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FANTASY FOOTBALL WEEKLY FEATURES

Predictions & Projections
David M. Dorey
The Huddle
WEEK 14
December 8, 2004
Season Ticket
Sun 1 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 4 PM Sun 8:30 PM
NYG at BAL* DET at GB CIN at NE* SF at ARZ* PHI at WAS
OAK at ATL IND at HOU* Sun 4 PM STL at CAR* Mon 9 PM
CLE at BUF* CHI at JAX* MIA at DEN TB at SD* KC at TEN*
NO at DAL SEA at MIN NYJ at PIT *updated Times ET
  NY Jets Rush Catch Pass
QB Chad Pennington 0 0 200,1
RB Curtis Martin 60 10 0
RB Lamont Jordan 10 10 0
TE Anthony Becht 0 20 0
WR Wayne Chrebet 0 30 0
WR Justin McCareins 0 70,1 0
WR Santana Moss 0 40 0
PK Doug Brien 2 FG 1 XP -
  Pittsburgh Rush Catch Pass
QB Ben Roethlisberger 0 0 190,1
RB Duce Staley 80 30 0
RB Jerome Bettis 20,1 10 0
TE Jerame Tuman 0 10 0
WR Hines Ward 0 50 0
WR Antwaan Randle El 0 50,1 0
WR Lee Mays 0 30 0
PK Jeff Reed 3 FG 2 XP -

NYJ (9-3) vs PIT (11-1)

Game Prediction: NYJ 13, PIT 23

The Steelers are on a ten game winning streak and are primed for a loss. The Jets have won their last three and are already likely to settle for a wildcard. Both of these teams could use the win but neither absolutely has to have it. The Jets are only 4-2 on the road this season but the Steelers keep winning by smaller and smaller margins. Then again, as long as Pittsburgh continues to win, they're in the hunt for the treasured "homefield throughout".

Pre-Game Notes - NYJ

The Jets come off an easy three game stretch that saw wins over CLE, ARZ and HOU. Now the road gets uphill.

Quarterback: Chad Pennington's return last week went well enough. He threw 20 of 27 for 155 yards and two scores but had one interception and realistically, that's the lowest performance against the Texans this season. And his two scores did not find a wideout - they went to a running back and tight end.

Running Backs: Curtis Martin shouldered the load again last week when he gained 134 yards on 24 carries and scored on both a run and a pass. Martin's 1305 rushing yards are tops in the NFL this season and he has 12 scores so far. In the recent weeks against soft defenses, he has been sharing between 11 and 18 carries with Lamont Jordan but in tougher matchups he's never shared more than three runs.

Wide Receivers: Just pitiful. Pennington's big return against the worst secondary in the league resulted in Justin McCareins only logging 47 yards on four catches and Santana Moss had an incredible one catch for five yards. Even Quincy Carter was better for the wideouts to produce something. if you thought the Jets were ignoring their wideouts, realize they play the Steelers this week and then the Patriots in three weeks.

Tight Ends: Anthony Becht scored his first touchdown for 2004 last week and it was his first (and only) catch since week eight. While Carter ignored the tight ends entirely, Pennington at least notices them. In this offense, 20 to 40 yards is like wide receiver yardage.

Match Against the Defense: The Steelers sport a top three toughest defense in almost every fantasy category. Curtis Martin faces a rush defense that has allowed only one touchdown in Pittsburgh this season. Other than the freakishly high 123 yards by Rudi Johnson, no visiting runner has gained more than 34 yards in Pittsburgh. This will be his toughest test yet this year. Expect a moderate game at best. Anything over 60 yards on the ground will be a success and likely reflect that the Jets were able to keep the game in reach.

Pennington should throw for one score but more than that would be high for him, let alone to an opponent in Pittsburgh. The matchups strongly favor McCareins here but if any wideout gains more than about 80 yards it will reflect that the Jets fell horribly behind very early.

Pre-Game Notes - PIT

The Steelers keep finding themselves in tough games that are close the last three weeks but they've stayed just good enough to win every time. Back at home, they'll probably be just good enough again.

Quarterback: Ben Roethlisberger not only has set the NFL rookie record with ten wins in his first season, he has done that in the only ten games he has ever started. He had been on a downslide for three weeks with sub-140 yard efforts but faced with a "do or die" final drive last week, the kid took the team down for the winning score and ended with 221 yards and two scores in spite of playing without Plaxico Burress.

Running Backs: The Steelers kept the running game alive and very well using Jerome Bettis while Duce Staley was out. Now both are healthy and ready to finish the best season of any Steeler team so far. Staley only had 51 yards on 17 carries last week but that was against a tough Jaguars defense on the road. Before he left injured in week eight, he was gaining over 100 yards a week.

Wide Receivers: Hines Ward had his best game since Roethlisberger took over and ended with 80 yards and a score against Jacksonville last week. The odder factor was that Ward gained 65 yards and the score on the first series. Then he disappeared yet again. Antwaan Randle El had his best game of the year when he turned in 71 yards replacing Burress but he still has never scored this year.

Burress was a late scratch last week and could play here but until there is better word, I'll assume he is still out.

Tight Ends: Jay Riemersma scored in each of the last two games on his only catch but he could be lost for the season due to a serious ankle injury on that one catch. Since Riemersma is not likely to play this week, Jerame Tuman should start.

Match Against the Defense: The Jets have done well defensively this season but they have faced a lighter schedule. On the road against good teams, they've given up big games to Dillon, Tomlinson and McGahee. The Jets have also lost DE John Abraham which should be felt against both the run and pass.

Expect that the Steelers will mix Bettis and Staley in a fashion similar to earlier this year when both were healthy. That's yardage for Staley and scores for Bettis. An aggressive defense should rattle Pennington and help with field position which only leads to more rushing.

Roethlisberger should throw for one score but more than that is not likely. The rushing game should be solid enough to support the win combined with a good defensive effort.

NYJ PIT 2004 Averages PIT NYJ
Gains Allows QB's Gains Allows
196
194
Pass yards
179
205
1.2
1.0
Pass TDs
1.2
1.1
0.4
1.1
Interceptions
0.5
1.2
9
9
Rush yards
13
10
0.1
0.0
Rush TDs
0.1
0.1
---
---
RB's
---
---
142
65
Rush yards
136
89
1.0
0.3
Rush TDs
1.0
0.4
38
28
Receive yards
19
32
0.3
0.1
Receive TD's
0.2
0.1
---
---
WR's
---
---
138
135
Receive yards
147
142
0.6
0.8
Receive TD's
0.8
0.8
---
---
TE's
---
---
20
30
Receive yards
13
31
0.3
0.1
Receive TD's
0.3
0.3
---
---
PK's
---
---
1.5
1.6
Field Goals
1.3
0.9
2.2
1.4
Extra Points
2.6
1.7
---
---
DEF/ST
---
---
1.0
0.5
Fumbles
0.9
0.5
0.8
0.5
Interceptions
1.1
0.6
0.2
0.2
Touchdowns
0.3
0.1
2.0
2.4
Sacks
3.3
2.1
0.0
0.0
Safeties
0.1
0.1
Jets (9-3)
Score Opp.
31-24 CIN
34-28 @SD
Week 3 bye
17-9 @MIA
16-14 BUF
22-14 SF
7-13 @NE
41-14 MIA
17-22 @BUF
17-20 BAL
10-7 @CLE
13-3 @ARI
29-7 HOU
Week 14 @PIT
Week 15 SEA
Week 16 NE
Week 17 @STL
Steelers (11-1)
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
17-16 @JAX
Week 14 NYJ
Week 15 @NYG
Week 16 BAL
Week 17 @BUF