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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 @KC 0000024022 **
Rivers has multiple touchdowns in five straight meetings with the Chiefs, as well as multiple scores and/or 300-plus passing yards in six straight visits to Kansas City. The Chiefs haven't seen a ton of great quarterbacks, but they did hold Ben Roethlisberger to 220 and 1 last week and Peyton Manning to 179 and 2 a month ago, so it won't be easy. But history--and San Diego's lack of a running game--suggest Rivers can still get it done.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Branden Oliver, SD @KC 4002100000 ***
With no Ryan Mathews the Chargers' backfield has become a committee affair; at least Oliver's touches suggest he's the committee chair. However, that role hasn't amounted to much in the way of fantasy production for any of the committee members, and a date with a Chiefs defense that's allowed only four RB TDs all year isn't going to help matters.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Donald Brown, SD @KC 2003200000 ***
Brown wasn't even the best Brown on his own team last week, as retread Ronnie Brown was more effective. There's no fantasy value to be found here.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Dontrelle Inman, SD @KC 005600000 **
Let's face it, if your season boils down to Dontrelle Inman doing something for you in Week 17 you need to take a step back and re-evaluate things.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Malcom Floyd, SD @KC 003400000 ***
Floyd and Eddie Royal are tag-team replacing Keenan Allen as the Chargers' WR1, both doing enough to remain on the fantasy radar even in what looks to be a pretty tough matchup.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Eddie Royal, SD @KC 003400000 ***
No Keenan Allen? No problem, as Royal and Malcom Floyd stepped up their respective games. The Chiefs haven't given up many big games to opposing wideouts, but that doesn't mean Royal can't carve out a fantasy helper here--something along the lines of the 7-72-1 Antonio Brown took KC for last week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Antonio Gates, SD @KC 007702000 ***
Gates (and short-yardage TE John Phillips) scored against the Chiefs in the earlier meeting, but that's to be expected: in 19 career games against KC Gates has found the end zone 15 times. He's also scored in each of his last two games, and with Keenan Allen out--and a playoff spot on the line--he's Philip Rivers' go-to guy.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Nick Novak, SD @KC 2222 ***
Novak's eight points in the earlier meeting with KC are indicative of his season, as he's hit double-digits just once in the past three months. But that eight is also indicative of what the Chiefs have been giving up to opposing kickers, so it's one of those high floor/low ceiling opportunities.

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
RB Ben Tate 20 2-10
WR Antonio Brown 4-50
WR Darrius Heyward-Bey 3-50,1
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

  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
QB Ben Roethlisberger, PIT CIN 0000033020 ***
Big Ben took these Bengals for 350 and 3 at their house just three weeks ago; with the AFC North title on the line, no reason to think he can't put up something just as fantasy friendly here.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Le'Veon Bell, PIT CIN 11016500000 ****
Bell blew up the Bengals to the tune of 235 combo yards and three TDs just three weeks ago. While his bountiful yardage-fest has ended he still accounted for 191 yards from scrimmage and three TDs over the past two games. CJ Anderson just took Cincy for 138 combo and a touch last week; feels like baseline numbers for Bell here.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Antonio Brown, PIT CIN 0081201000 ****
Brown has scored or topped 95 yards in four of his last five meetings with the Bengals, including 9-117 earlier this season. Cincy's secondary is a tough nut to crack but they have given up three 100-yard games the past three weeks, and Brown is too frequently targeted to not amass helpful fantasy numbers.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Martavis Bryant, PIT CIN 004601000 ****
Over the past three weeks WR1s Antonio Brown and Demaryius Thomas have both topped 100 yards against Cincy but failed to score; meanwhile, running mates Bryant and Emmanuel Sanders have combined for three TDs. It was a bonus that Bryant also reached triple digits with his 4-109-1 showing in the earlier meeting; while he's the third option in Pittsburgh he's more than earned a spot at the fantasy table.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Markus Wheaton, PIT CIN 003400000 ***
The Steelers are firmly a two-receiver offense, leaving Wheaton with his nose pressed up against the glass looking in.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Heath Miller, PIT CIN 004500000 ***
Miller made the most of his one catch and one yard in the earlier meeting with Cincy, scoring the only TE TD the Bengals have given up in the past nine games. He's too inconsistently targeted to warrant regular fantasy consideration, and the matchup suggests last time was a fluke so look elsewhere for TE help this week.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Shaun Suisham, PIT CIN 3333 ***
Suisham is finishing strong, with at least eight points in each of his last five games--a stretch that includes 10 points in Cincinnati--and multiple field goals in six straight. He might just deliver a Sunday night game worth waiting for.

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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