You are here

Links

Steelers vs. Falcons Week 13 Preview: BTSC’s Q&A with The Falcoholic

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 12/03/2022 - 6:00am
Photo by Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Preparing for the Steelers and Falcons Week 13 showdown, I asked The Falcoholic some burning questions leading up to the AFC vs. NFC showdown.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are preparing for their 2022 regular season Week 13 game with a trip to Atlanta, GA to play the Atlanta Falcons. A tough task for the Steelers who have yet to win back-to-back games this season.

With this being such a big game, not like every game isn’t a big game, I was able to ask Kevin Knight of The Falcoholic, SB Nation’s Falcons website, five questions leading up to the game.

Check out the Q&A below, and be sure to check out DraftKings Sportsbook for all your betting needs this season.

The Steelers and Falcons have had similar years, including this past offseason. Both picked up free agent quarterbacks, and also drafted quarterbacks. The Steelers went with Pickett in Round 1, while the Falcons took Ridder in Round 3. The Steelers turned the page to Pickett midway through Week 4, while the Falcons have yet to give Ridder a shot. What does the fan base think of the current quarterback situation?

The clamoring for Desmond Ridder to start has reached a fever pitch thanks to the combination of mediocre-to-bad passing from veteran Marcus Mariota and the team falling two games below .500. If it were up to me, I would’ve turned to Ridder after the loss to the Panthers on Thursday Night Football in Week 10. But the Falcons are in a weird spot because of the weakness of the NFC South. Atlanta is just a half-game behind the Bucs (who are 5-6) for the division title. I think that has led the coaching staff to try and maximize their chances of making the playoffs by sticking with Mariota, who does offer plenty with his legs and occasionally makes some great throws. I’m not convinced that’s a good idea, or that Mariota truly gives the Falcons a better chance to win, but the team clearly disagrees.

When it comes to the Falcons offense and defense, what are the strengths of both units?

The Falcons offense is one of the NFL’s premier rushing attacks, as they’ve pounded opposing defenses to dust with their three-headed RB attack of Cordarrelle Patterson, rookie Tyler Allgeier, and second-year UDFA Caleb Huntley. When combined with Mariota’s running ability, they’re very tough to stop and have already put up nearly 2,000 rushing yards on the season. On defense, Atlanta doesn’t really have a strength. They’ve been...OK against the run, and to their credit, have kept almost all their games within a score thanks to their penchant for creating timely turnovers.

Conversely, what are the weaknesses of the Falcons’ offense and defense?

The Falcons passing offense is just incredibly inconsistent and limited, especially without Kyle Pitts. Even with Pitts, Mariota simply couldn’t hit any throws with consistency. Every pass is essentially a coin flip in terms of it being on target, and it makes stringing together successful drives difficult. On defense, the defensive line was thin to start the season and has been ravaged by injuries ever since. The pass rush is abysmal and the whole unit simply lacks talent outside of Grady Jarrett and rookie edge rusher Arnold Ebiketie. With so little cap space this year ($77M in dead cap), the Falcons simply couldn’t adequately address it.

The Falcons will be without Kyle Pitts for the rest of the regular season, who are some other offensive weapons Steelers fans should know who are not named Cordarrelle Patterson?

Rookie Drake London has been terrific, even in a very low-volume (and inconsistent) passing attack. I think London and Pitts, when he returns, can be a really dynamic and difficult-to-cover duo for the future. Former UDFA Olamide Zaccheaus has really stepped up as the WR2 and had a season-high 91 yards last week against the Commanders. Rookie running back Tyler Allgeier has looked like a starting-quality player alongside former UDFA Caleb Huntley, who both carried the load well in Patterson’s absence earlier this season.

DraftKings Sportsbook had the opening line on this game, which was before the Steelers Week 12 MNF, as the Falcons being 1.5-point favorites at home. Since the Steelers’ 24-17 win, the line has flipped and the Steelers are now 1-point road favorites. What do you think of this spread, and how do you see the game shaking out?

It seems like this one is basically a pick ‘em, which seems fair to me. The Steelers are clearly on the upswing after winning two of their last three (and beating the Saints, thanks for that!), while the Falcons are in the midst of an offensive slump. I’m going to lean Atlanta in this one, but I think it will be close and I expect a hard-fought game from Pittsburgh. Let’s say 23-20 Falcons.

Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for their Week 13 game vs. the Falcons this Sunday in Atlanta.

Podcast Roundup: All the latest of the BTSC family podcasts

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 12/03/2022 - 4:30am

Get the latest BTSC podcast content in the ‘Podcast Roundup’.

We here at BTSC, and our podcast platform, are here with you every step of the way. In the past we have given you the podcasts in individual articles on the BTSC website, but we’ve decided to go with a ‘Podcast Roundup’ article which has the latest podcasts for your enjoyment. The reasoning behind this is to take up less space on the site for the great written content we have at BTSC.

Nonetheless, enjoy the shows below with a brief description of each podcast.

Here We Go, The Pregame Show: Is Kenny Pickett’s low number of touchdown passes a concern?

Kenny Pickett is starting to lead the Steelers to score. However, he’s not doing it much through the air. Is this a concern? Join Bryan Anthony Davis and Kevin Smith for Here We Go, the Steelers Pregame Show. The BTSC duo break down the Steelers like no one else does as Coach Smith and BAD talk the threat that is the Atlanta Falcons.

Check out the rundown

  • News and Notes
  • Colts Recap
  • Steelers vs. Falcons
  • Dude of the Week
  • and MUCH MORE!

Listen to the show on the player below:

Steelers Friday Night Six Pack with Tony: Steelers starting to soar on the ground.

The Steelers outlasted the Colts on Monday Night Football and, again, had a strong ground game. Also, Kenny Pickett made strides despite what some may think. That and more on this episode of Steelers Friday Night Six Pack!

Checkout a rundown of the show:

  • Steelers News and Notes
  • The rise of the run game
  • Q&A
  • and MUCH MORE!

Listen to the show on the player below:

Steelers Touchdown Under: Will the Steelers’ season take flight with a win over the Falcons?

It’s Week 13 of the NFL season, which means the 4-7 Steelers are taking on the Atlanta Falcons, after beating the Colts.Have the Steelers found their winning a formula for the second-half stretch? Can the offense continue to improve to help the team stack wins? Can the offensive line keep Pickett upright? And, ultimately is this team now back in the playoff hunt? Join Matty Peverell and Mark Davison as they answer these questions and more, while providing a global perspective to how the Steelers can achieve success in their chase for a seventh Lombardi, in this latest episode of ‘Touchdown Under’ - BTSC’s Australian sensation.

Rundown:

  • Steelers News and Notes
  • Will a win in Atlanta reset the Steelers’ season

Listen to the show on the player below:

Tune into the latest episode of Touchdown Under, the Australian sensation from the BTSC family of podcasts.

Be sure to check out this and all episodes on the following platforms:

Apple Users: CLICK HERE

Spotify: CLICK HERE

Google Play: CLICK HERE

Friday Night Steelers Six Pack of questions and open thread: Week 13 Edition

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 12/02/2022 - 5:45pm
Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

There is always something to talk about when it comes to the Black & Gold!

It’s Friday again, so it’s time for the six pack of questions. It seems as if Jeff and Dave come to a consensus in cutting to the chase...

This week, I, Jeff, will be tasked with the questions up for discussion.

The rules are still the same...

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.

Procedural Note: Since the title feature has gone away, please feel free to leave your usual title as the first line of your response and even bold it if you can for the ease of others.

So here we go! With the formalities out of the way, it’s time to jump on in. Hopefully this party is exactly what you’re looking for on a Friday night. Here goes:

1. I know talking about the dreaded ‘P’ word is banned by most here on this site (talking about playoffs), and this question doesn’t necessarily pertain to the Steelers. How many wins do you think it will take teams to make the AFC Playoffs?

2. Of these two statistics, which is the most important to the Steelers offense?

  • Running the football (over 100 yards on the ground all 3 weeks since the bye)
  • No turnovers (haven’t had a turnover since the bye)

3. What are your general thoughts of Diontae Johnson. Not his contract, or him as a person, but him as a receiver for the Steelers?

4. The Steelers will be playing their second straight game in a dome this Sunday. What are your thoughts on the game being played indoors in a climate controlled environment?

5. There is a lot of talk about the Matt Canada has a coordinator, and rightfully so, but there isn’t as much discussion about the job Teryl Austin has done. What are you thoughts on the Steelers defensive coordinator?

6. It’s December, which means it’s Christmas season. In your opinion, what is the most underrated Christmas movie of all-time? Please explain your answer...

BONUS: As always, if there is anything you believe can help BTSC become better in any way, editorial or podcast side, please let me know! Some of the ideas which have already been brought up have been instituted, and appreciated by me. Let me know if there is anything you can do, as long as it’s something which is actually under my control!

Stay safe out there!

And it wouldn’t be a Friday night unless we said...

HERE WE GO STEELERS!

PODCASTS

We added some new shows and a new platform to our podcasts...if you haven’t checked out our full lineup of morning, noon, and evening shows, give them a try by listening below!

Steelers Injury Report: Najee Harris returns to practice Friday, ready for Sunday

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 12/02/2022 - 2:10pm
Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images

The Steelers running back was only limited on Friday but carries no injury status.

The Pittsburgh Steelers exited Monday night’s game with a victory as well as with some players dealing with some “bumps and bruises associated with play.” As the Steelers took the practice field for their final official day of preparation for the Atlanta Falcons, there were two players who did not participate while two were limited. In the final injury report of the week courtesy of the Steelers PR Department, one player has been ruled out while two more are questionable.

Steelers PR Department

The most significant injury which happened in-game on Monday night was running back Najee Harris leaving just before halftime with an abdominal injury. With no update in regards to Harris by Mike Tomlin at his Tuesday press conference due to the quick turnaround from playing on Monday night, the expectations for Harris are still foggy. On Wednesday and Thursday, Harris was unable to take the field for practice. But on Friday Harris returned as a limited participant yet carries no injury status for Sunday and is set to play.

After coming back to play in Week 8 after missing four games, Ahkello Witherspoon found himself missing another three games with his hamstring injury in Week 10 through Week 12. On both Wednesday and Thursday, Witherspoon was still unable to practice. Friday brought more of the same for Witherspoon as he has been ruled out for with fourth-straight game and has missed 8 of the last 9 games.

Another player who missed Monday’s game was running back Jaylen Warren with a hamstring injury. As the Steelers took the practice field on Wednesday, it was reported that Warren has been cleared to return and expects to play on Sunday. On Wednesday, not only did Warren return, he was a full participant. On Thursday and Friday, Warren followed it up by practicing fully again but somehow is still listed as questionable for Sunday.

Two more players who missed Monday’s game even though they were only questionable going into the contest were Robert Spillane with a back injury (now listed as an oblique) and Miles Boykin with an oblique injury. On Wednesday, Boykin returned as a full participant while Spillane was able to practice in a limited capacity. On Thursday, both players held the same status as a Boykin was a full participant while Spillane was limited. Friday saw both players as full participants with neither having an injury status for Sunday.

At Mike Tomlin‘s press conference on Tuesday, he listed several players that were dealing with some minor issues that could limit them early in the week. Those specifically mentioned were Minkah Fitzpatrick (ribs), T.J. Watt (ribs), Larry Ogunjobi (toe), and Myles Jack (knee). On Wednesday, all four players were able to practice in a limited capacity. Thursday saw Minkah Fitzpatrick return as a full participant while T.J. Watt was once again limited. Both Myles Jack and Larry Ogunjobi did not practice on Thursday after being limited on Wednesday. On Friday, Jack and Ogunjobi were upgraded to full participants along with Fitzpatrick and none carry an injury status for Sunday. As for T.J. Watt, he was once again a limited participant on Friday and is questionable for Sunday’s game.

One more player who is listed on the injury report is center Mason Cole as he was limited with a foot injury. Last week, Cole was unable to practice early in the week yet still was able to play in the game. Starting off the week Cole was limited both Wednesday and Thursday. On Friday, Cole returned as a full participant and is ready to go for Sunday’s game.

There were two new players on the injury report on Thursday with Cam Heyward getting his typical day of rest only to return Friday with no injury status for the games. The other player was running back and Benny Snell who was limited Thursday with a knee injury. On Friday, snell was also back to being a full participant and carries no injury status for Sunday.

One player who was added to the injury report and actually had a status yesterday which was not reported is defensive lineman Isaiahh Loudermilk. Designated as a personal issue, Loudermilk missed both Thursday’s and Friday’s practice. Since it appears the issue will not keep him from being available for the game, Loudermilk does not have an injury status for Sunday.

As for the Falcons’ injury report, you can see the names below courtesy of Steelers.com.

Atlanta Falcons Participation/Injury Report, Week 13

Game Status

OLB Arnold Ebiketie (Forearm) - Questionable

DL Jalen Dalton (Toe) - Questionable

OL Chuma Edoga (Knee) - Questionable

Friday, December 2

OLB Arnold Ebiketie (Forearm) - LP

DL Jalen Dalton (Toe) - LP

OL Chuma Edoga (Knee) - DNP

NFL Odds and Predictions: Picking all the Week 13 games against the spread

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 12/02/2022 - 12:30pm
Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

Several of the BTSC staff pick all the NFL games both against the spread and over/under point totals

The 2022 NFL season is well underway! There are no more undefeated teams remaining, but the Philadelphia Eagles only have one loss on the season. On the other end of the spectrum, there is one team with only one win going into Week 13 in Houston Texans who also have a tie.

For the 2022 NFL season, nine members of the BTSC will be picking every game against the spread and the over/under point totals. This feature will show all the games for the week including games on Thursday and Monday. Those specific game picks will be featured in the open thread articles for each game. Please remember we are not experts on betting or any kind of sports gamblers. We are just a group of Pittsburgh Steelers’ fans saying who we think will come through each week.

We are using the same program as the last two years called Tallysight. It allows us to show picks in a much more “friendly to the eye” manner. To understand how it works, the default tab is for our picks against the spread. To see the over/under picks, click the “O/U” tab in the upper left. Also, make sure you scroll on the graphic to see all the picks. If there are quotation marks next to a pick, it means the person making the selection made a comment about the game.

When picking against the spread, Jeremy led the way at 10-5 just ahead of Jeff at 10-6. Bringing up the rear was Matty at 6-10. I still currently lead for the season against the spread at 95-80 followed by Kyle at 91-84.

It was Bradley who topped the over/under picks last week going 9-7 and was the only person over .500 for Week 12. Matty and I brought up the rear this week at 6-10. For the season, Shannon moved ahead at 95-84 just ahead of Geoffrey at 94-84. Combining both against the spread and the over/under, Shannon jumps into the lead at 179-176 ahead of Jeff at 177-175 and me at 177-177.

So here are the picks for the games for Week 13 of the NFL season. Please feel free to list your choices in the comment section below and play along! Odds are courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook.

The Steelers and Falcons have had a mirrored offseason, but with varying results

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 12/02/2022 - 11:46am
Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers and Atlanta Falcons have had similar stories this past offseason, but have had differing results.

The Pittsburgh Steelers and Atlanta Falcons have had similar stories this past offseason. When you think about it, the Falcons were always just a step behind the Steelers. Let me explain...

Both the Falcons and Steelers saw their franchise quarterbacks depart for one reason or another. The Steelers saw Ben Roethlisberger retire, while the Falcons traded Matt Ryan to the Indianapolis Colts for nothing more than a mid-round pick.

Needing a quarterback, both organizations went to both free agency and the 2022 NFL Draft to find their answer.

When the new league year began in March, the Steelers wasted no time when the legal tampering period began and they signed Mitch Trubisky as a free agent. It wasn’t the same day, but a few days later the Falcons added a free agent of their own in Marcus Mariota.

It looked like both teams got their guy, but the Steelers were ready to strike again during the NFL Draft. When no quarterbacks were taken at their 20th overall pick, the Steelers selected Kenny Pickett. The Falcons passed on Pickett, and waited until the 3rd Round until they took Desmond Ridder out of Cincinnati.

After 11 games in the 2022 regular season, both teams are in different positions with their quarterbacks. The Falcons continue to ride Mariota as far as he’ll take them, despite many of their fans wanting to see what Ridder can do. Meanwhile, the Steelers have dumped Trubisky for Pickett, and are looking to the future of the position since halftime of Week 4.

Which way is right, and which is wrong? That’s up for debate, but we won’t know for sure until years down the road. If Pickett turns out to be “the guy” for the Steelers, their decision making will be considered better with when they were able to select Pickett. However, if Ridder is able to prove he was worthy of a first round pick, the Falcons might just be pushing their future down the road one year.

It’s all up for debate, and we talk about that exclusively in the two podcasts below. Be sure to check them out!!

Steelers Preview

  • News of the Week
  • Riding the Wave
  • Injury Report
  • Over/Under
  • Trivia
  • Final Thoughts

Let’s Ride

  • News and Notes
  • Back-to-Back Quest
  • A visit from Jeremy Betz in the All Betz Are Off segment
  • Hart to Heart
  • and MUCH MORE!

Jeff Hartman of BTSC walks you through everything you need to know regarding the black-and-gold.

Be sure to check out this and all episodes on the following platforms:

Apple Users: CLICK HERE

Spotify: CLICK HERE

Google Play: CLICK HERE

A “tanker’s” Rooting Guide for Steelers Draft picks: Week 13

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 12/02/2022 - 11:30am
Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

Not that it is condoned but here’s a list of teams to cheer for if you want the Steelers to get the highest pick possible in the 2023 Draft.

Hear me out. I want the Steelers to win every week, and I don’t believe that i would ever root against them. But fans do want to know where they sit as far as draft position goes in 2023. Again, I really hope the Steelers pick in the 20s. With that probably not being a possibility and my unwillingness to root against them, I could root for certain teams to win to help Pittsburgh’s draft standing. So here is a rooting guide that would help the Steelers keep pace, even with the Steelers winning contests.

First, let’s take a look at the current draft positions as found on Tankathon.

No. 1) Houston Texans

1-9-1 (Lost 6)

Photo by Megan Briggs/Getty Images

Remaining Games: Cleveland, at Dallas, Kansas City, at Tennessee, Jacksonville, at Indianapolis

No. 2) Chicago Bears

3-9 (Lost 5)

Stacey Wescott/Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

Remaining Games: Green Bay, BYE, Philadelphia, Buffalo, @Detroit, Minnesota

No. 3) Detroit Lions via Los Angeles Rams

Rams 3-8 (Lost 3)

Photo by Jason Hanna/Getty Images

Remaining Games: Seattle, Las Vegas, at Green Bay, Denver, at Los Angeles Chargers, at Seattle

No. 4) Seattle Seahawks via Denver Broncos

Broncos 3-8 (Lost 3)

Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images

Denver’s Remaining Games: at Baltimore, Kansas City, Arizona, at Los Angeles Rams, at Kansas City, Los Angeles Chargers

No. 5) Carolina Panthers

4-8 (Won 1)

Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

Remaining Games: BYE, at Seattle, Pittsburgh, Detroit, at Tampa Bay, at New Orleans

No. 6) Philadelphia Eagles via New Orleans Saints

Saints 4-8 (Lost 2)

Photo by Mark Alberti/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

New Orleans’ Remaining Games: at Tampa Bay, Bye, Atlanta, at Cleveland, at Philadelphia, Carolina

No. 7) Arizona Cardinals

4-8 (Lost 2)

Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images

Remaining Games: BYE, New England, at Denver, Tampa Bay, at Atlanta, at San Francisco

No. 8) Green Bay Packers

4-8 (Lost 2)

Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

Remaining Games: at Chicago, BYE, Los Angeles Rams, at Miami, Minnesota, Detroit

No. 9) Las Vegas Raiders

4-7 (Won 1)

Photo by Jane Gershovich/Getty Images

Remaining Games: at Los Angeles Chargers, at Los Angeles Rams, New England, at Pittsburgh, San Francisco, Kansas City Chiefs

No. 10) Houston Texans via Cleveland Browns

Browns 4-7 (Won 1)

Photo by Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Remaining Games: Cleveland, at Dallas, Kansas City, Tennessee, Jacksonville, at Indianapolis

No. 11) Jacksonville Jaguars

4-7 (Won 1)

Corey Perrine/Florida Times-Union / USA TODAY NETWORK

Remaining Games: at Detroit, at Tennessee, Dallas, at New York Jets, at Houston, Tennessee

No. 12) Pittsburgh Steelers

4-7 (Won 1)

Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images

Have pride or root for them to lose. You fan your way.

Remaining Games: at Atlanta, Baltimore, at Carolina, Las Vegas, at Baltimore, Cleveland

No. 13) Detroit Lions

4-7 (Won 1)

Photo by Scott W. Grau/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Remaining Games: Jacksonville, Minnesota, at New York Jets, at Carolina, Chicago, at Green Bay

No. 14) Indianapolis Colts

4-7-1 (Lost 2)

Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

Remaining Games: at Dallas, Minnesota, Los Angeles Chargers, at New York Giants, at Indianapolis.

No. 15) Atlanta Falcons

7 5-7 (Lost 1)

Photo by Mark Goldman/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Remaining Games: Pittsburgh Steelers, BYE, New Orleans, at Baltimore, Arizona, Tampa Bay

No. 16 Seattle Seahawks

6-5 (Lost 2)

Photo by Jane Gershovich/Getty Images

Remaining Games: at Los Angeles Rams, Carolina, San Francisco, at Kansas City, New York Jets, Los Angeles Rams

No. 17) Los Angeles Chargers

6-5 (Won 1)

Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images

Remaining Games: at Las Vegas, Miami, Tennessee, at Indianapolis Colts, Los Angeles Rams, at Denver

No. 18) New England Patriots

6-5 (Lost 1]

Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

Remaining Games: Buffalo, at Arizona, at Las Vegas, Cincinnati, Miami, at Buffalo

Now, let’s take a peek at the games that directly affect the Steelers 2023 draft prospects. (Their prospects, not the actual collegiates).

SUNDAY, DECEMBER 4TH

Pittsburgh Steelers (4-7) at Atlanta Falcons

Who to root for: Pittsburgh Steelers

This goes against the tanker’s code, but I don’t subscribe to it. We will know those that don’t read the actual article that call me a hypocrite in the comments. I am absolutely rooting for the Steelers and hoping that the Dirty Birds win out after this weekend. But if you are in tank mode, I can’t tell you how to root.

Denver Broncos (3-8) at Baltimore Ravens (7-4)

Who to root for: Denver Broncos

Of course, we want the Broncos to upset the Ravens. Steelers fans abhor the Ravens. But in this instance, it helps the Steelers to have the Broncos win to get closer to B-More in the standings or closer to having a higher selection.

Green Bay Packers (4-8) at Chicago Bears (3-9)

Who to root for: Green Bay Packers

Because of Aaron Rodgers’ contract, this team won’t be drafting a QB. So, that hurts the Steelers cause because the Pack will probably picking a position player despite that the should probably go signal caller hers. Even though the Steelers can benefit from Green Bay losing, that Chase Claypool No. 2 is looking really good right now. With Justin Fields injured, the Bears are less likely to win. Maybe hope for the Bears to keep losing and not worry if they are ahead of you in the first round. Da Bears gotta lose.

Jacksonville Jaguars (4-7) at Detroit Lions (4-7)

Who to root for: Jacksonville Jaguars

Both teams are finding themselves but Jacksonville is ahead of the Steelers for the better pick. Throw in the fact that their mascot is awesome, root for the Jags.

Cleveland Browns (4-7) at Houston Texans (1-9-1)

Who to root for: Houston Texans

Look, the only things that I like about the Deshaun Watson trade is that it is going to cost the Mistakes a draft choice, cost them a ton of dough, and that the pickings may be slim for the erotic adventures of the disgraced QB. The Steelers need Cleveland to win more than the Texans but I can’t root for Watson against his former team. This is a dangerous emotional decision that I am making here. The Steelers don’t want the Texans to pick two dudes in front of them. Since it is now Christmas time, I keep channeling my inner Hans Gruber from Die Hard.

“Sooner or later I will get to someone you care about”.

It’s hard to ignore a holiday classic, but I am. Take solace in the fact that a Texans win helps get the Men of Steel closer to the top pick in the second round.

Seattle Seahawks (6-5) at Los Angeles Rams (3-8)

Who to root for: Los Angeles Rams

Even before injuries started to rack up, this team wasn’t setting the world on fire. The Super Bowl Hangover is real. The Rams may not be likely to win, but the Steelers would be helped out by it.

Los Angeles Chargers (6-5) at Las Vegas Raiders (4-7)

Who to root for: Las Vegas Raiders

Las Vegas is now three spots better than the Men of Iron at No. 9. With a winnable head-to-head coming up on Christmas Eve for the Steelers, Mark Davis’ club needs to join Pittsburgh in stacking wins.

Indianapolis Colts (4-7-1) at Dallas Cowboys (8-3)

Who to root for: Indianapolis Colts

The Colts are a major disappointment, but you still don’t want them drafting ahead of you. Luckily the tie helps and the head-to-head factor won’t come into play unless the Steelers tie. I know it’s hard to root for the Cowboys, but look at it as ‘just business’.

Who to root for: Indianapolis Colts

MONDAY, DECEMBER 5TH

New Orleans Saints (4-8) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-6)

Who to root for: New Orleans Saints

The Steelers beat both of these teams head to head. One of them is going to make the division and make the playoffs. So, it’s best to root for the team with the worse of the team’s records, Plus, it becomes more obvious due to the fact that I would hate to see Philly get a high pick. I abhor the Eagles and will be rooting for the other black and gold the remainder of the ‘22 NFL Season.

Steelers Draft Stock Report: Michigan prospects on rise after beating OSU

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 12/02/2022 - 10:00am
Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

A highly-touted center and breakout quarterback headline this week’s NFL Draft risers.

The 2023 NFL Draft is still months in the distance, but with college football having arrived, the beginning stages of the 2023 draft process has begun. With that in mind, it is time to dive into this past week’s biggest games in the college football world, taking a look at draft prospects who improved their stock based on their performance.

Offensive line is definitely an area the Steelers need to address, and the most likely resource for the solution is indeed the draft. Concerns at cornerback and linebacker also loom large over the Pittsburgh’s head. Although we will certainly break down prospects at other positions this season as well, these will be the primary positions of emphasis, especially early in the season.

Nearly every week during the season, there are several highlight games that steal the headlines, but even when these games overshadow the rest of the college football landscape, we will not be negligent of the other games and prospects in action. Every week during the season, we will recap the previous week’s action and determine whose stock rose the most as it pertains to the NFL Draft.

As always, be sure to share your thoughts on this topic in the comment section below, but without further adieu, here are the highest of highs from Week 13 of college football!

Olusegun Oluwatimi | C | Michigan | 6’3”, 307 lbs

I try to not be a homer with these articles, but nobody can watch the Michigan win on Saturday and say Olusegun Oluwatimi did not have a major impact on Michigan’s second-half success. Michigan’s backfield was incredibly banged up, with Blake Corum limited with a knee injury and Donovan Edwards playing with a cast on his hand. Michigan struggled to go anywhere running the ball in the first half, but Donovan Edwards had two huge runs in the second half to extend Michigan’s lead. Oluwatimi had a part in everything Michigan did well on offense, springing runs with impressive blocks and holding his own as a pass protector. Oluwatimi is definitely in the first-round conversation, and he will likely be the top center in the class if Sedrick Van Pran returns to school.

Tavius Robinson | EDGE | Ole Miss | 6’6”, 265 lbs

Ole Miss had a rough go of it against rival Mississippi State, but their defense kept them in the game. One standout from the game was pass rusher Tavius Robinson, who recorded 5 tackles, 2 sacks, 1 forced fumble, and 2 fumble recoveries. Robinson had been relatively silent for the majority of the year, but a game like this could push him from undrafted status to the Day 3 range. His combination of length, size, and strength give him three-down potential, but he will most likely be a rotational piece best suited for a 4-3 scheme.

Spencer Rattler | QB | South Carolina | 6’0”, 215 lbs

How the mighty have had fallen! Spencer Rattler had fallen off a cliff as it pertains to NFL Draft hype, and rightfully so. Up until two weeks ago, he had just 8 touchdown passes compared to 9 interceptions. However, he has been phenomenal the last two weeks, recording 6 touchdown passes in their upset win over Tennessee and 2 touchdown passes in their upset win over Clemson. Rattler did have 2 interceptions this week, but he did complete 25 of 39 passes for 360 yards. Rattler seems to be playing more freely and confidently than earlier in the season, and it has translated to strong production. His draft status is still a big question mark, but he is making a late push to regain draft relevancy ahead of April.

Others Who Improved Their Stock

Drake Thomas | ILB | NC State (10 TCKL, 7 SOLO, 2 TFL, 3 QB HUR, 1 SCK)
Dorian Williams | ILB | Tulane (12 TCKL, 1 INT)
Cornelius Johnson | WR | Michigan (4 REC, 160 YDS, 2 TD)
Demani Richardson | S | Texas A&M (10 TCKL, 7 SOLO TCKL, 2 FUM REC)
Isaiah Foskey | EDGE | Notre Dame (5 TCKL, 2.5 TFL, 1.5 SCK)
Otis Reese | S | Ole Miss (11 TCKL, 1 INT)
Tariq Drake | S | Ohio (3 TCKL, 0.5 TFL, 2 INT)
KJ Henry | EDGE | Clemson (11 TCKL, 1 TFL, 0.5 SCK, 2 QB HUR)
Marcellas Dial | CB | South Carolina (2 TCKL, 3 PD, 1 INT)

Which NFL Draft prospects caught your eye this weekend? Let us know in the comment section below, and stay tuned to BTSC for everything you need to know as we get closer to the 2023 NFL Draft!

Steelers Vertex: Is Kenny Pickett showing he can be the next franchise quarterback?

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 12/02/2022 - 8:30am
Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images

After seven NFL starts, there are plenty of opinions as if Pickett is a boom or bust.

The Pittsburgh Steelers 2022 regular season is rolling on. With the Steelers getting a larger sample of games with their rookie quarterback, there is plenty of data to comb through to show both Kenny Pickett’s skills and his progression. So has he shown enough yet to where he could still develop into the Steelers next franchise quarterback? This is the subject for this week’s Steelers Vertex.

Let’s get a quick reminder of where this nerdiness is coming from.

Vertex- a single point where two or more lines cross.

Sometimes to make a great point, it takes two different systems of analysis to come together and build off each other in order to drawl a proper conclusion. In this case, the two methods are statistical analysis and film breakdown. Enter Dave Schofield (the stat geek) and Geoffrey Benedict (the film guru) to come together to prove a single point based on our two lines of thinking.

Here comes the breakdown from two different lines of analysis.

The Stats Line:

There are a lot of people that want to look at the numbers for Steelers quarterback Kenny Pickett in his rookie season to argue both for quality play and for poor production. The bottom line is, people are going to look at the numbers one way or the other and already have their opinion formed otherwise. Regardless, let’s look at the numbers anyway.

So far in his rookie season, Kenny Pickett has appeared in eight games with seven starts. Pickett played only the second half of the Steelers Week 4 matchup against the Jets, and he left just after halftime of the Week 6 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. So when looking at full games, Pickett has roughly 7 games in total. His season numbers are currently very aesthetically pleasing as he has 175 completions on 265 attempts for a 66.0% completion percentage. Pickett has thrown for 1,600 yards and three touchdowns with eight interceptions. He’s also added three rushing touchdowns on 35 attempts for 195 yards with a 5.6 yards per carry average.

Specifically when it comes to Week 12 against the Indianapolis Colts, Pickett completed 20 passes on 28 attempts for a 71.4% completion percentage for 174 yards with no touchdowns but no interceptions. Pickett’s 87.5 quarterback rating was the highest of any game in his rookie season. In looking at some advanced statistics, Pickett was only credited with four bad throws according to Pro Football Reference, which was the fewest he has had in any full game this season. Pickett also added 32 rushing yards on six attempts.

So these are the numbers with Kenny Pickett. If I wanted to, I could have thrown out his Pro Football Focus score of 88.5 which was the second-highest of any quarterback in Week 12 and the best score by a Steelers quarterback since 2018. But those numbers are subjective and the objective ones above tell enough. What really needs to tell more of the story is the film.

The Film Line:

Kenny Pickett is a rookie, and he’s developing. We’re not here looking for proof that he’s a polished veteran, we’re looking for evidence that Kenny Pickett can (or can’t) be the next franchise quarterback for the Steelers. For that, we are going to look at Pickett’s ability to make plays, whether that means throwing accurate passes in rhythm or creating when the play design breaks down.

Steelers vs. Colts, 1st quarter, 7:51

Najee Harris is the running back.

On this play there’s no one to throw to, and after Najee Harris lands a beautiful support block he heads out to screen right to be a receiver. Pickett’s reaction is to run with Najee. This creates the threat of a two-man game, where one defender has to cover two players. If the defender comes after Pickett, Harris is open, if he stays on Harris, Pickett can run for yards. The defender sticks to Harris and Pickett picks up 9 yards.

Quarterback mobility was a major talking point for Mike Tomlin the last few seasons of Ben Roethlisberger’s career, and you can see why. Pickett has the quickness to pull off valuable runs, and the smarts to work the defense while he does.

As Dave mentioned above, the Colts gave up 32 yards on 6 carries to Kenny Pickett, and they did so because when he scrambles they prioritized staying in coverage rather than flowing to the ball, and for good reason.

Steelers vs. Bengals, 2nd quarter, 0:18

Pat Freiermuth is lined up in the slot to the bottom of the screen.

Here against the Bengals in Week 11, Kenny Pickett has a chance to gain some yard with his legs but keeps his eyes downfield and finds Pat Freiermuth for a 27-yard gain. Better to give up 5 yards a rush on the ground to Pickett than have Najee Harris or Pat Freiermuth running over your secondary.

Watching that first clip you can see the moment he stops looking for a pass and tucks the ball and runs. Pickett has been showing a really good sense for when the moment comes to take off and run for yards.

Steelers vs. Colts, 2nd quarter, 8:55

Kenny Pickett (#8) is the quarterback.

The Steelers even threw in two designed quarterback runs in Week 12. It’s a nice play design you can see how the running back draws a lot of attention with his motion, and it sets up blockers and clears space for another 9-yard run for Pickett. They would try this play again later without clearing the backfield and it didn’t fool the Colts but would still gain 3 yards.

But, while quarterback mobility is important, getting the ball to your receivers is the most important skill for any quarterback.

Steelers vs. Colts, 2nd quarter, 13:37

George Pickens is the receiver to the top of the screen.

This 35-yard gain isn’t created by scheme, tricky route running, or misdirection. This is just a go ball with a fantastically placed throw from Kenny Pickett. He has started to get his timing down with George Pickens on these deeper routes, and now he’s showing he has the arm to make accurate deep passes. He’ll never have an arm like Ben Roethlisberger did for most of his career, but Pickett can make big-time throws downfield, he’s not limited to short passes.

Steelers vs. Colts, 2nd quarter, 3:10

Diontae Johnson is the receiver to the top of the screen.

This slant route to Diontae Johnson is opened up by Kenny Pickett looking toward Anthony McFarland to start the play. That pulls the safety far enough outside to create a window for the throw. You’d like to see the throw come in higher so Diontae could try and run with it (hopefully not backwards) but the manipulation of the defense and how he turns to look at Johnson as he is starting the throw are key skills for any NFL quarterback, and Kenny Pickett is doing it as a rookie.

Steelers vs. Colts, 4th quarter, 12:21

Diontae Johnson is the receiver to the bottom of the screen.

Kenny Pickett hits Diontae Johnson in stride and it sets him up to gain some yards after the catch. You can see Johnson doesn’t slow down at all as he catches the ball, that’s an accurate, in-rhythm throw.

But that ‘s not the impressive part. The impressive part is he makes that throw with pressure coming right at his face, and right in the path of his throw. Pickett is backing up to buy time for this throw, and then has to throw it over the defender to deliver the pass. You can see the difficulty of this throw better from this angle:

That’s a big-time play for Kenny Pickett, and it isn’t a rare sight either. He’s been making throws like this all season. It’s who he is.

Steelers vs. Colts, 4th quarter, 9:55

Kenny Pickett is the quarterback.

This is my favorite play of the entire game. Pickett doesn’t leave early and get himself in trouble here like he did occasionally earlier in the season, but he waits until the defender to his right crosses inside of Mason Cole before taking off, and that gives him a nice lead on his pursuit. He keeps his eyes downfield, and has developed enough chemistry with George Pickens to make a tough throw for the conversion. It’s even better in slow motion.

Pickett is throwing this ball before Pickens clears the defensive back, he knows he can throw this ball to the back pylon and trust Pickens to go get it.

The Point:

Kenny Pickett has the mobility to turn well covered plays into good runs, and the quickness and good sense while running to be trusted on a few quarterback runs when the defense is focusing on other threats. He is the mobile quarterback Mike Tomlin and the Steelers wanted, and a big part of the Steelers success on offense since the bye week has been Kenny Pickett running the ball, gaining first downs or more favorable down and distance situations on plays when no receiver is open.

Kenny Pickett isn’t a superstar quarterback right now, he’s still a rookie, he’s not a quarterback who is going to win a game throwing the ball 50 times a game. What we are seeing is a quarterback who can make plays, and that’s huge. When Ben Roethlisberger won his first Super Bowl he had a 0-1 record in games he threw more than 30 passes, but even then he was a play maker.

Kenny Pickett isn’t Ben Roethlisberger (how many times has Geoffrey said that. . .) but he is showing the ability to be a playmaker, and that is the key to being a quarterback worth building around.

Expert Picks: Experts split on Steelers vs. Falcons

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 12/02/2022 - 7:15am
Photo by Bryan Bennett/Getty Images

Time to check in and see who the experts like in Steelers vs. Falcons Sunday in Week 13.

The Pittsburgh Steelers and Atlanta Falcons are slated to face off in Week 13 of the 2022 regular season, and there are a lot of narratives between these two teams. For the Falcons, they are trying to somehow win the lackluster NFC South. To punch their ticket to the NFC Playoffs. As for the Steelers, they are trying to win back-to-back games for the first time this season. There is a lot of uncertainty surrounding the team, and there remain huge question marks with the team as they continue further into the regular season.

For those who follow the current betting lines, the Steelers opened as 1.5-point road underdogs, according to DraftKings Sportsbook.

(Odds/lines subject to change. T&Cs apply. See draftkings.com/sportsbook for details.)

At this point, it is time to check in and see who the pundits, who call themselves experts, like in this showdown in Atlanta this Sunday.

As you can imagine, this game between two mediocre teams equates in a toss up with the expert sites. Every possible outlet, from ESPN, SB Nation, Yahoo! Sports, FOX Sports and CBS Sports alike have this game split between Atlanta and Pittsburgh.

Those are sites where people just check a box on a website and move on with their lives. However, there are some who spend more time pouring over these picks, and provide some analysis than just a winner and loser.

For those type of experts, one which is talked about a lot is Pete Prisco of CBS Sports. Prisco predicts a Falcons win in Week 13.

The Steelers are playing consecutive road games outside the division and this one is on a short week. That’s tough to do. It’s also tough to prepare for the Falcons offense on a short week. Atlanta lost a close one last week to Washington, but will bounce back here and beat the Steelers.

Pick: Falcons 23, Steelers 20

Like Prisco, Vinnie Iyer of the Sporting News also goes in-depth on every one of his picks heading into Week 13 Sunday. Iyer sees a Steelers win for the road team.

The Steelers get their running game going again here to help a more confident Kenny Pickett, who will see favorable matchups all over the field in the passing game, too. The Falcons give the Steelers’ defense a break with their limited receiving weapons once their own rushing attack is contained in a home game that will feel like Pittsburgh.

Pick: Steelers win 27-20 and cover the spread.

As for the fine folks at Pro Football Network, they too like the Steelers to go on the road, for the second week in a row, and beat the Falcons.

Am I the only person who believes Kenny Pickett can be an NFL star by Year 3? Maybe some of you agree. Maybe some of you think he’s the next coming of Ryan Leaf (slight exaggeration).

With Najee Harris showing life and Pickett paired with three strong receivers in George Pickens, Diontae Johnson, and Pat Freiermuth, I believe they can produce a road victory against one of the NFL’s worst-performing defenses.

Against-the-spread prediction: Steelers
Moneyline winner: Steelers

These are just a few sites who make weekly NFL picks. When you think about all those sites not listed above, this is when we turn to our friends at NFL Pick Watch, a site dedicated to tracking NFL expert picks by the week. They take all expert picks and put them into an easy-to-read graph for fans to enjoy. When it comes to the Steelers vs. Falcons game, 52% of NFL experts like the Falcons straight up at home, but 54% of the experts like the Steelers getting points, or a point, on the road via the spread.

What do you think about the upcoming game? Will the experts have it right? Or are they way off? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below, and be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the black and gold as they prepare for the Falcons in Week 13.

Carlton Haselrig documentary maker: Family has been gas-lit by NFL concussion doctors

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 12/02/2022 - 6:00am
Michelle Haselrig sits next to the Art Rooney Sr statue at Acrisure Stadium in Pittsburgh | Josh Rushing

“Carlton could be one of the most gifted athletes this country has ever produced, and that’s saying a lot.”

Steelers fans of a certain age need no reminders about the career and impact of offensive lineman Carlton Haselrig. Drafted by Pittsburgh in 1989 in the 12th round without ever playing a snap of college football, Haselrig became a starter in his third year, and received Pro Bowl and All-Pro honors in his fourth. But for 6x Emmy-nominated journalist Josh Rushing, Carlton’s story wasn’t on his radar until after he passed in 2020.

“We were looking at doing a story that asked the question of how well the NFL was really taking care of these players who were suffering the effects of CTE,” Rushing says. “There were families across the country that we were going to go visit and spend time with. But once we got to Johnstown, we started to learn more about Carlton. We talked to childhood friends, uncles, wrestlers, people who coached with him, his ex-wife. It’s a story that sounds like a bad Disney film that I would hate.”

What Rushing means is that Carlton’s rise to prominence is such a fairytale story, it’s almost unbelievable. In 1984, Haselrig was a state high school champion in wrestling, even though his school didn’t even have a team, and he didn’t compete in the regular season. In college, he didn’t just win the Division II wrestling title in his sophomore, junior and senior seasons, he also entered the Division I tournaments and won all three years as well (the NCAA created a rule in his name to prevent that from ever happening again). He even once defeated Kurt Angle. Then, he was drafted by the Steelers.

“Who gets drafted into the NFL without playing a down a college ball?” Rushing asks. “Who then is starting the next year? Who then, as an All-Pro lineman, has a guy who sets a rushing record running behind him? That doesn’t happen except in Disney films, and it annoys me when it does. And yet, that’s honestly Carlton’s story. Carlton could be one of the most gifted athletes this country has ever produced, and that’s saying a lot.”

Rushing has produced a new documentary on Haselrig, his battle with CTE, and his widow’s quest for compensation from the NFL. “Bloodsport” from Al Jazeera English includes sobering footage of Carlton in his final weeks. It shows him in extreme distress, screaming profanities, and crying out for his father who had passed years earlier.

“I know he was over 300 pounds when he was on the Steelers,” Rushing says. “And then you see that. He can’t be 160, 170 in some of these videos. And then the way he’s talking. You know, it’s such a tragic story, because Carlton and Michelle have been gaslit by the NFL’s concussion doctors, and their neuropsychologist and neurologist.”

In 2013, the NFL agreed to pay $765 million to settle a lawsuit from more than 4,500 players who claimed the league concealed what it knew about the potential for brain injuries in the game. At the time, it was seen as a victory for players, but when Haselrig applied for an award from the settlement, his claim was denied.

“They told Carlton, ‘You’re okay,’” Rushing says. “He didn’t qualify for any settlement. So while Michelle, his wife, was trying to care for him in these extremely difficult times, he’s putting the dirty laundry in the freezer because he thinks it’s a washing machine. He’s becoming angry. He keeps saying, ‘It’s the NFL. They know what they’re doing. These are the best doctors in the world. And they said, I’m okay.’ It turns out his scores are only okay because they were race-normed.”

Race-norming refers to the practice of using a person’s race as a factor in adjusting the results of a medical test. When it comes to brain injuries, doctors regularly consider a patient’s background (for instance, a healthy 85-year-old brain performs differently than a healthy 25-year-old brain). Doctors have used race as a factor in these tests since the 1990s, because researchers found that the tests themselves can actually be biased against minorities. So defenders of race-norming will say the practice was actually intended to prevent healthy African Americans from being diagnosed from brain injuries. Unfortunately, in the case of the NFL concussion settlement, it’s had the opposite effect. Race-norming caused some Black players, including Haselrig, to be deemed healthy when they were not.

“We took Carlton’s test to a neurologist at Mount Sinai Hospital and had him run it through the NFL concussion software,” Rushing says. “And just simply changed one thing on it from African-American to Caucasian. It looked like the scores of a completely different person, who would have more than qualified for the settlement had he not been identified as as African American.”

The NFL ended race-norming in its medical assessments in 2021, in part because of a lawsuit from a pair of former Steelers, Najeh Davenport and Kevin Henry. The league said it was going to make it right with the players. But that meant having players retested. By that point, Carlton had already passed. The Haselrig family donated his brain to Boston University’s CTE Center for research, where it was confirmed that Carlton did suffer from CTE.

“70% of the players are Black, so this is a huge money-saving thing for the NFL,” Rushing says. “We interviewed a neurologist who said he was pressured to use race-norming. And when he wouldn’t use race-norming, they stopped sending players to him. He told us he had seen over 160 NFL players before that. So the NFL was forcing these doctors to use race-norming.”

Haselrig battled demons, off the field, throughout his life. He was notably convicted of DUI in 1993, and tested positive for cocaine later that same year. But Rushing says anyone who chooses to focus on those aspects of his life are misguided.

“Those very factors are a part of having CTE,” says Rushing. “No one dies of CTE. Justin Strzelczyk didn’t die of CTE. He died from driving his truck into an oil tanker at 90 miles an hour. Terry Long didn’t die from CTE. He drank antifreeze. Carlton might have been self-medicating, but that’s also a part of it. These personality difficulties are a part of what’s happening to your brain. So I think it’s it’s either naïve or disingenuous to dismiss someone’s suffering because of because of that.

In the documentary, Rushing takes Carlton’s widow, Michelle, to Acrisure Stadium for the first time. Rushing says Art Rooney II was going to sit down with him for the doc, but it never worked out. He says Carlton was very fond of the Rooney family and respected how they took care of their players.

“We took Michelle to the Steelers first home game this year and we walked through the tailgating,” Rushing says. “She was wearing his uniform and everyone knew, everyone knew. And on one hand, that made Michelle feel so great. And then we chatted with them a bit about the concussion settlement. They all thought that he must have been taken care of by it, and that she must have been taken care of by the settlement. They couldn’t believe when she said no, she’s received nothing. Zero. They expressed sympathy for her, and then they went in to watch the game that she couldn’t afford a ticket to.”

Michelle Haselrig has filed for an appeal, but while she’s waiting on that decision, she’s struggling to pay her bills and keep her house.

“I grew up playing football, Rushing says. “My goal when I was a kid was to play pro football. I loved football, and I still love football. I watch it every weekend. I get sad when the season’s over. I’m bummed for six months a year waiting for it to start again. But it’s becoming harder to tolerate that the damage is causing to these guys. So let’s make it as safe as possible for them, but it’s always going to have some inherent risk. So let’s just take care of them. We call the NFL a company, but really it’s a collection of like 32 billionaires. They could take care of these guys. They could do better.”

Kyle Chrise is the host of the BTSC podcast “What Yinz Talkin’ Bout.” Hear more about Carlton Haselrig from Josh Rushing in this week’s episode. Check out the episode in the player below:

How to watch Steelers vs. Falcons: Time, TV Schedule, and game information

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 12/02/2022 - 5:30am
Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images

All the information needed to watch, listen, stream, or follow the Steelers game on Sunday against the Falcons in Atlanta.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are hitting the road for back-to-back dome games, this time in Atlanta. After getting the win on Monday Night Football in Indianapolis, the Steelers have to go on the road again with one less day of preparation.

Will the Steelers offensive third-quarter woes continue? Will the Steelers defense be able to stop the Falcons potent running attack much like they have the last several weeks? Can the kickoff coverage get it done this week?

This Sunday will answer these questions as the Steelers look to stack their first wins of the season. Make sure you get all the information you need below so you can enjoy the Steelers Week 13 showdown. The latest odds are per DraftKings Sportsbook.

Week 13:

Game: Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Atlanta Falcons

Date: Sunday, December 4

Kickoff: 1:00 P.M. ET

Venue: Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta, GA

Odds: Pittsburgh (+1); O/U (42.5)

Weather: Live weather update

TV Channel: Broadcast locally on KDKA-CBS with Andrew Catalon and James Lofton as commentators. Check the national broadcast map to see if the game is on in your area.

Online: NFL Game Pass offers live games for international viewers (excluding USA, Canada, and China) and replays of every game upon conclusion with a paid subscription. A subscription to NFL Sunday Ticket gives access to stream games as well. fuboTV also allows you to stream NFL games online with a subscription. NFL Game Center will update the action on a play-by-play basis.

Radio: Steeler Nation Radio with Bill Hillgrove, Craig Wolfley, and Max Starks. The broadcast will be live on WDVE 102.5 FM and WBGG 970 AM in the Pittsburgh area or check the list of Steelers Radio Affiliates. Viewers can listen anywhere in the world online via Steelers.com, but the Steelers Official Mobile App does have geographical restrictions. The Steelers broadcast is also available on Westwood One radio or SiriusXM Radio on channel 380 or channel 137.

You can also follow Behind the Steel Curtain on Twitter or in the game thread article to catch all of the highlights. Be sure to check back with BTSC after the game for our post-match roundup, and subscribe to BTSC Steelers Radio on YouTube to catch The Steelers Post Game Show with Jeff Hartman, Bryan Anthony Davis, and Dave Schofield.

Podcast Roundup: All the latest of the BTSC family podcasts

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 12/02/2022 - 4:30am

Get the latest BTSC podcast content in the ‘Podcast Roundup’.

Steelers 2022 is ongoing and we here at BTSC, and our podcast platform, are here with you every step of the way. In the past we have given you the podcasts in individual articles on the BTSC website, but we’ve decided to go with a ‘Podcast Roundup’ article which has the latest three podcasts for your enjoyment. The reasoning behind this is to take up less space on the site for the great written content we have at BTSC.

With that being said or typed, enjoy the shows below with a brief description of each show:

What Yinz Talkin’ Bout: Hell-Un leashing Season

What Yinz Talkin’ Bout is the conversation about the Steelers social media conversation. Hosts Kyle Chrise (@KyleChrise) & Greg Benevent (@GregBenevent) expose the hottest and most toxic takes on Steelers social media. This week, stats-masters are coming up with new terms to show how good Kenny Pickett is getting. Matt Canada has sparked a trend that has his biggest haters looking for new ways to tear him down. Plus, Josh Rushing from Al-Jazeera English joins us to talk about his new documentary on Carlton Haselrig and his family’s fight with the NFL for closure. And, why some hardcore fans say KP’s GF is a tailgating grinch!

Rundown of the show:

  • Toxic Takes
  • (can we still) Blame Canada
  • Kenny’s Roasting
  • Dec draft watchers
  • Josh Rushing on Carlton Haselrig
  • Bummer of the week
  • Winner of the week
  • KP’s GF tailgating drama
  • Much, Much More

Take a deep dive into the world of Steelers social media from a yinzer perspective as BTSC proudly presents a very unique show that highlights “What Yinz Talkin’ Bout”.

The Steelers Preview: Can Indy momentum move forward to Atlanta?

The Pittsburgh Steelers are not lying down and playing dead. But one win does not constitute a streak. Can they win consecutive games for the first time since January? This is just one of the subjects that will be discussed and speculated on in the latest edition in the flagship show of the BTSC family of podcasts with BTSC Senior Editor Jeff Hartman, Editor Dave Schofield, and Podcast Producer Bryan Anthony Davis.

Check out the rundown of the show:

  • News of the Week
  • Riding the Wave
  • Injury Report
  • Over/Under
  • Trivia
  • Final Thoughts
Let’s Ride Friday: Can the Steelers finally win back-to-back games?

It is hard for some to believe, but the Pittsburgh Steelers haven’t won back-to-back games yet this season. They could do so in Week 13, but there are some trends to keep an eye on when they travel to play the Falcons. Jeff Hartman delivers the goods on this show providing you with a preview of the game in Week 13, keys to victory, as well as the ALL BETZ ARE OFF segment with Jeremy Betz. Check out the latest episode of “Let’s Ride”.

If you or someone you know has a gambling problem, crisis counseling and referral services can be accessed by calling 1-800-GAMBLER (1-800-426-2537) (IL/IN/LA/MI/NJ/PA/WV/WY), 1-800-NEXT STEP (AZ), 1-800-522-4700 (CO/NH), 888-789-7777/visit http://ccpg.org/chat (CT), 1-800-BETS OFF (IA), 877-8-HOPENY/text HOPENY (467369) (NY), visit OPGR.org (OR), call/text TN REDLINE 1-800-889-9789 (TN), or 1-888-532-3500 (VA).

21+ (18+ NH/WY). Physically present in AZ/CO/CT/IL/IN/IA/LA(select parishes)/MI/NH/NJ/NY/OR/PA/TN/VA/WV/WY only. See terms at sportsbook.draftkings.com

Check out the rundown of the show:

  • News and Notes
  • Back-to-Back Quest
  • A visit from Jeremy Betz in the All Betz Are Off segment
  • Hart to Heart
  • and MUCH MORE!

Jeff Hartman of BTSC walks you through everything you need to know regarding the black-and-gold.

Be sure to check out this and all episodes on the following platforms:

Apple Users: CLICK HERE

Spotify: CLICK HERE

Google Play: CLICK HERE

Bills vs. Patriots: Thursday Night Football picks, odds and open thread

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 12/01/2022 - 6:15pm
Photo by Bryan M. Bennett/Getty Images

Thursday Night Football is here! Check out the latest odds, picks and more.

The 2022 NFL regular season is here, and it’s Thursday which means it’s time for Thursday Night Football. Considering the game is streamed only on Amazon Prime, it’s the start of something new when it comes to watching football. But when it comes to storylines, there are plenty surrounding this game.

As for the game itself, below you’ll see some vital information for you to enjoy the contest. You’ll get odds for the game, check out our staff picks for the game and to use this comment section as an open thread for the game.

Let’s take a closer look...

How to Watch:

Buffalo Bills vs. New England Patriots
Date: Thursday, Dec. 1
Venue: Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, MA
Time: 8:15 p.m. ET
TV: Amazon Prime
Streaming: Amazon Prime

Odds via DraftKings Sportsbook

NE: +3.5
O/U: 43.5
Moneyline:
NE: +160
BUF: -190

Staff Picks:

There are some prime time games where fans of the black-and-gold couldn’t care less who is victorious. This would certainly fall into that category, except the fact the Steelers have played both of these teams so far in the 2022 regular season, and lost both. Steelers fans love to hate the Patriots, for a lot of reasons, and this is a huge game in the AFC, so I’m sure Steelers fans will be glued to the televisions watching this game. Even if it’s just for the pure enjoyment of the game.

Nonetheless, hopefully it’s a good game. Follow along with other Pittsburgh Steelers fans in the comment section below as the open thread.

In the meantime, be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the black and gold. And continue counting down the days until the Steelers travel to play the Atlanta Falcons in Week 13 of the regular season.

Power Rankings: AFC Divisional Standings Predictions

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 12/01/2022 - 4:30pm
Robert Scheer/IndyStar / USA TODAY NETWORK

Forecasting the final divisional pecking order for the AFC.

The Steelers are back in the win column after a Monday Night Football victory over the Indianapolis Colts. I said last week that the Steelers are a team that, when healthy, is good enough to beat other mediocre squads and at least play competitively with better teams. Every week, there are enough self-inflicted wounds to sink the ship, and against quality opponents it is often too much to overcome. Against a team like the Colts, however, the defensive talent and growing offense can do just enough to bring home wins.

Luckily for the Steelers, they play 4 more of those mediocre squads over the last 6 weeks. I’m not so sure the Steelers’ other opponent, the Baltimore Ravens whom they’ll play twice, isn’t in that category as well after struggling in recent weeks. All that to say Pittsburgh’s record could look better than the team actually is come season’s end, although it still likely nets them a 3rd place finish in the division and outside the playoff picture.

As for the rest of the AFC, here’s how I see it playing out the rest of the way in each divisional race. Note that this is not a ranking of who’s best in the conference.

DIVISION WINNERS

Kansas City Chiefs, Buffalo Bills, Cincinnati Bengals, Tennessee Titans

The Chiefs look like they might be the best team in the entire league, and it all goes back to Patrick Mahomes and that KC offense that can win in a myriad of ways, even if they struggle for stretches. They only need decent play on defense to make it all work.

Despite currently sitting in 2nd place in the division, I just trust this Bills squad to be there at the top when all is said and done. Josh Allen is slowly coming out of his funk, and the defense, though maybe not as good as we thought it might be to start the season, still nicely rounds out the most balanced team in the NFL. With 4 division contests still to play, the Bills control their destiny.

The Bengals are starting to round into Super Bowl contender form again, but this year, their showing they can win in shootouts with high-flying offense or in slug-fests with tough defense. They’re the most complete team in the AFC North, despite sitting behind the Ravens in the standings currently. The schedule isn’t easy with the Chiefs, Bills, Patriots, and Ravens still on tap over the final 6 weeks, but we’ll know what this Bengals team is come January. I’m betting they’re in the mix in a big way.

The Titans are built to out-muscle and out-coach you, even if you have an overall talent advantage. Sure, they got beat at their own game vs Cincy in Week 12, but who’s going to catch them in that division? The Jaguars are playing better and are the biggest threat to the Titans crown with 2 matchups still on tap, but I really believe this team is going to be a factor in January because they’re just worse than everyone else.

RUNNER UPS

Miami Dolphins, Baltimore Ravens, LA Chargers, Jacksonville Jaguars

Miami could still win the East, but their schedule is pretty unforgiving down the stretch, and the defense still has enough issues to cause a couple hiccups. However, I think Miami finishes as the first Wild Card team, and nobody will want to play this high-flying offense in the playoffs. Miami is as dangerous as they come in the AFC.

The Ravens schedule is pretty soft if you look at opponent record. However, with 4 division games yet to play and the offense looking shaky at best in recent weeks, there should be some cause for concern in the Charm City. I still like this team to slide into a Wild Card slot and be a tough out for a division winner, but I don’t think the Ravens really scare anybody right now, especially on offense.

The Chargers are one of the more difficult evaluations this season, but their QB is starting to play like he is healthy and back on track. Herbert gives you a chance every week, and other than hosting the Dolphins and Titans in weeks 14 & 15, the Bolts won’t play another team currently above .500. If they can get healthier on defense, watch out for LA.

The Jaguars should finish in 2nd in the AFC South with the Colts and Texans continuing their downward slides. They probably aren’t the 8th best team in the AFC though, as both the Jets and Patriots in the East are better squads, but will likely finish in the bottom 2 slots of their more competitive division. These aren’t your October Jaguars though. This is the team nobody we’ve already mentioned wants to face during a late-season playoff push.

BRONZE MEDAL

New York Jets, Pittsburgh Steelers, Las Vegas Raiders, Indianapolis Colts

Despite predicting the Jets to come in 3rd in the East, this team could ride it’s defense to a playoff berth if Baltimore or LAC falters down the stretch. At 7-4, the young Jets have exceeded expectations and are riding high after making a QB change from Zach Wilson to Mike White. This squad has a playoff caliber defense, and if the offense plays more like it did last week against Chicago (big caveat there), a Wild Card spot is in play.

The Steelers are not a playoff caliber team in 2022. However, they seem to have reversed a long-standing issue in the Mike Tomlin era of playing down to lesser opponents. The last couple years, the Steelers have played well against equal or worse competition, but have struggled to compete against favored squads. Think Kansas City and Cincinnati in 2021, and Buffalo and Philadelphia this year. This feels like a Steelers team that will win 4 of it’s last 6 to get to 8-9, hand Mike T his first losing season, and miss out on both the playoffs and a top 10 draft pick. Sounds pretty depressing right? Maybe not, if we continue to see some of the impressive growth we’ve seen from the team’s young offensive talent the last few weeks.

The Raiders are better than their record. It’s as simple as that. They’ve given up double-digit leads in 4 games this season and have lost a whopping 6 games by one score. The offense is very hot and cold, and the defense struggles in the secondary. That all covers up an All-Pro level season from Maxx Crosby on the EDGE. Thinking the Steelers will have their hands full on Christmas Eve with this “Raiduhs” squad.

The Colts are bad on offense and ok on defense. For a team with high offseason aspirations after bringing in what they thought was a big upgrade at QB in Matt Ryan to join a team that was loaded on both lines, disappointing doesn’t even begin to describe Indy’s 2022 season. A tough 3-week stretch upcoming against the Cowboys, Vikings, and Chargers in Weeks 13-15. A 5-game losing streak going back to Week 11 is a high probability for Indy.

BOTTOM FEEDERS

New England Patriots, Cleveland Browns, Denver Broncos, Houston Texans

If this scenario holds true, the Patriots could end up being one of the best 4th place teams ever! With 7 teams making the playoffs, whoever loses the AFC East could still end up with a playoff spot when it’s all said and done. That’s crazy!

Deshaun Watson will start against his former team this week, but I have serious doubts that he makes the Browns better for the remainder of the season. We’re talking about a QB who hasn’t played football in two years essentially. With the Browns other concerns on defense, it just feels like a very Cleveland last-place AFC North finish is in store.

It’s a huge drop off even from the Browns to these last two teams. The Broncos are bad. Really bad. A dumpster-fire. Things are bleak at Mile High.

The Texans are the NFL’s worst team, let alone their own division’s. With the 1st overall pick essentially locked up, Houston fans (legit question: are there any?) can start to get pumped about the Bryce Young era.

So what do we think, Steelers Nation? Let me know in the comments below! As always, go Steelers!

Steelers Injury Report: 5 players miss practice on Thursday

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 12/01/2022 - 3:10pm
Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images

While one was not due to injury, there were two players who went from limited on Wednesday but didn’t practice Thursday.

The Pittsburgh Steelers exited Monday night’s game with a victory as well as with some players dealing with some “bumps and bruises associated with play.” As the Steelers took the practice field for their second official day of preparation for the Atlanta Falcons, there were five players who did not participate while four were limited. In the second injury report of the week courtesy of the Steelers PR Department, two new names showed up on the list but only one was due to injury.

Steelers PR Department

The most significant injury which happened in-game on Monday night was running back Najee Harris leaving just before halftime with an abdominal injury. With no update in regards to Harris by Mike Tomlin at his Tuesday press conference due to the quick turnaround from playing on Monday night, the expectations for Harris are still foggy. On Wednesday, Harris was one of the two players who did not participate in practice. As for Thursday, Harris was still unable to take the field for practice.

After coming back to play in Week 8 after missing four games, Ahkello Witherspoon found himself missing another three games with his hamstring injury in Week 10 through Week 12. On both Wednesday and Thursday, Witherspoon was still unable to practice.

Another player who missed Monday’s game was running back Jaylen Warren with a hamstring injury. As the Steelers took the practice field on Wednesday, it was reported that Warren has been cleared to return and expects to play on Sunday. On Wednesday, not only did Warren return, he was a full participant. On Thursday Warren followed it up by practicing fully again and is on track to be in the lineup for Sunday’s game.

Two more players who missed Monday’s game even though they were only questionable going into the contest were Robert Spillane with a back injury (now listed as an oblique) and Miles Boykin with an oblique injury. On Wednesday, Boykin returned as a full participant while Spillane was able to practice in a limited capacity. On Thursday, both players held the same status as a Boykin was a full participant while Spillane was limited.

At Mike Tomlin‘s press conference on Tuesday, he listed several players that were dealing with some minor issues that could limit them early in the week. Those specifically mentioned were Minkah Fitzpatrick (ribs), T.J. Watt (ribs), Larry Ogunjobi (toe), and Myles Jack (knee). On Wednesday, all four players were able to practice in a limited capacity. Thursday saw Minkah Fitzpatrick return as a full participant while T.J. Watt was once again limited. Both Myles Jack and Larry Ogunjobi did not practice on Thursday after being limited on Wednesday. It should be noted that Wednesday’s practice was reportedly very light due to the Steelers playing on Monday night.

One more player who is listed on the injury report is center Mason Cole as he was limited with a foot injury. Last week, Cole was unable to practice early in the week yet still was able to play in the game. Starting the week off as limited rather than not participating was a good sign towards Cole‘s participation on Sunday. Cole followed up the first practice by once again being a limited making Friday’s practice key to his availability.

There were two new players on the injury report on Thursday with Cam Heyward getting his typical day of rest. The other player was running back and Benny Snell who was limited with a knee injury. It isn’t clear at this time if Snell was injured during practice.

As for the Falcons’ injury report, you can see the names below courtesy of Steelers.com.

Atlanta Falcons Participation/Injury Report, Week 13

Thursday, December 1

OLB Arnold Ebiketie (Forearm) - LP

DL Jalen Dalton (Toe) - LP

OL Chuma Edoga (Knee) - DNP

3 must-watch games for Steelers fans in Week 13

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 12/01/2022 - 12:30pm
Photo by Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

There are several NFL games this week which Steelers fans could be interested in the outcome.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are looking to stack wins for the first time this season. With plenty other NFL games happening throughout Week 13, there are several games Steelers’ fans may want to keep track of. This week, the most intriguing matchups all come from the AFC North.

First off, lets check out how the three games from last week ended up. Of the three games, they all finished within one score, even though one game was only brought that close with just over 10 seconds left. When it comes to the betting lines for the game, the following information is the current consensus spread this week as reported by DraftKings Sportsbook.

New York Giants (20) at Dallas Cowboys (28)

The Giants held a six-point lead at halftime in this game, but giving up three-straight touchdowns in the second half had the game out of reach even though the Giants did score with seconds remaining in the game to bring it to within eight. It was a matchup to see who would have the better chance of challenging the Eagles in the NFC East, and it was the Cowboys who completed the season sweep of the Giants.

Cincinnati Bengals (20) at Tennessee Titans (16)

This game was shaping up to have a fantastic ending only to be left disappointed. The Titans stopped the Bengals and held them to a field goal then get the ball back just inside two minutes for a chance to tie. Instead, the Titans line up over the long snapper and blast him on the snap which is an obvious penalty and the Bengals finish the final two minutes in victory formation.

Baltimore Ravens (27) at Jacksonville Jaguars (28)

I really enjoyed this game. I thought the Jaguars could give the Ravens a run especially after how Baltimore played the week before against the Panthers in an unimpressive victory. I like how John Harbaugh’s strategy of going for two for the win late the game worked against him this time even though they did get the opportunity at the long field goal. The game was back-and-forth throughout and compelling football... based on the outcome. I doubt I think it was such a good game if it had gone in favor of the other team.

For Week 13, here are the three games which I think are the most much-watch games, whether or not they affect the Steelers:

Denver Broncos at Baltimore Ravens Sunday at 1:00 PM on CBS
Spread: BAL (-8)

The Ravens are the Steelers next opponent on the schedule, and they haven’t played well the last two games against what would be considered inferior opponents. The Ravens have yet another game like this on Sunday as they host the struggling Broncos. I will be paying attention to this game as much as anything to see if the Ravens are getting back on track or if their struggles continue heading to Pittsburgh the following week.

Cleveland Browns at Houston Texans Sunday at 1:00 PM on CBS
Spread: CLE (-7)

This is another game with a big point spread, but the compelling story line here is it being the first game for Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson. Not playing in almost 2 years, I think most NFL fans are hoping for a disaster based on all the circumstances of the allegations and the Brown still giving Watson a huge contract. Hopefully Watson can be added into the discussion with Russell Wilson and Aaron Rodgers where many are questioning the contracts they received this offseason. We won’t know if the Browns will be better or worse with Watson until we see them take the field Sunday against his former team.

Kansas City Chiefs at Cincinnati Bengals Sunday at 4:25 PM on CBS
Spread: KAN (-1.5)

It’s a rematch of the AFC Championship Game from last year. That right there is enough of a compelling story line for this game to land in the top three, let alone it deals with another team from the AFC North. If nothing else, it’s yet another game in which Steelers fans can root against the Bengals.

So there are the three main matchups which I believe Steelers fans would see as a must-watch game. This week, I just went with what I thought were some interesting story lines with AFC North teams.

Obviously Steelers games are the ones fans care the most about, but there is other good football to be watched. Which of these other games will be the one you will check in on the most? Make sure you vote in the poll and give your thoughts in the comments below.

Kenny Pickett’s comfort in the Steelers offense coincides with his rapport with George Pickens

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 12/01/2022 - 11:30am
IndyStar Staff-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers offense is starting to click, and it shouldn’t shock anyone the Pickett to Pickens connection is a large reason why.

Don’t look now, but it looks as if the Pittsburgh Steelers offense is starting to figure things out. Since their Week 9 bye, the Steelers have scored 20, 37, and 24 points for an average of 27 points per game. The offense has started to build around their young players, and there are no two larger than Kenny Pickett and George Pickens.

It should shock no one who follows the Steelers how the offense’s success has also come at a time when Pickens has thrived with Pickett at the helm. Take a look at the numbers for Pickens when Pickett is in the game:

Week 4 (Second Half) vs. NYJ: 4 catches, 71 yards, 4 targets, 27 long
Week 5 at BUF: 6 catches, 83 yards, 8 targets, 29 long
Week 6 vs. TB: 1 catch, 8 yards (Pickett left in 3rd quarter)
Week 7 at MIA: 6 catches, 61 yards 6 targets, 1 TD, 30 long
Week 8 at PHI: 0 catches, 0 yards, 3 targets
Week 10 vs. NO: 3 catches, 32 yards, 4 targets, 14 long
Week 11 vs. CIN: 4 catches, 83 yards, 6 targets, 1 TD, 33 long
Week 12 at IND: 3 catches, 56 yards, 6 targets, 35 long

Now, let’s look at the stats before Pickett took over:

Week 1 at CIN: 1 catch, 3 yards, 3 targets
Week 2 vs. NE: 1 catch, 23 yards, 3 targets
Week 3 at CLE: 3 catches, 39 yards, 7 targets
Week 4 (First Half) vs. NYJ: 2 catches, 31 yards, 2 targets

Many fans will look at the above statistics and see a rookie being eased into the offense. That’s fair, but when you look at the targets, you can’t help but notice the spike once Pickett took over the offense at halftime of Week 4.

Pickens brings something to the offense which the team didn’t have, and that included the time when Chase Claypool was still on the roster. Not only does he have size and speed, but his ability to win contested catches is second-to-none on the current roster. He is everything fans wanted to see from Claypool, yet never did.

How did the Pickett to Pickens connection get so strong? It all started before the 2022 NFL Draft when the two met and developed a friendship.

“I knew of him just throughout just knowing the top guys around the college game. Just crazy impressed with the kind of talent that he is. I was always just like, “Man, I’d love to play with a guy like that on the outside.” Pickett told media Wednesday. “I got lucky enough that we got drafted together, and we were actually on a visit together in Detroit. So, we kind of spent the whole day in Detroit, just kind of talking and stuff outside of football, because obviously, when you’re on a visit, it’s meetings, interviews with the teams, and you’re going through all that stuff.

“But it was cool just to hang out with him and get to know him on a personal level. I actually had his number when he got drafted because we were in a group chat when we were on that Detroit visit, and I called him right away on FaceTime. So, I think right after that viral meme came out of him leaning back, looking at the TV, I think I called him right after that. So, I think it was one of the first to talk to him. It was pretty funny after I saw that, but yeah, we had a great relationship starting there I think, and then it’s just grown since then.”

Of course, Pickett is referring to the viral image of Pickens watching the draft as Claypool, of all people, announced his name in Las Vegas. While it is funny, and has become a sensation among Steelers fans, Pickett sees it as Pickens being unique. And his uniqueness goes beyond what he does off the field.

“George is George, man. He’s so unique and I think that’s what makes his play out there great, because he just is himself and he has that ultra-confidence, and I’m ultra-confident that he’s going to make the play. Same with Diontae. Same with all the guys we have in that receiver room. But he’s a great person, he’s a funny guy to be around and I’m really happy that we’re teammates.”

There is no ignoring the statistics both the offense and Pickens have put up since the bye week, but let’s also not pretend everything has been smooth sailing for the rookie duo. Not only did Pickens have some drops in the game vs. the Colts on Monday Night Football, but Pickett missed Pickens on what would have been an easy touchdown reception. Throughout the game, Pickett was there to help pick up Pickens and get him focused on the next play.

“I’m going to miss throws, and guys are going to drop passes and we’re going to rally behind each other and just get right back to it.” said Pickett. “I told him I’m going to keep throwing him the football and he came up big on that third down, came up big on that two-point conversion. I think if we continue to stick together like that throughout the season, we’ll start to see this thing shift more towards the way we want it to be.”

There is a strong connection between quarterback and wide receiver, but that connection takes time to develop. It doesn’t happen over night. While the Pickett to Pickens connection is developing, you can see flashes of where it can go in big moments.

“I think it shows up in the big-time moments, right?” Pickett said of the connection with his receivers, mainly Pickens. “He knows where I need him to be, I know he’s going to get to where he needs to be, and then I meet him there with the ball. Those big-time moments, those timing routes, where sometimes you’re throwing guys open and they may not look open to the naked eye but with the reps and the confidence that I have that they’re going to be where I want them to be and they know that they’re going to get the football, it kind of comes together that way.

“I was able to build that with Jordan Addison at Pitt. The countless hours that we work together, that all adds to it. We’re trying to play catch up here in between periods and working on getting it. I think we’re definitely taking the right steps towards that, but it takes time and a lot of reps together.”

The Steelers offense remains a work in progress, but there is no denying the potential which resides between these two rookies. Will the Pickett to Pickens connection be something which is talked about for years to come among Steelers fans? That’s the hope, and it certainly is getting going here in Year 1.

Stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for the Atlanta Falcons in Week 13 of the 2022 regular season.

Previewing the Steelers vs. Falcons Week 13 showdown

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 12/01/2022 - 10:00am
Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers are traveling to play the Atlanta Falcons in Week 13 of the 2022 regular season.

The Pittsburgh Steelers and Atlanta Falcons are two teams who don’t know each other very well considering they are not in the same conference and only play each other once every four seasons. Nonetheless, despite them not being familiar with each other, for these teams the game in Week 13 is as big one. Throw in the fact the Steelers are coming off a prime time win in Week 12, and this game gets even more attention.

Here is the game preview for the Steelers and Bills for their Week 13 matchup in Atlanta.

Team Records

Pittsburgh Steelers: 4-7
Atlanta Falcons: 5-7

Odds (Courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook)

Steelers (+1.0)
OVER/UNDER: 42.0
Moneyline: Steelers -110; Falcons -110

Odds/lines subject to change. T&Cs apply. See draftkings.com/sportsbook for details.

Last 5 Games in series

Steelers: 3-1-1

Matchup History

Pittsburgh Steelers lead series 14-2-1

Injury Report (Note: This will be updated throughout the week as more injury reports are released) Steelers

Wednesday, November 30

RB Najee Harris (Oblique) - DNP
CB Ahkello Witherspoon (Hamstring) - DNP
S Minkah Fitzpatrick (Ribs) - LP
LB Robert Spillane (Oblique) - LP
LB Myles Jack (Knee) - LP
OL Mason Cole (Foot) - LP
LB T.J. Watt (Ribs) - LP
OL Larry Ogunjobi (Toe) - LP
WR Miles Boykin (Oblique) - FP
RB Jaylen Warren (Hamstring) - LP

Falcons

Wednesday, November 30

OLB Arnold Ebiketie (Forearm) - LP
OL Chuma Edoga (Knee) - LP
RB Cordarrelle Patterson (Not Injury Related - Resting) - DNP
DL Jalen Dalton (Toe) - DNP

News and Notes

The Pittsburgh Steelers and Atlanta Falcons are preparing to go head-to-head in Week 13 of the 2022 regular season, and it pits the 4-7 Steelers vs. the 5-7 Falcons. These two teams have quite the one-sided history, with the Steelers holding a 14-2-1 overall record vs. Atlanta all-time. On top of that, the Steelers are 3-1-1 vs. the Falcons in their last five meetings.

The Falcons are a team who found themselves in a very similar situation to the Steelers this past offseason. In fact, they played their cards almost identically throughout the offseason, but how things have shaken out since the season started are vastly different.

With Matt Ryan out as the quarterback in Atlanta, the Falcons went the free agent route, just like the Steelers did. While the Steelers signed Mitch Trubisky, the Falcons signed Marcus Mariota. Both teams drafted quarterbacks in the 2022 NFL Draft, with the Steelers taking Kenny Pickett 20th overall in the 1st Round, while the Falcons signed Desmond Ridder in the 3rd Round of the draft.

The Steelers benched Trubisky in the middle of the Week 4 matchup vs. the New York Jets, and it’s been all Pickett ever since. In Atlanta, the team has tied their ship to Mariota, and fans are wondering if/when they’ll see Ridder play this season.

The results for the Steelers have been a rookie who is learning on the job, and an organization who is looking to have an answer at the position in the coming years. As for the Falcons, they have been left wondering what the future will hold, considering Ridder hasn’t seen the field yet this year.

These narratives and story lines add intrigue to the matchup as the Steelers hope to win back-to-back games for the first time this season by beating the Falcons on the road in Week 13.

Related Articles Podcasts

Be sure to check out the many BTSC podcasts in the player below:

Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the black and gold for all the coverage of their game with the Falcons in Atlanta in Week 13 of the 2022 regular season.

Stock Report: Whose stock is rising after the win over the Colts

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 12/01/2022 - 8:30am
Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images

Let's take a look at what direction Steelers stock is trending after the hard fought victory over the Colts.

The 2022 NFL season for the Pittsburgh Steelers has already been full of surprises, and the Steelers road victory over the Indianapolis Colts on Monday Night Football definitely fit the bill. Not only because I fully expected the Steelers to lose, as I confidently described in our BTSC pre-game prediction article, but also because of the manner in which the Steelers went about winning the game.

For the first time this season, the Steelers played complimentary football. Well, almost. Both the offense and defense played above-the-line football consistently throughout the game. Especially if you don't factor another disappointing third quarter performance into the equation, plus the fact the kick coverage teams failed to show up for the game, but more on that later.

The young rebuilding Steelers have now won two of their three games since their bye week, which has been enjoyable. A win beats a loss anytime, but there is something much bigger than wins and losses at play for the Steelers. All wins are not created equally, as some are flukish, resulting primarily from poor play by the opposition or a fortuitous turn of events. That type of success isn't sustainable or reliable.

The Steelers recent improvements have been encouraging, and potentially could become habitual, because they are being achieved predominantly by the Steelers impressive collection of young talent on the roster, which is a stark contrast to recent seasons. That bodes well for a brighter future for the franchise.

Steelers Stock Trending Up: Kenny Pickett

Not sure if everybody is paying attention, but Pickett looks less and less like a rookie quarterback as the season progresses. His development has been intriguing, and speaks volumes about his character and toughness, after the less than ideal circumstances he faced to begin his professional career. Plenty of young signal callers have been negatively impacted under similar conditions, sometimes permanently. To the point they hear footsteps, or see "ghosts".

The NFL community was fortunate enough to witness Jacksonville Jaguars QB Trevor Lawrence's breakout performance on Sunday as he led his team to a fourth quarter comeback upset victory over the Baltimore Ravens. More than a few impatient talking heads have wondered aloud if the number one overall selection in the 2021 NFL Draft was going to prove worthy of the pick. Lawrence is proving this season that he just needed a little patience, a competent coaching staff, and an improved supporting cast to show his full potential.

Pickett's progress and statistics have been impacted and stunted at times this season by poor play calling, inconsistent efforts by the supporting cast, and dropped passes. Those issues were once again apparent on Monday night against the Colts, none more evident than when Pickett took a shotgun snap on third and one in the third quarter. The Steelers tried unsuccessfully to convert in that situation by running seldom used practice squad running back Anthony McFarland Jr. on the play, a player known far more for his speed than power.

The Steelers left power back Benny Snell, who was already enjoying an effective debut performance of his season as a runner, standing on the sidelines, alongside fullback Derek Watt, who had been perfect converting in those situations this season. Pickett has excellent mobility, and has converted numerous short yardage plays from under center already this year, many via the QB sneak.

That was without a doubt a disastrous play calling decision all around. The kind of bad decision that can potentially lose a game. Thankfully, Pickett and company were able to overcome the incompetence of that decision.

Steelers Stock Trending Up: Alex Highsmith

Everybody knew heading into the game that Highsmith would need to have a strong game for the Steelers defense to be effective, with T.J. Watt and Cameron Heyward going head-to-head with the Colts’ best offensive linemen, RT Braden Smith and LG Quenton Nelson. With his two senior Steelers stalwarts effectively neutralized, Highsmith stepped up his game when it mattered most, especially in the fourth quarter.

On the Colts final game-deciding drive, Highsmith recorded a huge strip sack of Matt Ryan, and followed that up with a tough open field tackle of star RB Jonathan Taylor on third down, forcing the Colts eventual failed fourth down attempt.

The best players regularly take advantage of advantageous situations, often saving their best for last, when it matters most. Highsmith showed he has become that type of player.

Steelers Stock Trending Down: Kick Coverage units

I believe that it is safe to assume that the Steelers kick coverage teams desperately missed the presence of Miles Boykin and Robert Spillane, two of their best special teams performers. Boykin in particular, as he utilizes his elite level size and speed to it's fullest on both coverage units, regularly the first defender downfield with apparent ease.

Without two of their standouts, the Steelers struggled all night with their lane integrity, especially on the Colts momentum changing 89-yard return to open the second half. Based on what we saw Monday night, Boykin and Spillane need to get healthy sooner rather than later.

Steelers Stock Trending Up: Running game

The beginning of the game was concerning, particularly the left side of the Steelers offensive line. Dan Moore was badly beaten for a sack, and Kevin Dotson was completely ineffective. Thankfully, both players settled in and played better after those early struggles.

The Steelers did something against the Colts that I haven't seen in years: they ran the ball consistently against one of the top run defenses in the NFL. What made their success even more surprising was that they achieved the majority of it without their top two running backs. After Jaylen Warren was forced to miss the game with a hamstring injury, Najee Harris was knocked out of the game in the first half due to an abdominal injury.

No starters, no problem. Seldom if ever used replacements Anthony McFarland Jr. and Benny Snell at your service. All kidding aside, both players gave above the line performances at a time when the Steelers really needed them to step up and ball out. The epitome of a professional performance.

Steelers Stock Trending Down: Third Quarter struggles

This has become a disturbing trend for the Steelers. The third quarter has been a struggle this year for the Steelers, but it has reached a crescendo in the past couple of games. The Steelers have followed an impressive first half of action with an atrocious third quarter performance in back-to-back games now.

I gave plenty of credit to the Bengals for their tendency to make optimal halftime adjustments after last week, as they easily outcoached the Steelers, but this week was different, as the Steelers issues were two-fold.

Against the Colts, the Steelers continued to struggle with their play calling, but also with their execution. Missed assignments and blocks, coupled with numerous dropped passes, doomed the Steelers chances at sustaining their first half success into the second half.

Regardless of who is most at fault for these reoccurring struggles, this is a disturbing trend that must be addressed immediately. The Steelers are finally starting to show real growth on offense under the guidance of Kenny Pickett and company, and they must alleviate or eliminate any potential potholes on the road to sustainable improvement.

Pages

Subscribe to Steelers Fans of Minnesota aggregator