fantasy football     JOIN THE HUDDLE    


Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
The Huddle
October 9, 2005
Season Ticket
Sun 1 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 4 PM Sun 8:30 PM Mon 9 PM
CHI at CLE SEA at STL* CAR at ARI On Bye:  
NE at ATL TEN at HOU* WAS at DEN MIN, NYG Updated*

Prediction: Pittsburgh 21, San Diego 24

The two big surprises in the AFC last year meet and the Chargers are fresh off a win in New England that should put quite a bit of wind into their sails. The Steelers come off a bye and last were beaten at home by the same team that the Chargers just demolished as a visitor. That should play into the emotional aspect of this game, particularly with the Steelers on the road and the Chargers now at home.

Update: Hines Ward remains listed as questionable to play due to his hamstring strain that has lasted for two weeks now. He has not practiced but maintains that he will be playing. The Steelers will likely need him this week and though I am lowering his numbers slightly, he is considered likely to play. He gains an additional day to heal with the Monday night game.

Pittsburgh Steelers (2-1)
1 34-7 TEN 10 Nov 13 CLE
2 27-7 @HOU 11 Nov 20 @BAL
3 20-23 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 at SD Rush Catch Pass
QB Ben Roethlisberger 0 0 220,2
RB Willie Parker 70,1 20 0
TE Heath Miller 0 10 0
WR Hines Ward 0 60,1 0
WR Cedrick Wilson 0 50 0
WR Antwaan Randle El 0 60,1 0
PK Jeff Reed 0 FG 3 XP -
Pregame Notes: The Steelers spent the last week on bye while stewing about the very worst of all losses - a home game given up to the visiting Patriots who were largely decimated by injury when the fourth quarter rolled around. No time to worry anymore, the Steelers have a tough four game stretch now playing @SD, JAC, @CIN and BAL. Compare that to the first two games against the Titans and Texans.

Quarterback: Ben Roethlisberger has been absolutely solid so far this year other than a completion problem against the Patriots when it mattered most. He completed only 12 of 28 passes for 216 yards in the game but he has thrown for two touchdowns every week this year. Just as important - he has not yet thrown an interception or lost a fumble. He'll need to keep that string going with a tough schedule this month.

Running Backs: The magic of Willie Parker did not last, he only gained 55 yards on 17 carries against New England and his role will likely see at least some decrease since Duce Staley is now fully healthy. Staley suited up in week three but never played but is expected to get at least a few carries this week. I will not project for him since it remains to be seen how much he will be integrated, but be aware that Staley could be taking some carries from Parker from here until, of course, Staley is injured again.

Jerome Bettis is also back at practice and could be available this week. HC Bill Cowher has already stated that Parker remains the starting tailback but this will be the first time the Steelers have a healthy running back crew. Any use of Bettis as the short yardage runner or Staley as relief will start now. I am only projecting for Parker but this will likely be the last week with only one back projected.

Wide Receivers: While Hines Ward had a terrible game in week one, he's scored twice in each of the last two games and had 110 yards against the Patriots. As the defenses get tougher, the other wideouts seem to be disappearing. Cedrick Wilson only had two catches for 16 yards in the last game and while Antwaan Randle El had 56 yards in the Patriot match-up, he's had declining yardage every week since opening with 89 yards. He's purely a longball player in this offense and has yet to catch more than three passes in any game.

Tight Ends: Other than the touchdown in week one, Heath Miller looks a lot like every other Steelers tight end over the last several years. He had no catches in week two and only one for 13 yards against the Patriots. With Hines Ward taking up so much of the slack, the Steelers would be well served with getting more receptions out of their star rookie tight end but so far - business as usual.

Match Against the Defense: The Chargers rush defense has been outstanding this season and no runner has topped one hundred yards rushing against them. That includes Barber, Julius Jones, Mike Anderson and Dillon. Expect a moderate game here from Parker and if there is a rushing score, most likely it will go to Bettis if he plays. I will give it to Parker but realize that may not be his.

Roethlisberger faces a secondary that has oddly been giving up a couple of scores per game, but only to visitors and never on the road. With the rushing game unlikely to provide big numbers here, Big Ben will have to make the difference throwing and should end up with one or two scores and around 220 yards. There is a chance that Randle El could do something this week from the slot since the Chargers corners have been holding down the primary receivers this year. Three out of four games have seen the slot produce a score. There has been no wideout with more than 89 yards this season and that went to Patrick Crayton - from the slot.

San Diego Chargers (2-2)
1 24-28 DAL 10 Open Bye
2 17-20 @DEN 11 Nov 20 BUF
3 45-23 NYG 12 Nov 27 @WAS
4 41-17 @NE 13 Dec 4 OAK
5 Oct 10 PIT 14 Dec 11 MIA
6 Oct 16 @OAK 15 Dec 18 @IND
7 Oct 23 @PHI 16 Dec 24 @KCC
8 Oct 30 KCC 17 Dec 31 DEN
9 Nov 6 @NYJ . MON SAT
SDC vs PIT Rush Catch Pass
QB Drew Brees 0 0 210,2
RB L. Tomlinson 100,1 20 0
TE Antonio Gates 0 80,1 0
WR Keenan McCardell 0 50,1 0
WR Eric Parker 0 40 0
WR Reche Caldwell 0 20 0
PK Nate Kaeding 1 FG 2 XP -

Pregame Notes: The Chargers were 0-2 and looking like last season was a fluke. Two games later and they are 2-2 with monster wins over the Giants and Patriots that featured great efforts from every aspect of the team. Tomlinson leads the NFL in most categories and Antonio Gates is the only tight end from 2004 that remembered to stay good.

Quarterback: Over the last two games, Drew Brees has been almost flawless, throwing two scores in each game with no turnovers and completing 38 of his 46 passes during that time. With Tomlinson running so well, there is no need for gaudy passing yards but Brees has been masterful picking when to throw and doing it efficiently and effectively.

Running Backs: LaDainian Tomlinson will be cooling off soon. He has to be. Right now he is on pace to score 32 rushing touchdowns on the year with over 2000 total yards. Then again, perhaps no one has told him that. Tomlinson has scored at least twice in each of the last three games.

Wide Receivers: Keenan McCardell only had one catch for 11 yards last week but it was a touchdown, giving him five on the season. Reche Caldwell hadn't had a catch since week one but managed two receptions for 36 yards and one score against the Patriots and even Eric Parker had four grabs for 51 yards last week. Outside of McCardell, it was a banner day for wideouts which reverses the normal results - usually only McCardell does anything as a wideout in a game.

Tight Ends: Antonio Gates may have missed the first game, but his 280 yards on the season already leads the league. He had 108 yards on six catches last week - the fourth 100 yard game of his career.

Match Against the Defense: Something is bound to break here. The Steelers bring in one of the top rushing defenses in the league to face the best runner. No one has gained more than 63 rushing yards against the Steelers but then again TEN, HOU and NE are not exactly running powerhouses this season. Look for a good game from Tomlinson as always but he's more likely to stop posting eye-popping numbers this week. Maybe just "100 and a touchdown" for a kick back week.

Brees will face a team that was outstanding against the pass until Brady threw for 372 yards in week three.The Steelers can be beaten by a decent tight end and the Chargers happen to have the best one. Look for a solid game from Gates with at least moderate numbers from McCardell when the safety commits to Gates on the inside. The only road game the Steelers have had this season was in Houston, so this should be an entirely new experience this year for the defense.