I'm heading to catch my morning flight to Pittsburgh, where I'll be covering the Steelers-Chiefs on Monday night. The pressure is on the Steelers to continue "Rout Weekend" in the AFC North. The Ravens and Bengals won by a combined score of 86-33. Baltimore beat up a Raiders team that had edged out the Steelers and lost by a field goal to the Falcons earlier this season. Cincinnati dominated the defending Super Bowl-champion Giants.
The real challenge for the Steelers is not overlooking the Chiefs in what is a classic trap game. Pittsburgh (5-3) plays the division rival Ravens (7-2) on Sunday night. If the Steelers beat Kansas City, they will remain one game back of Baltimore heading into the prime-time showdown. If the Steelers lose to the Chiefs, they fall two games back of the Ravens with seven weeks remaining. Here's your wake-up call:
RAVENS: The Baltimore Sun's Mike Preston pointed out the many reasons why the Ravens' rout of the Raiders was just like a homecoming game. Preston wrote: "When Ravens backup quarterback Tyrod Taylor is warming up on the sidelines at the end of the third quarter. When Ravens tight end Ed 'Can't Catch A Cold' Dickson has two receptions of 40 and 19 yards. When it's 2 p.m., and you're already looking to see who is playing at 4 even though you're still at the stadium. When the Ravens score two touchdowns on special teams, one off a fake field goal and the other on a kickoff return."
STEELERS: Wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders is appealing the $15,000 fine he received from the NFL for allegedly faking an injury. "I don't know what they were trying to do, but that's not for me to think about," Sanders told the Associated Press. "We're just going to appeal it, and we'll deal with it then. I don't know who we have to appeal it to, but I'm talking with my agent and the NFLPA to find out just how we have to go about appealing it." Sanders' claim that he doesn't know what the NFL is trying to do is worse than his acting. The league is trying to stop players from giving teams free timeouts. Sanders should pay the fine and move on.
BENGALS: The Cincinnati Enquirer's Paul Daugherty says Bengals fans shouldn't get too optimistic about the team's win over the Giants. "It was a nice day, on a nice day," Daugherty wrote. "Historically, the Bengals have produced just enough of these days to keep their fans hoping. And, now, wondering why a team as talented as this one spent the previous four Sundays explaining losses."
BROWNS: Outgoing Browns president Mike Holmgren has "serious interest" in coaching the Cowboys if owner Jerry Jones fires Jason Garrett, sources close to Holmgren told CBS Sports. Jones responded to this report, telling 105.3 The Fan (via The Plain Dealer), “Of course, Mike Holmgren is a heck of a coach. But the facts are that Jason Garrett gives us an outstanding chance to be what we want to be. So, there you have it. I wouldn’t comment one way or the other there with Mike.” Jones, who described Holmgren as a good friend, has ties with the Super Bowl-winning coach that dates back to serving several years together on the NFL competition committee.