Can the Steelers get back on track this weekend in New England? Gerry Dulac says probably not.
By Gerry Dulac/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Last week: 10-3 (.769)
Season record: 75-45 (.625)
Cincinnati Bengals (6-2) at Miami Dolphins (3-4), 8:25 p.m.
The Skinny: The Bengals have won four in a row and are beginning to distance themselves from the rest of the division. Andy Dalton has been on fire, too, throwing eight TDs in the past two games. The Dolphins are bleeding losses at an alarming rate after starting the season with three consecutive wins. How will they protect heavily sacked Ryan Tannehill against the Bengals front?
Prediction: Bengals, 24-20
Steelers (2-5) at New England Patriots (6-2), 4:25 p.m.
The Skinny: This might be the perfect time for the Steelers to finally beat Tom Brady at Gillette Stadium, something they haven’t done (0-2). He has thrown two TDs and four interceptions in his last four games and doesn’t have a passer rating higher than 75 in that stretch. But he still finds a way to win.
Prediction: Patriots, 27-16
Kansas City Chiefs (8-0) at Buffalo Bills (3-5), 1 p.m.
The Skinny: Not only do the Chiefs have the best record in the NFL, they also have the best turnover ratio (plus-12) in the league, as well. One of the reasons: The linebacker combo of Tamba Hali (9) and Justin Houston (11) has combined for 20 sacks, twice as many as the entire Steelers team.
Prediction: Chiefs, 23-16
Minnesota Vikings (1-6) at Dallas Cowboys (4-4), 1 p.m.
The Skinny: The Cowboys were surprised last week when Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford didn’t deliberately spike the ball and instead dived over the pile for the winning touchdown. They shouldn’t be surprised by the Vikings, not like the Steelers.
Prediction: Cowboys, 38-24
Tennessee Titans (3-4) at St. Louis Rams (3-4), 1 p.m.
The Skinny: In a season of reunions, Rams Coach Jeff Fisher gets to face the team for whom he made six playoff appearances, won three division titles, went to two AFC title games and made one trip to the Super Bowl. So far, those reunions are 0-2.
Prediction: Rams, 17-16
New Orleans Saints (6-1) at New York Jets (4-4), 1 p.m.
The Skinny: Which Jets team shows up? The one that beat the Falcons in Atlanta and the Patriots in overtime? Or the one that didn’t manage a touchdown against the Steelers and Bengals? The on-again, off-again Jets are due to be on, believe it or not.
Prediction: Jets, 28-27
San Diego Chargers (4-3) at Washington Redskins (2-5), 1 p.m.
The Skinny: Apparently, traveling east has not been a problem for the Chargers, who are 2-0 in eastern time zone games this season. They get another chance at the Redskins, who bleed points at an alarming rate – 229, second most in the NFL.
Prediction: Redskins, 30-27
Atlanta Falcons (2-5) at Carolina Panthers (4-3), 1 p.m.
The Skinny: Keep an eye on the sneaky-good Panthers. They have won four of their past five games and outscored the opposition, 140-44, in that stretch. What’s more, they’ve had a few extra days to rest. That’s not good for the Falcons.
Prediction: Panthers, 28-9
Philadelphia Eagles (3-5) at Oakland Raiders (3-4), 4:05 p.m.
The Skinny: Having already dispatched one team from Pennsylvania, can the Raiders make it two in a row by beating another? The Eagles high-octane offense has suddenly been grounded, managing just 13 points in the past two games.
Prediction: Raiders, 20-16
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-7) at Seattle Seahawks (6-1), 4:05 p.m.
The Skinny: After surviving last-minute scare in St. Louis, the Seahawks will be glad to be back home, especially against the Buccaneers, who have scored 17 or fewer points in five of their seven losses. There’s a mutiny brewing in that there pirate ship.
Prediction: Seahawks, 34-6
Baltimore Ravens (3-4) at Cleveland Browns (3-5), 4:25 p.m.
The Skinny: The Browns have been competitive and nearly came back to beat the Chiefs in Kansas City. But there is a word for almost winning – it’s called losing. And the Browns have been doing that too frequently after a good start, losing four in a row.
Prediction: Ravens, 13-9
Indianapolis Colts (5-2) at Houston Texans (2-5), 8:30 p.m.
The Skinny: The Colts already own victories this season over the best teams in the league – Seattle, San Francisco, Denver – which would automatically qualify them as one of the best teams in the league. The Texans hope the bye week allowed them to correct some of their problems. One of the solutions is to bench Matt Schaub
Prediction: Colts, 27-20
Chicago Bears (4-3) at Green Bay Packers (5-2), 8:30 p.m.
The Skinny: Goodness, is that a running game providing balance for Aaron Rodgers and the Packers? Indeed it is, led by rookie Eddie Lacy. After beating the Steelers, the Bears have lost three of their past four games. Now they have to face the Packers with Josh McCown starting for injured Jay Cutler.
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