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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
Player Projections by Team
Game Predictions Summary
The Huddle
September 20, 2006
Season Ticket
Sunday Late
Sunday night
On Bye
GB at DET WAS at HOU STL at ARZ   updated

Prediction: CIN 20, PIT 17

One of the must watch games for this week will be the 2-0 Bengals heading into Pittsburgh for their first match-up since the infamous knee-job that happened to Carson Palmer. The Bengals certainly looked up to speed last week dismantling the Browns with ease but the Steelers ran into a buzz saw in Jacksonville on Monday Night Football which ruined the return of Ben Roethlisberger from his appendix surgery.

These teams traded wins as visitors in 2005 with the Steelers winning 27-13 and later the Bengals taking the victory 38-31.

Cincinnati Bengals (2-0)
1 23-10 @KC 10 --- SD
2 34-17 CLE 11 --- @NO
3 --- @PIT 12 --- @CLE
4 --- NE 13 --- BAL
5 Open Bye 14 --- OAK
6 --- @TB 15 --- @IND
7 --- CAR 16 --- @DEN
8 --- ATL 17 --- PIT
9 --- @BAL - MON THU
CIN at PIT Rush Catch Pass
QB Carson Palmer 0 0 230,1
RB Rudi Johnson 80,1 10 0
TE Reggie Kelly 0 10 0
WR Chad Johnson 0 80,1 0
WR Houshmandzadeh 0 60 0
WR Chris Henry 0 50 0
PK Shayne Graham 2 FG 2 XP -
Pregame Notes: First game out of the box and the Bengals looked good but not great. Week two against the Browns - great. The offense posted over 500 yards and four touchdowns and everybody who was anybody had a good game - but at a cost since many players ended up with bruises and sprains. This week Houshmandzadeh is expected to return which will only make this team even better.

Quarterback: After a yawner for a first game out, Carson Palmer assured everyone that he was just fine when he threw for 352 yards and two touchdowns last week. Already supported by a solid rushing game, Palmer finally gets his full complement of receiver back this week when Houshmandzadeh shows up.

Palmer only had 227 yards and two interceptions when the Steelers visited in week seven last year but turned in 227 yards and three scores in the upset win in Pittsburgh in week 13.

Running Backs: Rudi Johnson has always been a rock solid fantasy back but in his first two outings this year he has turned in 241 rushing yards and three touchdowns to place him more like a top three back. Whether or not Palmer has a big game, Johnson has been the one highly consistent and productive aspect of the Bengals offense so far.

Rudi Johnson only had 64 yards at home against the Steelers but gained 98 yards and scored twice in Pittsburgh last year.

Wide Receivers: After minimal production in the season opener, Chad Johnson got back on track with 78 yards on six catches for one score last week while Chris Henry subbed for Houshmandzadeh and turned five catches into 113 yards. Even Kelley Washington scored last week. Houshmandzadeh has missed the first two games with a heel injury but is expected to play this week.

Chad Johnson never scored against the Steelers last year, ending with games of 94 and 54 yards but Houshmandzadeh had 75 yards and later 88 yards with two scores in Pittsburgh.

Tight Ends: No fantasy value. Pretty much ever.

Match Against the Defense: While the Steelers are just 1-1 on the season, don't blame their defense. Fred Taylor gained 92 yards against them last Monday but much of that came late in the game. They held Ronnie Brown to only 30 yards on 15 carries in Pittsburgh in week one so Johnson will likely step down from his monster games of late to a more moderate 80 yards with a decent chance of one score.

Palmer has a score to settle of sorts but by the same token he has a knee to protect. With Houshmandzadeh back the passing game should improve even more but the Steelers have yet to give up a passing score this season. Figure Palmer should break that string but more than once is just gravy and signals the game is going well for the Bengals. Look for Johnson to bounce back from the mugging he had late in the Browns game and to score.


Pittsburgh Steelers (1-1)
1 28-17 MIA 10 --- NO
2 0-9 @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 vs CIN Rush Catch Pass
QB Ben Roethlisberger 0 0 220,2
RB Willie Parker 70 20 0
TE Heath Miller 0 40,1 0
WR Hines Ward 0 60,1 0
WR Cedrick Wilson 0 40 0
WR Nate Washington 0 40 0
PK Jeff Reed 1 FG 2 XP -

Pregame Notes: The Steelers romped on the visiting Dolphins on opening Thursday and with ten days to prepare, they went to Jacksonville with Roethlisberger back. But the offense sputtered against the fierce Jaguar defense with almost no rushing game at all and passing game that could never get on track. The Steeler defense played a great game in limiting the Jaguars to three field goals but the shutout was all on the offense here. With a short week and a big game coming up, the Steelers need to regroup and get back to what delivered them to the Super Bowl last year.

Quarterback: Ben Roethlisberger was constantly harassed on Monday and only completed 17 of 32 passes for 141 yards and two interceptions. He took the blame afterwards but it was clear he had some rust to shake off and the Jaguars were only too willing to help him knock it off.

Roethlisberger only had nine completions for 93 yards in Cincinnati last year but scored twice in that game they won easily. He later had 386 yards and three scores with three interceptions at home against the Bengals.

Running Backs: Willie Parker rambled for 115 yards against the Dolphins in week one but that required 29 carries to reach. Against the Jaguars he could barely get past the line of scrimmage and ended with only 20 yards on 11 carries. He was phased out in the fourth quarter when the Steelers went to their passing formations that used Vernon Haynes instead. Parker's game was most reflective of the limited opportunity that the Steelers had to run the ball.

Parker burned the Bengals for 131 yards and one score as a visitor but only had 71 yards back at home in the second meeting.

Wide Receivers: Obviously with only 141 passing yards in the game, last week was not kind to any Steeler wideout. Roethlisberger tried to hit Hines Ward eight times but only connected twice for a mere 29 yards. Ward only had 35 yards as a visitor in Cincinnati last year but scored once. He later had 135 yards and two scored back at home in week 13.

Tight Ends: After a 101 yard effort in week one (mostly all one catch), Heath Miller only managed to catch one pass for 11 yards last week. Miller turned in 58 yards and a score in Cincinnati last year but only had 44 yards in the second meeting.

Match Against the Defense: The Steelers are a bit on the ropes right now with a sub-par showing from Roethlisberger and Parker last week but back at home should be just the place to turn it back around. The Bengals defense has been tough on the run so far and limited Larry Johnson to just 68 yards on 17 carries in KC. The rushing game will rely in part on Roethlisberger getting back to form, so expect only moderate numbers here from Parker. The Bengals lost LB David Pollack and SS Dexter Jackson which should help.

Big Ben faces a secondary that has only allowed one score so far this year but Damon Huard and Charlie Frye haven't been in any Super Bowls recently. What happened last week is probably not a great gauge and this is a big game for both teams. Look for Roethlisberger to throw for one score and possibly two but to have moderate yardage here. This game will be decided by the level of play of each defense and mistakes that will change game situations.