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FANTASY FOOTBALL WEEKLY FEATURES

Predictions & Projections
David M. Dorey
The Huddle
WEEK 9
November 3, 2004
Season Ticket
Sun 1 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 4 PM Sun 4 PM Mon 9 PM
NYJ at BUF* ARZ at MIA CHI at NYG NE at STL MIN at IND*
OAK at CAR* PHI at PIT* NO at SD* Sun 8:30 PM Bye Week:
DAL at CIN KC at TB SEA at SF* CLE at BAL ATL, JAX
WAS at DET* *updated HOU at DEN *updated GB, TEN
  Philadelphia Rush Catch Pass
QB Donovan McNabb 40,1 0 220,1
RB Reno Mahe 20 20 0
RB Dorsey Levens 50 0 0
TE L.J. Smith 0 10 0
WR Terrell Owens 0 90,1 0
WR Freddie Mitchell 0 50 0
WR Greg Lewis 0 30 0
PK David Akers 1 FG 2 XP -
  Pittsburgh Rush Catch Pass
QB Ben Roethlisberger 10 0 220,2
RB Duce Staley 90 20 0
RB Jerome Bettis 30,1 0 0
TE Jay Riemersma 0 10 0
WR Hines Ward 0 60,1 0
WR Antwaan Randle El 0 30 0
WR Plaxico Burress 0 70,1 0
PK Jeff Reed 1 FG 3 XP -

PHI (7-0) vs PIT (6-1)

Game Prediction: PHI 17, PIT 24

Here's an early Sunday game that should have been the Monday night game. Two of the best records in the NFL square off and Philly now stands alone as the only undefeated team in the NFL. This should be a great game to watch and the Eagles enter the fray still without Brian Westbrook and likely Todd Pinkston. If the Eagles can get past the Steelers this week, those birds are going to be flying so high that Owens may never shut up.

Then again. He probably won't regardless.

Update: Westbrook is practicing on a limited basis and has not been ruled out this week. I am still not including him since it is most likely that he will not play and even if he does would be limited by the fractured rib.

Pre-Game Notes - PHI

The Eagles come off a close win over the Ravens and remain undefeated. While they started the season with blowout wins, the last two victories have both been by less than a touchdown and in Cleveland it was overtime before they won. The Eagles have been affected by injuries to Westbrook and Pinkston but have been just good enough to win so far. This will be their biggest test of the season so far. There is also a game in Dallas looming in week 10, but they won't likely be looking past this tough of a game to worry about that road trip they should win.

Quarterback: Donovan McNabb has settled down a bit in the last three weeks when his two road games only had one touchdown pass and not more than 219 yards in either game. His rushing yardage has picked up with the absence of Brian Westbrook.

Running Backs: With Brian Westbrook out last week, the Eagles turned to Dorsey Levens who ended with only 40 yards on 12 carries and Reno Mahe had five runs for 22 yards. While there is an outside chance that Westbrook returns this weekend, it appears unlikely and even if he did, he would be limited. I am not considering him this week and neither should you unless some dramatic and rather unexpected news surfaces. His fractured rib would cause a lot of pain if he did play and it is expected to take four to six weeks. No reason to risk the later season for a game now.

Wide Receivers: Todd Pinkston will likely miss this week with a bone bruise on his knee. While he has not been a major contributor (AKA not Terrell Owens), he has been a field stretcher. Greg Lewis and Freddie Mitchell will take his place.

Terrell Owens comes off a very impressive 101 yard effort against the Ravens with his ninth touchdown of the season. He simply is the Eagles passing game and had almost half of every pass thrown by McNabb. He needs to be stopped before he becomes even more insufferable to hear. Not that he has ever been particularly "sufferable" but he is in his element and having a career year. He's not only riding that wave, he's yelling at the beach.

Tight Ends: Surprisingly, Owens has made the possession catches by the tight ends almost completely evaporate. In the last five games they have had one touchdown and rarely more than one catch per game.

Match Against the Defense: With Westbrook out ailing, don't expect much from Levens or Mahe this week against a defense that hasn't allowed visitors much this season outside of Rudi Johnson and there is virtually no chance that Levens will be getting 24 carries in the game. There is a small chance Levens could bull in a score but an even better chance that McNabb would just take it himself.

McNabb is a lock for at least one touchdown pass and probably two if anyone not named Terrell can contribute. There's not a lot of matching up to do with the secondary since Owens will constantly move around as will the defense. There's no reason to not expect him to have a nice game since he gets about 15 throws a game. Outside of him, the other passing score would more likely end up with Mitchell or Greg Lewis on one long play.

Pre-Game Notes - PIT

The Steelers are undefeated at home and are getting better every week. They come off a big win over the Patriots that ended the NFL record for consecutive wins and there is nothing they'd like more than to take down the last undefeated team this week. Particularly with the injuries to Philly, they have a great chance of doing just that.

Quarterback: Ben Roethlisberger not only is getting even better every week, he has thrown two scores in each of the last two weeks and hasn't had any interceptions. His impact on the team is relatively unheard of from a rookie quarterback and chances are Bill Cowher has bumperstickers on his cars that read "I drafted Ben" and "Roethlisberger."

Running Backs: When the offense works, it means Duce Staley looks looks good and Jerome Bettis scores. Last week against the Patriots, Staley had 125 yards on 25 carries and Bettis not only scored once, he had 65 yards on 15 carries. The run game lives, even if it takes two guys to squeeze out all of the juice.

Wide Receivers: Plaxico Burress has a bumpersticker that just says "I (heart) Ben". He has four receiving touchdowns in the last three weeks and scored twice against the Patriots. About the only Steeler not enjoying bigger numbers lately is Hines Ward who no longer receives 95% of all passes thrown by Tommy Maddox. Ward still has the possession catches and always gets at least six per week but never exceeds 76 yards or has scored during the past four games.

Tight Ends: While the odd pass is thrown at this position and even in the endzone, it's rare they catch them. Only one touchdown this year went to a tight end and that was to Jerame Tuman.

Match Against the Defense: You can be sure that Roethlisberger will throw at least once score here since the Eagles have not held an opponent from throwing a touchdown in the last six games. With the improved passing with Big Ben, the Steelers stand a chance of being only the second team to net two scores via the pass.

The Eagles have not allowed an individual rusher to gain over 78 yards since week one but much like the last week against the Patriots, the Steelers' running game really kicks in when they have a lead. The entire game largely comes down to covering Owens and if they can manage to at least keep him to moderate numbers, the running game will be solid from sheer volume.

It's less likely that the Steelers will rattle McNabb as they did Brady last week so the score should be much closer but this is another great chance for a win by the Steelers that will be pivotal in their quest for the playoffs. Win here and there may be no stopping them with the next weeks only going against CLE, CIN and WAS.

PHI PIT 2004 Averages PIT PHI
Gains Allows QB's Gains Allows
282
210
Pass yards
192
241
2.0
1.0
Pass TDs
1.3
1.0
0.4
1.1
Interceptions
0.6
1.0
15
11
Rush yards
6
12
0.3
0.0
Rush TDs
0.1
0.1
---
---
RB's
---
---
90
73
Rush yards
136
100
0.3
0.6
Rush TDs
1.3
0.6
59
35
Receive yards
12
42
0.0
0.1
Receive TD's
0.1
0.1
---
---
WR's
---
---
168
144
Receive yards
168
152
1.3
0.9
Receive TD's
1.0
0.6
---
---
TE's
---
---
55
31
Receive yards
12
42
0.7
0.0
Receive TD's
0.1
0.3
---
---
PK's
---
---
2.6
2.0
Field Goals
1.1
1.0
2.6
1.7
Extra Points
2.9
1.3
---
---
DEF/ST
---
---
1.0
0.6
Fumbles
1.3
0.4
1.0
0.6
Interceptions
1.1
0.4
0.1
0.3
Touchdowns
0.3
0.0
3.6
1.6
Sacks
3.0
1.9
0.0
0.0
Safeties
0.0
0.0
Eagles (7-0)
Score Opp.
31-17 NYG
27-16 MIN
30-13 @DET
19-9 @CHI
Week 5 bye
30-8 CAR
34-31 @CLE
15-10 BAL
Week 9 @PIT
Week 10 @DAL
Week 11 WAS
Week 12 @NYG
Week 13 GB
Week 14 @WAS
Week 15 DAL
Week 16 @STL
Week 17 CIN
Steelers (6-1)
Score Opp.
24-21 OAK
13-30 @BAL
13-3 @MIA
28-17 CIN
34-23 CLE
24-20 @DAL
Week 7 bye
34-20 NE
Week 9 PHI
Week 10 @CLE
Week 11 @CIN
Week 12 WAS
Week 13 @JAX
Week 14 NYJ
Week 15 @NYG
Week 16 BAL
Week 17 @BUF