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Predictions & Projections
By David M. Dorey
 
The Huddle
WEEK 14
December 3, 2003
Season Ticket
Sun 1 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 4 PM Sun 8:30 PM
CHI at GB IND at TEN TB at NO KC at DEN CAR at ATL
CIN at BAL OAK at PIT WAS at NYG MIA at NE Mon 9 PM
DAL at PHI SD at DET Sun 4 PM NYJ at BUF STL at CLE
HOU at JAX SEA at MIN ARZ at SF *updated Times EST
   
Oakland vs Pittsburgh Sun, Dec 7; 1 PM on CBS at Heinz Field
  Oakland Rush Catch Pass
QB Rick Mirer 0 0 180,1
RB Charlie Garner 20 30 0
RB Tyrone Wheatley 30 10 0
TE O.J. Santiago 0 20 0
WR Tim Brown 0 30 0
WR Jerry Porter 0 50 0
WR Jerry Rice 0 40,1 0
  Pittsburgh Rush Catch Pass
QB Tommy Maddox 0 0 210,1
RB Amos Zereoue 30 20 0
RB Jerome Bettis 80,1 1 0
TE Jay Riemersma 0 30 0
WR Hines Ward 0 70,1 0
WR Antwaan Randle El 0 40 0
WR Plaxico Burress 0 40 0

Game Prediction: OAK 13, PIT 20

Update: Jay Riemersma remains questionable to play and could be replaced by both Jerame Tuman and Mark Bruener this week. I am removing him from the projections. Tommy Maddoz has practiced without discomfort from his hyperextended knee and should start.

What a mess.

The question is if both teams are still trying. Callahan tries to motivate his players by insulting their intellect and most of them likely do not care anyway. The Steelers have not given up as badly as the Raiders and should be able to find room for Bettis to actually exceed his normal three yard average (two yards come from his falling forward).

This game looked pretty good about six months ago.

Oakland Notes

The Raiders, AKA The Dumbest Team in Football, fall to 3-9 with their loss to the Broncos.

Quarterbacks:: The good will that Rick Mirer gained in the KC game was lost last week when he only completed 13 of 30 for 153 yards and no touchdowns. He lost one fumble. His only upside here is that he faces a terrible pass defense.

Running Backs: Tyrone Wheatley ran pretty well last week, gaining 85 yards on only eight carries thanks to one long run and Charlie Garner only managed 14 yards on six runs. When this team falls too far behind, which looks to be often, the backs do not get the volume to matter too much.

Receivers: Doling out his big 153 yard effort, Mirer completed only two of nine to Jerry Rice for 27 yards and Tim Brown - whew - had one catch for 22 yards. Jerry Porter led receivers with three catches for 49 yards but still has not displayed his speed since returning from his groin surgery. There's that whole "touchdown" thing missing too.

The only change here, if it matters, is that O.J. Santiago got his first start and replaces Teyo Johnson. Doug Jolley did not play even play last week since HC Dick Callahan wanted to use a larger blocker, OT Langston Walker, against DE Trevor Pryce.

Match against the Defense: If you are still starting Raiders on your fantasy team this late in the season, you must be playing for pride.

Mirer faces a poor pass defense which matches his general production. Raiders are not going to pass any more than they absolutely have to and will not do it very well even then. Jerry Rice could be a decent start here by the numbers, but only if you do not factor in what the Raiders do.

The Raiders only strength is in their rushing game and now they face the one team that is best at holding running backs down. That is a bad equation for a bad team.

Pittsburgh Notes

The Steelers fall to 4-8 thanks to the visiting Bengals. Let that sink in.

Quarterbacks:: Tommy Maddox had a nice game statistically last week, throwing for 313 yards and one score against only one interception. Granted the Steelers lose more than they win, but Maddox has scored in the last six games and has two 300 yard efforts in the past two weeks.

Maddox sprained his left knee last week but an MRI did not show any damage. He should be fine for Sunday.

Running Backs: Jerome Bettis ran 20 times for 62 yards and scored once last week. Considering the previous rushing numbers for the Steelers this season, that was actually a good game. Bettis also caught one pass for five yards and displayed his trademark slowness and lack of moves. It is inventive to use him on pass plays since no one would bother to cover him but he still gets caught by the line of scrimmage anyway (which is why no one bothers to cover him).

Expect Bettis to complain about his shoulder but play and gain three yards per carry.

Amos Zereoue gained 19 yards on three carries and added 23 on only two receptions but the Steelers apparently failed to notice he was being productive.

Receivers: Plaxico Burress finally crested the 100 yard mark for the first time since week two of the season when he turned eight catches for 112 yards last week. In the big passing yardage games, Burress is an add in to the game plan unlike Hines Ward who is a constant. Ward had 13 catches for 149 yards last Sunday and scored his ninth touchdown of the season.

Match against the Defense: Since Oakland has the worst rushing defense in the league, in addition to being the dumbest, Bettis is a great start here. The Raiders have managed to be very good against wideouts and held opponent wide outs to almost always minimal yardage. Why throw when you can run?

Look for Ward to have a decent game just because third downs need him but Burress will crawl back under his rock against the same defense that held fellow split end Rod Smith to only one catch last week. Randy Moss only had 25 yards against the same secondary.

Team Comparisons - Current team rankings (1-32) for FF points scored or allowed by position
Rank (1-32)
QB
RB
WR
TE
PK
DEF
OAK Scores
27
14
23
17
18
18
PIT Allows
26
1
30
25
24
21
OAK AP
-1
-13
7
8
6
3
Rank (1-32)
QB
RB
WR
TE
PK
DEF
PIT Scores
26
28
9
31
21
25
OAK Allows
20
32
1
23
21
8
PIT AP
-6
4
-8
-8
0
-17
Offensive ranks = #1 gains most points, Defensive ranks = #1 allows least points
AP = Advantage Points, the net difference between a positional rank gained or allowed by the teams.
OAK
PIT
2003 Game Averages
PIT
OAK
Gains
Allows
QB's
Gains
Allows
211
235
Pass yards
219
201
0.6
1.7
Pass TDs
1
1
0.9
0.6
Interceptions
1
0.9
9
9
Rush yards
2
17
0.1
0.1
Rush TDs
0
0.3
---
---
RB's
---
---
106
82
Rush yards
77
137
1
0.5
Rush TDs
0.6
1.2
31
28
Receive yards
34
56
0
0.1
Receive TD's
0
0.2
---
---
WR's
---
---
143
166
Receive yards
170
115
0.4
1.3
Receive TD's
0.9
0.4
---
---
TE's
---
---
36
42
Receive yards
16
30
0.2
0.3
Receive TD's
0.1
0.4
---
---
PK's
---
---
1.5
1.7
Field Goals
1.4
1.6
1.9
2.4
Extra Points
1.8
2.6
---
---
DEF/ST
---
---
0.7
0.5
Fumbles
0.6
0.9
0.9
1.1
Interceptions
0.6
1
0.2
0.2
Touchdowns
0.1
0
1.5
2.9
Sacks
2.4
2.2
0.1
0.1
Safeties
0
0
Raiders (3-9)
Score Opp.
20-25 @TEN
23-20 CIN
10-31 @DEN
34-31 SD
21-24 @CHI
7-13 @CLE
10-17 KC
Week 8 BYE
13-23 @DET
24-27 NYJ
28-18 MIN
24-27 @KC
8-22 DEN
Week 14 @PIT
Week 15 BAL
Week 16 GB
Week 17 @SD
Steelers (3-9)
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
28-15 ARZ
14-30 @SF
13-6 @CLE
20-24 CIN
Week 14 OAK
Week 15 @NYJ
Week 16 SD
Week 17 @BAL

* Fantasy point rankings calculated using standard Huddle fantasy points