A Tale of Two Teams
The Titans have been the NFL's best regular season team over the previous two years, going a combined 26-6. So what? I personally don�t care about a team�s regular season over the past two years. The Steelers winning percentage in the 90�s up through 1997 was second in NFL only to Kansas City. Where did it get us? Nowhere. Where has the NFL�s best regular season team gotten over the past two? Well, it got them to within 1 yard of a Super Bowl victory. But, in the scheme of things however the answer has to be: Nowhere.
So where does this leave us. Well for starters, this rant leaves us two facts. Both the Steelers and Titans over the past decade have, at one point or another, been to a Super Bowl, won the AFC Central Division, won the AFC Championship, hosted at least one such game, been in double digit wins for consecutive seasons, and both looked remarkably similar.
Both have QB�s that are more known for their legs than their arms. Both have two respected big time running backs, both have no name wide receivers and both have dependable kickers. What�s the difference between the two teams then? Injuries and luck.
Check out this stat for similarities, in the past 5 meetings between the two teams the Steelers have racked up 107 total points, 90 first downs while the Titans have racked up 102 total points with 89 first downs. Similar? You betcha. Tell the whole story. Not on your life.
The Titans have been ravaged by injury. They we�re dropping like flies in the Heinz Field Monday Night blowout. But, this team has shown grit and guts. There is a reason why this team was picked as a Super Bowl favorite before the season and the past three games have proven that fact. With wins over Jax and Cincy and bitter loss to the Ravens, the Titans show why they are the third best team in AFC Central. Yes, the third best team. Behind, the Steelers and the Browns. Regardless of the records, let it state here that the Ravens are the 4th best team in the AFC Central.
I�m sorry to say this, but the Monday Night blowout was an aberration. The Steelers won�t get a blowout this time. Hell they�ll be lucky to get a win out of Adelphia Stadium (a place where we have never won). However, I think it can and will happen, but only if we win the following match-ups.
- Pittsburgh Offense vs. 3rd Down Conversion Percentage: In the past 5 games this season, we�re 28 for 70 on 3rd Down. That�s a whopping 40%. It�s going to be critical that we keep that percentage high for one major reason. Without Bruener and Tylski, the run blocking will have a rough go of it on Sunday. The Titans played us fierce on the ground a few weeks ago, and it will be no different at Adelphia Stadium. That we�ll be forced into many third and 6 �9 yard situations. It will be important for the Steelers to establish high percentage third down plays and keep the low percentage risk plays (i.e. deep bombs, trick reverses) in the bag.
- Pittsburgh Run Defense vs. Eddie George: Yes he�s been hurt, but not now. He�s starting to make a comeback of it and the man can still run like the dickens. Let�s not let him this week break out of his shell.
- Adelphia Fans vs. Team Psyche. We�ve got to get the crowd out of it early. This Titan team will be gunning to bring us down and the fans will only help to get the Titan�s motivated.
- Tennessee Desperation vs. Pittsburgh Non-desperation: Remember, Tennessee is battling for a wild card right now. Without a win this week and Baltimore already sweeping Tennessee, a loss this week would for all intents and purposes knock the Titans out of the hunt. With Pittsburgh, Oakland, Miami and the Jets and probable locks for the playoffs, only two teams can come out of the following group: Titans, Cleveland, Baltimore, Seattle, Denver, New England, San Diego and Indy. So as you see, a loss would really seal the deal.
- Big surprise here: Pittsburgh�s Special (Education) Teams vs. Tennessee ST: I really don�t need to go into details here do I? Gimme kickoffs and punts with lotsa hang time. Gimme fast, tough nosed, kamikaze blockers and tacklers. Gimme long returns and smart return specialists. Am I asking for too much? Probably.
Notes to keep in mind while you�re going to the Fridge for another Beer.
- Boy, did Miami look awful last week. Almost made the Jets look like Super Bowl contenders. I said �almost.�
- Well, Baltimore sure shot themselves in the foot. Speaking about shooting something. Don�t ya think Shannon Sharpe�s mouthing is getting a little old? I mean while you�re out there concentrating on personal records, you�re team is going down the crapper. Hey get open once or twice and Grbac will have someone to throw the ball too.
- I really loathe Shannon Sharpe
- Dear Mr. Jay Hayes: Please tell your units to act like men and�.oh what�s the use.
- Tennessee players have stated that they don�t forget the major embarrassment we handed them on Monday Night Football. That�s Good. Cause I don�t. I�ve got it on tape.�
- I still think Holmgren should be fired. But he won�t.
- Say �Good Night� Mr. Fassel. Your Giants will be staying home this January.
- Don�t look now, but if the playoffs ended today, Atlanta would have the last wild card in the NFC.�
- Steelers-Rams, Oakland-Rams, Oakland-Bears, Steelers-Bears�call me a wishful man, but I�m starting to believe in Steelers-49ers.
- Big game this Thursday. Let�s all suck it in and root for Dallas. Denver can�t handle another loss right now.
- You know, I�m one person that really hopes Detroit goes 0-16 this year. Then finally, someone will have the balls to say Barry Sanders turned his back on his most faithful fans and his team. It�s because of his cap hit this team doesn�t have the money to get better players. I mean, he was great, legendary and all, but come on he walked away cause his team hadn�t won a Super Bowl. How petty. Barry, just do what all NFL divas do: hold out, demand to be traded, smoke some weed, beat your woman, impregnate the masses, bring a shotgun to the locker room...
- JB goes to visit the future Mrs. JB in Philly this week for Turkey Day. She�s already told me I�m free to watch all the football I want this week. And I�ll be watching, Philly-Washington. Philly wins they�ll get the NFC LEAST�I mean EAST.
- Stat of the week: Kordell Stewart in his last 5 games has a passer rating of 83.7. Wow. For once we�re proud of his passer rating.
* Last Week�s �Missed Prime Opportunity� score: Pittsburgh 2� Jacksonville 5
Note: Team gains a point with each �prime opportunity� they miss.
*-- A �Missed Prime Opportunity� is one in when a team fails to score while in scoring range or doesn�t take advantage of major swings in momentum (i.e. major penalties/turnovers/settling for field goals in successive series/inability to seal a game with first downs). These are killer because a team only gets so many. A great example is the Giants vs Eagles on Monday night this year. Although thoroughly ass whipping the Eagles in every category, the Giants inability to capitalize on Prime Opportunities causes the Eagles to take the lead with less than 2 minutes left. This gave the Giants at least 4 MPO�s in the first half. Those MPO�s came back to haunt the Giants. The Eagles cause Kerry Collins (The most overrated QB in the NFL) to fumble leading to an improbable Eagles victory in New York.
Pittsburgh 17 Tennessee 14
Kordell 190 yds passing 50 yds rushing 1 TD�s 2 INT�s
Bettis 80 yds rushing and 1 TD
McNair 150 yds passing 2 TD�s 1 INT
George 85 yds rushing.
Written by JB IN THE BIG STEEL APPLE