Morning Links (and Daily Thread)…

A quick daily look at what’s happening around Steelers Nation. And consider this your open thread for discussing the days events and, well, anything else that comes to mind about the Black and Gold.

– Peter King’s Super Bowl prediction caught a few people off guard, so it got me thinking: who is going to be a surprise team in the NFL this year? And that, my friends, is your question of the day. Me? I’m going with the Philadelphia Eagles. They’re young, but they’ve got a ton of talent, especially on offense.

– Ron Cook is once again “shaming” somebody, this time Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin for mishandling the quarterback situation. [Post-Gazette]

– The Steelers confirmed that Ben Roethlisberger will be meeting with Roger Goodell on Friday. No comment from Mike Wise. [Post-Gazette]

– Speaking of Mike Wise, the Washington Post columnist has been suspended one month for using his Twitter account to make up news. The Washington Post ombudsman says he’s lucky he didn’t get fired. [Washington Post]

– And for your random YouTube of the day: The 1976 Steelers defense was a thing of beauty. So I’ve heard.

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  • IsraelP

    Those nine straight games in 1976 included no points given up by the Steelers’ offense or special teams.

    Let’s take that for a start this year.

  • ryan

    I could only get through the first few sentences of Cook’s manufactured outrage. Not to hijack the QOTD (I like the 49ers, at least in the NFC West race!), but I have my own question: do any of you actually seek out columnists to get their take? Because I don’t. In fact, I make it a point to avoid them because they’re a) usually just making shit up to get a reaction, and b) so out of touch that it’s like talking to your senile grandfather (who just so happens to be putting a load of vegetables into the dryer).

    My point: is, say, Ron Cook a must-read for you? Honestly, outside of Simmons, who I might read once a month (and Wright Thompson, whose work is impossible to find on ESPN), there isn’t one columnist I look forward to reading. In fact, it’s the opposite: I actively try to avoid them.

  • Cols714

    I read Joe Posnanski, Bill Simmons, Rob Neyer, the FO guys, and Terry Pluto pretty regularly. There isn’t a Steelers columnist that I regularly read, but I will check out Ed B’s chat transcript, although I’m not sure why I do that.

  • ryan

    Good call on Posnanski. I read him occasionally, but since I don’t really follow baseball it’s not as often as I’d like.

  • Dean Keaton

    Columnists – none for me. I don’t get the paper on my doorstep every day, and even if I did it would probably be for the “funnies”

  • countertorque

    Bill Simmons is a great writer, but I can’t stand him for being a NE fan. I actually like reading Peter King even though he’s kind of a dumbass.

  • FW

    I think the abysmal Lions may show signs of competence this year. They’ve jettisoned most Millen failures and have languished in the statistical cellar for pretty much the entire decade, but I think there’s change afoot in the NFCN. Like a lava lamp lava blob that slowly bubbles and then burps upward.

    In-division, the Pack look primed to put up points by the passel, especially if some of the young and inconsistent OL talent coheres. Hell, Rodgers looked great last year and the OL blew. The Pack’s D still has some questions (DBs), but they look like a team whose time is here (12-4). The Vikes meanwhile are primed to regress: Favre’s ankle is still hinky, Rice is out half a season, and the D has questions at DB and LB as well. I think the Vikes were the best NFC team last year, but the magic ride is over (9-7). The Bears look to me like a team that’s better on paper than in real life. They added Chester Taylor and Julius Peppers, but the OL is awful, Cutler is erratic, they have no receivers, and the defense always, always has key injuries. Mike Martz is an egotistical prick who will push this offense to explode, and I think Lovie Smith may be a guy on the bubble after a nondescript post-Super Bowl era (8-8).

    The Lions have won all of two games in the past two seasons combined, so even getting back to a 5-win season will seem like a parting of the clouds. But in the volatile NFCN, the Lions could be aiming for a postseason spot in as little as a year or two, if this season provides a foundation. It all depends on how well Coach Schwartz and QB Matt Stafford do in their soph years, but the Lions have some exciting players at key positions: WR Calvin Johnson is a beast, and rookie RB Jahvid Best could be a sparkplug if he stays healthy; Burleson and Sheffler are journeymen who should provide Stafford more targets. The OL is a work in progress, but the DL is beginning to look much better with rookie Ndamukong Suh. They also DTs Sammie Lee Hill and Corey Williams, and veteran DE Kyle Vanden Bosch. As Vanden Bosch declines, watch for 3rd year guy Cliff Avril to pick up the slack. With a solid pass rush, a poor secondary can get some help. Second year FS Louis Delmas though looks like a gamer.

    If the Lions don’t beat the Bears on the road week 1, 0-4 is very possible, but I think they may pull that upset. Rams 10/10, Redskins 10/31, @ Bills 11/14, Bears 12/5, @ Bucs 12/19 all look winnable. That’s 5 or 6 wins, but I think they may be one of those teams that plays over its head a few weeks as well, getting some momentum as the season goes on. I’ll call it 7-9, or a 250% improvement in their win total. Longer-term prospects for Vikings sans Favre and Bears in possible makeover allow the Lions to dream about moving up as a contender in 2011 or 12.

  • RoB D

    Cook and his ilk are desparately trying to hang on in a sports world where noone has a huge advantage in terms of insider info. No columnist is the annointed one who dispenses info with opinion in dribs and drabs. With Twitter accounts proliferating, we know about things WAY before ESPN deigns to cover it. By the time they go to air or put pen to paper (ask your dad) it’s already old and mouldy news.

    I read a few columnists regularly but none of them cover the NFL. I gave up Peter King and don’t miss it. When you know more about a guy’s latte preferences than just about anything else it’s truly time to pull the plug. He’s an OK writer but I don’t want that much of a writer’s personal life brought into a bi-weekly colum. He takes a lot of heat from me because he’s a big wheel at SI. And he turns football into a soap opera. Damn Roone ARledge and his “up close and personal” innovations. It’s influenced way too many mediocre writers to become amateur psychologists.

  • ryan

    You know, PK doesn’t bother me as much as he used to. Maybe I’m getting old, but I’ll usually read MMQB. Maybe I find him tolerable now that he and Favre broke up.

  • Cols714

    I agree. I like reading Peter King, I feel like I learn something when I read his columns. His stuff is insidery talk to officials and team people type of things and I like to read that. The analysis stuff is done much better by guys at FO and by specific team bloggers like at Steelers Lounge. This is where the Ron Cook’s of the world are screwed. He just can’t offer anything that we can’t just get from team specific blogs.

    Bill Simmons is pretty good. His podcast is exceptional, especially these past few weeks where it’s been focused on the NFL. Good stuff and I make an effort to listen to it while inventing new chemicals.

  • ryan

    Cols mentioned Simmons’ podcast. I probably haven’t listened to it in six months, but three podcasts I really like a lot now are:

    1) Bill Burr’s Monday Morning Podcast
    2) Greg Fitzsimmons’ podcast
    3) The Adam Carolla Show

    I’ve been listening to Carolla in one form or another for a decade, although he’s third on the must-hear list now that he’s got a billion different things going on for each show. Burr’s podcast is about as low-tech as it gets (he’s sitting in his room talking to his computer), and Fitzsimmons’ is a pretty good interviewer.

    No, nobody asked me for my top 3, but YOU’RE WELCOME ANYWAY.

  • RoB D

    I should have said that I think some of the best columnists are NBA beat people. And I am not a huge NBA fan but there’s some terrific analysis done by people involved in that league.

    Being a Canadian and being weaned on hockey, I find that I don’t read many hockey columnists. I prefer the gossip in the stands at games any day of the…


    For the suprise team, I feel that the Texans could, at least, challenge the Colts for their division, due to their offensive fire power, they can stick around with anyone…unless, either Schaub or Johnson, get injured…as per the NFC…they are all so evenly crappy that I guess that the Panthers could sneak out some close wins and be contenders for a Wildcard…

  • Randy Steele

    Don’t forget that the Pack’s secondary is in shambles.

  • FW

    Yeah, I did mention their DBs. Buried in there, somewhere.