The Pittsburgh Woes Continue with QB Ben Roethlisberger being placed on IR after Suffering an Elbow Injury.
Article by: Justin Imler
Steeler Nation took a big hit Sunday afternoon when future Hall of Fame quarterback “Big Ben” Roethlisberger exited the game mid-way through the 2nd quarter with an apparent elbow injury. Not much detail was provided during the game, but Ben remained on the sideline for the remainder of the game, while backup QB Mason Rudolph filled in, and played pretty well in their 28-26 loss to Seattle.
As all of Pittsburgh waited in anticipation for the next 24 hours, it was revealed early Monday morning that Roethlisberger would indeed need surgery on his injured throwing elbow, ultimately ending his season. This blow is about as big as they come to an NFL team, especially when it happens to a team like Pittsburgh, who had high hopes for the 2019-2020 season.
Now it’s time for 2nd year QB out of Oklahoma State Mason Rudolph to take the helm and run the offense for the Black and Gold. Rudolph was impressive in his professional debut in relief for Roethlisberger, going 12-19 for 112 yards, 2 TDs (both to TE Vance McDonald), and 1 INT (drop by WR Donte Moncrief). Rudolph was drafted in the 3rd round of the 2018 draft by Pittsburgh, the highest the franchise has drafted a QB since Roethlisberger, who was drafted 11th overall in 2004. This led to some conflict at first with the star QB, who was not happy that the team took a QB that early in the draft, seemingly saying he had a lot left in the tank before he planned on calling it a career. Now, whether either of them likes it or not, it’s time for Rudolph to run the show for the remainder of the season and show what he can do. He has a golden opportunity to prove that he can be the future of the franchise once they officially reach the post-Roethlisberger era.
As an active member of Steeler Nation, I’m feeling a mixture of emotions. I’ve been on the Rudolph hype train since before he was drafted by the Steelers and was very excited to see him perform well in the preseason, win the backup job, and play decent in his debut on Sunday. With that being said, this team won’t be able to compete at the level that they’d like without Roethlisberger running the offense. I am however, trying to stay positive, and am excited to see how Rudolph plays throughout the season. This is his team now, and he needs to take advantage of this opportunity.
Roethlisberger made an official statement later on Monday explaining his disappointment in missing the season, supporting Rudolph, and his plans for the future.
“…I can only trust God's plan, but I am completely determined to battle through this challenge and come back stronger than ever next season. The Steelers committed three years to me this offseason and I fully intend to honor my contract and reward them with championship level play. I will do all I can to support Mason and the team this season to help win games. I love this game, my teammates, the Steelers organization and fans, and I feel in my heart I have a lot left to give.”
Only time will tell as to how this season pans out for Pittsburgh, but here’s some positive news for Steelers fans. The team ended up trading for Miami Dolphins S/CB Minkah Fitzpatrick late Monday night, who recently demanded to be traded from the sinking ship that is the Miami Dolphins, for their 2020 1st round pick. Fitzpatrick was drafted 11th overall in 2018 by Miami and has shown a lot of potential in his short NFL career. Personally, I love this move, and it’s one that makes sense if you’re Pittsburgh. The safety position is arguably their biggest need remaining on their defense, with Sean Davis being banged up early on, and backup Kameron Kelly not getting the job done in his place. Head coach Mike Tomlin said Tuesday afternoon that Davis will be placed on injured reserve, which means that Fitzpatrick will be in the starting lineup for their week 3 matchup in San Francisco.
All in all, I’m not giving up hope on a successful season in Pittsburgh. Will they be able to compete with the AFC powerhouses in Kansas City and New England? No, but I’d still expect this team to put up a fight throughout the season and win some games under Rudolph, along with a young and improving defense.
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The Wait is Finally Over… Picks for the Four Primetime Matchups in Week 1 of the 2019-2020 NFL Season
Article by: Justin Imler
Green Bay Packers @ Chicago Bears (TNF)
The 2019-2020 NFL season kicks off with an amazing matchup. We get to watch another installment of one of the best and oldest rivalries in the league as the Aaron Rodgers and the Packers head into Chicago to take on the Bears. I have high expectations for both of these franchises heading into the season. Green Bay is coming off a disappointing 2018, but have made several adjustments in the offseason, most notably hiring new head coach Matt LaFleur, and beefing up their below average defense throughout the draft. As long as Mr. Rodgers stays heathy, I expect significant improvements for this Green Bay team. However, I still have them taking the L Thursday, and here’s why.
“Da Bears” just had one of the most dominant defensive seasons that we’ve seen in decades, and who’s to stop them from repeating that again this season? The Bears are coming off of an NFC South title, and don’t plan on giving that title up this year. QB Mitchell Trubisky is starting to come into his own and needs to take another step this year if they want to be a legitimate Super Bowl contender come January. With that being said, behind that ridiculous defense, and rookie RB David Montgomery (remember that name), this team will be dangerous, which is why I have them taking this matchup at home Thursday night.
Official Prediction: Bears: 24 Packers: 20
Pittsburgh Steelers @ New England Patriots (SNF)
Ohhhhh baby, here we go. As a Steelers fan, I cannot wait for this matchup Sunday night. The Pittsburgh and New England rivalry has been a great one for all NFL fans in recent years, with the Pats getting the best of the Black and Gold more times than not. However, and I’ve been preaching this for months, do not sleep on this Pittsburgh team in 2019. The Steelers did beat New England in week 15 last season 17-10, which is what gives me a lot of confidence heading into Sunday night. Pittsburgh’s defense has improved a lot over the offseason with the additions of CB Steven Nelson (signed in FA), and LB Devin Bush (drafted 10th overall out of Michigan). Their offense will be just fine with Big Ben Roethlisberger throwing the rock to his staff of young playmakers like WR Juju-Smith Schuster, Donte Moncrief (signed in FA), TE Vance McDonald, and RB James Connor.
Now for defending Super Bowl champs, the Patriots are back, and don’t think for a second that this is finally the year that they’ll take a step back, because it’s not. Brady is 42 years old and is somehow still in his prime. Yes, future Hall of Famer TE Rob Gronkowski has retired, but don’t be surprised if he comes back in full pads by Week 9. New England still has some talented playmakers, and they’re the prime example of the “next man up” mentality. They have a system, and it’s clearly working. This will be the first time that two franchises are facing off with six Super Bowls to their names, and both of these teams are primed and ready to be all alone at the top with seven when this season is all said and done.
Official Prediction: New England 28 Pittsburgh: 24
Houston Texans @ New Orleans Saints (MNF Pt. 1)
To wrap up Week 1 of the NFL season we get a double header, starting off with the Texans and Saints. These two teams were both playoff teams last season, and I’m pretty sure everyone expects them to be back this year as well. The Texans have already taken some big hits, with losing starting RB Lamar Miller to a torn ACL, and trading star DE Jadeveon Clowney to Seattle. However, with the recent retirement of QB Andrew Luck, I expect the Texans to run away with the AFC South, but will most likely have to wait until Week 2 to get onto a winning streak.
The Saints are just on another level. They’re absolutely stacked on both sides of the ball and playing in the Superdome is one of the best home field advantages in all of football. I like the Texans this season, but not in this matchup. Expect the Saints to dominate Monday night, and for the rest of the 2019 season.
Official Prediction: New Orleans: 34 Houston: 24
Denver Broncos @ Oakland Raiders (MNF Pt. 2)
Part two of Monday Night Football isn’t nearly as flashy as part one. These two teams are out to prove themselves in 2019, so I’m still excited to see what they bring to the table. The Raiders are obviously going to be the fan’s main focus, just to see how HC John Gruden has gotten this team to gel in his 2nd season. They have a lot of new additions this time around, most notably star WR Antonio Brown and rookie RB Josh Jacobs out of Alabama.
Denver on the other hand has made some changes of their own, which started by hiring former Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio as their new head coach. Denver also moved on from QB Case Keenum and traded for former Ravens QB Joe Flacco, who will be running the offense for at least the next several seasons. I’m personally not much of a believer in Flacco, but he’s been a guy who can still win football games behind a stellar defense, which Denver most certainly has. I think this game will easily be the lowest scoring of the four primetime games this week, with Denver pulling it out in the end.
Official Prediction: Denver: 20 Raiders: 17
Be sure to be on the lookout for the next Heated Sports Football Podcast episode that drops tomorrow night (Wednesday 9/4) where Kevin and I dive more into these matchups, as well as our full 2019-2020 season predictions!
To keep up with everything sports, be sure to keep it here at Heated Sports!