As a tribute to my favorite holiday (no, not just because it's the one with a full day's serving of football!), I'd like to express my thankfulness for my beloved Steelers.
I'm thankful for high levels of competitiveness. Whether through player evaluation, luck, divine intervention, or some combination of the three, the Steelers have been perennial playoff contenders for the better part of four decades.
I'm thankful for Cleveland. Without them, while it would be easier to follow the Steelers as the geographically sensible choice, it wouldn't be as fun. With the rivalry so much in Pittsburgh's favor as of late, there's really not much you can do to a Steelers fan to upset him or really offend him. Charges of "frontrunner!" don't fly as wildly because of the inevitable "Scoreboard!" retort. However, the accumulating hometown losses make for a growing Steelers fan base, and frontrunners or not, the easier access to black and gold merchandise is appreciated! Here's hoping the Factory of Sadness (you can even get shirts now!) keeps churning out the same product they've seemingly perfected for the past couple decades!
I'm thankful for Hines Ward. It's likely his last season, unless the Steelers miss the playoffs in heartbreaking fashion. He hasn't uttered an ounce of bitterness as his fellow receivers get better and better separation from the greatest receiver in Steelers history. His body is finally catching up with him, but I'd still love to have him blocking for the next few years!
I'm thankful for Ben Roethlisberger and his toughness, who despite his shortcomings as a human being, is one heck of a quarterback. The league's Injured Reserve list has recently become bloated with quarterbacks. Despite a bruised foot (for which he dons a specially-made, plus-two-sized block of a shoe), a broken nose (for which he wears a shield), and a broken, throwing hand thumb (for which he wears a special glove), the guy is STILL throwing touchdowns! In fact, he is having one of his best statistical seasons while the defense has slipped a little and the run game is performing at its worst during his tenure.
I'm thankful for linebackers. Despite the injuries to James Harrison, James Farrior, and Lamar Woodley, the resigning of Larry Foote and the Seminole warriorness of Lawrence Timmons, the defense is still managing to put fear in their opponents.
Most prudent to TODAY, I am thankful for the schedule and the Kansas City Chiefs. I'm not sure it matters if Ben went overboard with the gravy or if Polamalu hit the pie table too hard. This game should be a feast.
Mike's Picks for Week 12
(a decent 7-4 last week! 65-47 overall.):
Arizona @ St. Louis (-2.5): I am not thankful for this game. Rams.
Buffalo @ NYJets (-9.5): The Bills are falling and they are falling fast. Now, the league's leading rusher is done for the season. Jets by a lot.
Cleveland @ Cincinnati (-7): Even I'll be rooting hard for the Browns here, but it will be for naught, as the Bungles continue to crowd the top of the AFC North.
Houston @ Jacksonville (+6.5): With the return of Houston's Andre Johnson, this should be ugly, especially considering Jaguars' coach Jack Del Rio's ineptitude with clock management that cost them the game against Cleveland last week.
Carolina @ Indianapolis (-3.5): I still want to pick the Colts...but I still can't.
Tampa Bay @ Tennessee (-3): I am not thankful for this game either. Flip a coin.
Minnesota @ Atlanta (-9.5): I think the Falcons have finally found themselves after finally getting WR Roddy White a heavy dose of targets last week. Minnesota doesn't stand a chance against anyone without Adrian Peterson.
Chicago @ Oakland (-4): The Bears have never really had a great quarterback during their recent defensive prominence. Cutler was at least good, and now he's out for the year. Homefield makes the difference here, but the Bears play inspired enough to cover.
Washington @ Seattle (-3.5): I am also not thankful for this game. The 'Hawks are playing great defense, so I'll go with them.
New England @ Philadelphia (-3.5): Anyone who finally believes in the Eagles after last week's win at the Meadowlands apparently has forgotten who the league's OTHER terribly inconsistent team is. That game meant nothing, as the Giants can beat or be beaten by anyone. Go with the Patriots. Pack your bags Andy Reid.
Denver @ San Diego (-6): Who'd have thought before the season started, that the Chargers would only get six from the visiting Broncos? I still don't believe in Tebow, but then again, I don't believe in Rivers either. Chargers, based on the rest of the team.
Pittsburgh @ Kansas City (-10.5): That's a LOT of road points, but I'm hoping this is finally the week the Steelers take advantage of these soft spots on their schedule and put the game away before the fourth quarter.
NYGiants @ New Orleans (-7): Again--the Giants are just too inconsistent. The Saints would have to commit plenty of turnovers to not cover at home.