via The Guardian/Aaron Doster photo, USA Today Sports
Week 8 in the NFL started with a disappointment and more than a few conundrums. Naturally Sunday’s game vs. the Chiefs didn’t end the way Steeler Nation hoped. But this is a more comfortable year to be in the AFC North than 2014.
Last season at this point the Ravens were 5-2, with a 2-1 division record. The Bengals started out like gangbusters, winning their first three games, but after their Week 4 bye came back, lost two games, and tied the Panthers 37-37. They were 1-0 in the division, and 3-2-1 otherwise. Even the Browns were at .500, although they were 1-2 in the division. The first number, though, was a win against the Steelers, in embarrassing fashion (for the Steelers, that is).
The Steelers were 4-3 at this point last season, but were 1-2 in the division. They lost to the Ravens as well as the Browns. And that was with Ben, Le’Veon Bell, Antonio Brown, and a kicker who during the course of the season made over 90% of his field goal attempts.
The Steelers are also 4-3 this season, despite missing Bell for two games, Bryant for five, and Ben for four and a half. They could possibly have been 5-2 or even 6-1 with an ordinarily proficient kicker. They have only played one division game, although it was a frustrating loss, very possibly due to the lack of said ordinarily proficient kicker. These things make this season feel rather different, at least at this point.
The Ravens are 1-6. Think about that for a minute. It’s really rare for a coach who has won a Super Bowl to have such a poor start to a season. It isn’t like he went somewhere else and tore apart a completely dysfunctional team. It’s one of the above-mentioned conundrums. The Browns, after a couple of surprises, are 2-5. There’s only one fly in this soothing ointment—those pesky Bengals.
The Steelers have the opportunity to make up some ground. The only caveat is, they have to actually win Sunday’s game. Read more