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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
Player Projections by Team
Game Predictions Summary
The Huddle
October 25, 2006
Season Ticket
Sunday Late
Sunday night
On Bye
BAL at NO SF at CHI NYJ at CLE NE at MIN  
HOU at TEN TB at NYG PIT at OAK   updated

Prediction: PIT 23, OAK 13

Here's something unexpected. The Steelers come off a loss, are 2-4 on the season and just witnessed Roethlisberger getting injured for the third time this year. And yet, the Raiders come off a win. Could the Raiders win back-to-back or the Steelers drop to 2-5? Probably not. But nothing is guaranteed this season.

Update: Ben Roethlisberger was able to go through a full practice on Thursday and now appears likely to play on Sunday barring any setbacks. I am adding him into the projections but be aware that 1.) he still may not end up playing; and 2.) even if he does play, he could be yanked from the game if the Steelers get a lead. Coming off a concussion, there would be a good reason to pull him if the Steelers felt comfortable with their lead and not expose him to any unnecessary hits. It is understandable why he would want to play and why there is a benefit - keeping him from getting rusty after his fine showing in Atlanta last week.

Cedrick Wilson is also questionable to play due to a groin strain but like Roethlisberger, he held out of Wednesday practices and returned on Thursday. He is expected to play but he does so little lately his minimal projections don't likely matter much anyway.

Lamont Jordan remains questionable with his sore back and he has not practiced this week. While he could end up playing, I am removing him from the projections as the safer bet. As we saw last week, even having him active for the game does not mean he is going to play. Reshard Lee would also be used but he was ineffective last week compared to Crockett and Fargas.

Pittsburgh Steelers (2-4)
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 45-7 KC 15 --- @CAR
7 38-41 @ATL 16 --- BAL
8 --- @OAK 17 --- @CIN
9 --- DEN - MON THU
PIT at OAK Rush Catch Pass
QB Ben Roethlisberger 0 0 200,2
RB Willie Parker 80 10 0
TE Heath Miller 0 30,1 0
WR Hines Ward 0 80,1 0
WR Cedrick Wilson 0 20 0
WR Nate Washington 0 50 0
PK Jeff Reed 3 FG 2 XP -
Pregame Notes: The Steelers are back to Charlie Batch that hasn't been a bad thing so far. The loss to the Falcons certainly didn't help matters and the Steelers are now 0-3 in road games with Denver on the slate next week. This is a win the Steelers have to take very seriously - just like every game from here on out. Fortunately this should be the softest defense they have faced this year.

Quarterback: Nothing like having the best and worst years of your life come back to back. Ben Roethlisberger will almost certainly miss at least this game after suffering a concussion in the Atlanta shootout after turning in his best game of the year. Repetitive concussions are nothing to downplay and his outlook this year is in question already. One more concussion anytime soon and this could extend into more than just this year. He is questionable to play this week and I am assuming he is out. Updates as warranted.

Charlie Batch has been nothing short of stellar when he has been given playing time and it is probably not worth thinking about what would have been with him in their for the entire season unless you like to see Steeler fans cry. Batch had five touchdowns in his one and a half games played.

Running Backs: Maybe he doesn't like flying or eating non-Pittsburgh food but for whatever reason, it is undeniable that there are two Willie Parkers. One plays at home and always gains over 100 rushing yards and usually scores at least once if not twice. The other Willie Parker goes on road trips where he has never had more than 57 rushing yards and who only has one touchdown in three games. On the road against JAX, SD and ATL, Parker has ran for just 114 yards on 45 carries - an average of just 2.5 yards per carry. It hasn't helped that he faces better defenses on the road though.

Wide Receivers: Hines Ward is a favorite for Batch who has already thrown three scores to him this year - more than Roethlisberger has in four and a half games. Ward comes off a career best game of 171 yards and three touchdowns on eight catches. In games with just Big Ben, Ward had scored only once and had not exceeded 59 yards. Ward should not be too weepy about Batch playing. Nate Washington has been improving too lately with scores in each of the last two games and about 70 yards per game while Cedrick Wilson just supplies two or three catches per week for minimal yardage. If Parker has trouble running again this road trip, this unit could come up big again this week.

Tight Ends: After a four game drought, Heath Miller finally scored his second touchdown for the year when he had just one catch for six yards against the Falcons. His best game of the year - by a huge margin - came in week one with Batch.

Match Against the Defense: The Raiders rushing defense has improved since the opening weeks and has only allowed one rushing score in the last four games. Parker has been a dud on the road this year but this will easily be his best match-up so far so expect at least some moderate yardage here.

Batch faces a secondary that ranks well against the pass because most teams have not needed to throw to win the game. Look for Batch to likely end up with sub-200 passing yards but to throw at least two scores and that could go to three if the Raiders can score enough to press the Steelers into needed to score more. Miller goes against a defense that has allowed four scores to tight ends already and Batch likes him anyway. The other passing score has to favor Ward. The Steelers defense will win this game.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM    QB   RB   WR   TE   PK  DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points PIT 12 12 6 19 22 7
Preventing Fantasy Points OAK 3 25 5 17 29 32


Oakland Raiders (1-5)
1 0-27 SD 10 --- DEN
2 6-28 @BAL 11 --- @KC
3 Open Bye 12 --- @SD
4 21-24 CLE 13 --- HOU
5 20-34 @SF 14 --- @CIN
6 3-13 @DEN 15 --- STL
7 22-9 ARZ 16 --- KC
8 --- PIT 17 --- @NYJ
9 --- @SEA - MON SAT
OAK vs PIT Rush Catch Pass
QB Andrew Walter 0 0 190,1
RB Lamont Jordan 50 10 0
RB Justin Fargas 50 0 0
RB Zack Crockett 20 0 0
TE Courtney Anderson 0 30 0
WR Randy Moss 0 90,1 0
WR Alvis Whitted 0 20 0
WR Ronald Curry 0 30 0
PK S. Janikowski 2 FG 1 XP -

Pregame Notes: Roll out the red carpet and let loose the streamers - the Raiders have a win. A dominating one at that. The Raiders have never fared well on the road this year but back at home they actually score touchdowns and the Randy Moss connection appears to be finally heating up. Not enough to get a second win here, or in Seattle the next week and probably not at home against Denver. Or in Kansas City.... or in San Diego... just never mind. THEY WON A GAME! Never mind that they did it without their starting running back or starting quarterback.

Quarterback: Andrew Walter had a mild concussion last week but had an impressive 261 yards and one touchdown in the game before he left. He did, of course, lose two fumbles and throw one interception. That makes eight interceptions against just three passing scores but at least he is starting to improve and HC Art Shell has already said that Walter is the starter regardless of how Aaron Brooks feels.

Running Backs: Lamont Jordan had been bothered by a sore back and did not practice in all drills on last Wednesday but did practice on Thursday and Friday while being listed as probable on the injury report during the week. So it was a bit of a frustrating surprise when he had his back "twinge" during pregame warm-ups and ended up not playing last week. He was active and kept stretching to get into the game but it never happened. Figures - first win and he just watches.

In his place Justin Fargas ran for 60 yards on 23 carries and did not score but did not get injured either. I am assuming that Jordan is okay to play this week but his back situation will be monitored.

Wide Receivers: It took the Cardinals to visit first, but Randy Moss finally comes off a big game when he had seven catches for 129 yards and one score and he dropped several other passes or the numbers would be even bigger. Moss has three touchdowns on the season - the only wideout with a score. By now both Alvis Whitted and Ronald Curry are just hanging on in the hopes of getting a couple of catches a week. There's no big secret here - either Moss has a big game or no one does.

Tight Ends: The last two weeks has involved Courtney Anderson for three catches for about 55 yards in each. It is working better than any of the other non-Moss wideouts but Anderson may end up blocking more this week against the aggressive PIT defense.

Match Against the Defense: The Steelers have allowed a rushing score in each of the last two games but Jordan only has one score on the year. Expect no touchdowns and lower yardage against a defense that has not given up 100 rushing yards to any runner this year.

Walter faces a secondary that either gives up four touchdowns or no scores in most games. But the passing attack here is all about Moss with a dash of Courtney Anderson lately. Look for a score here to go to Moss because he will be getting 14 to 16 passes in the game and eventually will come down with one but the Steelers are desperate now and should be able to control this game. That means more passing by need for the Raiders which involves little more than Moss.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM    QB   RB   WR   TE   PK  DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points OAK 31 26 26 13 31 26
Preventing Fantasy Points PIT 22 11 26 30 16 22