Yahoo Sports NFL senior writers Terez Paylor, Kimberley A. Martin and Charles Robinson select games this week that will leave us buzzing heading into Monday … and in this case, Tuesday.
Pittsburgh Steelers at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Oh yeah, I’m here for this Monday night matchup. While #FitzMagic rages in Tampa, there’s drama in Pittsburgh, where an All-Pro running back (Le’Veon Bell) is still missing in action, and an All-Pro receiver (Antonio Brown) is having a week from hell.
Brown held court with reporters on Thursday and proceeded to receive a flurry of questions surrounding his sideline blowup in a 42-37 loss to Kansas City, his “trade me” tweet on Monday and his decision to skip work the same day. Brown was contrite about the tweet, which he admitted was a distraction, but offered no apologies for missing work, which he says was due to a personal matter. Brown was defensive in the presser, and it’s easy to see him fired up for Monday’s game.
Given the fact the Steelers are 0-1-1 and really ticked off right now, it’s easy to see them responding to the drama with a win against the undefeated Bucs, who are off to a surprising start.
The good news for fans is that if the Bucs win, it’s a can’t-lose situation. For one, it means we’ll get to watch the suddenly entertaining Ryan Fitzpatrick as he continues to “Wally Pipp” Jameis Winston. And secondly, if you thought the drama in Pittsburgh – which has a long history of success – was bad now, just wait until they start 0-2-1. For those fans, it would be the equivalent of someone swiping your parking space at the grocery store when you’re in a rush – just immediate, red-hot anger that lingers longer than it should.
No matter what happens Monday, folks, get your popcorn ready.
Steelers at Bucs
The Steelers have more drama than Erica Kane on “All My Children.”
There’s still no sign of running back Le’Veon Bell, who apparently is still living it up while taking a self-imposed hiatus from football. And now, all eyes are on another disgruntled Pittsburgh playmaker: receiver Antonio Brown, who made headlines after he fired off a testy Twitter retort to a former team employee and skipped work on Monday due to personal reasons, per his agent. The Steelers have yet to win a game … Brown is “pissed off” because, as he put it, “We suck” … and now they’re about to face the ageless and bearded wonder known as Ryan Fitzpatrick on “Monday Night Football.”
Chances are “FitzMagic” will fizzle sooner rather than later, but the Bucs offense has been humming thanks to the 35-year-old journeyman, who became the first quarterback since Joe Namath to throw four touchdown passes of 50-plus yards through the first two games of the season. Another stellar game by Fitzpatrick means starter Jameis Winston — who returns from suspension in Week 4 — will be forced to be a spectator even longer. But if Brown gets his touches and the Steelers come away with a victory, all will be right in Pittsburgh. At least for now.
Indianapolis Colts at Philadelphia Eagles
This is the biggest welcome-back party of a young season. If people are watching for no other reason, it’s worth it just to see Carson Wentz back on the field again for the Eagles.
Former offensive coordinator Frank Reich also returns to Philadelphia with Andrew Luck and a Colts team that has been better then expected in the early going. But really, this game will win the weekend just based on the return of Wentz.
The fact remains he was the frontrunner for league MVP before he went down last season and his return is one of the biggest stories of the season. It will be interesting to see how confident he is in his knee and what coach Doug Pederson does to protect him in the early going.
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