Tim Benz: Patriots lose, Chargers win; how Week 10 affected Steelers
I made a mistake I make every year. Whenever the Steelers play their Thursday night game, I use the time I have free the following Sunday afternoon to go grocery shopping.
If you’ve ever been to your local Giant Eagle on a non-Steelers Sunday, it’s akin to what the mall looks like when they open the doors on Black Friday.
It was tough. But I threw a few elbows and made it home unscathed. No major injuries.
After I rested up my bumps and bruises, I watched a little football to see how the other NFL games impacted the Steelers.
‘The Patriots are finished!’
New England got a worse beating than I did in the deli aisle. Who knew so many people liked smoked turkey?
The Patriots lost at Tennessee 34-10. I admit I didn’t see that coming. Heck, I thought they’d win out.
So that has brought around the annual narrative from Steelers fans and Pittsburgh football media that the Patriots have “slipped.” That “they’ve taken a step back.” That “they aren’t what they used to be.”
Maybe that’s all true.
I know something else that’s true. When it comes to sports, if you say something long enough, eventually you are going to be right. Some Pirates fans told us for 20 years in a row, “This is the year they finish above .500!”
And many of the same people, who are saying the Patriots are done, told you the same thing last year. And the year before. And the year before that. And for a dozen or so seasons in a row.
Wake me up when Rob Gronkowski comes back. Wake me up if the Steelers actually beat them in December. Wake me up and let me know what people are saying if the Steelers have to go to Foxboro again in January for the playoffs.
The AFC South is bonkers
Speaking of the Titans, that’s two high-profile victories in a row for them after losing three straight. They got a win in Dallas on “Monday Night Football.” Then put a beatdown on the Pats yesterday.
At 5-4, Tennessee is now a game behind the first-place Texans. Houston — who enjoyed a bye yesterday — has won six in a row after losing their first three.
Even the Colts — the Colts, I say — have won three in a row to pull within a game of .500. Meanwhile, the Jaguars, who were the class of the division last year, have dropped five consecutive games, including a defeat to Indianapolis yesterday.
Hey, who do the Steelers play next week?
Oh! Oh, my. No wonder that game in Jacksonville got flexed out of prime time.
Coming into 2018, I was one of the few who said that the Jaguars weren’t a “one-year wonder” in 2017 and gave them credit for being a team on the rise.
That’s the last time I’m ever nice.
What happened in Cleveland?
After bottoming out at 1-4 with a 41-17 loss at Heinz Field, it looked like the Falcons were cooked. Then, they won three in a row and appeared to be a wild-card contender again.
Conversely, the Browns appeared to have found the bottom, too, losing four in a row and firing their coach (and a certain offensive coordinator).
Naturally, the Falcons went to Northeast Ohio Sunday and got slapped 28-16. That’s a terrible loss for Atlanta.
For Cleveland, it won’t mean much in the standings. But they, at least, appear to be a team that won’t dive into hilarious failure as they have in years past.
Keep an eye on these guys. Whether it’s in San Diego or Los Angeles, the Chargers franchise is renowned for being the kings of the false dawn.
Whenever the club appears to have its ducks in a row, the Bolts can’t get out of their own way. Since the start of the 2009 season, the Chargers have just one playoff win.
That may change this year. Los Angeles’ 20-6 win in Oakland was no stroke of beauty, but it was the fifth in a row for Philip Rivers and company.
The Chiefs and Patriots have long been tabbed as the class of the AFC, with the Steelers and Chargers up next. If we are going to suggest that the 6-2-1 Steelers should be elevated in those discussions, then the 7-2 Chargers should be as well.
L.A. visits Pittsburgh in three weeks. That may become a playoff preview.
The Bengals stink
And that makes many in Pittsburgh happy. Cincinnati lost at home to New Orleans 51-14. They’ve allowed 500 yards in offense the last three weeks. They dropped three of four games, with the only win being a field goal escape against Tampa.
If things don’t turn around for Marvin Lewis in Cincy, he may be cast aside like Hue Jackson was up I-71.