It was another good week for yours truly… not only because of a Steelers victory, but because of how well I have my pulse on this team.
Hey, that's what I said the week before! Well, I didn't do too bad here either. The Baltimore Ravens made me nervous, but I was mostly money with my guesstimations:
- Roethlisberger exceeds 350 passing yards
- 270... swing and a miss on this one, but I'll take the "W" instead!
- No Turnovers
- The Steelers protected the football at all times! Zing!
- Gimme the under
- The over/under was set at 47.5, with a final score of 23-16
- Steelers win
- They did... but man I wasn't that confident!
- Two 100-yard receivers
- I totally blew like the refs blowing pass interference calls
- Steelers defense struggles to get to Flacco
- Sure felt like it for awhile. Pittsburgh finished with two sacks while the Ravens only had one. (I predicted the over/under as 1 on Big Ben getting sacked.)
- Conner keeps rolling
- I was thinking 125-130, but James smashed those numbers once again with 163 all-purpose yards
With those predictions making me feel (mostly) good I’m going to attempt to carry that momentum into Thursday Night Football. Here are my new predictions for the Steelers versus the Panthers.
Steelers have the best Color Rush jerseys
This is a given. There’s nothing to even predict: it’s a statement. (A bold one, so it still belongs!)
Conner eclipses another 125+ yards from scrimmage
No one is going to slow James Conner down at this point. He’s already doing things that a select few, if any, players have accomplished in NFL history.
The Panthers will put up a fight but I expect Conner to come out of this game with over 125 all-purpose yards and a touchdown. The only thing that might eat into his production is if the coaching staff gives him a breather due to the short week.
Steelers just miss scoring 30 points
I only see 30+ possible if there’s a defensive touchdown. The offense should be in the 26-28 range, similar to my call last week.
That will be plenty enough…
Steelers win on Thursday Night Football
They’re already 7-2 all-time on Thursdays played at home. Away teams get victimized in these games, and while I could see Carolina better prepared than most, they too will feel the sting of traveling on a short week.
Defense holds Panthers under 20 points
I’m thinking the Steelers defense is going to maintain their momentum and keep Cam Newton and company from scoring TDs. A field goal flurry from Graham Gano is in order, but he’s not going to kick 7 field goals in this one either.
Put me down for the Panthers scoring less than 20.
Vance McDonald 100-yard game
How do you keep those linebackers of the Panthers in check? Send the “Mac Truck” at them!
Carolina is in a precarious position of trying to limit Conner while covering Antonio Brown and JuJu Smith-Schuster. That’s going to leave some opportunities open for the Steelers tight ends, but I’ll be bold and say McDonald is the one who will benefit the most on Thursday.
1-and-1 for Cam Newton
One pick. One sack.
That’s my line for Newton, who has been completing an insane number of passes and limiting his mistakes under offensive coordinator Norv Turner.
If you recall how Todd Haley molded Ben Roethlisberger from being a pinata, Turner is doing much the same with Newton. The Steelers will get in his face, but like last Sunday against the Ravens, they’re going to have trouble bringing down the big-bodied and mobile QB.
Greg Olsen gets the Panthers lone touchdown
He's had touchdowns in his last three games and we know how the Steelers tend to lose track of tight ends. Watch for Olsen around the endzone, because I can’t see any of the backs or even Cam Newton, crossing the goal line easily. The Steelers defense will stand pat and hold the Panthers to mostly field goals, but there will be a slip-up somewhere that allows one of the best tight ends in the game to get free for a score.
I don’t have a pulse on Christian McCaffrey: he could have a big game and Carolina could still struggle to win.
On the pregame podcast, myself and Steelers CB Trey Johnson discussed whether allowing Joe Haden to follow WR Devin Funchess, as he did with A.J. Green and Julio Jones, was necessary. (We don’t think so.)
I believe the defense is improved enough and this will be an adequate test if they’re the real deal or not… aside from the short recovery time and preparation for both teams.
Steelers win this win with a score in the ballpark of 28-16.