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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 Brian Hoyer 180
RB Ben Tate 40 3-20
WR Miles Austin 4-60
WR Andrew Hawkins 3-40

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 Brian Hoyer, CLE @JAC 0000028020 ***
It's not the blank fantasy slate you might think, as the Jaguars have given up only one passing score the past two games combined and Hoyer has just one multiple-TD effort on the year. Plus, if the Browns run the ball 35-plus times like they have the past two weeks Hoyer simply won't have the opportunity to put up gaudy fantasy stats.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Ben Tate, CLE @JAC 8011100000 ****
The Jags haven't allowed a 100-yard rusher all year and have given up just one RB TD in the past four games. However, no opponent in that span has committed to the run like Cleveland does--35-plus rushing attempts each of the past two games. The last two teams to rush more than 30 times against Jacksonville produced 145 & 1 and 151 & 3; with Tate claiming the biggest chunk of Cleveland's backfield productivity he's in line for a very nice outing this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Isaiah Crowell, CLE @JAC 300000000 ***
Crowell was more effective than Ben Tate in fewer touches last week. And while we're not anticipating a change of the guard--even though it may be warranted--there should be enough rushing production against Jacksonville this week for Crowell to at least warrant fringe fantasy consideration.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Travis Benjamin, CLE @JAC 003501000 **
Sans Josh Gordon there's no real WR1 in Cleveland. Andrew Hawkins may be the volume guy but Benjamin is the most frequent visitor to the end zone. That may be a tough task to accomplish this week, as only four wideouts have scored on the Jags this year. More likely this is a run-heavy game plan for Cleveland with limited opportunities for the passing game to put up fantasy numbers; plan accordingly.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Miles Austin, CLE @JAC 003400000 ***
A secondary target with a somewhat favorable matchup in a game plan likely to be heavy on the rushing; you can find a better fantasy option elsewhere.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Andrew Hawkins, CLE @JAC 004400000 ***
A dozen wideouts have topped 50 yards against Jacksonville, so the Browns' volume guy isn't a bad PPR play this week. However, only four WRs have reached the end zone against the Jags, so Hawkins' fantasy upside is limited.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Jordan Cameron, CLE @JAC 005601000 ****
Cameron looked plenty healthy on his long TD grab last week, and his fantasy stat line should get healthy as well with this matchup against a Jacksonville defense that's allowed five TE TDs already this season.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Billy Cundiff, CLE @JAC 2233 ***
Only once all year have the Jags not allowed an opposing kicker to tally ten or more points. It's a threshold Cundiff has yet to cross; bet on that to change this week.

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
WR Antonio Brown 5-50
WR Darrius Heyward-Bey 3-30
WR Lance Moore 4-40
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 HOU 0000028022 ***
The last four quarterbacks to face Houston have thrown multiple touchdown passes; the last two have both topped 300 yards. Big Ben has thrown for 314 and 365 in two home games, no reason to think he can't put on a show on Monday night.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Le'Veon Bell, PIT HOU 9005400000 ****
Bell has triple-digit yards from scrimmage in every game this season and is a must-start regardless of opponent. Doesn't hurt that Houston has allowed 100-plus combo yards to opposing backs in four straight games, an average of 164 yards per game in that span.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB LeGarrette Blount, PIT HOU 300000000 ***
There might be enough table scraps for Blount to fall into some fantasy value on Monday night, but hopefully you have a more reliable option at your disposal.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Antonio Brown, PIT HOU 008901000 ****
Opposing WR1s have scored in five straight against Houston. Brown has a streak of like a gazillion games in a row with at least five catches, as well as three 100-yard games and five TDs on the season. He's also lights out at home, with 5-116-1 and 7-131-2 to his credit. Plenty to like here.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Markus Wheaton, PIT HOU 004600000 ***
The Texans have allowed multiple wideouts to score in two of their last three, but it's been a while since Wheaton was a fantasy factor--plus, Lance Moore swiped a secondary receiver touchdown last week. He's not unstartable, but there isn't much pointing towards cause for optimism.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Heath Miller, PIT HOU 003200000 ****
The Texans aren't a particularly favorable TE matchup, and Miller isn't a particularly effective fantasy tight end. Odds are you have a more enticing option at your disposal.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Shaun Suisham, PIT HOU 3322 ***
After a fast start Suisham has been nothing special the last few weeks. If you're cool with solid, he's the kicker for you 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

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