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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
Player Projections by Team
Game Predictions Summary
The Huddle
September 13, 2006
Season Ticket
Sunday Late
Sunday night
Sunday Late
DET at CHI OAK at BAL STL at SF   updated

Prediction: PIT 17, JAX 16

The Steelers come off a solid win over the Dolphins that showed Big Ben and Bettis are not the only players for the Super Bowl Champs that matter. The Jaguars started slow last week against Dallas but got it into gear and Leftwich showed that Jimmy Smith was not the only receiver that mattered in Jacksonville. Now the Steelers have to win on the road and the Jaguars may once again get to play the Ben-less Steelers. Interesting note - the Steelers are 0-3 playing in Jacksonville in September but it will be cooler playing in the Monday night game.

The Jaguars beat the Steelers in overtime 23-17 in week six last year in Jacksonville.

Pittsburgh Steelers (1-0)
1 28-17 MIA 10 --- NO
2 --- @JAX 11 --- @CLE
3 --- CIN 12 --- @BAL
4 Open Bye 13 --- TB
5 --- @SD 14 --- CLE
6 --- KC 15 --- @CAR
7 --- @ATL 16 --- BAL
8 --- @OAK 17 --- @CIN
9 --- DEN - MON THU
PIT at JAX Rush Catch Pass
QB Charlie Batch 30 0 200,2
RB Willie Parker 80 20 0
TE Heath Miller 0 50,1 0
WR Hines Ward 0 60,1 0
WR Cedrick Wilson 0 30 0
WR Nate Washington 0 30 0
PK Jeff Reed 1 FG 2 XP -
Pregame Notes: The Steelers got strong play from Charlie Batch last week but HC Bill Cowher said that has nothing to do with the decision on whether Roethlisberger plays this week or not. Parker is manning the running game in an impressive manner and the Steelers defense is playing great so the choice about quarterback may not matter - it didn't last week.

Quarterback: Charlie Batch threw for 209 yards and three scores against the visiting Dolphins and with that the end of any mention of Tommy Maddox ever again. Batch lost one fumble but otherwise played very well including seven runs for 17 yards. Ben Roethlisberger is recuperating from appendectomy surgery and missed last week and has not been cleared to play this week. That could come later and will cause an update to the projections but until then, Batch is the projected starter. With a big home game against the Bengals looking next week, Ben may be better served with another week off.

Roethlisberger did not play in the game against the Jaguars last year and Tommy Maddox only managed 154 yards and one score.

Running Backs: Willie Parker rambled for 115 yards against the Dolphins on 29 carries for a solid 4.0 YPC though he did not score. He had every carry in the game except one for Vernon Haynes so any sharing scenario has yet to happen to any degree at all. The Steelers have acquired Najeh Davenport to be considered for short yardage play but until that happens it is not worth projecting. If Davenport works out, Duce Staley could be an in-season cut from the team who was expected to release him prior to the start of season.

Parker only gained 55 yards on 21 carries against the Jaguars last year.

Wide Receivers: Batch connected with scores to both Hines Ward (5-53) and Nate Washington (2-32) but never used Cedrick Wilson. Washington is considered the one to watch here. The undrafted rookie from 2005 has been impressive in camp and already has his first NFL score. Until Roethlisberger returns, it's too early to say that his impressive play from week one and camp mean that much.

Tight Ends: Heath Miller has hit the ground running yet again this year, turning in a team high 101 yards on three catches and scoring against the Dolphins on an 87-yard pass completion that may not have technically been a score but the refs called it that way and Nick Saban needs to work on his red flag chunking. Regardless, the play would have gone at least 84 yards anyway.

Despite no success by any wideout against the Jaguars last year, Heath Miller still turned in four catches for 72 yards and a score to easily lead the Steelers in week six.

Match Against the Defense: The Jaguars allowed Julius Jones to run for around four yards per carry last week and that fits into what Parker has done this year. Expect a good game here but for him to end under 100 yards and not to score against a solid Jacksonville front line. The Jags lost DE Reggie Howard for the season which will help.

With Batch as quarterback, the Steelers still throw well but the Jaguars were able to get great pressure on Bledsoe last week and that will force Batch from the pocket quite a few times. He can still connect on a touchdown pass or two but his yardage will remain moderate in this game. Look for Ward, of course, as the most likely to score. The Miami and Jacksonville defenses share many common traits, so the performance should be similar to last week.

Jacksonville Jaguars (1-0)
1 24-17 DAL 10 --- HOU
2 --- PIT 11 --- NYG
3 --- @IND 12 --- @BUF
4 --- @WAS 13 --- @MIA
5 --- NYJ 14 --- IND
6 Open Bye 15 --- @TEN
7 --- @HOU 16 --- NE
8 --- @PHI 17 --- @KC
9 --- TEN - - MON
JAX vs PIT Rush Catch Pass
QB Byron Leftwich 0 0 200,1
RB Fred Taylor 50 10 0
RB Maurice Drew 10 20 0
TE George Wrighster 0 20 0
WR Reggie Williams 0 50 0
WR Ernest Wilford 0 30 0
WR Matt Jones 0 60,1 0
PK Josh Scobee 3 FG 1 XP -

Pregame Notes: The Jaguars stumbled out of the game last week and fell behind 10-0 before the defense adjusted and shut down the Dallas attack for almost the rest of the game. There were no offensive stars last week though all pulled their weight. The difference was the defense taking the ball away and that will need to happen again on Monday for the Jags to notch a win against the Champion Steelers.

Quarterback: Byron Leftwich opened up 2006 without his favorite receiver Jimmy Smith but managed to use the trio of wideouts effectively. He ended with 237 yards and one score with one interception. Leftwich also scored on a quarterback draw play as well. If Leftwich can mix the three wideouts like that every week, this passing attack will be difficult to defend against.

Leftwich only had 177 yards and one score against the Steelers in week six last year.

Running Backs: Fred Taylor only had 74 yards on 21 carries last week but he scored once and added 41 more yards on six receptions. Both Maurice Jones and LaBrandon Toefield combined for five carries but only a net of three yards. With the loss of Greg Jones, Taylor is clearly the best tailback on the roster and is not sharing carries as he did last year.

Fred Taylor did not play in the meeting against the Steelers last year but Greg Jones had 77 yards and a score.

Wide Receivers: The wideout crew is without Jimmy Smith but they combined for 176 yards and a score against the Cowboys. Matt Jones had 71 yards and was the main focus of the secondary which left Ernest Wilford (3-58) and Reggie Williams (6-47, 1 TD) more room to work. The Cowboys had a good cornerback tandem but combining the three wideouts was effective.

No wideout had more than 50 yards against the Steelers last year but Matt Jones scored once.

Tight Ends: With Marcedes Lewis still nursing a high ankle sprain, George Wrighster filled in but only had three catches for 20 yards.

Match Against the Defense: The Steelers rush defense is as dominating as ever and only allowed Ronnie Brown to gain 30 yards on 15 carries last week. Figure on Fred Taylor finding little running room this week.

Leftwich goes against a defense that gave up 262 yards last week to Culpepper but that came at the price of no scores and two interceptions. Look for a balanced passing game again from Leftwich but he'll have more problems avoiding mistakes this week. Moderate passing numbers here with one passing score that should favor Jones slightly.