WHEELING — Much like the Pittsburgh Steelers, but performance last week was well below the line. But in the NFL it’s next man up, and for Pro Picks it’s next week up.
About the only good thing that came out of Cleveland last week — or ever, for that matter — was the performance of James Conner as the Steelers’ feature back. He not only led the NFL in rushing yards, but also yards from scrimmage. Le’Veon who?
What wasn’t good? Ben Roethlisberger throwing three interceptions and fumbling twice, and Conner losing the football deep in the Steelers’ end of the field late in the game. Oh, and the penalties were atrocious.
But that one’s out of the way.
Now on to more pressing issues, namely the Kansas City Chiefs who come to town for a 1 p.m. kick in the home opener at Heinz Field. Some are suggesting this is going to be a shootout, but I’m not ready to go there.
But that’s why they play the games, right?
Cincinnati 17, Baltimore 10
If you would have told me these two teams would combine to score 81 points in their respective openers, I would have laughed right out of my chair. But that’s the world we live in, apparently. Just don’t expect Joe Flacco to go 25 of 34 for 236 yards and three touchdowns every week, OK? Oh, and I saw someone compare Bengals RB Joe Mixon to Todd Gurley and Le’Veon Bell. Child please.
Philadelphia 23, Tampa Bay 16
Um, what in the world was that out of Ryan Fitzpatrick? Same could be asked of Nick Foles, but not in complementary way. So somewhere in this matchup will come a greater idea of exactly what these two teams are. My money — what little of it there is — is riding on the Eagles to up their game and the Buccaneers to come back down to earth.
Houston 21, Tennessee 14
The new Oilers against the old ones. Yes, I know I bring that up every time these teams play, which is twice a season. But in actuality there’s just not a lot of interesting/fun stuff to talk about when it concerns these two teams. When the most fascinating player on either side is a defensive lineman, well, that should tell you a little bit about what we’re dealing with.
Washington 20, Indianapolis 19
Remember last week in this space when I made fun of the Redskins starting the season with Alex Smith and Adrian Peterson at quarterback and running back, respectively? All they did was go out and put up 421 yards of total offense. Oops. In my defense, it’s not like that’s going to be the norm. People forget the Colts were leading before they gagged it up by allowing 17 fourth-quarter points a week ago.
Green Bay 17
So first Aaron Rodgers was dead, then he wasn’t. For a minute I was having a hard time distinguishing if this was football or futbol. Now he might not be able to play this week. How am I supposed to make this pick when Rodgers’ status is still unknown? Not like it matters anyway with my track record, if we’re being honest here.
New Orleans 30, Cleveland 10
Not sure there was a more disappointing performance in Week 1 than that authored by the Saints, who looked more like the Aints again. Am I right? Luckily for Drew Brees and company, the football gods have sent the Clowns to the bayou this week. Tyrod Taylor is a starting quarterback in the NFL. Repeat that. Now do so without laughing. Didn’t think so.
Pittsburgh 37, Kansas City 13
Ben Roethlisberger is finished. That’s what I keep hearing. I hear it every season and now after that opening performance, the whispers have turned into screams. Well watch this. Watch what 7 does to the Chiefs, who are begging to get gashed on defense every week. Lost in the tie last week was the outstanding effort of linebacker T.J. Watt, who had 11 tackles, four sacks and a blocked field goal in OT. Pat Maholmes gets his official NFL introduction.
N.Y. Jets 21, Miami 20
The Jets scored 48 points last week. I repeat, the N.Y. Jets scored 48 points. In recent history it would have taken them three games to do that, if not more. However, the defense did a large chunk of that damage and one can’t expect that to happen every week. I know the Dolphins won, but honestly that’s it.
Atlanta 12, Carolina 9
Two underachieving quarterbacks coming off subpar performances. Yes, I know both Cam Newton and Matt Ryan have won NFL MVP awards, but those things are like a popularity contest. Nothing remotely pleasing about this game.
L.A. Chargers 28, Buffalo 7
Wonder how long until the Bills realize they don’t have a legitimate quarterback on their roster? According to Brian Billick, former coach of the Ravens and now a member of the NFL Network is concerned, that time has passed as it pertains to Nathan Peterman. We know the Chargers have one.
L.A. Rams 32, Arizona 16
Boy, did the Cardinals look bad. Like, historically bad from this seat. It amazes me to this day how much money Sam Bradford has made doing absolutely nothing. But somehow he keeps talking teams into giving him another stack. The Rams looked good in all three phases last week.
San Francisco 19, Detroit 18
Jimmy G is taking us to the Super Bowl! — 49ers fan prior to the opener, probably. Oh no, nothing has changed! — 49ers fans following the opener, probably. Sorry, but just because you sat behind Tom Brady doesn’t mean you’re the next coming. See: Cassel, Matt. Speaking of the Patriots, how’s that new gig in Detroit treating you, Matt Patricia?
Denver 26, Oakland 14
Welcome back, Jon Gruden. Things aren’t exactly as you left them, now are they? No offense and no defense. It’s the team that appears to be the Black Hole these days. Anyone catch Case Keenum last week? Sure, he threw three picks. But Keenum finished with 300-plus and three scores.
Jacksonville 23, New England 21
After Week 1 the Steelers are already in chase mode when it comes to the Patriots in a battle for homefield advantage throughout the playoffs. New England is losing players to injury at an alarming rate, but it has a history of plugging in guys nobody has heard of and not missing a beat.
Dallas 6, N.Y. Giants 3
This game is always under the lights, it seems. Two of the biggest markets in the country is the reason for that happening, but here’s what it really means: the rest of us are subjected to really awful football when we don’t have the option of changing the channel to another game.
Monday, Sept. 17
Chicago 22, Seattle 15
Khalil Mack looks like a monster of an acquisition. But he’s not going to score every week, Bears fans. As long as you know that, you can temper the expectations. The Seahawks are bad, man. There’s just no other way around that.
Shawn Rine can be reached via email at: firstname.lastname@example.org