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FANTASY FOOTBALL WEEKLY FEATURES

Predictions & Projections
David M. Dorey
The Huddle
WEEK 13
December 1, 2004
Season Ticket
Sun 1 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 4 PM Sun 8:30 PM
CIN at BAL* BUF at MIA ATL at TB* DEN at SD PIT at JAX
MIN at CHI TEN at IND* SF at STL* KC at OAK* Mon 9 PM
ARZ at DET CAR at NO   GB at PHI* DAL at SEA
NE at CLE HOU at NYJ *updated NYG at WAS Times ET
  Pittsburgh Rush Catch Pass
QB Ben Roethlisberger 0 0 170
RB Duce Staley 70,1 20 0
RB Jerome Bettis 30,1 0 0
TE Jay Riemersma 0 10 0
WR Hines Ward 0 40 0
WR Antwaan Randle El 0 30 0
WR Plaxico Burress 0 50 0
PK Jeff Reed 2 FG 1 XP -
  Jacksonville Rush Catch Pass
QB Byron Leftwich 0 0 250,1
RB Fred Taylor 90,1 30 0
TE Kyle Brady 0 20 0
WR Jimmy Smith 0 100,1 0
WR Troy Edwards 0 50 0
WR Reggie Williams 0 30 0
PK Josh Scobee 2 FG 2 XP -

PIT (10-1) vs JAX (6-5)

Game Prediction: PIT 17, JAX 20

The Steelers roll into town with an NFL-best nine game winning streak to face the Jaguars who have lost three of their last four games. It's a trap game.

Pre-Game Notes - PIT

The Steelers have not been winning big lately, but they have always won. The offense has been scoring less every game since the week seven bye week but so far - been just enough.

Quarterback: After becoming the darling of Pittsburgh, Ben Roethlisberger has looked must for like a rookie the last month. He comes off a 9 of 20, 131 yard game against the Redskins and in the last three weeks has not thrown for more than 138 yards in any game. He has only one touchdown in that time. Evidently the Roethlisberger game film is now making the rounds for defensive coordinators.

Running Backs: Jerome Bettis continues to defy expectations and odds. He has ran for at least 100 yards in each of the last four games and currently has 11 touchdowns on the year. Duce Staley was held out last week for the fourth straight time but he should be back this Sunday. He was a fairly late scratch last week and HC Bill Cowher has already indicated that he expected Staley to make his return.

Wide Receivers: Plaxico Burress did not play last week due to his hamstring and Antwaan Randle El replaced him as the starter. Randle El ended with two catches for 37 yards and not much difference from any other week this season. Hines Ward only had three receptions for 42 yards and has caught only one touchdown since week three of the season. Amazingly, he only has 76 yards as a high game since week three when Roethlisberger became a starter. His drop-off from last year is dramatic and for Ward owners - pretty traumatic.

I am projecting for Burress to return this week but will update if it appears his hamstring will keep him out again. It was only supposed to be a grade 2 sprain that should not last.

Tight Ends: In the entire year, there have been 13 total completions spread amongst three tight ends. Yeah, thanks for nothing.

Match Against the Defense: Playing this game in Jacksonville will be tough, especially since the Jaguars defense has been solid against the run this year and have only allowed one rushing score in the last six weeks. The Steelers will naturally tend towards the run but in Jacksonville there has been no opposing runner to exceed 95 yards in a game this season. With Staley and Bettis likely to share, expect lower games from both.

The Steelers catch a small break with the Jaguars losing yet another defensive lineman (DE Rob Meier).

The Steelers passing attack has almost completely stalled as of late and the Jaguars pass defense has been very good this year against all but the best passers which Roethlisberger is not. This game should be a bigger challenge for the Steelers than the records suggest.

Pre-Game Notes - JAX

The Jaguars were flying high with a 5-2 record until Byron Leftwich was injured. They stumbled to only 6-5 but remain in the hunt for a wild card. With the Colts already two games up in the AFC South, the division is likely out of reach.

Quarterback: Byron Leftwich was on fire - he had four straight games with at least 298 yards until he was injured in week eight with a knee sprain. He finally returned last week and had to wear a brace in against the Vikings. He ended with only 235 yards and one touchdown with one lost fumble. He'll be one week better this Sunday.

Running Backs: Fred Taylor has gained over 100 yards in each of the last three games and HC Jack Del Rio wants to feature him more heavily than the 22 carries per game he has been given this season. Taylor only has one rushing score on the year and while that may not change, the plan is to increase his yardage totals. Taylor suffered from a foot injury earlier this season but is finally completely healthy and ready to carry the load.

Wide Receivers: Jimmy Smith was riding high when Leftwich was healthy but hasn't done too much lately. He had four catches for 48 yards last week and only 29 yards on two catches in Garrard's final game. Smith already has four 100 yard games this season. No other Jaguar receiver has more than 55 yards in any game.

Tight Ends: This crew has been lackluster at best and since George Wrighster left in week four, there's been no scores or yardage so rely on.

Match Against the Defense: There is no question that the Steelers defense has been stellar this season, they've been Top 5 against the skill positions for most of the season but on the road they have had a rather kind schedule so far - CIN, CLE, DAL, MIA and BAL (their only loss).

They've only allowed four rushing scores this season and only one 100 yard game (Rudi Johnson). Still, the only two teams that have had a runner go for more than 22 carries have score and/or had that 100 yard game.

By trends, there is little reason to hope that Taylor has a big running game but the Steelers are on the road in a non-divisional game and are in the perfect spot for a fall. I like Taylor to turn in a solid game because he should get the 25 carries needed to post decent numbers.

The Steeler pass defense had been solid as well, but they've also feasted on some very poor passing attacks this season. The trend would be for Leftwich to only have one score and around 190 yards but again - this game is the perfect setup for an upset.

PIT JAX 2004 Averages JAX PIT
Gains Allows QB's Gains Allows
175
226
Pass yards
226
187
1.1
1.2
Pass TDs
1.1
1.0
0.5
0.5
Interceptions
0.7
1.2
10
9
Rush yards
13
10
0.1
0.2
Rush TDs
0.3
0
---
---
RB's
---
 
141
95
Rush yards
103
62
1.1
0.5
Rush TDs
0.3
0.4
20
43
Receive yards
42
27
0.2
0.1
Receive TD's
0.2
0.1
---
---
WR's
---
 
144
144
Receive yards
155
132
0.7
0.6
Receive TD's
0.6
0.7
---
---
TE's
---
 
11
43
Receive yards
28
28
0.2
0.4
Receive TD's
0.3
0.1
---
---
PK's
---
 
1.4
1.4
Field Goals
1.5
1.5
2.6
1.9
Extra Points
1.2
1.5
---
---
DEF/ST
---
 
1.0
0.5
Fumbles
0.7
0.5
1.2
0.8
Interceptions
0.6
0.5
0.4
0.4
Touchdowns
0.0
0.2
3.4
2.5
Sacks
1.9
2.4
0.1
0.0
Safeties
0.1
0.0
Steelers (10-1)
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
27-3 PHI
24-10 @CLE
19-14 @CIN
16-7 WAS
Week 13 @JAX
Week 14 NYJ
Week 15 @NYG
Week 16 BAL
Week 17 @BUF
Jaguars (6-5)
Score Opp.
13-10 @BUF
7-6 DEN
15-12 @TEN
17-24 IND
21-34 @SD
22-16 KC
27-24 @IND
6-20 @HOU
Week 9 bye
23-17 DET
15-18 TEN
16-27 @MIN
Week 13 PIT
Week 14 CHI
Week 15 @GB
Week 16 HOU
Week 17 @OAK