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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
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WEEK 17
2012
ARI at SF CLE at PIT JAC at TEN OAK at SD
BAL at CIN DAL at WAS KC at DEN PHI at NYG
CAR at NO GB at MIN MIA at NE STL at SEA
  CHI at DET HOU at IND NYJ at BUF TB at ATL

Prediction: CLE 3, PIT 20 (Line: OFF)

Players to Watch: Emmanuel Sanders

This is a replay of week 12 when the Browns won 20-14 in Cleveland. But the 5-10 Browns are only 1-6 on the road and the 7-8 Steelers need this win to avoid a losing season. Both teams are having a bad year though it is nothing new for the Browns who have already won one more game than last year. It was no worse than the last five seasons. The Steelers have not had a losing season in ten years and that was four years before Mike Tomlin took over. This is all new to the current Steelers. This will be a cold game with a chance of snow.

Cleveland Browns
Homefield: Cleveland Stadium
Grass
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 PHI 16-17 10 BYE -----
2 @CIN 27-34 11 @DAL 20-23
3 BUF 14-24 12 PIT 20-14
4 @BAL 16-23 13 @OAK 20-17
5 @NYG 27-41 14 KC 30-7
6 CIN 34-24 15 WAS 21-38
7 @IND 13-17 16 @DEN 12-34
8 SD 7-6 17 @PIT -----
9 BAL 15-25 ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
CLE @ PIT Rush Catch Pass
QB Robert Griffin III 50 240,2
WR Brian Hartline 4-60
WR Andrew Hawkins 3-40
WR Terrelle Pryor 10,1 150

Pregame Notes: The year may have not been a major step forward, but at least the Browns are ending with more points scored than any other time in the last five years. The defense has been instrumental in keeping the team in games and keeping overall scoring lower. This is a team moving in the right direction but they are not breaking any speed records getting to where they want to be.

Brandon Weeden will likely not play this week because of his shoulder injury that kept him out last week. But he has thrown for a respectable 3385 yards and 14 touchdowns with 17 interceptions. Nothing awe-inspiring but considering Colt McCoy led them last year with 1576 yards and six touchdowns... Weeden wasn't all that bad.

The Browns have a storied history of crappy quarterbacks with recent inclusions of Brady Quinn, Derek Anderson, Colt McCoy and Charlie Frye over the last seven years. This week McCoy is not a lock to play because of his shoulder and may end up letting practice squad player Thaddeus Lewis take the start. And yes, things can always get worse.

Trent Richardson injured his ankle last week but it is not as serious as first feared when he was in a walking boot. He's questionable for the final game and I will assume he plays a limited role and update if needed. He's a risk this week and may end up with Montario Hardesty helping out or even taking the start. I'll project for Richardson but playing in Pittsburgh is going to be tough anyway. Richardson ran for 85 yards on 29 carries and scored once in the first meeting. He even added 27 yards on four catches. He was on a four game scoring streak until last week.

Mohamed Massaquoi was placed on injured reserve because of his knee. Greg Little scored last week for only the third time all year and was held to one catch for six yards against the Steelers in week 12. Josh Gordon went for 60 yards on four receptions in that game. Weeden only passed for 158 yards and one score in that game. On the road, there is no Browns player worthy of a start this week aside from potentially Richardson who will not have a great game in Pittsburgh even if he is completely healthy.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points CLE 27 20 22 24 16 13
Preventing Fantasy Points PIT 1 2 6 7 17 25

  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
QB Austin Davis, CLE PIT 0000021011 ***
The Steelers lost to Ryan Mallett last week, so they shouldn't take Davis lightly. Fantasy owners, however, shouldn't take Davis at all.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Duke Johnson, CLE PIT 2004300000 ***
Maybe you can scrape together a PPR helper from Johnson, who had four catches in the earlier meeting with Pittsburgh; after all, the Steelers have allowed 24-208-2 receiving to running backs over the past month and Duke is the Browns' pass-catching back.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Isaiah Crowell, CLE PIT 300000000 ***
Yes, the Steelers have let a feature back rush for 75-plus yards and a score in three of their last four road games, including Javorius Allen last week. Yes, Crowell has three TDs in the past three games. But after Crowell rushed for negative five yards on six carries in the earlier meeting it's impossible to trust him with a fantasy play here.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Taylor Gabriel, CLE PIT 002200000 ***
While the Steelers have allowed multiple receivers to score or top 60 yards in three straight games, the last time Gabriel participated in such a game came back in Week 5. Temper expectations accordingly.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Gary Barnidge, CLE PIT 005501000 ***
The Steelers have shut out tight ends in five straight games since allowing Barnidge to score in Week 10. He's still the Browns' top target, doing more than enough to remain a viable fantasy option.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Travis Coons, CLE PIT 1111 ***
Three points last time out
against the Steelers; at least
this one's in Cleveland

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 10-13
8 WAS 27-12 17 CLE -----
9 @NYG 24-20 ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
PIT vs CLE Rush Catch Pass
QB Ben Roethlisberger 250,1
QB Michael Vick 30,1 260,1
RB DeAngelo Williams 60 1-10
WR Antonio Brown 5-50
WR Darrius Heyward-Bey 3-30
PK Shaun Suisham 2 FG 2 XP

Pregame Notes: No other way to paint the year other than a colossal disappointment for a team that went 12-4 for the last two seasons.This year the offense was supposed to be better and more pass-oriented. It succeeded in not being a run-oriented offense. The best of any runner is Jonathan Dwyer and his 571 rushing yards. While Roethlisberger has improved slightly with touchdowns - 23 over the 21 from last year - he also missed three games and only has 3131 passing yards on the year. Roethlisberger did not play in the first meeting with the Browns this year and Charlie Batch was the starter for that loss.

Roethlisberger has openly questioned the play calling by OC Todd Haley though they claim to have made up now. This has never been a good scoring team and have not managed more than 27 points for 11 weeks now.

The rushing effort has rarely been reliable or productive this year with four running backs often taking carries in each week and even in the first meeting, Dwyer led with only nine runs for 19 yards. Rashard Mendenhall carried four times for six yards and Isaac Redman went seven yards on his two runs. Chris Rainey carried for five runs and gained 17 yards plus the one rushing score. It has been largely that sort of mess all year. Dwyer is the best of the bunch but it doesn't mean much with mo more than 50 yards for the last five weeks.

More bad news - Heath Miller blew his ACL and will miss this final week and get the surgery. He'll be a big 30-year old tight end trying to rehab his knee which means he's likely to be less effective in 2013 and beyond.

Mike Wallace will also possibly miss this week with a strained hip that kept him out of practices. Mike Wallace was held to only one catch for nine yards - with Batch throwing the ball. Antonio Brown was unable to play in that game and Emmanuel Sanders was tops with his 79 yards on five catches. Brown has been on a roll lately with three straight games of catching a touchdown pass.

This is a cold game, maybe snowing. The Browns are using a banged up quarterback or a practice squad player so this all favors the Steelers even without Miller or Wallace. But the overall score is likely to remain low and the only plays here are Roethlisberger, Dwyer and Brown assuming Haden doesn't switch sides and slam-dance with him for the entire game.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points PIT 14 23 17 5 15 27
Preventing Fantasy Points CLE 22 26 28 2 6 12

  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 17
2012
ARI at SF CLE at PIT JAC at TEN OAK at SD
BAL at CIN DAL at WAS KC at DEN PHI at NYG
CAR at NO GB at MIN MIA at NE STL at SEA
  CHI at DET HOU at IND NYJ at BUF TB at ATL

a d v e r t i s e m e n t