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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
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WEEK 14
2012
DEN at OAK (THU) *CHI at MIN MIA at SF SD at PIT
*ARI at SEA *DAL at CIN *NO at NYG *STL at BUF
*ATL at CAR *DET at GB NYJ at JAC *TEN at IND
*Updated BAL at WAS KC at CLE PHI at TB HOU at NE (MON)

Prediction: SD 13, PIT 27 (Line:PIT by 3)

Players to Watch: Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown

The 4-8 Chargers are on a four game losing streak and are 2-4 on the road. The 7-5 Steelers just won in Baltimore and are 4-1 at home.

San Diego Chargers
Homefield: Qualcomm Stadium
Grass
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 @OAK 22-14 10 @TB 24-34
2 TEN 38-10 11 @DEN 23-30
3 ATL 3-27 12 BAL 13-16
4 @KC 37-20 13 CIN 13-20
5 @NO 24-31 14 @PIT -----
6 DEN 24-35 15 CAR -----
7 BYE ----- 16 @NYJ -----
8 @CLE 6-7 17 OAK -----
9 KC 31-13 ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
SD @ PIT Rush Catch Pass
QB Philip Rivers 230,1
RB Donald Brown
RB Ronnie Brown 20 5-30
RB Ryan Mathews 70 2-10
RB Danny Woodhead 10 4-20
WR Malcom Floyd 4-50,1
TE Antonio Gates 3-40
PK Nick Novak 2 FG 1 XP

Pregame Notes: The season continues to swirl down the drain certain to take Norv Turner with it and all associated coaches with it. There still remains a chance for wins over the visiting Panthers and Raiders but even they are hardly a lock because the Chargers finally belong to the pantheon known as "truly bad teams". And the later in the season you go with "tbt's", the harder it is to rely on anything.

Philip Rivers was on a mini-scoring spree against the likes of the Buccaneers and Chiefs but only threw one score over the last two home games. On the plus side, he only threw one interception and lost a fumble in that time. On the negative, only having two turnovers is his only positive. On the road against the #1 defense against quarterbacks and receivers is not likely to be much of a treat at all... except for Steeler defense owners.

The 31-year old Ronnie Brown is playing out his one-year contract and will be gone. He's on the field an amazing amount of time for a player who has never scored and rarely accounts for more than maybe 30 total yards as the third down back. Ryan Mathews comes off his worst showing of the entire year with only 26 yards on nine runs last week because HC Norv Turner has managed to misuse and destroy the confidence of a running back who gained over 1000 rushing yards and had 50 catches for 455 yards. It doesn't help matters when the offensive line is dealing with multiple injuries

Danario Alexander still represents the only positive in the passing game and comes off 102 yards on six catches in Cincinnati. He's dwarfed what any other receiver has accomplished in San Diego this year and become a must start prospect in the process. Unfortunately, he'll be facing the best pass defense in the league. The Steelers RCB Ike Taylor injured his ankle and will be out for a few weeks though and that should help.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points SD 19 13 26 11 20 6
Preventing Fantasy Points PIT 1 4 1 10 13 16

  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
QB Philip Rivers, SD STL 0000025020 ****
Rivers is banged up and has back-to-back bad fantasy games to his credit; a date with a Rams defense that hasn't allowed multiple touchdown tosses in a month and shut down the high-flying Broncos last week doesn't seem like an opportunity for Philip to get back in the saddle.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Ryan Mathews, SD STL 6001100000 ***
Mathews returned to action last week and didn't look bad against the Raiders... but it's the Raiders. The Rams offer a legitimate defensive challenge, which spells bad news for Mathews--especially if he's still sharing the workload with Branden Oliver.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Branden Oliver, SD STL 3002100000 ***
Last week's touches were split almost 50/50 as Ryan Mathews returned from injury, yet neither back did much damage against a shaky Oakland run D. Now, facing a far more formidable Rams unit, expectations should be lowered even further.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Keenan Allen, SD STL 008701000 ***
Allen still sees the bulk of the targets in San Diego, and the Rams have given up five 100-yard receivers in the past five games. But he's been so infuriatingly disappointing this season it's tough to bank on him for fantasy help, even with a favorable matchup staring him in the face.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Malcom Floyd, SD STL 004601000 **
Less targeted than Keenan Allen, Floyd somehow has been more consistently productive. However, a banged up Philip Rivers and a tough matchup make him a problematic fantasy play this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Eddie Royal, SD STL 003300000 ***
Royal's been dormant for about a month, which means another one of those "helps no one" two-TD games is just around the corner.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Antonio Gates, SD STL 003400000 ***
It's been a month since the Rams allowed a TE TD, making this a difficult matchup at best for Gates. Since he's back to sharing snaps with Ladarius Green, you can probably find a better fantasy matchup elsewhere.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Nick Novak, SD STL 2222 ****
The Rams haven't been a hotbed for kicker points, and Novak has been more good than great. Keep your expectations in check and you'll be fine.

Pittsburgh Steelers
Homefield: Heinz Field
Grass
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 @DEN 19-31 10 KC 16-13
2 NYJ 27-10 11 BAL 10-13
3 @OAK 31-34 12 @CLE 14-20
4 BYE ----- 13 @BAL 23-20
5 PHI 16-14 14 SD -----
6 @TEN 23-26 15 @DAL -----
7 @CIN 24-17 16 CIN -----
8 WAS 27-12 17 CLE -----
9 @NYG 24-20 ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
PIT vs SD Rush Catch Pass
QB Ben Roethlisberger 250,2
WR Antonio Brown 4-50
WR Darrius Heyward-Bey 3-50,1
WR Lance Moore 4-70,1
TE Heath Miller 5-50,1
TE Matt Spaeth 2-20
PK Shaun Suisham 2 FG 3 XP

Pregame Notes: Go figure. In just one week, Charlie Batch went from the guy that threw three interceptions and let the Browns beat the Steelers to taking down the Ravens in Baltimore and passing for 276 yards and a score in the process. Fortunately fate will not be tempted again since Ben Roethlisberger is expected to return this week from his shoulder/rib injury he suffered in the Kansas City game four weeks ago. He was apparently medically cleared to play last week but the team did not want to take a chance on him re-injuring himself. Throw Batch to the wolves and look what happened. Batch openly wept after the game mostly because he just justified why the Steelers had been paying him a salary for so many years.

Rashard Mendenhall doesn't even play any more. Johnathan Dwyer scored last week in Baltimore but that was his first all year and he only ran for 49 yards on 16 carries. He still splits with the healthy-again Isaac Redman who was given nine runs for 43 yards in that game. It isn't much of a rushing attack unless it faces a weak defense. Dwyer will prove to be more of a workhorse in an easier game which is likely to include this one.

Antonio Brown finally returned last week and caught five of his ten targets for 58 yards in Baltimore. He looked very healthy and no doubt will welcome back Roethlisberger this week. Heath Miller - maybe not so much. After all, he just turned in his season best 97 yards on five catches and one score with Batch. That was his first score since week eight.

There could be an emotional let down this week after a big win in Baltimore and now at home against a very weak Chargers team that should not be too much of a challenge. But the return of Roethlisberger and the specter of making the playoffs should be plenty to keep the team focused this week. The rest of the schedule should be pretty much downhill though the road trip to Dallas might be interesting. The final two weeks against the Browns and Bengals should be easy enough.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points PIT 15 20 20 7 13 29
Preventing Fantasy Points SD 17 15 22 5 2 26

WEEK 14
2012
DEN at OAK (THU) *CHI at MIN MIA at SF SD at PIT
*ARI at SEA *DAL at CIN *NO at NYG *STL at BUF
*ATL at CAR *DET at GB NYJ at JAC *TEN at IND
*Updated BAL at WAS KC at CLE PHI at TB HOU at NE (MON)

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