I trust you all enjoyed your respective holidays to the fullest.
But put all that competitive eating and in-law wrangling behind you, because as of today, Steelers football is officially back in gameday action.
Now, about these Chiefs...
The Chiefs have been outscored in losses by an average margin of just under 25 points.
Their usual starting QB, Matt Cassel, was recently placed on IR.
Their would-be starting RB, Jamaal Charles, has been on IR since September.
They're 4-6, and have only scored more than three points in one of their last three games (when they hung a whopping 10 on Denver), all losses.
But this is professional football, not lingerie football.
Teams in the NFL don't just lay down and take it just because the chips are down.
What better way to get their fans re-enthused with all the shit going on in KC this season than to beat the Steelers at home on Sunday night, just days after getting spanked by Bill Belichick on Monday night?
So, once again, it's the Steelers' jobs to make sure that doesn't happen.
It's the Steelers' jobs to make sure the story is yet another L for a team that could be headed for the first pick next April.
As for the Steelers, not to belabor the point since I know it's already after 6PM on gameday, in case you've been living under a rock (like I basically have the last couple of weeks for a variety of reasons) - it bears mentioning that...
In case you don't get the reference in the post title (ie, you weren't born before like 1970), back in the early/mid 70's the Cincinnati Reds used to be called "The Big Red Machine."
But fast forward 35 years, and there's a new Big Red Machine in southwest Ohio, Bengals QB Andy Dalton (I'm going to give you all the benefit of the doubt and assume you understand why I'm calling him The Big Red Machine 2.0).
In case you've had your head up your ass, the Bengals are a whole different animal from what they've been in the past, not the least aspect of which is Dalton (and not Carson Palmer) under center.
Fact is, say whatever you want, but they're currently leading the entire AFC.
Yes, that's probably as anomalous as it is unbelievable, but as they say, you ain't #1 unless you're #1.
So, it's the Steelers' jobs to change that.
The zubaz-wearing, Queen's City rollers have indeed won five straight, albeit three of those wins coming against the Jags, Curtis Painter, and the Seacocks.
But with their bandwagon strong, the Bengals are legit contenders as of this point in the season, despite their offseason makeover.
But if it's any consolation, James Farrior and Troy will both be ready for action come Sunday.
If last week was a must-win, this week, failure is not an option.
The Steelers are comfortable at 6-3, but they're 0-2 in the division.
With a bye week coming on the other side of tomorrow's game, falling to 6-4 - while the Bengals could be 8-2 and the Ravens either 8-2 or at worst 6-4 (and holding the tiebreaker) by Week 11 - would be less than ideal.
But the reality is, this is a division game.
The first of two against the Bongles that'll occur within a four week span (whoever is responsible for that scheduling should be escorted out of the league office, ps).
We already lost to Baltimore twice.
It's time to start reasserting ourselves over this division with less than half a season left.
So, with that said, let's get right down to it.
Hit the jump and join me as I talk about some big pussies...
Now, you may not think of me as the world's foremost authority on Swagger.
As I'm sure you don't need to tell you, I've probably got about as much of it as a bag of Frito's.
Well, maybe that's an exaggeration, but put it this way - I'm no Ike Taylor.
Either way, let's talk about "swagger" for a moment, shall we?
There's a fine line between "swagger" and "overconfidence.'
Between "swagger" and "a false sense of security."
Between "swagger" and "being an a-hole."
The Baltimore Sun may like Terrell Suggs's mouth now (sidebar - how could anyone love that mouth, what with the Guinness world record for gum to teeth size differential), but how are they going to like it on Monday if the Steelers give it to the Ravens tomorrow night?
The ability to waste your breath regurgitating bullshit has never shown any correlation with winning.
At least not that I'm aware of...
What has, however, is preparation, dedication, hard work, determination - all of the things I have to assume the Steelers have been engaged in this week, getting ready for an epic duel of a match up that will take place in a matter of 24 hours or so.
Am I trying to say that the Ravens haven't done the same, in addition to one of them giving his jaws as much work as the rest of his body?
I couldn't really vouch for that.
All I am saying is, frankly, if my team had lost to the Jagoffs, and nearly lost to the Cardinals, my first instinct wouldn't be to write an entire column praising it getting its "swagger back."
However, I think the last line in that screen shot above is something we can all agree on...
Like I said in the preliminary recap, this win didn't mean anything more than another tick in the left column, really.
But the feeling of beating the Patriots, in the way we did it, was worth savoring, if only briefly.
With everyone picking against the Steelers and in favor of the Patriots offense, it certainly was gratifying to remind them that oh, by the way, the Steelers are legit.
Oh yeah, and don't look now, but at 6-2, the Steelers currently own the best record in the AFC.
Yes, the reality is there's a much bigger game just a few days away.
And yes, no one should get too hung up on a Week 8 win when there are eight more games to be won (or lost, as the case may be).
But one more time...
There, now that it's out of our systems, we can officially open the book on Ravens week.
And since we're already two days out from Sunday, and I've mentioned the general significance of the upcoming game a couple of times already in those two days, I'm just going to direct your attention to the "Things That Were Awesome," and "Things That Were NOT Awesome," below.
Less filler, for your Tuesday afternoon enjoyment.