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Predictions & Projections
By David M. Dorey
 
The Huddle
WEEK 10
November 5, 2003
Season Ticket
Sun 1 PM TB at CAR Sun 4 PM Sun 8:30 PM Bye Weeks
ARZ at PIT HOU at CIN TB at CAR BAL at STL Denver
ATL at NYG IND at JAX MIN at SD Mon 9 PM New England
CHI at DET MIA at TEN BUF at DAL PHI at GB New Orleans
CLE at KC SEA at WAS NYJ at OAK *updated San Francisco
   
Arizona vs Pittsburgh Sun, Nov 9; 1 PM on FOX at Heinz Field
  Arizona Rush Catch Pass
QB Jeff Blake 10 0 190,1
RB Marcel Shipp 60 10 0
TE Freddie Jones 0 40 0
WR Bryan Gilmore 0 30 0
WR Bryant Johnson 0 30 0
WR Anquan Boldin 0 70,1 0
  Pittsburgh Rush Catch Pass
QB Tommy Maddox 0 0 240,2
RB Amos Zereoue 40 20 0
RB Jerome Bettis 50 0 0
TE Jerame Tuman 0 10 0
TE Jay Riemersma 0 10 0
WR Hines Ward 0 90,1 0
WR Antwaan Randle El 0 30 0
WR Plaxico Burress 0 80,1 0

Game Prediction: ARZ 10, PIT 20

Update: Jay Riemersma is expected to play this week which is not likely to add much to the offense.

This game has the Steelers who are on terrible losing streak finally back at home where they have not won since the season opener. They are beyond due, beyond frustrated and pretty much beyond hope if they drop this game. The Cardinals are on a rare two game winning streak and have looked good the last two weeks with wins and tons of great rushing by Shipp. But their biggest strength - Shipp - will be the focus of a defense that can shut down a runner.

I like this game to finally end the Steelers winning drought and by beating the Cardinals, bring back a sliver of normalcy to the league.

Arizona Notes

The Cardinals rise to 3-5 on the season and head out on the road where they are 0-3.

Quarterbacks: Jeff Blake threw for 166 yards and two scores last week and made his second consecutive game where he had no turnovers. The Cardinals won both those games. Blake is being more successful handing off the Marcel Shipp now than trying to go downfield.

Running backs: Marcel Shipp gained 141 yards on 29 carries last week after having 165 yards on 35 carries the week before against the 49ers. He is running as hard and as well as he did last year when they inexpicably decided to spend all their free agent money on replacing him with Emmitt Smith.

Wide Receivers: The low passing numbers of recent weeks has hit the group hard, but Anquan Boldin still managed six catches for 51 yards and a touchdown last week. The passing numbers should increase this week out of need. Brian Gilmore is getting more passes than Bryant Johnson lately though neigher are doing much with them. Johnson had no catches last week and Gilmore only snagged two for 40 yards.

Tight Ends: Even with the lower passing numbers, Freddie Jones continues to contribute. He had five catches for 38 yards and a touchdown last week

Match against the defense: The Cardinals on the road have been a very different bird than the home model. Then again, this will be their first road trip with Marcel Shipp as the featured back. Unfortunately, he will be facing one of the best defenses against the run in the league as a visitor.

The Steelers are nothing special against the pass and the Cardinals will need to be successful in the air in order to stay in the game. While Anquan Boldin should be a lock for a good game, the numbers for the rest of the passing game will increase from previous weeks against a secondary that can be beaten.

Pittsburgh Notes

The Steelers fall to 2-6 and are on a five game losing streak, second only to Atlanta as the worst in the league.

Quarterbacks: Tommy Maddox comes off his best effort in a month when he threw for 226 yards and one score against no interceptions in Seattle. After throwing three picks against the Rams, it is a step up.

Running backs: The Steelers desire to establish a running game has yet to happen. Last week they only had Jerome Bettis carry 17 times for 50 yards and Amos Zereoue added 32 yards on seven carries though he faced passing defenses on most of his rushing attempts. In the two games since Bettis became the starter again, he has totaled 29 carries for 92 yards, an average of only 3.2 yards per run.

Wide Receivers: Hines Ward (8-66, 1 TD) and Plaxico Burress (5-75) had a decent outing in Seattle but were not enough to make the difference. It was actually Plaxico's best yardage game in six weeks.

Tight Ends: With Jay Riemersma still out, Jerame Tuman again played and gained 22 yards, one yard better than the previous week.

Match against the defense: The Arizona defense is a hard one to figure and is now impacted by the success of the offense in running the ball. Their run-stopping numbers look better than they should because Dillon was hurt last week and the 49ers clearly were trying to mail in a game the previous week. Their three game homestand started out with Jamal Lewis gaining 131 yards on only 21 carries. The Steelers are not running well this season but this game is their best chance to establish a run before heading on the road for two weeks in SF and CLE.

The Cardinals pass defense has always looked much better lately but on the road this season they have yielded eight touchdowns in only three games. The Steelers should have success throwing the ball and both Burress and Ward turn in at least good games.

Team Comparisons - Current team rankings (1-32) for FF points scored or allowed by position
Rank (1-32)
QB
RB
WR
TE
PK
DEF
ARZ Scores
20
31
26
15
24
29
PIT Allows
23
1
27
25
28
29
ARZ AP
3
-30
1
10
4
0
Rank (1-32)
QB
RB
WR
TE
PK
DEF
PIT Scores
24
27
14
30
20
25
ARZ Allows
20
9
10
10
29
26
PIT AP
-4
-18
-4
-20
-9
1
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.
ARZ
PIT
2003 Game Averages
PIT
ARZ
Gains
Allows
QB's
Gains
Allows
173
215
Pass yards
217
207
1.0
1.7
Pass TDs
0.7
1.0
1.2
0.7
Interceptions
1.3
0.8
14
8
Rush yards
3
9
0.3
0.2
Rush TDs
0.0
0.3
---
---
RB's
---
---
90
68
Rush yards
73
91
0.0
0.7
Rush TDs
0.7
0.3
22
14
Receive yards
35
49
0.2
0.0
Receive TD's
0.0
0.0
---
---
WR's
---
---
119
157
Receive yards
160
126
0.5
1.3
Receive TD's
0.7
0.7
---
---
TE's
---
---
32
44
Receive yards
23
32
0.3
0.3
Receive TD's
0.0
0.2
---
---
PK's
---
---
1.5
1.8
Field Goals
1.7
2.2
1.5
2.7
Extra Points
1.5
1.8
---
---
DEF/ST
---
---
0.2
0.3
Fumbles
0.3
0.7
1.0
1.5
Interceptions
0.7
1.2
0.2
0.3
Touchdowns
0.0
0.3
0.8
3.0
Sacks
2.5
1.5
0.0
0.2
Safeties
0.0
0.3
Cardinals (3-5)
Score Opp.
24-42 @DET
0-38 SEA
20-13 GB
13-37 @STL
7-24 @DAL
18-26 BAL
Week 7 BYE
16-13 SF
17-14 CIN
Week 10 @PIT
Week 11 @CLE
Week 12 STL
Week 13 @CHI
Week 14 @SF
Week 15 CAR
Week 16 @SEA
Week 17 MIN
Steelers (2-6)
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
16-23 @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

* Fantasy point rankings calculated using standard Huddle fantasy points