Is Mason Rudolph the man to lead the Steelers of the future back to the glory of yesteryear? Today could give some indication.
While the young player has shown some ups-and-downs in limited action, he apparently is the guy the Steelers are staking their hopes on for the rest of the season.
Today he faces a surprisingly solid Indianapolis Colts team that comes into Heinz Field with a 5-2 record. And they are also led by a relatively young QB in Jacoby Brissett. Brissett “Lucked” his way to the staring role with the stunning retirement of Andrew Luck.
But he has been up to the task and very efficient thus far.
The jury is still out on the Rudolph and the Steelers. Last week they looked terrible against a feeble Miami team that has already packed in the season, however they did rally to win. But can they do that against better teams? Probably not.
The Pittsburgh defense has been the key thus far and needs to continue to force turnovers to win. It makes it a lot easier on young quarterbacks to start in good scoring position.
On offense there will be more pressure on Rudolph if running back James Conner can’t go. He is listed as questionable with a shoulder injury.
Pittsburgh is 3-4, but still has a shot at winning the division. This game is vitally important however in that quest.
The Colts are riding high, so I think Indy will win this one, 23-17.
Meanwhile, the Cleveland Browns have been a train wreck thus far with a 2-5 record. But they had a brutal early-season schedule.
The big question of course is: What happened to Baker Mayfield? He was brilliant last year, but is one of the worst rated QBs in the league thus far. Part of that of course is a poor offensive line, terrible play-calling and players who can’t catch the football.
The division is still in their grasp, however, if they can make a run in the second half of the year against teams that aren’t as accomplished as the early group.
Today they face the Denver Broncos on the road. The Broncos are without quarterback Joe Flacco who is injured and will go with Brandon Allen, a back-up for several years making his first start.
He will be facing a fairly tough pass rush from Cleveland, led by Myles Garrett who probably gave Allen nightmares Saturday night while trying to sleep.
Obviously, this is a must-win for Cleveland if they have any hope of making the playoffs. And I think they will: Cleveland, 20-13.
Last week my picks went 9-4 for a season record of 63-48. Following are the rest of this week’s pick’s, betting line in parentheses just for fun:
Seattle (-6 1/2) over Tampa
Jacksonville (plus 1 1/2) over Houston
Buffalo (-9 1/2) over Washington
Tennessee (plus 3 1/2) over Carolina
Philly (-5) over Chicago
Kansas City (no line) over Minnesota
Miami (plus 3) over NY Jets
Oakland (-2) over Detroit
Green Bay (-3) over LA Chargers
New England (-3 1/2) over Baltimore
Dallas (-7) over NY Giants
LYNN SATERNOW is sports editor of The Herald and The Allied News. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.