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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 Danny Woodhead 10 4-20
WR Malcom Floyd 4-50,1
WR Stevie Johnson 6-80
TE Antonio Gates 3-40

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 @DEN 0000024001 ***
Rivers' quest for the passing title takes a hit against the league's top pass defense. The Broncos limited him to 202 yards in the earlier meeting, and he hasn't thrown for 300 yards against Denver since January of 2011. Don't expect much here with the Broncos still playing for playoff positioning.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Danny Woodhead, SD @DEN 1005600000 ***
Game script suggests plenty of throwing, and the Broncos' pass rush suggests plenty of checkdowns to Woodhead. That's the extend of the upside in San Diego's backfield this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Donald Brown, SD @DEN 3002100000 ***
The Broncos have given up one RB TD in the past month, and no back has topped 70 yards since Week 9. Brown's share of the workload was enough at home against the Dolphins; in Denver, not so much.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Dontrelle Inman, SD @DEN 004400000 ***
Inman proved to be Philip Rivers' go-to guy last week, and the Broncos have been much more lenient of late in giving up five WR TDs over the past three games. But seeing as how Chargers wideouts combined for four catches and 60 yards against Denver just a month ago, expectations should be limited.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Javontee Herndon, SD @DEN 005300000 ***
Herndon's top NFL outing is 5-47, and he's still looking for his first pro TD. Unlikely to come against a top pass defense on a team going nowhere... at least until the offseason.

Update: Herndon is listed as questionable with a chest injury, but after limited practice sessions early in the week he was available for the full session on Friday so he should be good to go this weekend.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Malcom Floyd, SD @DEN 003300000 ***
Banged up, facing an elite pass defense, with nothing to play for... tough to get excited about Floyd's fantasy prospects here.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Antonio Gates, SD @DEN 006500000 ***
The Broncos haven't given up a TE TD in a month, with Gates' 6-50 the top TE game against them in that span. He's topped five catches and 50 yards each of the past three meetings with Denver, with three TDs in those three games, so there's at least a little upside to him here.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Josh Lambo, SD @DEN 1100 ***
Three points in home game
vs. DEN; even altitude
won't be enough help

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 DeAngelo Williams 50 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 @CLE 0000030020 ***
Since an Abe Lincoln (four scores) back in 2007, Big Ben has as many goose eggs (two) in Cleveland as he has multiple touchdown games. He's also never had a 300-yard performance in Cleveland. After last week's crushing disappointment in Baltimore Roethlisberger has now gone more than a calendar year--eight games, dating back to Week 14 of last season--since throwing multiple touchdowns on the road. Don't let Big Ben disappoint you again.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB DeAngelo Williams, PIT @CLE 8013200000 ***
Williams' only dog since taking over for the injured Le'Veon Bell was a 54-yard bummer against the Browns in Week 10. He's scored in five of the other six games and rushed for 100 yards in three of the six. Can he be trusted here? The Browns D has been better of late: only one RB rushing score in the past eight games, no 100-yard rushers or 30-yard receiving backs in the past seven. This isn't the layup you were hoping for.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Antonio Brown, PIT @CLE 0091101000 ***
Death, taxes, and Brown tearing up the Browns. He's topped 100 yards in three straight against Cleveland and scored double-digit points in PPR leagues in eight straight meetings--all the way back to his very first game against the Browns, when he was held to 4-52. Cleveland's injury-riddled secondary has allowed 11 WR TDs and four 100-yard efforts in the past six games; Brown is a solid candidate to boost both of those numbers.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Martavis Bryant, PIT @CLE 004601000 *
Bryant ravaged the Browns for 178 yards and a touchdown in the earlier meeting. He's playing second fiddle to Antonio Brown--and sharing those duties to some extent with Markus Wheaton--but he's still a solid fantasy bet against a Cleveland secondary that's allowed 11 WR TDs in the past six games.

Update: Bryant did not practice Wednesday or Thursday due to illness, but he returned for a full session on Friday. He's listed as questionable, but all signs point towards business as usual for him.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Markus Wheaton, PIT @CLE 004500000 ***
There wasn't much left over after Bryant and Brown accounted for 317 yards and three TDs in the earlier meeting, and given Ben Roethlisberger's road success--or lack thereof--the pie will be significantly smaller here. That said, Wheaton's role as the Steelers' third receiver has produced fantasy helpers in four of five since the bye and this matchup is certainly not to be feared.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Heath Miller, PIT @CLE 003300000 ***
Since Miller's 4-40 in the Week 10 meeting the Browns have given up one TE TD, and no tight end has hit the 50 yard mark. Miller hasn't scored against the Browns since January of 2011; no reason to think that slump ends here.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Chris Boswell, PIT @CLE 1133 ***
Streak of six straight
with double-digit points snapped;
start new streak this week

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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