Friday, August 21, 2009

STEELERS POISED TO MAKE SHAMBLES OF NFL BRETHREN

ABOVE: A bemused cop surveys the aftermath of a runaway wrecking ball smashing into the back of this car. Statistically, wrecking balls win nearly every matchup they face. In the picture above, pretend that the car represents the NFL and the wrecking ball? Your clue is that it should be painted "Black & Gold".


Analysis by Angelo Spagnolo, Editor

along with exclusive predictions by "P.B.& G.'s" Michele de Nostradamus


The Pittsburgh Steelers have been good enough to win six of the first 43 Lombardi Trophies ever awarded by the NFL (13.95% of the total league booty). For this, we as Steeler fans will be forever grateful. With that statement serving as a backdrop, get ready Pittsburgh: This season could be a vintage year even by Pittsburgh standards!
For a person who has followed the Steelers from the days before they'd ever even won a division title, I'd have to go back to 1976 to find a lineup that has so few weaknesses and such tremendous depth as this year's unit has. This team should be considered "scary good" and the reasoning is quite simple: The replacement parts are better than the parts they're replacing! For example, you replace a solid linebacker, Larry Foote with a dynamic first-round pick, Lawrence Timmons. You lose an "average" wideout Nate Washington and replace him with last year's number two pick, Limas Sweed and speed merchant, Richard Wallace. Bryant McFadden is also gone at cornerback, but William Gay, his backup last year, is a more than capable replacement there too.

You then mix in a quarterback who is the greatest we've had since Bradshaw and give him a more cohesive and better-seasoned line than he had last year along with last season's number one pick, Rashard Mendenhall back and healthy. If that's not enough for you, you also add a healthy punter, Daniel Sepulveda, back onto the roster after basically playing all last year virtually without a punter and the result is a team that right now looks even stronger than last year's SuperBowl-winning team, if that's possible.

Of course we all know about football...how freak injuries, like yesterday's "ankle-stepped-on" injury suffered by Ben, can impact a team and derail what looked like a can't miss season. But that's the beauty of this team. The Steelers are positioned virtually everywhere on their roster that if a calamity unfolds on the field, there is a competent, experienced replacement ready to take over. Ben won't play tomorrow, but this will merely create more playing time for Charlie Batch and further progress the development of Dennis Dixon.
But I'm not just talking about the quarterback spot either. Look at the times where, say, a Casey Hampton got injured and Chris Hoke came in and the team didn't miss a beat, or Rashard Mendenhall and Willie Parker get banged up and Mewelde Moore comes in and carries the entire running game on his back! It's that kind of quality depth and attention to detail that should make this year's version of the Pittsburgh Steelers nothing short of a juggernaut. They know injuries are a big part of the game. they plan for them eventually happening and shrug them off when they do.

Indeed, so strong will this team be, that they should be the last remaining undefeated team this season, losing their first game possibly on November 29th in the annual blood-letting in Baltimore. At that point their record will "fall" to 10-1. Oh there will be close calls. In weeks three and four at Cincinnati and home versus the Chargers the Steelers will require Jeff Reed heroics to save the day. Their game in week seven at home against Minnesota should be a classic too. But basically it's going to be too much Steelers defense and too much Big Ben in what should be a much more balanced offense this season: Translation, more effective running game will save wear and tear on Ben while the defense continues to suffocate everyone around.
ABOVE: We sent our intrepid photographer, Dave Navis, out on a mission: Get a shot of Big Ben posing, ready to strike three for our Nostradamus predictions. Several thousands of dollars later he comes back with this... What can we say? It is Big Ben and it is about to strike three! We'll be more specific next time we give Navis an assignment!

Because their defense will once again possess such a withering attack, the Pittsburgh Steelers have a very real opportunity to repeat as back-to-back champions for the third time in their illustrious history. It's very easy to see that there are many players on this team who are just now entering into the prime of their careers. The coach is riveted onto the task at hand and the players really seem to have bought into the idea that last year's championship means nothing this year. In fact, they'd probably all tell you that it does nothing but put a big X on their back as the primary target and causes opponents to circle that game on their schedule as their biggest of the season.

It's tough winning a SuperBowl, even tougher doing it two years in a row. If ever the Steelers had a team that I felt confident could do it, it's this year's version without a doubt. Oh, by the way, that 1976 team spent most of the year winning without Terry Bradshaw (neck injury due to being "spiked" on his head by "Turkey" Jones of Cleveland) and pitched more shutouts than any defense in history. However, in a calamitous development, they lost both Franco Harris and Rocky Bleier in the same playoff game, a "Pyrrhic Victory" over the Baltimore Colts, if there ever was one, where they won the battle, but ultimately lost the war. The next week they were defeated in a dismal game against the hated Raiders in Oakland losing the AFC Championship. So the team long regarded by most as the strongest in Steeler history didn't win the SuperBowl that year. But that's football. You need luck too.

ABOVE: Michele de Nostradamus' predictions have been "spot-on" for us the past year and we can't say how grateful we are to now have his predictions exclusively here at "P.B. & G."!--editor

By Nostradamus

Below here's the 2009 schedule along with my forecast. You won't ever see many people predicting a season to be this strong, but 14-2 is very possible. Twelve wins for a team as talented as this one seems eminently doable. I'm even going to predict that there could be three games whose starting times are changed this year due to television! Where else are you going to get prognostications as detailed as that? You don't get my reputation by going out on a limb predicting a 9-7 season for a team this great. You have the guts to call it like it is.

Thursday, Sept. 10th 8:30 VS Tennessee W 20-10 (1-0) NFL season kickoff.

Sunday, Sept. 20th 4:15 at Chicago W 24-17 (2-0) Never easy to win here.

Sunday, Sept. 27th 4:15 at Cincinnati W 17-14 (3-0)* Watch it!

Sunday, Oct. 4th 8:20 VS San Diego W 24-21 (4-0)* Another tough win.

Sunday, Oct. 11th 1:00 at Detroit W 28-3 (5-0) Should stick with hockey.

Sunday, Oct. 18th 1:00 VS Cleveland W 31-10 (6-0) Blowout.

Sunday, Oct. 25th 1:00 VS Minnesota W 28-17 (7-0) (expect Favretime change!)

BYE WEEK. A nice late week followed by a Monday game!

Monday, Nov. 9th 8:30 at Denver W 35-7 (8-0) Broncos not looking good.

Sunday, Nov. 15 1:00 VS Cincinnati W 30-10 (9-0) Real Bungles show up.

Sunday, Nov. 22nd 1:00 at Kansas city W 34-0 (10-0) Awful team.

Sunday, Nov. 29th 8:20 at Baltimore L 17-14 (10-1) A coin toss decides.

Sunday, Dec. 6th 1:00 VS Oakland W 31-3 (11-1) Organizational chaos.

Thursday, Dec. 10th 8:20 at Cleveland W 27-7 (12-1) Browns dreadful.

Sunday, Dec. 20th 1:00 VS Green Bay W 31-17 (13-1) (possible time change)

Sunday, Dec. 27th 1:00 VS Baltimore W 17-10 (14-1) (make book on change)

Sunday, Jan. 3rd 1:00 at Miami L 16-14 (14-2) Second team almost wins.

* Denotes upset possibility

Heading into the playoffs, the Steelers will be the number one seed drawing a first round bye and home field advantage throughout.

ABOVE: This is what used to be called a "Stairway to Heaven". It's been officially renamed here in the Burgh to the "Stairway to Seven" SuperBowl Championships (heaven on earth for the Steeler Nation).