At 8-8, Steelers can still make playoffs


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Nobody asked me, but ...

• David Todd of 970 ESPN (4 to 7 p.m.) has put together a scenario that has the Steelers making the playoffs with an 8-8 record. You can read it here. Todd maintains that as long as the Steelers win their next two games, at Cleveland and Baltimore, they can lose to Green Bay and Cincinnati and still make the postseason, so long as they also win at home against Miami and Cleveland. He predicts that of the eight AFC teams currently either 5-5 or 4-6 only three will finish as good as 8-8 and the Steelers can win the conference-record tiebreaker. There are no guarantees, but his scenario is plausible.

• It goes against all logic that after being in goal for a shutout win by the Penguins over Columbus Nov. 2, rookie Jeff Zatkoff has not played in the team’s next six games -- four of which have been losses.

• The notion that the Pirates were a finalist for the services of right-handed pitcher Josh Johnson probably had a degree of truth to it, but was not likely ever close to reality. That bit of news came after it was reported Johnson was interested in playing for San Diego or San Francisco. He signed last night with San Diego. The Pirates had about as much chance of landing Johnson over San Diego than finalist Adam Wainwright had of winning the Cy Young Award over Clayton Kershaw.

• If you were a follower of the Steelers of the 1970s or if have any interest at all about what was arguably the greatest team in NFL history, you will absolutely love the book, "Their Life’s Work," which is the best ever done about that historic dynasty. Author Gary Pomerantz has captured the essence of the brotherhood of those players with never-before-told anecdotes and superlative writing.

• The notion exposed by many in the sports universe that New England quarterback Tom Brady did something wrong by vehemently arguing with game officials as he left the field Monday night, after a penalty flag was thrown but no penalty called, is nonsense. Brady was perfectly correct to complain -- and, yes, use profanity -- after his team was deprived of a chance to win the game by this reversal. It’s called being competitive and is highly recommended for all NFL players.

• How many expected Nick Foles, a third-round draft choice in 2012 of the Philadelphia Eagles, to be leading the NFL in mid-November in passer rating (128.0), yards per attempt (9.59) and touchdown to interception (a ridiculous 16-0)?

• Pitt basketball has never managed to gain a reputation as a jumping point for a pro career, but how many college teams can boast three centers currently playing in the NBA -- Aaron Grey, DeJuan Blair and Steven Adams?

• The recent play of David DeCastro, drafted first in 2012, and Cam Heyward, drafted first in 2011, should take some -- but not all -- of the heat off the Steelers personnel department.

• Always classy: Concerning the auction of her husband’s memorabilia, Milene Mazeroski said part of the total amount of money raised -- $1.6 million -- will go to Pirates Charities and the remainder into a trust for their children and grandchildren. Concerning herself and her celebrated husband, she said, "This money will never touch our hands."

• Who knew Cam Neely was so brilliant? The president of the Boston Bruins and former NHL standout recently said, "I have never really liked the shootout. I don’t like how that’s how you decide a team sports." Neely favors a change from four-on-four in an overtime period to three-on-three. "It would still feel like somewhat of a team contribution as opposed to an individual skill contest."

• Two top Pirates prospects did not exactly enhance their reputations in the Arizona Fall League, where some of the top prospects in baseball participate. Shortstop Alen Hansen batted .254 with a .623 OPS and Alex Dickerson, projected as the team’s first baseman of the future, batted .290 with a .694 OPS and had no homers and three RBIs in 69 at bats.

• In the history of MLB free agency, has their ever been a more ridiculous goal than that of the agents for second baseman Robinson Cano, who are said to be pursuing a 10-year, $310 million contract? If Cano were 21 and with his career batting line of .309/.355/.504 -- .859 it would make no sense. But he’s 31 -- and wants paid until he’s 41. For what it’s worth, the lifetime batting line of Andrew McCutchen is: .296/.380/.489 -- .869.


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