Published by: Bear Acuda
While I may be a representative of Pittsburgh, I still rep Pennsylvania as a whole. I mean, we were pretty instrumental in the forming of our great nation, and I am proud to be connected to such important history. But, like many others in modern day America, we are more invested in our sports allegiances than our political ones. So let’s take a break from all the madness happening around us globally, causing us only worry & pain to the one thing that brings us equal amounts of joy & pain. After all, a little joy is better than no joy.
Pittsburgh Steelers (5-3), 2nd place in AFC North (2-0)
Coming off a tough victory at home against the Tennessee Titans, my Steelers have put themselves in good position to not only make the playoffs, but challenge the Baltimore Ravens for the Division Title. Now, the Ravens offense looks fine-tuned under new OC Todd Monken (UGA), so it may come down to our Week 18 matchup in Baltimore which will decide the division.
Now, the Browns & the Bengals will have something to say about this, so our upcoming road games at Cleveland & Cincinnati will be important to sweep. Another matchup with the Bengals at home & our undefeated record in-division will help us to host a playoff game. Our defense has been a staple of our success, so it will come down to the quarterback play of 2nd year starter & 1st round draft pick, Kenny Pickett. Will he flourish or fold during the cold month games?
Philadelphia Eagles (8-1), 1st place in NFC East (3-0)
The Eagles look like the class of the NFL, once again. Jalen Hurts is playing at an MVP level, bolstered by one of (if not, the top) offensive line in the NFL. Headed by the recent recipient of “Sexiest Man Alive” center Jason Kelce, the Eagles have absolute road graters across the front five who protect Hurts like the Iron Dome protects Israel.
The same can be said of their defensive line. The Eagles continue to draft smart bombs at defensive tackle, detonating the interior of offensive lines across the league. With star talent at every level, and a division with really only one challenger in the Dallas Cowgirls, the Eagles are well on their way to not only a division title, but a 1st round bye & home field advantage throughout the playoffs as the #1 overall seed.
Penn State (8-1), 3rd in BigTen East (5-1)
Penn State is one of College Football’s best teams, but unfortunately for them, they’re on the outside looking in when it comes to the College Football Playoffs. While having one of the nation’s top scoring offenses (40.2ppg, 6th) & defenses (11.9ppg, 3rd), it is their 20-12 loss to Ohio St. inside the Horseshoe that will be the defining game of their season. Behind both Michigan & Ohio St. in the BigTen East, they will need help to make their conference/playoff dreams come true.
In reality, they only need help from Michigan, albeit on two occasions. The first comes this Saturday, as they play host to the Wolverines. Should they win that game, they will need Michigan to implode Ohio St.’s dreams inside the Big House. Michigan’s home field advantage in that game should benefit Penn St.’s chances. Of course, should Maryland or Minnesota beat Michigan or Ohio St. before their season finale, all hell will break loose inside the BigTen.
Pittsburgh Panthers (2-7), 11th in the ACC (1-4)
The Panthers season was basically kaput by our fifth game. We lost four of our first five games out of the gate, and have only won one more since then. When HC Pat Narduzzi came over from Michigan St. as their DC, a sense of hope to the glory days of Marino came with him. While that might be a slight exaggeration, QB Kenny Pickett certainly helped to justify those feelings. We began competing for conference titles & looked like a program on the rise.
Then, 2023 happened. We poached the star QB Phil Jurkovec from Boston College only to bench him for a Canadian, in hopes of better play from the quarterback position. Christian Veilleux is young & raw, so giving him his first start, on the road, at one of the most fabled stadiums in sports history (Notre Dame Stadium) was not the best way to build confidence in the new starter. Naturally, he got shelled in a 58-7 blowout. Follow that up with a matchup against #4 Florida St. & you have all the ingredients for a broken quarterback, never to be fixed.
While I do believe experience is the best teacher, setting this kid up for failure right out of the gate was a bad coaching decision. We should’ve let Jurkovec get his shit kicked in for two more games, then eased Veilleux into the starting role at home against the ACC’s worst team in Syracuse. But hey, why use common sense when you can be an asshat?
Philadelphia 76ers (5-1), 2nd in Atlantic (2-0)
After finally moving on from beleaguered sports star PG James Harden (LAC) & old-ass HC Doc Rivers, life has been breathed into the 76ers. Touting the league MVP in Joel Embiid, Philly looks to finally recover from the franchise destroying buzzer-beater in Game 7 of the 2019 Easter Conference Semifinals (thanks alot, Kawhi Leonard).
Since then, Philly has fallen apart. All-Star Ben Simmons basically got laughed out of the NBA, James Harden looked like a dad who balls at LA Fitness (taking games off intermittently so as to not overdo it), and Doc Rivers looked like a coach who forgot how to build line-ups. The health of Embiid will still be THE major issue for the 76ers.
Embiid is the Kyler Murray of basketball when it comes to the injury report. He is a walking injury who misses games at the most inopportune times. So the key for Philly to reach it’s goals is to figure out how to win without Embiid. Otherwise, they will be watching the playoffs from home in June.