PITTSBURGH - What an odd NFL season. Just when it looked like the Pittsburgh Steelers had played themselves out of the AFC North title picture with a last-minute home loss to Baltimore, they rebounded and won at Cincinnati.
At the same time the Ravens were inexplicably losing to the mediocre Seattle Seahawks.
It makes no sense, but that's the recurring theme this season, especially in the AFC.
The New England Patriots looked like they were on the skids, only to come back and knock off the Jets in New York.
The Steelers have six games left. Only one of them, the Monday, Dec. 19 date in San Francisco, looks like it should be especially difficult.
But who knows?
This season is all about the unexpected.
Joe Frazier's funeral was held on Tuesday.
He was heavyweight champion at a time before boxing degenerated into an alphabet soup of federations and feuding promoters that diluted the title.
Frazier was the first man to defeat Muhammad Ali.
Yet for all his accomplishments, Frazier never seemed to get his due.
Maybe that was because his personality couldn't match the larger-than-life Ali. Perhaps it was because Ali cruelly denigrated Frazier in his efforts to hype their fights.
Maybe they settled all of that at his farewell.
Ali, who is in fragile health, was among those who stood and applauded one last time for Frazier.
Better late than never.
Much has been made of Hines Ward's demotion on the Steelers' depth chart.
The Steelers have an abundance of young weapons in their passing game. Mike Wallace is as good a deep threat as anyone in the NFL. Antonio Brown has become one of Ben Roethlisberger's favorite targets.
Ward is currently behind Jerricho Cotchery, who has made some tough catches. Cotchery isn't a burner, but he has more speed that Ward does.
The big decision on Ward will come in the offseason. If he does return in 2012, it won't be at the $4 million cap hit. He'll have to take less.
In the meantime, Ward is a decent insurance policy. He won't go deep and he won't get a lot of yards after the catch, but he can still serve a purpose.
Mehno can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org