Up The Gut Week 14: Father Time finally catching up to Big Ben

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By CBS Sports Radio
By Shaun Morash

Cold Open    Undefeated no more are the Pittsburgh Steelers, dealt their first loss of the season by an NFC East team because, of course they were. The Steelers felt under-appreciated all year. Many, including myself, thought they would lose to the Chiefs in the AFC Playoffs, even if they went 16-0. Now, many will tell you this loss by the Steelers is a good thing. No more pressure of going unbeaten and the focus can be on simply getting through the playoffs and winning a Super Bowl. Maybe that is true, but having to do so on the road in Kansas City should the Chiefs finish 15-1 feels like added pressure to me.    The real problem with the Steelers isn't even a potential road AFC Championship Game; it isn't even the glory of 16-0 being gone. It is the health of their defense and their quarterback. Bud Dupree's injury was going to be massive, and we knew that. However, as the weather turns frigid in most areas, Ben Roethlisberger is starting to look as cold as it feels. The big beard, the burly jacket, and now that arm speed looking just a tick slower in each of the Steelers' last two games against Washington and Baltimore. 

Roethlisberger has deserved all of the credit of being Comeback Player of the Year, an MVP candidate, and the new quarterback to defy Father Time. Maybe he can still defy it. Maybe these last two weeks were a blip. But it is on the table that every question we had about Roethlisberger's recovery from elbow surgery and his age just catch up with him in cold weather. That kind of problem won't fix itself in the freezing temps in Pittsburgh or Kansas City in the next eight weeks. 

Ten Yard Gain

1-The New York Giants had their biggest win since beating the Cowboys 10-7 in December 2016 on Sunday Night Football. That is a long time for a proud franchise. The McAdoo and Shurmur eras were short in real time but long in the minds of many in New York. Going on the road to Seattle, with a backup quarterback, and having a defense suffocate Russell Wilson into one field goal drive and one late touchdown is as good a coached game as you will see in the NFL all season. Bravo to Joe Judge and the staff he has put together. It appears the Giants finally got this ship righted. 

2- The Hail Murray may be the last great image the Cardinals get out of this season. Another loss to the Rams went down on Sunday, keeping Sean McVay undefeated vs the birds. Kyler Murray still looks hurt and the Cardinals, who appeared destined for 11 wins, sit at 6-6 with an 8-8 record a very real probability. Perhaps the kudos to Kliff Kingsbury this year were premature. 

3-The Browns have a legitimate win over a legitimate contender. Their defense may have looked suspect allowing the Titans a massive second half comeback to keep the game close, but offensively the real story is Baker Mayfield. The Browns have been able to run the ball all year, but we had doubts Baker Mayfield could sling it in a shootout and he finally did just did that. The irony of this game is Baker Mayfield feeling like he is last year's Ryan Tannehill. Arriving just in time to be taken seriously. 

4-Deshaun Watson sounded dejected postgame after he fumbled away the Texans’ potential comeback win against the Colts. He is tired of losing and understandably so. He, however, is dealing with the first season of his career where the Texans aren't true contenders. This has happened to Aaron Rodgers, Ben Roethlisberger, Drew Brees and other star quarterbacks. Watson needs to own the fact that the Texans moving forward will go how he goes, and pouting about the hard times postgame won't help him prevail. Own the bad times and turn them into the great times that are sure to come for him and his talent moving forward. 

5-Gregg Williams must be a Seinfeld fan because I have never seen somebody openly try to get fired like he did since George Costanza worked for the Yankees. Blitzing all-out on a final play with a lead and leaving a rookie corner on an island is inexcusable. Unless, of course, that is the exact kind of thing the Jets wanted as an organization to get their own Lawrence in the Meadowlands.

6-With Josh Allen you should never expect pretty football on a consistent basis. That is perfect for Buffalo. Allen keeps maturing and keeps getting better. He is a top-ten quarterback in my mind even if every metric and stat doesn't show it. The Bills are fun and blue collar. The real shame is they will host a playoff game for the first time in forever and there will be no fans. 

7-Ryan Pace and Matt Nagy invent a new way to pad the "We should be fired" resume every week. Blowing a 10-point lead to the lousy Lions with three minutes to play is classic Bears over the last two months. This team went from beating the Bucs to seeming like they are years away when factoring in their lack of quarterback, offensive talent, and needing to get a head coach hire right, which is always a crap shoot. 

8-The Carson Wentz disaster continues to unfold in Philadelphia. Dumping Wentz after this season would financially be devastating to the Eagles’ organization. That only is compounded by what happens the rest of the season with Jalen Hurts. If Hurts plays well, the Eagles would have the largest cap hit for a backup quarterback that we have ever seen. If Hurts does not play well, then Wentz deserves a chance at a reset. But, should that reset come with a new offensive-minded head coach and Pederson fired? 

9-Justin Herbert is spiraling into a bad situation with the Chargers. He had his worst game as a pro, and it was masked because the Chargers’ special teams were even worse against the Patriots. The next four weeks are critical for him to build some momentum for himself personally and feel confident heading into next season. That is probably why Anthony Lynn still has a job but is the exact reason Lynn should not still have the job. Lynn is well-respected and by all accounts a great guy, but what he has done with young players is anything but develop them. 

10- It makes no sense to rush Drew Brees back this week or even next week. Sean Payton said on Sirius XM this week that the next franchise quarterback for that franchise is in the building. If that is the case, it is probably Taysom Hill, who has progressed through each of the last three games. Things have not been perfect, but wins are wins and the Saints are both saving Drew Brees aging arm from unnecessary throws before the playoffs while installing confidence in Hill so that this team can still compete in 2021. Ride it out another week or two.

Five Games to Chew On

5 Colts @ Raiders: The Raiders need a win against a true contender int he worst way to get back to anything close to the vibes they must have felt beating the Chiefs earlier in the season. They have lost a close game against Kansas City, got blown out by the Falcons, and were barely saved by Gregg Williams from being the only team the Jets could beat. Now they play a Colts team that is lucky to have escaped with a win last week themselves. The loser of this game may have trouble getting into the postseason.
4 Washington @ 49ers: Two weeks ago, FOX flexed the Lions and Packers into their late window to give some intrigue to America's Game of the Week. The Packers are playing for a ton while the Lions hold on to very slim playoff hopes. However, the real big late game is now this one. Washington will know the fate of the Giants around kickoff of this game, and Alex Smith in his comeback-movie story this year will play one of his former teams that also needs to win out for Wild Card hopes. Did I mention this game will be in Arizona? 
3 Cardinals @ Giants: The GMen are buzzing, having not lost since that Bucs’ Monday Night game in the first days of November. The Cardinals can't find a win since the Hail Murray. Kyler Murray's back is against the wall, and this is the first real adversity game he will find himself in. A Cardinals loss and they actually would be passed by these GMen in the wild card hunt as well.
2 Chiefs @ Dolphins: The Kansas City Chiefs have not won pretty all year as we think they should be. However, all they do is win regardless, the only blemish coming against the Raiders as previously mentioned. Miami finds itself in a real playoff chase, a tangible playoff chase, one that feels cute and fun but also one that can make us all take a step back and ask if they are this year's version of the Titans should they pull this upset. 
1 Steelers @ Bills: The Bills in primetime back-to-back weeks. Sunday Night Football comes to cold Buffalo where an angry Steelers team awaits. Will Pittsburgh's sloppy play and dropped passes continue in Western New York? Can Josh Allen have back-to-back under-the-lights games that make everyone fully understand the Bills have their best quarterback since Jim Kelly? Break out Carrie Underwood, will you be waiting all day for Sunday Night?

My Picks

A 3-0 week, we are back! 21-18 is the record for the season. (These games were picked with spreads as of Wednesday afternoon) For this week:

Washington +3 @ 49ers: Vegas is begging you to take the Washington Football Team here, so naturally I am sucked in. The Niners’ defensive front can still give Alex Smith and his lack of mobility fits in this game. Running back injuries can hurt Washington as well. However, momentum cannot be discounted, and by the time this game kicks off Washington will know whether they are playing for sole possession of first place or not. I expect Nick Mullens to be on his back all afternoon due to that Washington front and a very tight game one way or another. So I will take the better team, which happens to be getting points.
Bucs -6.5 vs Vikings: This is the fraud game of the weekend. The Bucs are frauds, and the Vikings are even bigger frauds. Justin Jefferson has saved the Vikings’ season, and this week will need to be a star on the Tampa defense for Minnesota to have any chance. Tom Brady is coming off a bye week, where he has usually been successful in his career. Tampa's minds have to be re-energized and the Vikings’ defense could not stop Mike Glennon last week. Tampa by double digits. 
Seahawks -13.5 vs Jets: This goes against my theory last week that propelled me to a 3-0 last week. Take the points when there are big favorites in 2020. Especially for the Seahawks, who seemingly only play close games. This one feels different. Seattle had to have had a rough week in the film room watching what the Giants defense did to them and knowing they need to not let this turn into an avalanche. They welcome the Jets, who just fired Gregg Williams after his stunt and play that cost the Jets their only shot at a win. This feels like a will-is-broken Jets team that won't be able to deal with the Seahawks and the chip with which they will take the field. Plus, who is covering D.K. Metcalf? 

Football Food of the Week

Pigs in a Blanket with a Taco Dip:  Save your french onion dip with bacon jokes! We are dialing up a simple yet warm, soothing snack for Sunday so break out your fat pants. Get yourself some lil' smokies or cocktail franks. Get the appropriate amount of crescent rolls to pair with the amount of piggies you got. Roll the pigs in the blanket (search on YouTube if you are unfamiliar with this process somehow in 2020). 

For the taco dip, get a small round foil tray. Layer the bottom with softened cream cheese, then a can of chili on top of that layer, followed by a bag of shredded Mexican blended cheese. Bake the pigs in a blanket and dip each for 10-15 minutes and serve together. Forget ketchup or mustard, dipping the pigs in this dip creates a mini chili dog party in your mouth all day long. 

Thanks for reading everyone. You can follow me on Twitter and Instagram @MrazCBS.