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Predictions & Projections
By David M. Dorey
 
The Huddle
WEEK 9
September 3, 2003
Season Ticket
Sun 1 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 4 PM Sun 8:30 PM Bye Week:
CAR at HOU NYG at NYJ CIN at ARZ GB at MIN Buffalo
IND at MIA OAK at DET PIT at SEA Mon 9 PM Cleveland
JAX at BAL SD at CHI PHI at ATL NE at DEN Kansas City
NO at TB WAS at DAL STL at SF *updated Tennessee
   
Pittsburgh vs Seattle Sun, Nov 2; 4 PM on CBS at Seahawks Stadium
  Pittsburgh Rush Catch Pass
QB Tommy Maddox 0 0 240,1
RB Amos Zereoue 10 20 0
RB Jerome Bettis 80,1 0 0
TE Jay Riemersma D D D
TE Jerame Tuman 0 20 0
WR Hines Ward 0 80 0
WR Antwaan Randle El 0 40 0
WR Plaxico Burress 0 60,1 0
  Seattle Rush Catch Pass
QB Matt Hasselbeck 0 0 210,2
RB Shaun Alexander 70,1 10 0
TE Ituli Mili 0 20 0
WR Darrell Jackson 0 60,1 0
WR Bobby Engram 0 50,1 0
WR Koren Robinson 0 60 0

Game Prediction: PIT 17, SEA 23

Update: Riemersma is again doubtful to play with a knee sprain. Jerame Tuman will again take the start.

Koren Robinson is listed as questionable but is expected to play with a hip bruise. I am lowering his numbers slightly and bumping Engram.

This game could put the Steelers in a tailspin if they lose and they likely will. They are not coming together in any cohesive fashion in the last month and most fingers point at Maddox and then at Cowher. The Seahawks had have a nice record but that included two one point wins. They could have easily been 3-4 right now.

With the Steelers defense getting lit up lately and the Seahawks back at home with yet another rude reminder that they are not "there" yet, this should prove to be a close game that hinges on turnovers. And that favors the Seahawks. And Koren has a decent chance to score here - really. I mean it. Same for Burress. Really. Honest.

Pittsburgh Notes

The Steelers are 2-5 and in the AFC North cellar, below the Browns and Bengals. They are on a four game losing streak.

Quarterbacks: Tommy Maddox came off his bye week needing to show something to the team and ended up completing 12 of 28 passes for 159 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions. HC Bill Cowher still maintains that he is not going to change to Charlie Batch, but continued poor play by Maddox will force the issue sooner than later.

Running backs: To show that he is going something, Cowher benched Amos Zereoue and gave Jerome Bettis his job back last week. Bettis returned the favor by gaining only 42 yards on 12 carries. Zereoue still played on third downs and gained a total of 20 yards in the game but spent most his time picking up blitzes on passing downs. By this point no one knows that the Steelers are trying to establish, since they abandoned the running game in preference to letting Maddox throw interceptions.

Wide Receivers: Hines Ward had five receptions on ten passes last week and ended with 90 yards and two touchdowns. Plaxico Burress had five passes but only one catch for six yards. FB Dan Krieder had more receiving yardage than Burress did. The frustration level for Plaxico has reached a zenith and he has spoken publicly that he is always open and has no idea why he is not getting the catches. It worked for Hines Wards a couple of weeks ago who complained and then had his two scores last week. Burress said " I don't feel one player can really just walk up to the line of scrimmage and take me out of a football game. If he can do that, I want to see him". Okay, okay, Plaxico - this is a little awkward but let me introduce you - "Plaxico, I'd like you to meet Tommy Maddox. Tommy - this is Plaxico".

Tight Ends: Last week Jerame Tuman replaced Jay Riemersma and caught the one pass that is normally thrown to the tight end.

Match against the defense: Since DT Norman Hand still is bothered by a turf toe, the Seattle run defense has worsened and LB Chad Brown has also missed time with a bad foot. Playing at home, the Seahawks have not allowed a single runner to exceed 62 yards but Bettis has a good chance if in fact Cowher doesn't change the game plan up yet again.

The Seattle pass defense is average though may gain a spark if CB Ken Lucas can play. Lucas would be matched against Burress on most plays and allow the safety to concentrate on Wards where all the passes go anyway. If CB Willie Williams has to play, then Burress should do better.

Seattle Notes

Seattle falls to 5-2 and are tied with the Rams for the lead in the NFC West. They come off a 27-24 loss to the Bengals.

Quarterbacks: Matt Hasselbeck comes off his biggest game of the season, throwing for 347 yards and three touchdowns last week but adding three interceptions in the process. Hasselbeck was throwing to Jackson, Robinson and Stevens on the throws, so he is spreading out the wealth for the secondary that way. This week should be almost as good as last week for yardage only without those pecky interceptions.

Running backs: Shaun Alexander gained 86 yards on 20 carries and scored one touchdown on a pass. He had seven catches for 52 yards in the game and only saw three other runs go to Maurice Morris.

Wide Receivers: Everything is fine here with the exception of Koren "Hi mom! I'm on a milk carton" Robinson. Perhaps the hottest Split End at the end of last season apparently has split from the game plan. Last week Robinson had only five passes that netted two catches for 35 yards. Darrell Jackson had 12 passes for six catches and 98 yards. Even Bobby Engram (4-73) looked better. There was 347 yards of passing to distribute, Robinson just never got in line. He has not scored since week three.

Tight Ends: Itula Mili had his career best game last week, catching five passes for 80 yards and two touchdowns. He only had one catch in each of the past two games though one of them was also a score. Jerramy Stevens continues to get his one pass per game to prove he cannot catch the ball.

Match against the defense: Good news here for Hasselbeck. While Bulger had 375 yards last week, the previous QBs had only managed around 200 yards but the last three all had at least two scores through the air. Tory Holt just gained 174 yards against Pittsburgh playing the same side as Robinson, so there is still hope. Even Rod Smith had 70 yards and a score and that was from Steve Beuerlein. Other than Holt last week, the Steelers have held all receivers to under 100 yards though, but they have allowed most of the touchdowns to go to the wideouts.

Shaun Alexander is less likely to have a 100 yard game - the Steelers have been tough against the run and even though they allowed Arlen Harris three touchdowns last week, his 34 carries only gained 81 yards.

Team Comparisons - Current team rankings (1-32) for FF points scored or allowed by position
Rank (1-32)
QB
RB
WR
TE
PK
DEF
PIT Scores
19
26
7
27
20
23
SEA Allows
14
13
20
6
9
8
PIT AP
-5
-13
13
-21
-11
-15
Rank (1-32)
QB
RB
WR
TE
PK
DEF
SEA Scores
9
7
14
16
14
4
PIT Allows
17
8
18
30
19
31
Seattle AP
8
1
4
14
5
27
Offensive ranks lower = gains more points, Defensive ranks lower = allows less points
AP = Advatage Points, the net difference between a positional rank gained or allowed by the teams.
PIT
SEA
2003 Game Averages
SEA
PIT
Gains
Allows
QB's
Gains
Allows
239
207
Pass yards
223
193
1.0
0.9
Pass TDs
1.4
1.6
1.6
1.3
Interceptions
1.1
0.9
2
10
Rush yards
13
8
0.0
0.3
Rush TDs
0.1
0.1
---
---
RB's
---
---
73
98
Rush yards
113
75
0.7
0.7
Rush TDs
0.9
1.0
34
19
Receive yards
34
15
0.0
0.1
Receive TD's
0.3
0.0
---
---
WR's
---
---
184
158
Receive yards
164
131
0.9
0.7
Receive TD's
0.7
1.1
---
---
TE's
---
---
21
30
Receive yards
26
47
0.1
0.0
Receive TD's
0.4
0.4
---
---
PK's
---
---
1.6
1.4
Field Goals
1.6
1.4
2.0
2.0
Extra Points
2.7
3.0
---
---
DEF/ST
---
---
0.4
0.6
Fumbles
1.0
0.6
1.0
1.0
Interceptions
1.3
1.7
0.1
0.0
Touchdowns
0.7
0.6
1.9
2.6
Sacks
1.7
3.3
0.0
0.0
Safeties
0.0
0.1
Steelers (2-5)
Score Opp.
34-15 BAL
20-41 @KC
17-10 @CIN
13-30 TEN
13-33 CLE
14-17 @DEN
Week 7 BYE
21-33 STL
Week 9 @SEA
Week 10 ARZ
Week 11 @SF
Week 12 @CLE
Week 13 CIN
Week 14 OAK
Week 15 @NYJ
Week 16 SD
Week 17 @BAL
Seahawks (5-2)
Score Opp.
27-10 NO
38-0 @ARZ
24-23 STL
Week 4 BYE
13-35 @GB
20-19 SF
24-17 CHI
24-27 @CIN
Week 9 PIT
Week 10 @WAS
Week 11 DET
Week 12 @BAL
Week 13 CLE
Week 14 @MIN
Week 15 @STL
Week 16 ARZ
Week 17 @SF

* Fantasy point rankings calculated using standard Huddle fantasy points