The Steelers are just fine without Le’Veon Bell
It always sucks when a game with so much potential turns out to be an absolute dud. A game between the 6-2 Carolina Panthers and 5-2-1 Pittsburgh Steelers looked like it was going to be a competitive matchup. Yeah, that didn’t happen. Even when Thursday Night Football has what looks like a good game, it still ends up sucking. And that’s why Thursday Night Football is a waste of time. 9 times out of 10, you will be disappointed. I guess watching TNF is like the equivalent of being a Jets fan.
The Steelers got off to a strong start, scoring 21 points in the first quarter and didn’t look back after that. They had built a 31-14 lead by halftime, added another 14 points in the third quarter, and settled for just 7 in the fourth. In the end, the Steelers came away with a 52-21 win. The lone bright spot for Carolina was that second-year running back Christian McCaffrey had himself a game, finishing with 77 rushing yards, 61 receiving yards, and three total touchdowns. The Steelers defense was able to limit Cam Newton all game long, holding him to only 193 passing yards, 10 rushing yards, two touchdowns and forcing an interception.
James Conner didn’t have a heavy workload in the game, but he didn’t need to. The former third-round pick had just 13 carries, but managed to convert them into 63 yards and a touchdown. In the absence of Le’Veon Bell, Conner has been a workhorse for the Steelers, and now we know that he’ll be the #1 RB in Pittsburgh for at least the rest of the year, but likely into the future as well. That’s because Tuesday was the deadline for Bell to report to the Steelers, but Tuesday came and went without any sign of him, meaning that he’s missing the rest of the season. Now, I don’t want to get into it too much right now, because really that’s a whole article on its own, but I will say that I definitely support a player trying to do what is best for them, and that the franchise tag is stupid.
Now, while I do agree that running backs are typically very underpaid, Conner’s play this season definitely isn’t helping Bell’s cause but it is helping the Steelers. In nine games, Conner has rushed for 771 yards and 10 touchdowns, while also racking up 387 receiving yards and a touchdown. Essentially, Conner has made it so that the Steelers aren’t missing Bell at all. They have one of the best records in the AFC, and after a slow start to the season they’re just hitting their stride now.
Over in the NFC, the Saints are looking like the team to beat. After handing the Rams their first loss of the season last week, they were up against the 5-3 Bengals in Week 10. Once again, the offense was on full display for New Orleans as they put up 51 against Cincinnati, including 28 in the second quarter of the game.
Drew Brees is in the midst of one of the best years of his career, which is impressive considering how good he’s always been, and even more impressive considering he turns 40 in January. He’s completed 77% of his passes for 2,601 yards, 21 touchdowns and just one interception. While Brees is leading a dominant air attack, Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram have created a two-headed monster in the ground game. Luckily, I saw this coming and decided to pick up both of them for my fantasy team, but even then I didn’t expect it to work this well. Against the Bengals, Ingram rushed for 104 yards on just 13 carries, while Kamara had 56 yards on 12 carries and two touchdowns. But they weren’t done just yet. They also combined for 104 yards on 7 receptions, with Ingram adding a touchdown. In total, that’s 264 yards and three touchdowns for the pair of New Orleans running backs. Add in Michael Thomas, and now Brandon Marshall and the Saints offense seems to lack any weakness.
After an NFL debut that most could only dream of, Nick Mullens was hoping for a repeat performance on Monday night against the Giants. While a 49ers vs. Giants game is appealing to absolutely nobody, I figured that Mullens newfound stardom is enough of a reason to check in. After a storybook start to his career, Mullens faced his first bit of adversity in his second appearance. It started with his first career interception, but it ended with his first career loss as the Giants came away with a 27-23 win. Despite the turnovers, Mullens still threw for 250 yards and a touchdown, so while he didn’t have the best game the young quarterback is still showing signs of potential.
For the Giants, it might be the first game all year that Odell Beckham Jr. was actually happy to be playing with Eli Manning. While Eli only threw for 188 yards, he still managed three touchdown passes with two of them going to OBJ, and the game-winner to Sterling Sheppard. The Giants still suck, but at least Beckham can be happy even if it is just for a week.
In case you missed it, check out the Week 9 recap here.