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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
The Huddle
September 18, 2005
Season Ticket
Sun 1 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 4 PM Sun 8:30 PM
BUF at TBB NE at CAR Sun 4 PM MIA at NYJ Mon 9 PM
JAC at IND* PIT at HOU* STL at ARI *Update Times ET

Prediction: Pittsburgh 20, Houston 13

Here's a tale of two opposites. The Steelers won 34-7 over the Titans and looked unstoppable in every facet of the game. The Texans come off a 7-22 loss in Buffalo where they looked unfamiliar with every facet of the game. Even if the Steelers overlook this game because of the NE matchup in week three (and who could blame them), they could still win here because the Texans have discovered that they are not only going backwards, they are picking up speed.

Update: Ben Roethlisberger has been downgraded to questionable this week with a bone bruise to his knee. He was held out of practice on Wednesday and limited on Thursday. If cannot play, Tommy Maddox will take the helm this week. I am not changing the projections because I do not anticipate much from Big Ben this week anyway and he may end up as a gametime decision. He says, but of course, that he intends to play.

Pittsburgh Steelers (1-0)
1 34-7 TEN 10 Nov 13 CLE
2 Sep 18 @HOU 11 Nov 20 @BAL
3 Sep 25 NE 12 Nov 28 @IND
4 Open Bye 13 Dec 4 CIN
5 Oct 10 @SDC 14 Dec 11 CHI
6 Oct 16 JAC 15 Dec 18 @MIN
7 Oct 23 @CIN 16 Dec 24 @CLE
8 Oct 31 BAL 17 Jan 1 DET
9 Nov 6 @GBP . MON SAT
PIT Projections Rush Catch Pass
QB Ben Roethlisberger 0 0 190,1
RB Willie Parker 90,1 20 0
TE Heath Miller 0 10 0
WR Hines Ward 0 60 0
WR Cedrick Wilson 0 60,1 0
WR Antwaan Randle El 0 40 0
PK Jeff Reed 2 FG 2 XP -
Pregame Notes: It all worked last week. Front to back, side to side it all worked. Roethlisberger looked like Peyton Manning. Willie Parker looked like Priest Holmes on speed. The PIT defense looked like the PIT defense. They would have scored more but likely were bored at the end.

Quarterback: Ben Roethlisberger has never looked so good. He threw 9 of 11 for 218 yards and two touchdowns. He passed twice down by the endzone and connected once with the rookie TE Heath Miller and until now we did not know there were tight ends in Pittsburgh.

Hey - it's not over. The Texans had one of the worst secondaries in the NFL last year and just made J.P. Losman look like a polished veteran in his first game out as a starter.

Running Backs: Well hello Willie Parker. The undrafted reserve running back took the start and shredded the Titans last week for 161 rushing yards and a catch for 48 more yards mainly because he could. He scored once and already HC Bill Cowher has said that Parker deserves to start this week even if Bettis and Staley are healthy.

209 total yards - yeah. He's earned it. Another one of those and they'll be naming sandwiches after him instead of Big Ben.

Wide Receivers: Funny thing about a blowout win. It can mean the primary wideout is not needed. As in Hines Ward catching only two passes for 25 yards and those were the only two thrown his way. Antwaan Randle El had two catches for 89 yards and a score thanks to his 63 yard run and catch. New flanker Cedric Wilson had two catches for 26 yards. Basically, it was only 11 passes and all the wideouts had the same throws. Randle El just finally managed to break one free.

Tight Ends: The rookie Heath Miller only had one catch for three yards, but he started his NFL career with a touchdown. With only one pass, it is still too early to say the Steelers are actually reverting to using the tight end more but Miller in the endzone could be a common site.

Match Against the Defense: The Texans have a better defense than did the Titans, but only in that sausage vs. pepperoni pizza sort of way. Willis McGahee just ran for 117 yards on 22 carries against this defense and Parker should be able to approach those sort of numbers if only through volume of carries.

Like Losman's 170 yards and one score last week, Roethlisberger can pick and chose what he wants to do here. This could be a blowout win with all players racking up some nice fantasy points but on the road after a blowout and with NE coming next week, expect the Steelers to win convincingly but not by an obscene amount. They'll play well enough to win plus maybe a field goal or so for a margin of error.

Houston Texans (0-1)
1 7-22 @BUF 10 Nov 13 @IND
2 Sep 18 PIT 11 Nov 20 KCC
3 Open Bye 12 Nov 27 STL
4 Oct 2 @CIN 13 Dec 4 @BAL
5 Oct 9 TEN 14 Dec 11 @TEN
6 Oct 16 @SEA 15 Dec 18 ARI
7 Oct 23 IND 16 Dec 24 JAC
8 Oct 30 CLE 17 Jan 1 @SFO
9 Nov 6 @JAC . . SAT
HOU Projections Rush Catch Pass
QB David Carr 20 0 170,1
RB Domanick Davis 60 40 0
TE Mark Bruener 0 10 0
WR Andre Johnson 0 50 0
WR Corey Bradford 0 30,1 0
WR Jabar Gaffney 0 20 0
PK Kris Brown 2 FG 1 XP -

Pregame Notes: The Texans are mired in mediocrity right now and apparently have no idea how to rise up. They looked bad all summer and now when it counts, they look just as bad. At this rate, Dom Capers shouldn't worry about planting trees at his house. Maybe not even a flower with a sunlamp.

My personal opinion - the problem is probably 95% coaching. Same players, worse results. Hmmm...

Quarterback: Sadly, David Carrwreck is getting worse. He comes off a game in Buffalo where he completed only 9 of 21 passes for a whopping 70 yards, one fumble and two interceptions. Does anyone have a life raft? Anything that floats? After playing the Steelers, the Texans go into their bye week and they may never be the same this season if the Steelers are motivated this week. It is only week one and a sense of desperation is starting.

Running Backs: Domanick Davis only gained 48 yards on 14 carries last week and his two catches for nine yards hardly compensated for such a poor performance. With Carr being so ineffective, Davis is being naturally stuffed. Granted - playing in Buffalo is hardly the way to gain big stats but there is a legitimate concern that the Texans could become one of those "heading south on a bullet train" this season if they do not turn it around and it will effect Davis the most.

Facing the Steelers is not the way to effect a turn around either.

In the glass half full report, Vernon Morency never had a carry last week so Davis gets everything there is, whatever that may prove to be.

Wide Receivers: With 70 yards passing last week, let's not bother here other than to say Andre Johnson will be challenged to produce commensurate with where he was drafted this summer. Sure, there were no other fantasy relevant receivers in Houston before but now they've taken away Andre Johnson? There should be a CSI:NFL about this one.

Tight Ends: Sadly Mark Bruener (1-19) and Matt Murphy (1-14) combined for the best aspect of the passing attack last week. And the Texans don't even use tight ends.

Match Against the Defense: Back at home, we can only hope this game defies the numbers that preceded it. If it doesn't, it will be a very dark bye during week three. The best that can be hoped for here is that the Texans pull it together and the Steelers try to mail in this game. It could happen but even that caps Davis and Johnson at only marginally relevant fantasy numbers for the week. In similar games last year - say at CLE (24-10) or at MIA (13-3), the Steelers only did what they had to do and little more. That is very likely here.