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Raiders vs. Steelers

2015 NFL Week 9:

Paint it Black

To err is human, to forgive, divine. I must be way too human with last week’s pick.

   –Wm. Shakespeare/Me

 

Why are we fans? What makes us rush to buy overpriced tickets, beers, hot dogs, team jerseys, team caps, team dryer sheets, team everything?

We know that most of our money is clearly making richer millionaires and billionaires. Talk about income inequality! Jerry Jones can snap his gnarled evil fingers and the city of Arlington rushes to pony up 325-million dollars (about 35% of the cost) for a new stadium, because… well, we know the answer.

NFL owners are a slick, publicly acceptable kind of gang, but unlike the Bloods and Crips, they trade not in crack and dope, but in perhaps the most addictive substance known to American men – PROFESSIONAL FOOTBALL!

But what do we really know about these men and two women, apart from Robert Kraft’s all-too-certain unholy pact with Satan?

Well, we know they’re all rich. But how did these captains of no-industry acquire said wealth? Some, of course, are playing with family money (Bill Bidwell, Cardinals; Virginia McCaskey, Bears; and our own Dan Rooney). Some earned their money by digging for oil, by fracking, by ruining the planet (Jerry Jones, Cowboys; Pat Bowlin, Broncos; Terry Pegula, Bills).

And one made his fortune, I think, through connections in Pakistan (Shahid Khan, Jaguars). This is classified information I got from a “CIA” guy at a bar in Rochester, NY who also claims that there was a second assassin in Abe Lincoln’s theater box that fateful night in 1865.

As a whole, I care not a whit for this gang of NFL owners. Like Mafia mobsters, they hold cities hostage by threatening to move their teams to warmer climes (Los Angeles, anyone?) if their demands for new stadiums are not met. They charge outrageous prices for their parking and game tickets and they may be the major reason why American men ages 45-54 with less than a college education and priced out of the market, and drinking to excess because of it, are dying at a faster rate than men in any other part of the developed world. *

*https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/a-group-of-middle-aged-american-whites-is-dying-at-a-startling-rate/2015/11/02/47a63098-8172-11e5-8ba6-cec48b74b2a7_story.html

However, there is a gang I do care more than a whit about. They’re also a football team from Oakland, California known as The Raiders. And they’re coming to town with a WINNING RECORD, a 4-3 record so incomprehensible that it’s rumored owners Mark Davis and mom Carol may have entered into a similar SATAN-OWNER agreement as Robert Kraft did. Although in their agreement, Satan will not protect the team from bad calls by referees. Holy Tuck Rule!

This is another MUST GAME for the hometown boys. An AFC North championship may be out of their reach now, but the Steelers are very much in the playoff hunt. Tally ho!

WHEN THE STEELERS HAVE THE BALL

I wish the Steelers could just keeping handing the ball to Le’Veon Bell. But since he is on injured reserve with a torn MCL, ACL, AFL-CIO, M-O-U-S-E, he probably won’t play. That leaves good ol’ DeAngelo Williams at the nexus of the running game.

Williams is steady and proven and, while there will be a drop-off in quality, the running game should be fine. And backing him up (well, not quite yet) will be the newly-signed Isaiah Pead, he of the last name that always keep me a-chuckling, especially when you attach a question mark to it. “Isaiah Pead?’ Man, that gets me every time.

Ben. Oh Ben. The rust needs to come off this Sunday. Roethlisberger looked shaky last week and the three interceptions he threw were an anomaly. He’ll be better this week and look for him to go deep to Martavis Bryant a few times.

Oakland’s pass defense is ranked 26th in the league. The Steelers are ranked 27th. Big Ben should have a pretty nice game…

WHEN THE RAIDERS HAVE THE BALL

…and so should Derek Carr. Carr is having a stellar year and is ranked 12th in QBR. Plus he’s got some mobility. The “sophomore jinx” has not affected Carr one bit and his confidence and poise are rare for a 24 year-old. Let’s hope the Steelers defense can deflate him more than a Tom Brady football.

The Silver & Black gang has some excellent receiving targets, with a resuscitated Michael Crabtree leading the charge. Amari Copper, he of the 4.38 40-yard dash, is becoming scary good. The Steelers need to shut him down.

Running back Latavius Murray is having a very solid season and ran over the New York Jets heralded run defense to the tune of 111 yards. He’s big, he’s strong and he’s going to be hard to stop.

PERILOUS PREDICTION

Yeah, about last week. Maybe it was the quasi-homer in me (or the Homer Simpson) that forced me to pick the Steelers over the Bengals. Maybe the mysterious subliminal powers of Dan Rooney and the other 31 NFL owners clouded my judgment and turned me into a Rah Rah.

Well, let me tell you, that’s not gonna happen again. I’m not buying into any of that ill-reasoned “fan” bologna. Rational thought must trump rabid, reflexive drooling. I am the captain of my fate, the master of my pants.

There’s NO WAY I’m picking the Steelers to win this week.

Final Score: Steelers 28, Raiders 20.

Phil Lebovits, SCB Steeler Blogger, in a van down by the river

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