Reality check projected for Black & Gold

It’s uncertain how Mike Tomlin will spin a potential loss to Tom Brady and the Patriots in a 4:15 Sunday kickoff at super hyped-up Heinz Field.

For whatever reason, New England has an impressive success rate against the Steelers, regardless of venue. We don’t expect that to change now.

Pittsburgh’s defense will be severely tested and needs to put Brady on his posterior more than a few times. While not ruling out a Steelers’ victory, the Pats are well-rested coming off a bye week and looking to make a definitive statement as the AFC’s best team at midseason.

The Browns, meanwhile, head back to the Bay area where they suffered a 24-17 setback against Oakland two weeks ago.

Pat Shurmur’s club survived a four-quarter snoozefest last Sunday, outlasting Seattle in a riveting 6-3 shootout.

Cleveland’s opponent Sunday, the 5-1 Niners, appear overachievers and primed for upset.

The Bengals, coming off their bye week, also go west, visiting Seattle where Marvin Lewis’ team could find itself in first place by day’s end.

This column posted its second consecutive 10-3 ledger last week and enters midseason thinking playoffs.

Open Dates: Atlanta, Chicago, Green Bay, N.Y. Jets, Oakland, Tampa Bay.

MIAMI AT NEW YORK GIANTS: Fish invented new way to lose last week, coughing up late 15-point lead against Broncos. No such problem this Sunday. Giants, 33-13.

ARIZONA AT BALTIMORE: Ray Lewis’ pre-game diatribe at Jacksonville apparently failed to register with his teammates. Who knows what lengths Lewis may go to this Sunday? Ravens, 30-17.

MINNESOTA AT CAROLINA: In this battle of rookie quarterbacks, Cam Newton rates the nod. Vikes, thus, need monster effort from Adrian Peterson. Panthers, 24-20.

INDIANAPOLIS AT TENNESSEE: Could Manning-less Colts run the table in a lost season? Tennessee makes amends for last week’s El-Stinko home field performance vs. Houston. Titans, 31-17.

NEW ORLEANS AT ST. LOUIS: Rams equally inept at 0-6. New Orleans can’t possibly be properly focused but should prevail in closer-than-expected outcome. Saints, 21-17.

JACKSONVILLE AT HOUSTON. Texans shocked the world last week with unexpected blowout at Tennessee. Letdown seems logical, though Jags won’t be able to duplicate Monday night upset of Baltimore. Texans, 30-14.

WASHINGTON VS. BUFFALO (AT TORONTO, ONT): A north-of-the-border neutral field battle but in essence a home game for a Buffalo club looking to keep pace with Patriots in AFC East. Bills, 34-24.

DETROIT AT DENVER: Playing at home greatly aides Tim Tebow-led Broncs. However, there’s a sudden sense of urgency for Detroit. Lions, 20-16.

NEW ENGLAND AT PITTSBURGH: First of two high profile outings for Black & Gold who host Ravens following week. Brady and teammates continue recent trend. Patriots, 24-17.

CLEVELAND AT SAN FRANCISCO: Brownies could use a statement game and this one has all the makings. Only it won’t. 49ers, 27-17.

CINCINNATI AT SEATTLE: I continue to believe Bengals are living a lie. The result here has an excellent opportunity to be proof positive. Seahawks, 23-20.


DALLAS AT PHILADELPHIA: Eagles appear on upswing and can re-enter NFC East race with prime time victory. There could be points-a-plenty in this one. Cowboys, 37-31.


SAN DIEGO AT KANSAS CITY: KC has impressively regrouped following miserable start and will have frenzied home crowd to secure our Upset Special. Chiefs, 23-17.

Gibson may be reached at