My only experience with prognostication was a series of profane cootie catchers that I crafted during my misspent youth.
For those who spent their hours at school doing actual schoolwork, a cootie catcher was that awesome piece of grade-school origami that, when you picked the right combination of colors and numbers, would reveal the name of your future spouse. And although it’s not as powerful as a Ouija board or a crystal ball, I feel that those experiences uniquely qualify me to predict every Steelers game this season. I foresee a good year that goes a little something like this.
Week 1: Sept. 10 at New England
The Steelers kick off the NFL season with a win over the Patriots in New England. It’s a 20-13 victory over the defending champs who were Brady-less thanks to his misspent post-season deflating balls. Former Patriot and all-time NFL homicide leader Aaron Hernandez — who out-paces fellow hall-of-shamers Rae Carruth and O.J. Simpson (allegedly) — can hear the fans’ disappointment from his prison cell near Gillette Stadium.
Week 2: Sept. 20 vs. San Francisco
This is a battle of two NFL franchises with a combined 11 Lombardi trophies. But the Steelers have won one more Super Bowl than the Niners and they’ll win this game too by a score of 23-15. The Steelers are looking good at 2-0.
Week 3: Sept. 27 at St. Louis
The Rams are terrible and pre-occupied with rumors of moving back to Los Angeles. They don’t even show up for this one and the Steelers cruise to 3-0 with a 31-17 victory in the rematch of Super Bowl XIV. Unfortunately for the Rams, Ben Roethlisberger is not Neil O’Donnell.
Week 4: Oct. 1 vs. Baltimore
The Ravens named their team as an homage to Edgar Allen Poe, which has always confused me. He wasn’t born there and didn’t write many books there, either. His main connection to Charm City was shacking up with his underage cousin, and that’s where she lived. History lessons aside, the Ravens squeak by with a 23-21 win and irate Steelers fans immediately call up sports talk shows demanding the head of coach Mike Tomlin.
Week 5: Oct. 12 at San Diego
The Steelers stumble on Monday night to fall to 3-2. Phillip Rivers finds some holes in the Steelers’ young defense and then acts like a surly jerk (as usual) at the postgame press conference. Chargers 22, Steelers 17.
Week 6: Oct. 8 vs. Arizona
Fans get some welcome relief as the Steelers return home and whip the Cardinals 41-26. The Cardinals, who earlier in the week signed former Steelers Plaxico Burress, Yancy Thigpen and Kent Graham, just can’t find enough old Steelers to beat the current ones this season. Despite the win, calls for Tomlin’s removal persist. When asked about waning fan support, Tomlin replies that he won’t get into “things of that nature.”
Week 7: Oct. 25 at Kansas City
The Steelers are rolling now and improve to 5-2 after a 30-24 victory at Arrowhead. Chiefs coach Andy Reid spent too much time the night before preparing for his role as Chris Farley in a one-man show and admits his team was not ready. Willie Gay has two pick-sixes in the game, but sales of his jersey remain stagnant even though he has now doubled Ike Taylor’s career interception-for-touchdown totals.
Week 8: Nov. 1 vs. Cincinnati
You know how Roethlisberger will have one of those streaks where he throws for 400-plus yards every game for a month? He’s in one of those now. Ben throws four touchdown passes to Antonio Brown in a 42-14 rout of the Bengals to improve to 6-2 at the season’s halfway point. Cincinnati goes home a loser, as they have done every single season since their inception.
Week 9: Nov. 8 vs. Oakland
Even the cold November rain can’t cool off the red-hot Steelers. Le’Veon Bell breaks out the good stuff and rolls for more than 200 yards in a 28-10 victory over the hapless Oakland Raiders. Pittsburgh sits at an impressive 7-2.
Week 10: Nov. 15 vs. Cleveland
This rivalry is a little one-sided. If this rivalry was everyone’s favorite 1980’ TV show, the Browns are Cheers and the Steelers are Gary’s Olde Towne Tavern. Johnny Manziel is tied for third on the Browns’ list of post-season wins by a quarterback since the Super Bowl era. Bernie Kosar had three, Vinnie Testaverde had one and Manziel is tied for third with zero. Despite that honor, the Steelers win 34-7 and roll into the bye week at 8-2.
Week 12: Nov. 29 at Seattle
The Black and Gold travel to Seattle and the Seahawks, with a home crowd that reaches heavy-metal decibel levels and a swarming defense, prove to be too much. The Steelers five-game winning streak ends with a 17-10 loss, and they drop to 8-3.
Week 13: Dec. 6 vs. Indianapolis
December is upon us and the poor grass at Heinz Field starts looking like an underfunded high school gridiron. But this is the best game of the year as the Steelers get back on track with a 33-30 overtime victory over the Indianapolis Colts. Indy owner Jim Irsay is so dismayed that he can barely (allegedly) drunk-tweet that night.
Week 14: Dec. 13 at Cincinnati
In a pre-game ceremony, the Bengals honor every Hall of Famer to proudly wear the Cincinnati jersey. It’s not a long ceremony because they only have one. Anthony Munoz’s presence isn’t enough inspiration as Pittsburgh wins 17-14 in a surprisingly competitive game to improve to 10-3.
Week 15: Dec. 20 vs. Denver
Teams always have one of these games every year where nothing goes right and it’s just a flat-out bust. The Steelers lose to Denver 44-10. Peyton Manning throws two late touchdown passes while up by 20 points just to prove he is the biggest stat-whore of all time. NBC analyst and well-known Steelers hater Cris Collinsworth is so enamored of the performance that he has plastic surgery to elongate his forehead in honor of the great Peyton.
Week 16: Dec. 27 at Baltimore
In Baltimore, the Steelers avenge an earlier loss by defeating the Ravens 10-9. Drunken Steelers fans jubilantly pull down the Ray Lewis statue Saddam Hussein-style after the game. This only adds intensity to the rivalry.
Week 17: Jan. 3 at Cleveland
It’s let-down week in Cleveland as the Steelers get caught looking ahead to the playoffs, allowing the Browns to earn their fourth victory of the year. Cleveland immediately fires its head coach and starts preparing to draft a woefully inadequate quarterback in 2016. The Steelers finish the regular season at 11-5 and prepare for the postseason.
Playoffs Round One: vs. Denver
The Steelers get to skip the Wild Card round and look to get back at the Broncos for the loss a few weeks earlier. The Steelers beat the Broncos 24-20. This sends Peyton Manning to his NFL-record 14th post-season loss. Papa John cuddles the regular-season great and feeds him mediocre pizza to ease the pain.
AFC Championship at New England
Unfortunately, Steelers fans, it all ends here. The Patriots come up with a new way to cheat and end the Steelers season. I cannot foresee how they will cheat because that would just be a ridiculous prediction. Aaron Hernandez raises a glass of toilet wine from his cell as the Steelers fall 20-17.
The Steelers are done in 2015, but 2016 looks pretty promising.