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Predictions & Projections
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
WR Marvin Jones 2-20
WR Greg Little 4-50
TE Jermaine Gresham 4-50,1

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 @CLE 0000020011 ***
Dalton was brutal in a home date with Cleveland earlier this year; in fact, he hasn't topped 100 yards in either of his previous two against the Browns. He did strafe the Steelers for 302 and 2 (plus a rushing score last week), but that exceeds his upside against a Cleveland defense that hasn't allowed a 300-yard game since Week 8 and is giving up roughly 1.5 touchdown passes per game.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Jeremy Hill, CIN @CLE 5013200000 ***
The Browns aren't as soft as perceived against the run; they've given up just two RB TDs (one receiving) in the past seven games and Arian Foster is the only back in that span to top 87 yards--and he needed 36 carries to do so. With the Bengals still splitting the workload it's tough to trust either Hill or Giovani Bernard with a fantasy start here.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Giovani Bernard, CIN @CLE 4002100000 ***
Gio missed the earlier meeting with Cleveland, and his numbers from last season's series (82 rushing yards, 79 receiving yards, zero TDs) weren't overwhelming. He does enough as a receiver to warrant attention in PPR and performance leagues, but at this juncture he's not the feature back you drafted back in August.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR A.J. Green, CIN @CLE 004501000 **
Green has 81 total yards in his last three meetings with the Browns, so Joe Haden must be doing something right. However, neither Haden nor the Cleveland coaching staff (why take Haden off TY Hilton?) is infallible, so it's more of a "lower expectations" thing with Green rather than benching him outright.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Mohamed Sanu, CIN @CLE 005600000 ***
Sanu has faded into the woodwork, with just one fantasy helper in five games since AJ Green returned to the lineup. That includes a 2-20 showing against Cleveland when matched against non-Joe Haden defenders, so no reason to expect big things here just because Haden will be busy with Green.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Mike Nugent, CIN @CLE 1122 ***
Nugent hasn't hit double digits since Week 6, a stretch that includes a paltry three-point performance at home against the Browns. Tough to trust him with a fantasy play here.

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
WR Antonio Brown 5-60,1
WR Darrius Heyward-Bey 4-40
WR Lance Moore 4-50
TE Heath Miller 5-60
PK Shaun Suisham 2 FG 3 XP

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 @ATL 0000032030 ***
Big Ben got back in the saddle with 785 and five the past two weeks, and a date with an Atlanta defense that's allowed multiple TD tosses in six of their last nine games--including 327 and 3 to Aaron Rodgers last week--can only help.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Le'Veon Bell, PIT @ATL 10016501000 ***
What's not to love about Le'Veon, with 711 yards from scrimmage and five TDs in just the past three games, going up against the most fantasy friendly defense against running backs? Absolutely nothing, that's what.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Antonio Brown, PIT @ATL 0081301000 ***
Nine different wideouts have already topped 100 yards against Atlanta. Wanna bet Brown, who's had at least 90 yards in seven of his last eight games, makes it ten?
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Martavis Bryant, PIT @ATL 005801000 ***
Only twice all year have multiple wideouts scored in the same game against Atlanta, but that doesn't mean Bryant can't be a low-end yardage helper against an Atlanta secondary that's allowed 24 games of 50-plus receiving yards this year.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Markus Wheaton, PIT @ATL 004400000 ***
Wheaton has fallen too far behind Antonio Brown and Martavis Bryant to be relied upon for fantasy assistance.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Heath Miller, PIT @ATL 002200000 ***
Heath's actually been fantasy viable for the past month, with a touchdown and a couple big yardage games. However, he's too inconsistently targeted to trust with a fantasy start, and the Falcons have surrendered only two TE TDs all season.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Shaun Suisham, PIT @ATL 2244 ***
Suisham is rounding into form, with four straight multiple field goal efforts and back-to-back outings with double-digit points. Facing a Falcons D that's given up six games of double-digit points, including two in the past three weeks, only helps his chances.

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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