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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
Player Projections by Team
Game Predictions Summary
The Huddle
October 11, 2006
Season Ticket
Sunday Late
Sunday night
On Bye
HOU at DAL TEN at WAS     updated

Prediction: KC 17, PIT 20

The Chiefs come in on a two game winning streak knowing that they have to keep winning to keep any hope of ever catching Denver this season. The Steelers now flop down to an unthinkable 1-3 record after their latest loss in San Diego and the one factor that has kept them down is the play of Ben Roethlisberger. They get to try to fix that by facing the #1 defense against quarterbacks - could be interesting.

Kansas City Chiefs (2-2)
1 10-23 CIN 10 --- @MIA
2 6-9 @DEN 11 --- OAK
3 Open Bye 12 --- DEN
4 41-0 SF 13 --- @CLE
5 23-20 @ARZ 14 --- BAL
6 --- @PIT 15 --- @SD
7 --- SD 16 --- @OAK
8 --- SEA 17 --- JAX
9 --- @STL - THU SAT
KCC at PIT Rush Catch Pass
QB Damon Huard 0 0 180,1
RB Larry Johnson 60,1 50 0
TE Tony Gonzalez 0 20,1 0
WR Eddie Kennison 0 30 0
WR Samie Parker 0 40 0
WR Rod Gardner 0 20 0
PK Lawrence Tynes 1 FG 2 XP -
Pregame Notes: The Chiefs defense has been great this year until some upstart rookie last week hadn't gotten the memo that says the Chiefs secondary is unbeatable. No matter, this team is playing great defense when it knows what to prepare for and is getting used to Damon Huard. The scare when Larry Johnson was injured last week stopped a few hearts but reports are that he'll be okay. He better be - the Chiefs are sunk without him.

Quarterback: Damon Huard has played very well the last two weeks, throwing for 208 and 288 yards with two touchdowns in each game. Then again - the 49ers and Cardinals are not exactly the top ranked pass defenses. In Denver, Huard only had 133 yards and was far less effective. He gets to show just how real his improvement is this week.

Running Backs: Larry Johnson almost had his head ripped off by Antrel Rolle last week but he is expected to be fine and will play this week according to HC Herman Edwards. Johnson had trouble getting the rushing game going in Arizona but turned in six catches for 106 yards and a touchdown to win the game. Johnson has never had less than 40 receiving yards in any match-up this year and will be needed to bring that dual threat to the table this week. Michael Bennett was out last week with a hamstring strain and could miss this week as well - Johnson has to play since Dee Brown was completely ineffective as a replacement.

Wide Receivers: While Huard has connected for three scores with wideouts over the last two games, the opponents were soft and no wideout had anything more than Eddie Kennison's 86 yards in week four. Other than that one performance, no Chiefs wideout has topped 50 yards in a game. Samie Parker came up with five catches and a score last week as a season high, but only had 37 yards. The wideouts with Huard just don't matter other than the odd touchdown.

Dante Hall has a hip pointer and could miss this week. He will be replaced with Rod Gardner if that happens.

Tight Ends: The bad news here is that Tony Gonzales has two good games and two terrible games this season. He had 15 catches for 140 yards and a score - both at home. And on the road? Just three catches for 32 yards in two games combined.

Match Against the Defense: The Steelers rushing defense has been predictably good this year, allowing two scores in week one to Ronnie Brown but then denying a score to any other runner. Johnson would need a bulk of carries for a nice rushing total here but as he has already shown, he is a factor in the passing game as well and that should come up in a game against an aggressive defense. Look for moderate to good yardage that should be solid with receptions added - as long as Johnson is not bothered by his neck.

Huard goes against a secondary that has been softer lately but that's a tall order to expect from Huard. Most likely, he'll end with just moderate yardage at best and he could score once but that would most likely favor either Johnson on a pass or Gonzalez who won't get a lot of yards anyway. The Steelers are beyond desperate now but the defense can only do so much with the short field continually favoring the opponent.

Pittsburgh Steelers (1-3)
1 28-17 MIA 10 --- NO
2 0-9 @JAX 11 --- @CLE
3 20-28 CIN 12 --- @BAL
4 Open Bye 13 --- TB
5 13-23 @SD 14 --- CLE
6 --- KC 15 --- @CAR
7 --- @ATL 16 --- BAL
8 --- @OAK 17 --- @CIN
9 --- DEN - MON THU
PIT vs KC Rush Catch Pass
QB Ben Roethlisberger 0 0 160,1
RB Willie Parker 100,1 20 0
TE Heath Miller 0 20 0
WR Hines Ward 0 40,1 0
WR Cedrick Wilson 0 50 0
WR Nate Washington 0 20 0
PK Jeff Reed 2 FG 2 XP -

Pregame Notes: The Steelers are playing defense well, running reasonably well and are decent on special teams. Where this all falls apart is with the passing game and it's amazing tendency to turn the ball over. Big Ben has just not returned with the same safe game manager mentality of last year of the ability to sling it when needed. The team is already thinking about how a late season winning streak got them to the playoffs last year but that's getting harder to envision with every loss.

Quarterback: No need to sugar coat it. Ben Roethlisberger has been terrible since returning from his car wreck/appendectomy. He has not thrown a touchdown this year but does have seven interceptions to his credit. The team is letting him work through his profound funk but at some point, someone will remember how Charlie Batch won a game and threw three touchdowns.

Running Backs: Willie Parker has been the lone offensive weapon that works this year, coming off two straight games with scores and already turning in two big yardage games - both at home. While Willie has struggled on the road, he has topped 115 yards in both home stands and will once again have to shoulder the load until the real Roethlisberger shows up.

Wide Receivers: Obviously Roethlisberger's woes have led to the wideouts being almost without fantasy value this year. None of have scored with Ben at the helm and Hines Ward is heading towards his worst season in the NFL. In the three games with Roethlisberger, Ward only has a high of 49 yards and no more than four catches per game. There's just no relying on any of them for more than about 30 or 40 yards in any week so far.

Tight Ends: In week one with Batch at the helm, Heath Miller had 101 yards and one touchdown. In the next three games, he has a total of just 67 yards and no scores.

Match Against the Defense: The Chiefs defense is very good and has held most runners at bay. But the Steelers have to establish the run and Parker does better in Pittsburgh. Expect a nice game from Parker here who will be asked to carry much more of the load until the passing game improves.

The Chiefs secondary is outstanding and could very well treat Big Ben as poorly as the last three opponents. Because the team is really on the ropes this week, I am expecting Roethlisberger to step up to his first score of the year this week but if Kansas City can rattle him early and often, this could be another loss.