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David Dorey
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WEEK 16
2012
ATL at DET (SAT) CLE at DEN NO at DAL *SF at SEA
BUF at MIA *IND at KC *NYG at BAL STL at TB
CHI at ARI MIN at HOU OAK at CAR *TEN at GB
*Updated CIN at PIT *NE at JAC SD at NYJ WAS at PHI

Prediction: CIN 20, PIT 27 (Line: PIT by 4)

Players to Watch: Andy Dalton, Mike Wallace

This is a replay of week seven when the Steelers won 24-17 in Cincinnati. The 8-6 Bengals are 5-2 on the road this year and are currently the #6 seed wild card. The only team that is likely to challenge them for the final wildcard are the 7-7 Steelers since all other teams have a losing record in the AFC. The Steelers are only 4-2 at home but have beaten the Bengals for the last five meetings.

Cincinnati Bengals
Homefield: Paul Brown Stadium
FieldTurf
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 @BAL 13-44 10 NYG 31-13
2 CLE 34-27 11 @KC 28-6
3 @WAS 38-31 12 OAK 34-10
4 @JAC 27-10 13 @SD 20-13
5 MIA 13-17 14 DAL 19-20
6 @CLE 24-34 15 @PHI 34-13
7 PIT 17-24 16 @PIT -----
8 BYE ----- 17 BAL -----
9 DEN 23-31 ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
CIN @ PIT Rush Catch Pass
QB Andy Dalton 220,2
WR A.J. Green 6-90,1

Pregame Notes: The Bengals need to win out if they are to get a wildcard and that's going to be really tough playing in Pittsburgh and then hosting the Ravens who are only 9-5 and leading the division. Their destiny is in their own hands but these last two games go against teams that have already beaten them this year. He has lost some receivers along the way but his matchups have not been that rough for the last month.

Andy Dalton only passed for 105 yards and one score in the first meeting with the Steelers and that was at home. He's doing himself no favors here at the end of the season since he has gone cold. He only passed for one touchdown in each of the last three games and not been better than 230 passing yards since week nine.

To the contrary, BenJarvus Green-Ellis has never been better. He has rushed for over 100 yards in four of the last five weeks and scored in three of those. He was held to 69 yards on 18 runs in the last meeting with the Steelers but has been on a tear for these last five weeks. After mediocre showings through week ten, he's somehow managed to turn it on and make a difference. He's playing himself into a job for 2013 which may be more than Dalton can say if he doesn't improve soon.

Not unlike the Bears or Lions, there is only one receiver that matters on this game A.J. Green went through a three game scoring drought but turned in 11th touchdown on the year last week in Philadelphia. His worst game of the year was when the Steelers showed up and he was held to just one catch for eight yards. And yet that was a touchdown in the middle of his nine game scoring streak. Andrew Hawkins helps out but is not above having no catches in a game. The same is true for Marvin Jones who was also blanked last week.

The Bengals want to see more out of Dalton but that's going to be hard in Pittsburgh where no visitor has passed for more than 200 yards all year. Green-Ellis will also face his toughest venue of the season. This is a must win game and yet is the worst place to try to secure a victory. Only A.J. Green has obvious fantasy value here and even that is likely to be marginal.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points CIN 12 26 5 15 7 12
Preventing Fantasy Points PIT 1 5 5 5 17 21

  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
QB Andy Dalton, CIN DET 0000021011 **
Detroit has averaged a pick per game and has allowed a touchdown pass every 14.9 completions (20th). This is the No. 7 matchup to exploit for yardage (265.8). All told, the struggling Dalton has fantasy's fifth-best matchup of the week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Joe Mixon, CIN DET 6011100000 *
Mixon should be ready this week after fully going in Wednesday's session, which is usually a telltale sign of an imminent return. Detroit is among the four-best matchups of the week in both scoring formats. Running backs have scored once every 20 carries, which is No. 6, and this is a great matchup for versatile RBs.

Update: Mixon practiced in full all week and will play.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Giovani Bernard, CIN DET 2003300000 ***
Bernard should take a backseat as Joe Mixon is poised to return after fully practicing Wednesday. The projections will be updated accordingly later in the week. The Lions present the fourth-best PPR matchup and second-easiest in standard.

Update: Mixon practiced in full all week and will play.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR A.J. Green, CIN DET 005701000 ***
Detroit has been content to give up top-12 weekly figures in receptions (13) and yardage (167), but this defense has clamped down against permitting scores. None of the 65 opportunities over the last five months scored. Only Baltimore has been stronger. Look for Green to draw Pro Bowl corner Darius Slay.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Brandon LaFell, CIN DET 003400000 ***
The veteran possession man in this offense has two TDs in his last six games. Sanu has been targeted at least five times in each of those contests, and Detroit offers a promising matchup for his style of play. The Lions have permitted receivers to average 13 receptions (11th) for 167 yards (7th) a game. Zero of those 65 snares found the end zone, however.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Tyler Kroft, CIN DET 003400000 ***
Detroit has been among the best tight end matchups to exploit for much of the season. In the past five games, TEs have scored once, on average, and this is a top-12 matchup for receptions and yards per game. It was Week 12 the last time he scored, and Kroft has taken advantage of good matchups, so there is hope he outplays his projection.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Randy Bullock, CIN DET 2222 ***
Kickers have found great success with extra points against the Lions, but Cincinnati has struggled putting the ball into the end zone. This is only the 22nd-best matchup for three-point 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 24-34
6 @TEN 23-26 15 @DAL 24-27
7 @CIN 24-17 16 CIN -----
8 WAS 27-12 17 CLE -----
9 @NYG 24-20 ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
PIT vs CIN Rush Catch Pass
QB Ben Roethlisberger 250,2
RB Stevan Ridley 80,1
WR Antonio Brown 5-60,1
WR Darrius Heyward-Bey 4-40

Pregame Notes: The Steelers missed a great opportunity when the Ravens dropped their last three games because the Steelers lost their last two. Falling to the Chargers at home shows that a trap game can happen anywhere and then the overtime loss in Dallas was literally thrown away with the interception. At least the final two games are both at home and against teams that they have already beaten. The Steelers still need help to reach the playoffs but a win here will be all they can do to try to control their fate.

Ben Roethlisberger passed for 278 yards and one score in the meeting in Cincy back in week seven. He also lost a fumble and threw one interception. Big Ben has scored in every game that he's played this year and posted healthy yardage in most weeks.

Jonathan Dwyer remains the starting tailback and he's still sharing with Isaac Redman but only for a few carries per week. Dwyer ran for 122 yards on 17 carries in the Cincy meeting for his best effort of the season. He's only scored twice so far though and Rashard Mendenhall may even show up this week having been suspended for one game for conduct detrimental to the team.

Heath Miller comes off a 92-yard effort in Dallas with a touchdown and he caught six passes for 53 yards and a score against the Bengals last time. He;s been a solid contributor all year though more likely to have a big game on the road when the Steelers have to pass more. Antonio Brown had his best effort of 2012 when he gained 97 yards on seven receptions in Cincy while Mike Wallace ended with eight catches for 52 yards. Wallace gained over 90 yards in these last two games with Big Ben back.

The Steelers have owned the Bengals every year other than 2009. This is a must win and played in Pittsburgh should be no worse than the road win in Cincy back in week seven.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points PIT 14 22 15 5 14 28
Preventing Fantasy Points CIN 7 18 6 19 18 24

  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
QB Ben Roethlisberger, PIT @HOU 0000031031 ***
No Antonio Brown limits things a little for Big Ben. The matchup is awfully promising, and he has talented playmakers in JuJu Smith-Schuster and Martavis Bryant, in addition to the always dangerous Le'Veon Bell from the backfield. Houston has provided quarterbacks a touchdown every 12.3 completions (12th) and surrendered a big day to Blake Bortles a week ago.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Le'Veon Bell, PIT @HOU 6015500000 ***
Bell should see the rock aplenty with Antonio Brown out of action. The dual threat will face a Texans defense giving up big gains on the ground but modest numbers in the passing game to RBs. Since Week 10, this group has allowed 110.4 rushing yards, 34.4 receiving yards, and a rushing score every 17.7 carries (4th).
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR JuJu Smith-Schuster, PIT @HOU 0071202000 ***
The rookie gets to take off the training wheels, if that didn't already happen last year. The Texans have provided wideouts big performances while limiting overall team figures, mostly due to cake matchups. The likes of Larry Fitzgerald, Marquise Goodwin, Keelan Cole and Jaydon Mickens throttled this secondary in the past five weeks.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Martavis Bryant, PIT @HOU 006801000 ***
Bryant will assume a larger role with Antonio Brown out. The Texans were gashed by Blake Bortles's merry band of misfits in Week 15, and this could be a fine time to chance starting the downtrodden former rising star. Since Week 10, receivers have scored four times in the last five games vs. the Texans.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Jesse James, PIT @HOU 003300000 ***
We won't even rehash the catch controversy from Week 15. James will see a few more looks with Antonio Brown out, but there shouldn't a great deal of confidence in starting him. Houston provides a wonderful matchup, so brave owners may be able to stomach the risk.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Chris Boswell, PIT @HOU 1144 ***
On a per-game rate, the Texans offer the top matchup for extra points and the No. 10 matchup for field goal tries. Together this forms fantasy's seventh-best matchup.

WEEK 16
2012
ATL at DET (SAT) CLE at DEN NO at DAL *SF at SEA
BUF at MIA *IND at KC *NYG at BAL STL at TB
CHI at ARI MIN at HOU OAK at CAR *TEN at GB
*Updated CIN at PIT *NE at JAC SD at NYJ WAS at PHI

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