Thursday, December 31, 2009

Dolphins: What are the Chances...?

On Sunday the Steelers return to Miami for the first time since 2004, where Ben Roethlisberger made his first NFL start, a 13-3 win over the Dolphins. If I remember correctly, Big Ben’s first pass was intercepted, but he settled down as the game went along, and played well enough to beat a Miami team with an ineffectual offense.

The Steelers are a three-point favorite this week, which sounds about right to me. I’ll give the Steelers a 60 percent chance of winning this game. But I doubt the Patriots, Bengals, and Raiders will give the Steelers the help they need to make the playoffs.

What are the Chances…? is 8-7 in 2009 and 47-20 all-time.


Saturday, December 26, 2009

Ravens: What are the Chances...?

The way the Steelers are going this season, any prediction as to the team's performance is nothing more than a guess. I'm picking them to win tomorrow -- 55 percent chance -- a win that would go a long way towards damaging the Ravens' playoff chances and bolstering their own.

The best reason to be optimistic is that Baltimore hasn't had much success at Heinz Field, and Ravens QB Joe Flacco has yet to win there. On the downside, the Steelers will be really shorthanded on defense if LB James Harrison can't play. And Ben Roethlisberger & Co. may need to put up 30-plus points to come away with a win -- even with Harrison on the field.

Certainly the key to the game will be stopping Ravens RB Ray Rice, who repeatedly hurt the Steelers in the game last month at Baltimore. Then again, what do I know? 'What are the Chances...?' is a mere 7-7 in 2009, dropping me to 46-20 all-time.


Saturday, December 19, 2009

Packers: What are the Chances...?

The 2009 Steelers have been impossible to predict, hence my 7-6 record this season, which dropped me to 46-19 all-time. Pittsburgh is a two-point favorite over Green Bay, which is a little hard to believe, in light of the Steelers' long losing streak. I wouldn't be surprised if the Steelers beat the Packers, but until the team proves me wrong at least once, I don't dare pick Pittsburgh to win. I don't care to analyze this game either. I'm giving the Steelers a 40 percent chance tomorrow.


Thursday, December 10, 2009

Browns: What are the Chances...?

The Steelers haven't lost to the Browns since 2003, but could tonight be the night Big Ben loses a game in Cleveland? His perfect record at Cincinnati fell by the wayside back on September 27, yet he’s still undefeated at Cleveland.

Statistics say that the Browns have the worst offense in the league, but Cleveland has fared much better under Brady Quinn than Derek Anderson, who was under center when the Steelers beat the Browns 27-14 on October 18. Meanwhile, the Steelers have been marching the ball up and down the field all season long, but Red Zone struggles have contributed to the team’s problem closing out games.

As 9.5 point favorites, I’m expecting that Pittsburgh will find a way to win (65 percent chance), but the 2009 Steelers have become almost impossible to predict, which explains my 7-5 mark this season. Nevertheless, 'What are the Chances...?' is still a more-than-respectable 46-18 all-time.


Sunday, December 06, 2009

Raiders: What are the Chances...?

The Steelers are 14-point favorites against the Raiders, which sounds about right. Oakland’s run-oriented offense doesn’t match up well against Pittsburgh’s defense, and Raiders QB Bruce Gradkowski has been dreadful in his two previous starts (with other teams) at Heinz Field. In 2006 (Tampa Bay) and 2008 (Cleveland), he combined to throw five interceptions and no touchdowns for a passer rating of 20.2. In last year’s Browns game, he completed five of 16 passes for 18 yards, three interceptions and a 1.0 passer rating.

Meanwhile, Pittsburgh should be able to run the ball on the Raiders, who rank 31st in the NFL against the run, allowing an average of 161.1 yards per game. Of course, that assumes that offensive coordinator Bruce Arians is smart enough to keep the ball on the ground this week, and keep recently-concussed QB Ben Roethlisberger out of harm’s way.

But Steelers fans shouldn’t assume that a victory is automatic. In 2006 the Steelers faced an even more woeful Raiders team in Oakland under similar circumstances—that is, Roethlisberger returning to the lineup after a concussion. Big Ben had the worst game of his career, throwing four interceptions (including one returned for a touchdown) in a 20-13 loss.

Still, I’m picking the Steelers to win today – 85 percent chance. "What are the Chances...?" is 7-4 this season and 46-17 all-time.