wentz (who is the lowest ranking quarterback of the 32 NFL teams) but the coach refuses, citing the fact that it would give the team a signal that the season is over when in fact the team is leading the division.
An analysis of the four members of the East Division shows that our Dallas Cowboys actually have the easiest road to the championship.
The Pokes’ remaining six opponents have a combined record of 21-37-2 which is the worst of the four members. Dallas plays Washington (3-7), Baltimore (6-4), Cincinnati (2-7-1), San Francisco (4-6), Philadelphia (3-6-1) and the Giants (3-7).
The team with the most difficult path to the playoffs is the division-leading Eagles, whose six remaining opponents have a combined record of 36-25, with Washington close behind with 33-27-1 and the New York Giants at 31-28-1.
The Cowboys snapped a four-game losing streak Sunday with their 31-28 upset victory at Minnesota. The Cowboys were seven-point underdogs at kickoff time.
Quarterback Andy Dalton returned from a two-game absence to have one of his better games—three touchdown passes including a two-yard game-winning toss to tight end Dalton Schultz with 1:37 left in the game.
Dalton connected on 22-of-33 passes for 203 yards and one interception after fill-ins Ben DiNucci and Garrett Gilbert started the previous two games.
Idiot owner Jerry Jones may still look like the genius he claims to be for hiring Mike McCarthy as his head coach if he can pull off a division championship.
KWICKIES…The Houston Texans played their best game of the season by far Sunday, defeating perennial nemesis New England and its coach Bill Belichick 27-20. It was a feather in the cap for interim head coach Romeo Crennel, who had worked 17 years for Belichick at New England and had never beaten the Patriots head coach whenever they met head-to-head. Quarterback Deshaun Watson completed 28 of 37 passes for 344 yards and two touchdowns which produced a dazzling 121.9 quarterback rating. He also ran for a four-yard touchdown.
The Cleveland Browns’ current 7-3 record is the best 10-game start since 1994. The last time the Browns were above .500 was in 2007.
The Washington (Whatever their nickname is this week) 20-9 victory over quarterback-less Cincinnati Sunday marked the first win for starting quarterback Alex Smith since the 2018 season. It seems the lengthy rehabilitation period is paying off.
The four pass receptions by Dallas Cowboys star rookie wide receiver Cee Dee Lamb broke the team’s record of 46 receptions by a rookie that was set in 1965 by “Bullet” Bob Hayes.
JUST BETWEEN US…Perhaps we can just credit weirdo year 2020, but after last weekend there isn’t an area team still alive in the state football playoffs. Undefeated West Orange=Stark and East Chambers both were upset along with the Newton Eagles, Woodville, Silsbee and the Deweyville Pirates. One area newspaper was so flabbergasted about the losses that they identified West Orange-Stark head coach Cornel Thompson—who has been at the school for more than 40 years—as Cornel Armstrong. Maybe it’s because they ignore the school during the regular season until it is just one of the few teams left each season in the state playoffs.