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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 JAC 0000026010 ***
You'd think Dalton would be an automatic start against the Jags, but they've actually been a decent defense of late--especially against the pass, but that's because opposing QBs are averaging just 33 passing attempts against the non-threatening Jags. Hue Jackson doesn't need an excuse to run more, so this is less about the matchup and more about Dalton simply handing off too much to be of fantasy value this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Giovani Bernard, CIN JAC 5014300000 ****
Curious that after allowing four RB rushing scores in the first two games the Jags have allowed only one RB rushing TD--and only two RB scores overall--in the subsequent six. Also, no rusher has topped 85 yards against them. Gio has been squelched in back-to-back games, but with no AJ Green and this being a home tilt--where he's scored in all four outings this year--it's an opportunity for Hue Jackson to get his meal ticket back on track.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Jeremy Hill, CIN JAC 401000000 ****
Hill has scored in three of four at home, where he's averaging 10 carries a game. Surprisingly facing the Jags is not a favorable statistical matchup for opposing backs, but you know Hue Jackson is going to run the ball right down Jacksonville's gullet so there should be ample opportunity for Hill to be a fantasy helper as wel.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR A.J. Green, CIN JAC 004801000 *
Green returned to practice this week but you needn't rush to get him back in your lineup as Jacksonville is not the cream puff matchup you might expect; they've allowed just one WR TD in the past month. No reason to over-extend Green until he's needed, so there's a good chance he'll get some token snaps while the ground game and Mohamed Sanu do the heavy lifting. It's certainly worth revisiting on Friday, in case Green is lights out in practice.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Mohamed Sanu, CIN JAC 006800000 ***
Sanu is a solid wingman who sparkled when asked to fill AJ Green's shoes as the Bengals feature receiver. With Green back at practice Sanu returns to wingman duties, and a matchup with a surprisingly effective Jacksonville secondary suggests he's a fringe fantasy play at best this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Greg Little, CIN JAC 003300000 ***
With AJ Green returning to action there's no need to dig any further down the Bengals' WR depth chart than WR2 Mohamed Sanu.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Jermaine Gresham, CIN JAC 004300000 ****
Over the past three games Gresham has 23 targets, 20 catches, and zero TDs. Jacksonville is a decent matchup for TEs so if you're in a bye week bind he's better than a sharp stick in the eye, but don't go overboard with your expectations.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Mike Nugent, CIN JAC 1133 ****
Everybody gets their kicks against the Jags, who have allowed multiple field goals in seven of eight and an average of 10 kicker points per game. Nugent should be no exception.

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 BAL 0000031021 ***
The earlier meeting with Baltimore was easily Big Ben's worst fantasy outing of the season, with no TDs and 217 passing yards. Since then he's topped 300 twice and 250 two more times along with four multiple touchdown efforts. His track record against the Ravens isn't exactly sterling, with just two multiple TD outings in the past 11 meetings and only one trip north of 300 yards. But fresh off 522 and six, and with six teams on the bye, he's at least worth a look-see this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Le'Veon Bell, PIT BAL 6008700000 ****
Bell has reached triple-digit combo yardage in every game this season, including 107 in the earlier meeting with Baltimore. He had 232 combo yards in last season's series as well, so in performance leagues he's a rock-solid fantasy play. It's be nice if he mixed in a few more touchdowns, however; a Ravens D that's allowed only three RB TDs this year doesn't project to be much of a helper.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Antonio Brown, PIT BAL 0081202000 ***
Brown has had plenty of nice yardage outings against the Ravens, but he's still looking for his first touchdown grab against them. Baltimore has allowed only six WR TDs on the season, so it's no lock for Brown to find the end zone here; however, that he has five TDs in four home games suggests it's at least a strong possibility.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Martavis Bryant, PIT BAL 003400000 ****
Bryant has three TDs in two NFL games and could be the Steelers new version of Plaxico Burress. He's a red zone option that wasn't at Big Ben's disposal in the earlier meeting; at minimum he's a viable option in TD-heavy scoring systems with six teams on the bye.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Markus Wheaton, PIT BAL 004300000 ****
The emergence of Martavis Bryant, along with the return of Lance Moore from injury and the presence of Darrius Heyward-Bey, have all conspired to bump Wheaton from viable WR2 to just one of the guys in Pittsburgh. It's not a favorable enough matchup to go this deep into the Steelers' receiver rotation for fantasy assistance.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Heath Miller, PIT BAL 004300000 ****
Both of Miller's fantasy helpers this year came at home, so he's got that going for him. Working against him: his 4-35 in the earlier meeting with Baltimore, a Ravens defense that's allowed only one TE TD on the season, and a plethora of targets for Ben Roethlisberger to spread the ball around to.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Shaun Suisham, PIT BAL 3322 ****
The Ravens haven't allowed a double-digit scoring game to a kicker since Week 1, so there's a ceiling on Suisham's fantasy prospects this week.

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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