Pittsburgh is tied for the AFC’s best record but is emerging as the conference’s best all-around team. The Steelers already have a playoff tiebreaker advantage over the Chiefs (5-2) and could earn the same with the Patriots (5-2) in Week 15 if they’re able to win at Heinz Field against a New England squad that will be playing its third straight road game and on a short week, no less.
Not that Steelers right guard David DeCastro wants to hear about any of this.
Like Mitchell and Heyward, DeCastro downplayed the effect the theatrics had on the club earlier this season. He also didn’t proclaim the Steelers have figured out all their on-field issues, either.
That the Dolphins weren’t close to good enough to take advantage of it doesn’t diminish the advantage the officials handed them by letting Alonso off the hook.
Pittsburgh has had the distraction of receiver Martavis Bryant, who was suspended for last season, complaining publicly about his role. Coach Mike Tomlin has said there are no plans to trade Bryant, who noted during the week that he was being benched for Sunday’s game.
The Saints are starting to be grittier instead of prettier, and the new identity suits them. They can be the more black-and-blue-like team here as they go for a third straight win over an NFC North foe. Mitchell Trubisky and John Fox won’t get away with zero passing offense against Drew Brees on the other side.
Cam Newton remains a mystery from week to week, but this is a matchup built for him to rebound. The Bucs can’t get to him up front, and they can’t cover anything deep downfield. He’ll be pumped for a must-win against fellow national champion, Heisman winner and No. 1 overall pick Jameis Winston. The Bucs’ QB is playing well, too, but faces Julius Peppers and a much tougher defense.