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Steelers set to rollover more salary cap space than ever before in 2019

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 11/17/2018 - 11:45am

Le’Veon Bell’s decision to sit out the 2018 season has created a significant amount of salary cap space for the Steelers they will be able to rollover into next year.

Le’Veon Bell did not just leave the contents of his locker behind when he opted to sit out the remainder of Pittsburgh Steelers’ season, he also gave up the outstanding balance of the $14.544 million he had been due to earn in 2018.

With an update to the NFLPA public salary cap report on Friday, it would appear this money has officially been credited to their account. The Steelers now have $18,451,587 showing in available salary cap space, more than all but five teams in the league and while this money is of little use to Pittsburgh this season, it will be of great significance in 2019.

As per the rules of the CBA, the Steelers will be able to rollover every cent of their surplus cap room at the end of the year, a number that should include most of the funds currently available. Barring any unexpected signings to cover for season-ending injuries in the final weeks of the season, Pittsburgh will rollover far more money than ever before in their history.

Based on our projections from earlier in the season, this updated rollover figure suggests the Steelers will have over $26 million in salary cap space at the start of the new year, a number that will be practically closer to $20 million once the obligatory futures signings have been made to bring the roster up to 51 players under contract.

Considering how Pittsburgh’s cap situation could have looked in 2019 without the ability to rollover all this money, fans might ultimately be thanking Bell for his decision after all.

Steelers NFL Draft Prospects: College Game Day and Open Thread

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 11/17/2018 - 11:13am

Time to check in on some prospects for the black-and-gold.

Welcome to week 12 of the college football season. This weeks top 25 match ups.

No. 12 Syracuse vs. No. 3 Notre Dame 2:30 NBC, played in Yankee Stadium No. 19 Cincinnati at No. 11 UCF 8:00pm ABC No. 18 Iowa State at No. 13 Texas 8:00pm Longhorn Network

This weeks highlight game:

No. 12 Syracuse vs. No. 3 Notre Dame 2:30 NBC, played in Yankee Stadium

Notre Dame Fighting Irish

Jerry Tillery #99 6’7” 305lbs

Te’Von Coney #4 LB 6’1” 240lbs

Julian Love #27 BC 5’11” 193lbs

Sam Mustipher #53 OL 6’3” 306lbs

Alex Bars #71 OL 6’6” 315lbs

Alize Mack #86 6’5” 247lbs

Syracuse Orange

Koda Martin #78 OT 6’6” 304

Chris Slayton #95 DT 6’4” 306

Eric Dungey #2 QB 6’4” 226

Cody Conway #60 OL 6’6” 296

Ravien Pierce #6 TE 6’3” 244

Fighting Irish Breakdown

CB Julian Love

Love is a fantastic man coverage, who, while he lacks the jams that you would like in a great press-man CB, makes up for it with fluid hips and great mirroring skills. Love’s change of direction is fantastic and he knows how to ball spectacularly well. I think he does need to up his aggressiveness, but his eyes and processing are golden. He is fluid and can make up ground easier than many will give him credit for. Love also comes up and is extremely active in run support.

Round Grade: Mid 2nd

NFL Comparison: Ahkello Witherspoon

IDL Jerry Tillery

Tillery is extremely explosive to the point where he could be considered an elite level of DL in this draft. His first step is fantastic and he uses his strength to just maul guys that he is up against. His athletic ability allows him to use his strength to get penetration and make tackles for loss. His run defense is great, too, as he has fantastic gap discipline.

I really want him to get lower. His pad level is far too high and it really stops him from being a great prospect. He is good but he is simply not great because he can get blown off the ball, and due to that, opens up lanes.

Round Grade: Mid 2nd

NFL Comparison: Daequan Jones

ILB Te’Von Coney

Coney is a guy who is always around the ball despite not being a great athlete for ILB position. That is all because this guy is an elite processor who can read the play straight from the snap. He fights through the blocks and fights downhill as much as he needs to. He knows his role and sticks to it. His tackling is great and he barely misses any.

However, he is a nuisance in coverage. He just is not athletic enough to go and cover guys that are way faster than him at RB. His zone coverage is slightly better but he is a player that can be exploited. He is the classic thumper at LB.

Round Grade: Mid 3rd

NFL Comparison: Vince Williams

Orange Breakdown

TE Ravian Pierce

Pierce is a decent Tight End but will do nothing to wow you. Yes, he moves incredibly well in space and makes the catches he should. Yes, he has good ball skills and can make some jump catches, but that is not him or his calling. His athletic ability is a huge plus and he can be a great second tight end, as he is a decent blocker.

He just doesn’t go up and grab things at the point of attack and will never be a great blocker. His strength just doesn’t lend itself to that and neither does his frame. I question if his frame is fully bulked out, though, so there is room to grow.

Round Grade: Late 4th

NFL Comparison: Xavier Grimble

QB Eric Dungey

Dungey at best will be a backup. But he could be good enough to be a game managing backup that hits quick throws. His arm strength is not and his accuracy is spotty outside of timing routes, but in the quick passing game he can really thrive. He knows how to process well enough so that he is careful with the football and not a turnover machine. I like the way that anticipates throws, but there will never be much diversity in a system with Dungey in it. However, I would let him come in and start a game further down the line.

Round Grade: Mid 5th

NFL Comparison: Nick Mullens

Sleeper

#4 WR Connor Niles Morningside

Niles is the ultimate sleeper but has ideal slot receiver traits. He is quick in and out of his breaks and is just an uber flash for corners to stop. He is really hard to stop as a whole and is the record holder for most receiving yards ever in the NAIA. His route running is crisp and he is a red zone extraordinaire. He is also a YAC monster.

Yes, he cannot go outside or really catch much of a jump ball, but he really doesn’t need to. He will be playing slot and only slot and kick returner at the next level.

Round Grade: Early 4th

NFL Comparison: Ryan Switzer

Let us know who you are watching and what games your watching.

The Steelers need to focus on winning, not revenge, when taking on the Jaguars Sunday

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 11/17/2018 - 9:21am

Winning is the best revenge in sports, and the Steelers just need to keep playing their game when they take on the Jaguars this Sunday.

The Steelers Week 11 match-up against the Jaguars at TIAA Bank Field this Sunday has been called many things.

Actually, that’s not true. It’s primarily been called one thing: a “revenge game,” meaning the Steelers need to exact revenge after two losses to Jacksonville at Heinz Field in 2017—including a 45-42 defeat in the divisional round of the playoffs.

Does Pittsburgh really need to get its revenge on a 3-6 Jaguars team that’s been struggling and floundering this season after making it all the way to the AFC title game last year? Better yet, are the Steelers seriously thinking about revenge right now?

If they are, they really shouldn’t be.

Riding a five-game winning-streak that now has them at 6-2-1 and in the second seed in the AFC, the Steelers look poised, focused and disciplined. The players seem to have bought into whatever it is head coach Mike Tomlin and his staff are selling them. After a rough start to 2018, Pittsburgh is rolling better than it has in quite some time.

The Steelers aren’t just on a five-game roll; they’ve effectively rolled over their past five opponents by an average score of 35.4-18.6; that’s approaching 2007 Patriots-level dominance.

And why are they rolling along so well right now? It’s because, again, they’re focused. Remember a year ago at this time when Pittsburgh was in the middle of winning eight games in a row? How did most of those victories come about? They came about by the proverbial skin of the teeth, thanks to a level of play that didn’t always seem focused and disciplined.

While the streak was fun, it was hard to really drown out the fans who were warning anyone who would listen that that kind of football wasn’t necessarily of the championship-level variety.

Sure enough, in that aforementioned playoff game, a slow start and a disjointed finish led to an earlier-than-expected postseason exit to a Jacksonville squad many figured was a paper champion of the AFC South, a team without an elite quarterback that was winning on borrowed time.

But if we’re truly being honest with ourselves, in addition to being a plain old bad match-up for Pittsburgh, the 2017 Jaguars were a team playing with an edge, a focus, what Apollo Creed called the eye of the tiger.

They were a group that had bought in to what its coach was selling. People continue to criticize the Steelers for overlooking Jacksonville a year ago, and point to ridiculous examples like Tomlin’s interview with Tony Dungy months earlier or some Tweet from Le’Veon Bell days before the playoffs.

But if the Jaguars were such an inferior opponent, how were they able to go to New England one week later and build a 10-point lead over the mighty Patriots in the fourth quarter of the AFC Championship game?

Obviously, whatever mojo the Jaguars had has been lost this year, and the Steelers don’t need to give them any reason to think they still have a chance to make some noise in 2018.

Pittsburgh doesn’t need to do anything but play its game this Sunday. If the Steelers defeat Jacksonville but then go on to lose again in the first round of the playoffs in January, is anyone going to say, “Well, at least the Steelers got their revenge over the Jaguars back on November 18.”?

I highly doubt it.

In life, they say living well is the best revenge. In sports, winning is the ultimate revenge. Players can talk trash on the field and brag about winning individual match-ups, but the only winning that matters is posted on the scoreboard for all to see.

The Steelers don’t need to worry about the Jaguars—at least not what the 2017 version did to them.

The Steelers have something special going on right now, and they can’t allow the need for revenge to get in the way of it.

The Steelers are working hard not to waste the waning moments of the ‘Roethlisberger Years’

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 11/17/2018 - 8:17am

The Pittsburgh Steelers are working hard to earn another playoff berth. A difficult schedule ahead demands taking it one game at a time. Next up: the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Time has a way of sneaking up on us all. One minute you are driving your first child home from the hospital, incredibly frustrated with how inconsiderate all the other drivers are for going so fast, don't they realize you have precious cargo on board. The next moment you blink and there walks your son across the stage at his high school graduation. Startled, you look over at your wife and say, "What just happened?" Life just happened and hopefully you didn't miss it. Each success and failure, every laugh and every tear, because when they are gone they ain't never coming back.

I read a post by a young lady on social media recently where she stated "I hate I wasted all my skinny years thinking I was fat." The statement was meant to be humorous, but it proved profound nonetheless. Appreciate what you have while you have it.

The Steelers are faced with a similar dilemma this season. It doesn't seem possible that Ben Roethlisberger, their long awaited franchise quarterback, is competing in his 15th NFL season? The same QB who won two Super Bowls in his first five years hasn't won another in going on a decade. I understand the majority of QBs never even play in a Super Bowl, much less win one, but Ben isn't just any old QB. He is a two time champion who is still playing at the top of his game. Ben wants another title, and he is working hard to make that happen.

Ben is the only remaining player from the last Steelers championship team of 2008. That means every other player on the team has something to prove and a desire to cement their Steelers legacy. However, I don't feel the players are the only ones with something to prove.

Head coach Mike Tomlin, OC Randy Fichtner, and DC Keith Butler also fall into that category. All three men possess a championship pedigree. Tomlin won one Super Bowl as an assistant with Tampa Bay and another as head coach of the Steelers, and Butler is also a two time winner. Fichtner was a position coach on the Steelers last championship team. But winning another title would mean something a little different for each man.

This season to date may just be Tomlin's best coaching job of his career. The off season of drama carried over into the first quarter of the season, and the team appeared to lack focus and disciple. Many individuals, myself included, lay the blame squarely at Tomlin's feet. I speculated that ownership needed to step in and specify just how they expected their franchise to operate. Whether that happened or not, we will never know, because that isn't how the Rooneys handle their business. They address concerns quietly behind closed doors, showing respect to everyone involved.

So what did Tomlin do with all this turmoil swirling around him? He stayed the coarse. He was as cool as the other side of the pillow. He displayed confidence and composure as the leader of the most stable franchise in the NFL. He weathered the storm until the winds settled down, and as of late has enjoyed smooth sailing. The team is a direct reflection of it's head coach. Some teams around the league should really start paying attention.

Tomlin needs to win another title to get the Bill Cowher monkey off his back. He gets lumped in a group with George Seifert at San Francisco and Barry Switzer at Dallas; coaches who supposedly won titles with the previous coaches players. There maybe some truth to those claims, especially with the other two gentlemen, but how is that their fault. You win or lose with the hand your dealt. Tomlin winning another Super Bowl would definitely put those whispers to rest.

This is Randy Fichtner's first year as Steelers offensive coordinator, so he has only just begun to put his stamp on the offense. His innovative play design and creativity have already paid dividends for the offense and they are one of the top units in the league, with room to grow. Ben and Randy have a great chemistry and it shows on game day. Winning the title would justify the faith that Tomlin and the front office displayed in promoting Fichtner.

That brings us to Keith Butler. Butler survived a disastrous start to the season by his defense. His game plans appeared woefully lacking in creativity and design. However, to his credit, he has made the necessary adjustments to turn the defense around. They went back to basics, focusing on their fundamentals, and simplifying the game plan to avoid pre-snap confusion. If Bulter can turn this diverse group into a top ten unit capable of competing for a championship, he should be in the running for Comeback Coordinator of the Year award. I don't know if that is a thing, but if it isn't, it should be. It would also get Butler out of the huge shadow cast by living Steelers legend Dick Lebeau. It must be cold there in his shadow. This season may finally shine a little light on his own abilities.

The Steelers as an organization are fighting hard to not waste these 'Roethlisberger Years'. First things first, they must focus their attention on a frustrated, wounded, and dangerous Jaguars squad. I feel certain Tomlin learned that lesson last year.

This season's Steelers team has plenty left to prove, including a tough remaining schedule just to make the playoffs, but their arrow sure appears to be trending upward.

Fan Rooting Guide, Week 11: Who Steelers fans should root for in other games this weekend

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 11/17/2018 - 7:05am

BTSC's guide to the other weekend games that might impact the Steelers the most.

We were all aware of the significance of winning vs. losing when the Steelers take the field against Jacksonville at Everbank Stadium on Sunday. Of course, the Steelers need to win to continue to ascend towards the top of the AFC. With less games remaining and bye weeks concluding, the playoff contenders and pretenders are becoming much more defined. Most of the time, Steelers fans know who to root for. But here’s a guide to significant matchups, and whose losses the Steelers would benefit more from this weekend.

If the season ended today, the Steelers would be the second seed in the AFC, but there are plenty of teams to root for in other action. Here are the current AFC playoff standings.

  1. Kansas City Chiefs 9-1 (Would win AFC West and would earn them a First Round Bye)
  2. Pittsburgh Steelers 6-2-1 (Would win AFC North and would earn them a First Round Bye)
  3. New England Patriots 7-3 Would win AFC East and host Wild Card Cincinnati)
  4. Houston Texans 6-3 (Would win AFC South and host Wild Card Los Angeles Chargers)
  5. Los Angeles Chargers 7-2 (Would earn Wild Card and travel to Houston)
  6. Cincinnati Bengals 5-4 (Would earn Wild Card and travel to New England)
  7. Tennessee Titans 5-4
  8. Miami Dolphins 5-5
  9. Baltimore Ravens 4-5
  10. Indianapolis Colts 4-5
  11. Cleveland Browns 3-6-1
  12. Jacksonville Jaguars 3-6
  13. Denver Broncos 3-6
  14. Buffalo Bills 3-7
  15. New York Jets 3-7
  16. Oakland Raiders 1-8

...

Cincinnati Bengals at Baltimore Ravens - Sunday 1:00 PM

While I feel dirty rooting for the Ravens, I want to see the Bungles slip,out of a playoff seed and eventually make Week 17 a Josh Dobbs, Stevan Ridley and James Washington showcase.

Who to root for: Baltimore

Houston Texans at Washington Redskins - Sunday 1:00 PM

Houston has momentum like Jacksonville did last year. That needs to subside a bit.

Who to root for: Washington

Tennessee Titans at Indianapolis Colts- Sunday 1:00 PM

Not many teams can overtake Cincy for the sixth spot. Tennessee can.

Who to root for: Tennessee

Denver Broncos at Los Angeles Chargers - Sunday 4:05 PM

Like the Texans, the Chargers keep gaining momentum. Slowing that down would be good, I just don’t see the Broncos doing it.

Who to root for: Denver

Kansas City Chiefs at Los Angeles Rams - Monday 8:15 PM

If Pittsburgh even has a remote chance of surpassing the Chiefs, Andy Reid’s club has to lose to both teams from the City of Angels. It needs to start now.

Who to root for: Los Angeles

AFC Teams on a Bye Week:

Cleveland Browns, Miami Dolphins, Buffalo Bills, New England Patriots, New York Jets

Other games featuring AFC teams:

Oakland Raiders at Arizona Cardinals - Sunday 4:05 PM

Rivers Casino in Pittsburgh hopes to have sportsbook open in time for Steelers home game against Chargers

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 11/17/2018 - 6:07am

The Rivers Casino across the road from Heinz Field hopes to have their sportsbook open by the start of December.

Ever since the U.S Supreme Court ruled to strike down the laws that barred state-authorized sports gambling outside of Nevada in May, Pennsylvania has been moving forward with plans to legalize sports betting and deciding which outlets would be granted licenses to open the state’s first sportsbooks.

For those looking to place a bet on a Pittsburgh Steelers game when they visit Heinz Field, life is set to become much easier after the Rivers Casino just across the road was granted one of only five licenses given out by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board a few weeks ago.

While this initial approval is dependant upon the Rivers Casino’s ability to establish an operation that meets with the the board’s approval, this last stage is considered to be something of a formality. A provisional opening date for the sportsbook in a temporary home at the casino has been earmarked for December 1, according to a report from KDKA-TV.

Speaking to WTAE Action News, Rivers Casino spokesman Jack Horner explained the casino’s plans for the development of the sportsbook and where its permanent home would ultimately be located.

“Development of our temporary sportsbook, located adjacent to High Limits, is already underway and expected to launch by year-end. Our proposed permanent sportsbook will replace Levels lounge and is expected to launch in spring 2019,”

Assuming they can meet all the requirements, the sportsbook will open just a day before the Steelers home date with the Los Angeles Chargers. An encounter that has just been flexed to a night game and the new sportsbook should see plenty of interest from fans attending the game in Week 13 if they are up and running by then.

Black and Gold Links: Will the Steelers be able to stop/slow down Leonard Fournette for once?

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 11/17/2018 - 4:59am

Time to check on the latest news surrounding the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The Pittsburgh Steelers have now won five straight games and continue to “stack wins.” After their 52-21 thrashing of the Carolina Panthers in Week 10, the team now has a chance to rest and relax and prepare for the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 11.

Today in the Black-and-gold links article, we talk about the biggest key for the Pittsburgh Steelers’ defense heading into Week 11. That is a simple goal, but something the Steelers haven’t done — stop/slow down Leonard Fournette.

Fournette gashed the Steelers in both meetings at Heinz Field last year, and the defense will have their hands full again, but with a depleted offensive line you have to wonder if this is the time Pittsburgh finally gets the upper hand.

Let’s get to the news:

Will third time be the charm for Steelers against Jaguars’ Leonard Fournette?

By: Joe Rutter, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Keith Butler has watched Leonard Fournette break free on a 90-yard run to cement a 181-yard rushing day in the regular season. He has observed Fournette cross the goal line three times to help oust the Pittsburgh Steelers from the playoffs.

What the Steelers defensive coordinator hasn’t seen is his defense slow down – let alone shut down – the bruising Jacksonville Jaguars running back.

While two games isn’t enough of a sample size to constitute a trend, Butler is keenly aware that Fournette can’t make it a hat trick if the Steelers hope to finally solve the Jaguars running game and extend their winning streak this season to six games.

“I don’t want to say he’s got our number, but he’s played well against us,” Butler said, “and we have to play well against him.”

That didn’t happen in either matchup in Fournette’s rookie season as the 6-foot, 228-pound runner combined for 290 yards and five touchdowns in Jacksonville’s two victories at Heinz Field, including that stunning upset in the AFC divisional round.

Butler’s defense will get another chance to answer the challenge Sunday when the Steelers visit TIAA Bank Stadium.

“We know what we’ve got to do,” cornerback Joe Haden said. “We know we have to stop the run.”

The Steelers believe they are better equipped for this matchup, and the numbers belie their confidence. They are ranked No. 4 in run defense, holding teams to an average of 90.8 yards per game during a 6-2-1 start. They have gone seven consecutive games without allowing a team to reach 100 yards on the ground.

Then again, the Steelers showed similar improvement after Fournette and the Jaguars thrashed their defense for 231 rushing yards in Week 5 last season. They went six games in a row without allowing an opponent to reach 100 yards.

But that changed when Ryan Shazier sustained his spinal cord injury against Cincinnati. Minus their star linebacker, the Steelers yielded 127.4 rushing yards over their final five regular-season games. And, of course, the Jaguars rushed for 164 yards in their 45-42 playoff win.

“We played bad, simple as that,” defensive tackle Cameron Heyward said. “We didn’t execute, we didn’t get off our blocks, we didn’t control the line of scrimmage. We didn’t (create) turnovers.”

Plugging the leaky run defense was an obvious goal in the offseason, and the addition of inside linebacker Jon Bostic and safety Morgan Burnett, playing in subpackage situations, has improved the tackling and limited big plays.

The Steelers have permitted only six runs longer than 20 yards and none over 40. And they’ve shown an ability to make in-game adjustments. After allowing the Carolina to rush for 48 yards on the opening drive of the game, the Steelers held the Panthers to 47 the rest of the way.

“We are trusting a little more, trusting the defense and guys are tackling better,” Heyward said. “That’s what we’ve done in the past, and now we have to see if we can do it against (the Jaguars).”

Steelers excelling at scoring in red-zone opportunities this season

By: Chris Adamski, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

During each of the past two season postmortem meetings with reporters , Pittsburgh Steelers president Art Rooney II has lamented his team’s lack of success in scoring touchdowns once its offense drives inside an opponents’ 20 yard-line.

Rooney II is getting his wish in 2018.

The Steelers lead the NFL in red-zone touchdown rate (78.57 percent) through 10 weeks of the NFL season, according to teamrankings.com. For perspective, the Steelers got into the end zone 53.03 percent of the time they got into the red zone last season and 54.24 percent in 2016, finishing among the bottom half of the league both times.

The improvement has come at least in part, offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner said Thursday, because of a heavier reliance on the run game.

“Trying to utilize our people the best we can, and to take the ball out of the linemen’s hands and not give it to (running back James Conner) some, not give it to other runners, is not fair,” Fichtner said. “It’s been good for them, and it’s complemented (quarterback Ben Roethlisberger). So, I think when you can be multiple and/or balanced, it’s probably always going to be best.”

Fichtner said the input of veteran offensive line coach Mike Munchak has been instrumental in tilting more toward Conner than throwing once they get inside the 10 yard-line.

Le’Veon Bell’s locker formally emptied by team staff at Steelers facility

By: Chris Adamski, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Two days after the deadline passed for Le’Veon Bell to report to the Pittsburgh Steelers this season and a day after several players playfully went through the running back’s locker, his stall at the team’s UPMC Rooney Sports Complex was emptied completely by team staff.

Inside Bell’s corner locker just inside the entrance to the locker room had hung dozens of shirts and other apparel, with shoes and other equipment on the ground, a helmet hanging on a hook and cardboard boxes with dozens of pairs of cleats above it.

After practice Wednesday, teammates removed the wooden “26 BELL” nameplate that hung above the locker, and they distributed the pairs of Nike shoes. The mood, on whole, was tongue-in-cheek, and multiple players said no valuables or personal belongings were taken.

By Thursday afternoon, the entire locker had been cleaned out. Only metal hangers remained on the horizontal pole across the top of the locker.

Reserve tight end Xavier Grimble, whose locker is next to Bell’s, took advantage of the extra space and sat on a folding chair in front of Bell’s (former) locker Thursday. Grimble’s locker abuts a cramped corner, but it appeared he was uncomfortable sitting in front of Bell’s locker before it had been abandoned.

Friday Night Steelers Six Pack of questions and open thread: Jaguars Edition

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 11/16/2018 - 5:40pm

There is plenty to talk about regarding all things black-and-gold!

Several people have asked if we could bring back the Friday Night Open Thread. I had moved the event to Saturday morning, but after minimal success, I decided to bring it back to Friday night — with a slight twist.

I liked the Saturday Six-Pack theme, so I decided to just take the six questions and move them to Friday night. Say hello to Friday Night Six-Pack of Steelers Questions and open thread!

The rules haven’t changed...

Quick rundown of the ground rules.

  • I’ll ask at least four questions strictly related to the Steelers.
  • The rest of the questions could be about anything.
  • Be respectful.
  • Have fun talking about the Black-and-gold.

That’s it! With that out of the way, it’s time to get this party started. Hey, don’t act like you’ve never done a little Friday night drinking. Here goes:

1. Outside of the Ravens, Bengals and Patriots, where do you rank the Jaguars in terms of Steelers’ rivals?

2. Many are talking about this Week 11 showdown being a trap game. Do you buy into this theory? Explain why.

3. OVER/UNDER number of sacks the Steelers have on Blake Bortles: 4

4. Stephon Tuitt and Marcus Gilbert have both been ruled out this week. Which will be missed more? Tuitt vs. the Jags’ running attack? Or Feiler vs. a solid Jags pass rush?

5. On a recent podcast we discussed this, wanted to get your take on it:

If the Steelers win a Super Bowl this year, would you find it to be a little extra sweet considering Le’Veon Bell put the fans and team through such a mess, and wasn’t there to get a ring?

6. What is your prediction for the game on Sunday? And how do you see the game shaking out?

Extra Credit: Better football move — The Longest Yard or The Gridiron Gang

No matter what, always remember...

HERE WE GO STEELERS!

PODCASTS

Steelers Week 11 injury report: Stephon Tuitt and Marcus Gilbert ruled out for Sunday

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 11/16/2018 - 3:31pm

Marcus Gilbert will miss his fourth consecutive game of the year on Sunday and fifth overall, while Stephon Tuitt will miss his first game of the season against the Jacksonville Jaguars,

The Pittsburgh Steelers confirmed the news many had expected on Friday, ruling out Stephon Tuitt and Marcus Gilbert for the game against the Jacksonville Jaguars after both players missed every day of practice this week.

Marcus Gilbert and Stephon Tuitt are OUT for Sunday. James Conner is good to go. #Steelers

— Missi Matthews (@missi_matthews) November 16, 2018

For Gilbert, this will be the fourth game in a row he has missed as he battles a knee injury and Matt Feiler will once again start in his place. Stephon Tuitt sits for the first time this season and he will replaced in the lineup by Tyson Alualu, with L.T. Walton expected to see his first game action since Week 2 having spent the rest of the year of the among the inactives on game day.

While James Conner might have been the biggest injury concern at the start of the week, it would appear he has shaken off the effects of the concussion he suffered in Week 10. Able to practice fully each day, there is little doubt Conner will play on Sunday. After missing the game against the Carolina Panthers, Daniel McCullers did not feature on the injury report this week and it appears he will be good to go against Jacksonville as well.

Although the Jaguars have only officially ruled out cornerback Quenton Meeks as of Friday, questions remain about four other players and there is a possibility they could be missing some key names from both the offensive and defensive lines in Week 11.

Here's the final injury report for #Jaguars-Steelers. pic.twitter.com/9NLKkRYYku

— Phillip Heilman (@phillip_heilman) November 16, 2018

NFL Expert Picks: Who the experts like in Steelers vs. Jaguars, Week 11

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 11/16/2018 - 11:43am

Time to take a look into who the experts like in this AFC battle with plenty of bad blood.

The Pittsburgh Steelers and Jacksonville Jaguars have a history with one another which dates back to the days of the AFC Central division, but the most recent history leaves a bad taste in Steelers fans’ mouths.

The Jaguars came to Heinz Field twice in 2017 and beat the Steelers, the latter of those two meetings was the upset win in the AFC Divisional Round of the AFC Playoffs. Needless to say, the Jaguars, despite their record, will get the Steelers’ full attention this Sunday.

The two teams heading into this game couldn’t be on more different trajectories. The Steelers have won 5 in a row, with a 6-2-1 record, and the Jaguars have stumbled out to a 3-6 start. Nonetheless, when these two square off in Week 11, all bets are off. So, with that said, who do the experts like in this matchup?

Let’s take a look...

With the Steelers starting to look more like the team fans expected heading into the season, it isn’t a surprise the majority of picks are leaning towards the visitors. In fact, at CBS Sports (7 of 8), ESPN (9 of 10), and SB Nation (6 of 7) all of their experts but one likes the Steelers to go to Florida and advance their winning streak to six games.

The one kicker in this situation is how these are only a few of the websites who produce weekly expert picks. With so many sites out there, I utilize the skills of NFL Pick Watch, a website which tabulates all NFL expert picks and puts them into an easy-to-read chart, to give us an idea who all of the experts are picking in this game.

According to NFL Pick Watch, a whopping 93% of experts who produce weekly picks are leaning hard towards the Steelers in this Week 11 contest. Now, you don’t have to tell Steelers fans about how this type of scenario has happened before, and how the team fell flat on their face, but for those screaming ‘trap game’, it won’t be difficult for Mike Tomlin and company to roll some footage of last year’s losses to get the team focused and fired up to make a statement, and put a huge hit to Jacksonville’s playoff hopes.

Will the experts be right? Or will the Steelers get tripped up, again, by the Jaguars? Only time will tell, but it is clear those who are “in the know” like the boys from the Steel City this weekend.

Going Streaking: Contextualizing the Steelers’ current winning streaks

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 11/16/2018 - 10:15am

The Steelers presently have several winning streaks, both well-known and obscure.

“WE’RE GOING STREAKING!”

When I think of the current unbeaten streaks the Steelers have been extending as they seem to be clicking on all cylinders, I can’t help but envision all of Heinz Field chanting “Frank the Tank! Frank the Tank!” It’s hard to even hear the word “streak” without thinking of Will Ferrell, but the Steelers’ play as of late got me thinking about where their current win streak and road unbeaten streak compare historically in the Rothlisberger/Tomlin era. Additionally, there are some not as well-known streaks the Steelers are currently on which are worth mentioning.

5-Game Winning Streak

In Ben Roethlisberger’s career, a five game win streak is tied for his fourth best occurring within a single season. The best win streak of Ben’s career was when it started — 13 games in 2004 with Coach Bill Cowher. The team actually had a 14-game winning streak, but Ben did not play in Week 17.

Last season the Steelers, led by Ben Roethlisberger, had an eight-game winning streak from Week 8 to Week 14. The 2017 win streak was the longest of Mike Tomlin’s coaching career. The only other same-season win streak for Roethlisberger/Tomlin era which is longer than the current one was in 2016 from Week 11 to Week 17. During the 2016 streak, the Steelers won seven games in a row, six of which were quarterbacked by Ben Roethlisberger as he was given Week 17 off yet again.

10-Game Road Unbeaten Streak

The last time the Steelers have lost a game on the road came in Week 3 last season in Chicago. Yes, the Steelers tied the Brown’s in Week 1 this season, hence why it is considered an “unbeaten” streak. While this streak is the longest of Mike Tomlin‘s career, it is the second longest streak for Ben Roethlisberger. But a victory this week in Jacksonville could tie Ben’s record from 2004 to 2005, which was 11 games.

5-Game Win Streak Following a Thursday Night Game

I highlighted this streak in another article earlier this week. The Steelers have taken advantage of the extra rest after playing on a Thursday and have won their last five contests in which they had the added days off.

4-Game Win Streak in Week 11

The Steelers have won every Week 11-game since 2013. The only season of note was 2015 when the Steelers had their bye during Week 11.

7-Game Win Streak in November

The Steelers have won their last seven games in the month of November. Their last November loss was against the Cowboys in 2016.

5-Game Win Streak when Visiting the AFC South

The last time the Steelers went on the road and lost to an opponent from the AFC South division, it was October 2012 in Tennessee. The Steelers did not play on the road against the AFC South in 2013 or 2015, but since 2014 they have defeated each opponent in their own stadium while winning in Indianapolis twice.

13-Game Road Unbeaten Streak against the AFC

If only looking at divisional games, the Steelers have not lost on the road in 13 games. The last loss against an AFC opponent on the road was in Week 9 of 2016 against the Baltimore Ravens.

Running the numbers on Le’Veon Bell’s decision not to play in 2018

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 11/16/2018 - 8:50am

A look at the risk Bell is taking and what it’s likely to cost him.

I wonder what Richard Thaler thinks of the Le’Veon Bell saga. Thaler is known as the founder of Behavioral Economics, which is essentially the study of why human beings don’t make rational financial decisions. Cognitive limits, bias and emotion all cloud our ability to behave as mathematics tell us we should. The multi-year Le’Veon Bell drama would be a great case study for the academically curious.

Ever since Bell decided not to attend training camp before the 2017 season, he started a new game that mixes together emotion, bias and financial projections - and now he’s going to play it out until the very end. He took the world of the known and entered into a world where probabilities rule the day, and that narrative has been lost in the debate.

There are pundits, like Mike Florio, who have been vocal that Bell has definitely made the right choice. Plenty of others suggest this is the dumbest holdout of all-time. Of course pundits are paid to be bold, but the reality is that we simply don’t yet know if Bell’s bold move will pay off for him.

The other reality is, and Thaler will back this up, we will never know if Bell made the right decision.

That shouldn’t stop us from trying to have a more nuanced conversation. Rather than being bold, how about getting what is known out on the table and do some of the math that Le’Veon and his agent and the Steelers have been doing for the last two seasons?

There are two rational reasons why Bell chose to not play in 2018. The first is that a serious injury would reduce the value of his next contract. The second is that additional touches would reduce that same contract. This second bet is counter to what has been the history of contract year performance theory across all sports for decades. Normally soon-to-be free agents seek to have a peak year as they head into free agency. Bell opted to use the opposite strategy and not play at all. It’s counter to traditional wisdom but it’s not without its reason. Let’s explore these two rationals.

Injury Risk

Before delving too far into the numbers some assumptions need to be made about what constitutes a bad outcome for Bell. Obviously any injury wouldn’t be great but he’s mostly worried about a significant injury, the kind that would dramatically reduce his next contract. For our purposes let’s keep things simple and assume an injury of 8 weeks or longer would have a disastrous effect on Bell’s future contract and reduce to guaranteed money to zero. That’s certainly dramatic, but it gives Bell the benefit of the doubt.

Publicly available NFL injury data is scarce but fortunately there was excellent work on the topic done by Football Outsiders a few years back. They collect injury data and published a review of the trends over 15 seasons. According to the Football Outsiders database an NFL player has a 9% chance of collecting an injury that runs 8 games or longer over the course of a season. Running Backs surprisingly are no more susceptible to such injuries compared to other positions but let’s skew things a tad for Bell, who was set to be used more than the average player. Let’s up the ante by 50% for Bell and assume, had he played the 2018 season, he’d have a 13.3% chance of picking up an injury that would ruin his next contract.

We haven’t spoken about Bell’s contract potential for next season, but assume for this argument that he’ll receive “Todd Gurley” guaranteed money in his next deal. Bell seems to think he will. Given Bell’s age this seems highly unlikely. Gurley is over two years younger and the $45 million he received was guaranteed was across four years, while Bell’s is likely to be three. If Bell played 2018 and was uninjured he’d accumulate $59.5 million over the next two contracts in terms of guaranteed money. But in the injury case let’s say he only gets that one franchise tag year guaranteed at $14.5 million. The expected value of his status going into the season, with a 13.3% chance of being seriously injured, was $53.5 million. That’s $8.5 million more than he would make sitting out the season and receiving the $45 million.

To spell that example out there is a 13.3% chance that Bell walks away with just his $14.5 million and an 86.7% chance that he gets the full $59.5 million. Add those outcomes together and Bell has $53.5 million of guaranteed value. The non-guaranteed part of the deal makes the bet less clear but Bell has made it clear that the guaranteed money was the sticking point and that assumption is not a big factor. In a dream scenario where Bell gets the full value of Gurley’s $57.5 million dollar deal the financial loss shrinks only modestly to $7.4 million.

Some argue that by not playing this year Bell extended the back end of his career, but after this next presumably three year deal Bell will be a 30 year old back with 2,000+ carries, and it’s hard to imagine he’d get an incremental guarantee on his deal of $8.5 million because he sat out this season. It’d be hard to imagine he gets $8.5 million guaranteed at all. For comparison, at age 32 Frank Gore got $6.5 million guaranteed over three seasons. By that time Bell will be judged by what he has left in the tank, not the fact that he didn’t play in 2018.

What level of injury risk would make Bell’s decision a good one? Bell would have needed a 33% chance of disastrous injury to make this a breakeven financial decision, even using these numbers that give him the benefit of the doubt. That is much higher than the historical data reveals. If you assume Bell’s next contract won’t have that kind of guaranteed money the bet only gets crazier. If the guaranteed money in the next contract was even with the Steeler’s reported $30 million deal then Bell would have needed a 49% risk of serious injury to breakeven.

But what about showing up at the last possible minute, as Bell recently declined to do? The math is still not in his favor but it’s less of an egregious financial decision. If he had showed up to play the final seven games and taken the prorated salary and likelihood of season ending injury (which according to Football Outsiders data is a fair assumption) his expected guaranteed contract value would be $48.7 million, only $3.7 million more than the guaranteed $45 million he’s expecting.

At this point it all comes down to the risk someone is willing to take. If there was a 13% chance you’d get zero, would you pay $8.5 million to lock in $45 million? Or even $30 million? It depends on how much money you have to begin with.

Workload risk

But these high level numbers leave out important nuance related to Bell’s future contract potential, and that is his workload. Next season Bell will be 27 and, more importantly, he’ll have 1,229 carries under his belt. According to this analysis by NumberFire running back productivity starts to decline after 1,500 carries and falls precipitously after 1,800 carries. Assuming that NFL analytics is even more aware of these trends than public analysis suggests, that information places specific emphasis on Bell’s decision to avoid the 2018 season. This season with the Steelers would have put him past that 1,500 carry mark and would leave him with just one elite season remaining, according to this model. That means it could very well be that by taking his $14.5 million, Bell would have likely reduced his guaranteed money by some amount. This is a point not often discussed in the narrative but likely front and center in the mind of Bell and his agent.

But the workload factor also suggests more clearly that Bell should have played the latter half of the season. He could have minimized his loss with reduced injury risk and proven that he “still has it”, while not picking up enough carries to take one of his elite seasons off the table. Given his holdout that would have been, it appears, the optimal strategy for Bell.

Taking into account historical injury risk it’s clear that Bell sacrificed some amount of financial value by sitting out 2018. However, when considering a person’s tolerance to take risk, a key factor in Behavioral Economic circles, the decision becomes more difficult to criticize. This is why no expert can ever be certain Bell was right or wrong. When you factor in emotion and the personal relationships behind the scenes the situation gets even murkier, exactly where it stands right now. Only time will tell if Bell will get his guaranteed money and be able to say “I told you” to all of the fans. Based on the math above he’ll actually need $52 million guaranteed for him to justify that claim. Given his mileage it would be irrational for a team to pay him that much, but as Richard Thaler and Le’Veon Bell know all too well, NFL franchises don’t behave rationally either.

Steelers Injury Report: Stephon Tuitt and Marcus Gilbert miss a second day of practice

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 11/16/2018 - 7:35am

The Steelers could be missing two key starters on Sunday after both Stephon Tuitt and Marcus Gilbert sat out training again on Thursday.

The Pittsburgh Steelers look increasingly likely to be missing two key starters on Sunday when they take on the Jacksonville Jaguars after Stephon Tuitt and Marcus Gilbert were forced to sit out practice for the second day in a row on Thursday.

#Steelers injury report (Thursday):
MISSED: Marcus Gilbert (knee), Stephon Tuitt (elbow), Ramon Foster (coaches decision).

All other players were full participants. @937theFan

— Josh Rowntree (@JRown32) November 15, 2018

Ramon Foster joined Tuitt and Gilbert on sidelines, the beneficiary of his standard veterans day off, while James Conner was once again a full participant in training and seemingly showing no adverse effects from the concussion he suffered in Week 10.

If Conner might be expected to play on Sunday, Tuitt and Gilbert are not. Without a miraculous return to practice on Friday, neither will suit up against Jacksonville. Should they be unable to play, Matt Feiler would replace Gilbert for the fourth game in a row, while Tuitt would be replaced by Tyson Alualu. His absence should also give L.T Walton a rare chance to dress on game day as the backup.

Although the list of names on the injury report is still long for the Jaguars, they are slowly getting some key names back as the week progresses.

Thursday injury report for #Jaguars and Steelers

A.J. Bouye was a full participant, which is a great sign. A.J. Cann pops up with a hamstring injury. He was limited. pic.twitter.com/WfQGCfblH4

— Daniel Popper (@danielrpopper) November 15, 2018

Week 11 betting preview: Steelers now 5.5-point favorites vs. Jaguars

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 11/16/2018 - 6:32am

We take a look at the latest odds for the Steelers’ clash with the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday.

The Pittsburgh Steelers continue to be strong favorites for their game against the Jacksonville Jaguars in the eyes of the bookmakers, with the spread appearing to have settled at 5.5-points as of Friday. After opening at 3.5-points and peaking at 6-points on Wednesday, it seems there has been very little support for the home from the betting public so far.

An initial totals position of 47.5-points has been replaced by a consensus offering of 46.5-points and an early moneyline price of -213 has been more commonly replaced by -240 with most outlets. A a range of prices from as low as -235 and as high as -260 can still be found with some online providers depending upon where you look.

According to Oddsshark.com, Pittsburgh is 5-0 against the spread in their last five games and 6-3 ATS overall on the season. The total has gone over in eight of the Steelers last 11 games and the under is 3-6 so far in 2018. Pittsburgh is 3-8 ATS in their last 11 games versus Jacksonville and the total has gone under in seven of the Steelers last nine games on the road against them.

In something of a change of pace, JuJu Smith-Schuster scored Pittsburgh’s opening touchdown in Week 10, the first time that someone not named James Conner or Antonio Brown has achieved that feat since Week 5. Expecting normal service to be resumed against the Jaguars, we will be looking for Conner to be the first to add to his tally on Sunday at prices of around 3/1 for the game’s first touchdown and around 2/1 for first team touchdown.

For those of you that have still not had enough of Le’Veon Bell this season, Bovada.lv have three new markets on the running back that may spark your interest.

How long will Le’Veon Bell’s next NFL contract be?

Over 4 Years -165 (20/33)

Under 4 Years +125 (5/4)

How much will Le’Veon Bell’s next NFL contract be worth?

Over 64.5 Million -130

Under 64.5 Million -110

Where will Le’Veon Bell play next season?

Jets +285

Raiders +450

Eagles + 650

Buccaneers +650

Ravens +900

Colts +900

49ers + 900

Texans +1200

Steelers +1600

A position of $64.5 million for the total value of Bell’s next contract is an interest figure given he rejected an offer from Pittsburgh rumored to be in the region of $70 - $72 million this offseason. Clearly Bovada think he will struggle to beat the Steelers’ offer.

Podcast: Jaguars stand in the way of Steelers winning 6 in a row

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 11/16/2018 - 5:33am

In the latest episode of “The Steelers Preview” show, we break down all the news you need to know surrounding the Black-and-gold from the week that was.

As the Pittsburgh Steelers resume their November schedule heading into their Week 11 game vs. the Jacksonville Jaguars, there’s a surge of Steelers news — so it was time to get back on the airwaves and discuss the Black-and-gold.

Take a look at the rundown for the latest episode of the BTSC podcast The Steelers Preview. On this show Jeff Hartman and Bryan Anthony Davis break down all things Steelers leading up to this week’s game!

Check out the rundown of the show:

  • News and Notes
  • Injuries
  • Key Matchups
  • Fantasy Players
  • Week 11 AFC North predictions
  • and MUCH MORE!

Jeff Hartman, editor of BTSC, and Bryan Anthony Davis walk you through everything you need to know regarding the Black-and-gold.

If you haven’t heard, we have a YouTube channel, and the main reason for this is to increase the sound quality on our shows. But if you’re a visual learner you can watch the show below. Be sure to subscribe to our channel!

If you missed the live show, be sure to check out all episodes on the following platforms:

Apple Users: CLICK HERE
Spotify: CLICK HERE
Google Play: CLICK HERE

If you’re old-school and just want the audio, you can listen to it in the player below.

Black and Gold Links: Ravens Eric Weddle fined for helmet-to-helmet hit on JuJu Smith-Schuster

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 11/16/2018 - 4:40am

Time to check on the latest news surrounding the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The Pittsburgh Steelers have now won five straight games and continue to “stack wins.” After their 52-21 thrashing of the Carolina Panthers in Week 10, the team now has a chance to rest and relax and prepare for the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 11.

Today in the Black-and-gold links article, we talk about how Baltimore Ravens safety Eric Weddle was heavily fined for his head-to-head hit on JuJu Smith-Schuster. This was the play which was negated by an Alejandro Villanueva holding penalty, and also forced Smith-Schuster into the blue medical tent to be examined for a concussion.

Let’s get to the news:

Ravens’ Weddle fined $26K for Nov. 4 hit on Smith-Schuster

By: Joe Rutter, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Baltimore Ravens safety Eric Weddle has been fined $26,739 for unnecessary roughness for a hit to the head of Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster in the Nov. 4 game at M&T Bank Stadium.

The play, which was highlighted on the NFL officiating video for Week 9, occurred with 14:17 left in the third quarter of the Steelers’ 23-16 victory.

Weddle delivered a jarring hit to Smith-Schuster while the receiver was making a 23-yard reception. Weddle was called for a penalty, but it was offset when Steelers tight end Jesse James was called for holding on the same play.

Smith-Schuster went to the medical tent, but was cleared to return, and he was back on the field later in the drive.

Smith-Schuster finished with seven catches for 78 yards, both team highs in the game.

Steelers’ James Conner ‘back to normal’ after concussion

By: Chris Adamski, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Six days after he experienced concussion-like symptoms against the Carolina Panthers, James Conner said after practice Wednesday he considered himself healthy.

“I feel like me again,” the Pittsburgh Steelers running back said. “Back to normal.”

The new normal, though, for Conner’s role with the team was cemented the previous day when Le’Veon Bell did not show up to sign his franchise tag, assuring he can’t play for the Steelers this season.

That leaves the featured back role to Conner for at least the remainder of 2018. But that’s the same role he has filled over the first nine games of it.

“Nothing changes,” Conner said. “Whether it’s Week 10, Week 11, I’m going to be doing the same thing I’ve been doing all these weeks.”

What Conner has done has been good enough to rank second in the NFL in yards from scrimmage (1,158) and tied for first in 100-yard rushing games (five) and multiple-touchdown games (four). No player has more rushes of at least 20 yards (eight), and only one player has more rushes of at least 10 yards (24).

“Every week he’s gotten more and more confidence,” guard David DeCastro said. “We knew he had the capability, and we liked what he showed in the offseason. He came in in great shape. Training camp was great. He was picking up blitzes. He made that great leap from his first to his second year. He’s kept getting better every week. It’s a credit to him and being a professional. He’s picked it up really fast.”

Conner, who practiced fully Wednesday, could not say if he technically had a diagnosed concussion. He said he had “a couple symptoms” during the game and indicated he left it — the Steelers won by 31 points — more as a precaution.

Conner getting cleared to play in Sunday’s game at Jacksonville is even more important now that it’s certain Bell won’t join the team. Beyond Conner is rookie Jaylen Samuels and veteran Stevan Ridley.

Steelers pack up Le’Veon Bell’s locker after player raid

By: Jeremy Fowler, ESPN

Multiple Pittsburgh Steelers players say Le’Veon Bell’s locker room items were packed up and placed in the back of team headquarters, with former teammates scoring a few pairs of cleats and not much more during Wednesday’s raid.

Bell forfeited the season and $14.5 million when he failed to report to the team by Tuesday’s franchise tag deadline to play in 2018.

Center and team captain Maurkice Pouncey said Bell’s items will likely be shipped directly to the player, as is customary with such roster turnover.

Bell’s locker went untouched for more than two months but is now completely empty a day after a handful of players sifted through his stuff for cleats, shirts and even mixtape CDs.

The ransack was not at all malicious but might have been therapeutic, said cornerback Mike Hilton, who added that everyone in the locker room likes Bell.

”Everybody was tired of talking about it and wondering when he was going to show up or not,” Hilton said. “[You’d see the locker] and think, OK, maybe he’s going to show up. Now it’s all understood, and everybody can really get past it.”

Hilton, who secured one pair of Jordan cleats, said lockers are typically full of free football apparel that Bell probably wouldn’t have needed.

In a video published by ESPN on Wednesday, linebacker Bud Dupree held up two pairs of Bell’s Jordan cleats and said into the camera, “Appreciate the cleats, my guy. I wish you success, my guy.”

The team was upset with Bell when he didn’t show Week 1 but moved on with James Conner, who is among the league leaders in rushing yards and touchdowns.

How to watch Steelers vs. Jaguars in Week 11: Time, TV Schedule and game information

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 11/16/2018 - 4:15am

We’ve got all the information you need to know to keep up with the action from the Pittsburgh Steelers’ clash with the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday,

A game that had previously been scheduled for Sunday night has been switched to an afternoon matchup because one of the teams involved in this contest has vastly unperformed this year. With the Pittsburgh Steelers riding a five game winning streak, they did their part to make this rematch worthy of national attention, but the Jacksonville Jaguars have done little to deserve the spotlight this season.

With Jacksonville looking more like the team that missed postseason play for nine straight years before 2017 than the one that made it to the AFC Championship Game last season, the Steelers should be well position to give them their sixth straight loss of the year in Week 11. Players like Jalen Ramsey have had plenty to say about Pittsburgh since putting them out of the playoffs and many fans will be hoping the Steelers can quieten a Jacksonville team that got a little bit carried away with itself after their first good season in a decade.

However, it would be a mistake to look at the Jaguars’ poor record and dismiss them as a guaranteed win on Sunday. Their defense still ranks third overall in the NFL this year, giving up an average of 319.1-yards a game and they are the No.1 team against the pass, allowing an average of just 200.6-yards through nine games. With the recent return of a running back who dominated Pittsburgh in their previous two meetings, after missing most of the season with a hamstring injury, facing Leonard Fournette once again will be no easy task.

Week 11:

Game: Pittsburgh Steelers (6-2-1) @ Jacksonville Jaguars (3-6)

Date: Sunday, November 18.

Kickoff: 1.00 p.m. ET.

Venue: TIAA Bank Field.

Weather: Live weather update.

Watch:

TV Channel: CBS, broadcast locally on KDKA-TV-2, with Jim Nantz and Tony Romo as commentators and Tracy Wolfson the sideline reporter. Check the national broadcast map to see if the game is on in your area.

Online Streaming: NFL.com Game Pass on delay in the U.S and live for international viewers or live in the U.S via a subscription to NFL Sunday Ticket. FuboTV also allows you to stream the game online. The NFL Game Center will update the action on a play-by-play basis.

Replay: NFL.com Game Pass allows for replay in the U.S and live viewing for international viewers.

Radio: Steeler Nation Radio with Bill Hillgrove and Tunch Ilkin as commentators and Craig Wolfley as the sideline reporter. Broadcast live on WDVE 102.5 FM and WBGG 970 AM in the Pittsburgh area and via their local affiliates. Listen online via Steelers.com and with the Steelers Official Mobile App. Alternatively, you can listen to a radio broadcast on SiriusXM.

You can also follow Behind the Steel Curtain on Twitter to catch all of the highlights as they happen, and be sure to check back with us after the game for our post-match roundup.

Injuries:

The Steelers look likely to be forced to play without Marcus Gilbert for the fourth consecutive week due to a knee injury, while Stephon Tuitt is in danger of missing his first game of the year on Sunday because of an elbow issue.

Upcoming schedule:

Jaguars’ head coach Doug Marrone talks about the difficulty of defending the Steelers

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 11/15/2018 - 2:45pm

Defending the Pittsburgh Steelers isn’t easy, and Jaguars’ Doug Marrone illustrates this perfectly.

The Pittsburgh Steelers have an offense which is something to behold. They are the NFL’s top red-zone offense, and rank third in 3rd down conversions. All while boosting their points-per-game average over 30 for the first time this season, 31 to be exact and that would be 4th in the NFL.

When you sit back and try to imagine what it would be like for a defensive coordinator to game plan for Pittsburgh’s offense, it has to be a giant headache. With players like Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown, JuJu Smith-Schuster and now James Conner bursting on the scene, it is enough to keep defensive coordinators up at night.

With the Jacksonville Jaguars hosting the Steelers in Week 11, head coach Doug Marrone outlined just how difficult it will be to defend such a potent offense. This per Teresa Varley of the Steelers’ official website:

“There is always a concern with the tight ends from the scheme of things. It is tough when you look at it and you see one of the best wide receivers in football on one end. Another young, upcoming star on this end and then a running back that is playing well and a quarterback that has been doing it for all these years. You can go down the line. An offensive line that has played together for a long time. There are different guys and different things you have to look at, but they are part of it. They are a big part of it. We have to be able to – I think that is what makes it so difficult when you defend Pittsburgh – they have a bunch of good players out there. They have a Pro Bowl running back, potentially two Pro Bowl wide receivers, a Pro Bowl quarterback and some Pro Bowl offensive lineman. Then you look at the tight ends. Vance [McDonald] – I have known for a long time. We wanted to take him when I was in Buffalo. We were trying to take him. I did a lot on him. I know what type of player he is and obviously Jesse [James] is from Penn State, and I know the job that he has done. It is a challenge and that is why it is going to take all eleven guys to do the right thing, do their job, know their role to defend this team.”

While some might chalk this up to nothing more than “coach speak”, Marrone’s diagnosis and dissecting of the Pittsburgh offense is anything but exaggerated. Trying to stop an offense, buoyed by a tremendous offensive line, who can both run and pass with equal precision is a tall task.

When listening to the talking heads of the NFL media landscape, you never hear the Steelers offense mentioned when they talk about the best in the league. You hear about the New Orleans Saints, the New England Patriots and even the Los Angeles Rams before you hear about the boys from Pittsburgh. Marrone realizes the challenge which lies ahead, and the Steelers hope to live up to the hype on Sunday at 1 p.m. ET.

Pittsburgh Steelers winning the battle of the trenches so far in 2018

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 11/15/2018 - 1:26pm

Want to know how the Steelers are succeeding this season? Look no further than the battle of the trenches.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are on a well-documented five game winning streak, and there are some outsiders who might be wondering what is going on which has caused such a drastic change after a dreadful 1-2-1 start. The answer? The team is winning the battle of the trenches.

When talking about the battle of the trenches, the main talking point is about the sack stats for the Steelers. The offensive lines ability to keep players from sacking Ben Roethlisberger, and the defense’s ability to get to the opposing quarterback.

Check out the stats up to Week 10, per Dom Rinelli of the Steelers Public Relations team:

Through Week 10 of 2018,

The #Steelers are the only #NFL team to have

Recorded 30 or more quarterback sacks

AND

Allowed 15 or fewer quarterback sacks.

Pittsburgh ranks

Tied for first with 31 sacks

AND

Third with 12 sacks allowed in

the NFL in 2018.

— Dom Rinelli (@drinelli) November 13, 2018

Some pretty impressive statistics, and when you think about how the team started in the month of September, it has been a remarkable turnaround for both sides of the ball.

When you are talking about offensive and defensive line play, there is no doubt improvement has been noticeable in more than just the sack department. James Conner has had gaping holes to run through, and the defensive line has shut down opponents’ running game with elite efficiency.

It is safe to say, this 2018 Steelers team will go as far as their big men take them, and so far they are looking pretty stellar throughout the first 10 weeks of the regular season.

Crunching the Numbers: The Pittsburgh Steelers, the game after

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 11/15/2018 - 12:20pm

Analyzing outcomes which follow scoring over 50 points, perfect QBR performances, and Thursday games.

3-2

In games where the Steelers have scored more than 50 points, they have an all-time record of 3–2 the following week. In 1952 and 1954, the Steelers were victorious the week after scoring 63 and 55 points respectively. The Steelers scored 57 points in their final game of 1967 to bring their record to 5-8-1, so there was no game the following week. In 1979 and 1984, the Steelers lost the week following their 51-point and 52-point performances. In 2014, Ben Roethlisberger followed up his 51-35 win over the Indianapolis Colts with a 43-23 defeat of Baltimore the following week, thowing six touchdowns with a 136.3 QBR.

5 vs. 2

In the five games the Steelers scored over 50 points before Ben Roethlisberger was the quarterback, each victory was aided by a plethora of turnovers. Three of the five games had five turnovers, while the other two games sported the defense getting eight and nine takeaways. In the two games in which Ben Roethlisberger has scored over 50 points, the Steelers had only two takeaways in each game.

2-0

When Ben Roethlisberger has achieved a perfect QBR of 158.3, he has a record of 2-0 in games played the following week. In 2007, Ben had a perfect rating in Week 16 and was given the game off the following Sunday in preparation for the playoffs. Earlier in the same season, Roethlisberger had a 158.3 rating against Baltimore in Week 8 which he followed up with a 31 –28 victory over the Browns. In 2005, Ben’s perfect rating in Week 1 was followed by a 27-7 win in Houston with a 139.8 QBR. In the two victories immediately after Ben’s perfect rating, he threw four touchdowns to only one interception.

9-3

During Ben Roethlisberger’s career, he has a record of 9-3 in games following the extended break from playing on Thursday the previous week (when he played in both the Thursday game and the game the following week). In those nine victories, the Steelers’s have scored an average of 34.1 points.

5

Not only is the Steelers current win streak five games, but they have also won their last five games following a Thursday night contest. Their last defeat in such a game was against the Miami Dolphins in 2013. The last time the Steelers lost after a Thursday night victory was in 2011 when they fell on Monday Night Football to the San Francisco 49ers. During the current post-Thursday streak, the Steelers have an average margin of victory of 12 points.

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