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FANTASY FOOTBALL WEEKLY FEATURES

Predictions & Projections
David M. Dorey
The Huddle
WEEK 15
December 15, 2004
Season Ticket
Saturday Sun 1 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 4 PM Sun 8:30 PM
PIT at NYG 1 * BUF at CIN * SD at CLE* STL at ARZ BAL at IND *
WAS at SF 5 * HOU at CHI SEA at NYJ DEN at KC * Mon 9 PM
CAR at ATL 8:30 JAX at GB * DAL at PHI * NO at TB NE at MIA*
Times ET MIN at DET TEN at OAK * *updated Times ET
  Pittsburgh Rush Catch Pass
QB Ben Roethlisberger 0 0 160,1
RB Duce Staley 60 10 0
RB Jerome Bettis 100,2 0 0
TE Jerame Tuman 0 10 0
WR Hines Ward 0 60,1 0
WR Antwaan Randle El 0 30 0
WR Lee Mays 0 30 0
PK Jeff Reed 1 FG 3 XP -
  NY Giants Rush Catch Pass
QB Eli Manning 0 0 140
RB Tiki Barber 70 20 0
TE Jeremy Shockey 0 40 0
WR Amani Toomer 0 30 0
WR Jamaar Taylor 0 20 0
WR Ike Hilliard 0 20 0
PK Steve Christie 1 FG 0 XP -

PIT (12-1) vs NYG (5-9)

Game Prediction: PIT 24, NYG 3

Here is the start of a weekend of visitors beating up the home team. Steelers bring in one of the very best defenses to throw at Eli Manning whose first name is actually an acronym for "Everybody Loves Interceptions".

Update: Duce Staley has not been practicing and he looks likely to be scratched this week. Should not be a big need for him anyway and it's better to let him rest up.

Jamaar Taylor is out this week and may miss the rest of the year with a badly sprained ankle. This is not what Manning needed when facing the #1 defense in the NFL.

Pre-Game Notes - PIT

The Steelers are trying to find the manual to see how the cruise control works. No one has seen it since the Bus was new.

Quarterback: Ben Roethlisberger continues to extend the rookie quarterback winning record but he hardly has much to do with it. He only threw nine of 19 for 144 yards and two interceptions last week. Aside from his 221 yard, two score game against the Jaguars, he has not had a good game in the last five weeks. Visiting the Giants? Now there is the ticket.

Running Backs: Since Duce Staley returned from his hamstring strain, he has two games with exactly 51 yards rushing on either 16 or 17 carries. His hamstring continues to bother him some and likely will for a while so Staley remains the starter but will continue to seek relief from Jerome Bettis who is thoroughly enjoying this season. If Bettis looked any happier he'd be subject to constant drug testing.

Wide Receivers: Plaxico Burress missed his second game with a bad hamstring and is no lock for this week. With Burress out of the lineup, the passing game just stalls. Antwaan Randle El's version of filling in has been two straight games with exactly 11 yards on one catch. Even Hines Ward fell back to only 39 yards on two catches last week. Ward has gone from a top #1 wideout in the NFL to being little more than the equivalent of a #3 wide receiver on most teams.

I assume Burress will miss another week though he may be back. Updates as warranted.

Tight Ends: As the final insult to Steeler wideouts, Jerame Tuman had one catch last week for the only passing touchdown in the game.

Match Against the Defense: Going against the Giants means picking how you want to win. Score at least two times and the game is won. Expect that they defense has fun against Manning and results in good field position, more rushing by Staley and Bettis and a continued need to not throw much. Roethlisberger could throw for multiple scores here if he wanted to, he just won't likely need to bother. The Giants pass rush has gone downhill and Ward desperately needs to catch a touchdown - this is the best chance he will have for the rest of the season with BAL and BUF yet to play.

Pre-Game Notes - NYG

The Giants have lost their last six games and finally pulled Manning from the Ravens matchup last week before he made a mockery of the QB rating system that stops when a QB reaches "0" (which he did have). The Giants have not only lost all offensive scoring ability, they have also lost the ability to stop opponents from scoring which is why they have lost the last three games by 20+ points.

Quarterback: Eli Manning only completed 4 of 18 passes for 27 yards, two interceptions and one lost fumble before being yanked in the fourth quarter last week. Kurt Warner had 127 yards in just one quarter of play. But HC Tom Coughlin says Manning remains the starter though his leash may continue to shorten since the entire team is being effected. It's one thing to suffer through a learning curve. It's another to make 52 other guys all suffer every game.

Running Backs: Tiki Barber finally scored a touchdown after a three game drought. He only had 55 yards on 19 carries and most of those came after Warner entered the game and made the defense back off. Barber gets to face the #1 defense against running backs this week and with Manning again the starter, the outlook is not good.

Wide Receivers: I said Manning was starting. Move along.

Tight Ends: Jeremy Shockey comes off his best game of the season when he gained 83 yards on five catches last week. Only one catch for six yards came from Manning.

Match Against the Defense: The only thing that the Giants can hope for here is that the Steelers are not as prepared or motivated to win the game as they would normally be. But it still would not matter. Expect that this is a standard Steelers win with great defense that will delight in chasing Manning.

Bettis and Staley should share about the same yardage and moderate numbers from the major players will be enough to win. There is no reason to run up the score here.

PIT NYG 2004 Averages NYG PIT
Gains Allows QB's Gains Allows
176
195
Pass yards
198
193
1.1
1.8
Pass TDs
0.5
0.9
0.6
0.8
Interceptions
0.8
1.2
11
21
Rush yards
4
10
0.1
0.1
Rush TDs
0.1
0.0
---
---
RB's
---
---
135
117
Rush yards
114
67
1.0
0.7
Rush TDs
1.1
0.3
21
37
Receive yards
47
29
0.2
0.2
Receive TD's
0.1
0.1
---
---
WR's
---
---
143
120
Receive yards
103
136
0.7
0.9
Receive TD's
0.1
0.7
---
---
TE's
---
---
12
38
Receive yards
47
29
0.3
0.6
Receive TD's
0.3
0.1
---
---
PK's
---
---
1.3
0.9
Field Goals
1.2
1.6
2.5
2.4
Extra Points
1.9
1.3
---
---
DEF/ST
---
---
0.8
0.8
Fumbles
0.9
0.5
1.2
0.8
Interceptions
0.8
0.6
0.3
0.0
Touchdowns
0.2
0.2
3.0
3.8
Sacks
2.4
2.4
0.1
0.0
Safeties
0.0
0.0
Steelers (12-1)
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
17-6 NYJ
Week 15 @NYG
Week 16 BAL
Week 17 @BUF
Giants (5-9)
Score Opp.
17-31 @PHI
20-14 WAS
27-10 CLE
14-7 @GB
26-10 @DAL
Week 6 bye
13-28 DET
34-13 @MIN
21-28 CHI
14-17 @ARI
10-14 ATL
6-27 PHI
7-31 @WAS
14-37 @BAL
Week 15 PIT
Week 16 @CIN
Week 17 DAL