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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
Player Projections by Team
Game Predictions Summary
The Huddle
December 13, 2006
Season Ticket
Sunday Late
Sunday Late
  JAX at TEN WAS at NO STL at OAK *updated

Prediction: PIT 17, CAR 20

The Steelers are on a two game winning streak that coincides nicely with the fact that they were at home against bad teams. On the road this year the Steelers are only 1-5 with just one close win over the Browns. The Panthers are in a near free-fall lately with three consecutive losses and a missing quarterback. This is a messy game between two teams that were expected to have big seasons and have done little more than disappoint.

Update: Hines Wards is expected to play this week after missing two games because of a procedure to his knee. I am adding him in and removing Cedrick Wilson who will miss this week because of a high ankle sprain. Santonio Holmes will replace Wilson.

Jake Delhomme still has not thrown the ball or practiced because of his thumb so Weinke should take another start this week. Kris Mangum is questionable to play with a hip injury and has not practiced. I have removed him from the projections.

Pittsburgh Steelers (6-7)
1 28-17 MIA 10 38-31 NO
2 0-9 @JAX 11 24-20 @CLE
3 20-28 CIN 12 0-27 @BAL
4 Open Bye 13 20-3 TB
5 13-23 @SD 14 27-7 CLE
6 45-7 KC 15 --- @CAR
7 38-41 @ATL 16 --- BAL
8 13-20 @OAK 17 --- @CIN
9 20-31 DEN - MON THU
PIT at CAR Rush Catch Pass
QB Ben Roethlisberger 0 0 230,2
RB Willie Parker 60 20 0
TE Heath Miller 0 30,1 0
WR Santonio Holmes 0 70,1 0
WR Cedrick Wilson 0 20 0
WR Hines Ward 0 60 0
WR Nate Washington 0 40 0
PK Jeff Reed 1 FG 2 XP -
Pregame Notes: Nothing like two home games against two teams that are a combined 7-19 on the season to make the Steelers look good again. With the remaining schedule holding the Ravens and Bengals, this week is clearly the best shot at the Steelers getting one more win this year.

Quarterback: For only the third time this season, Ben Roethlisberger comes off a game without any interceptions and had a pedestrian 225 yards and one score last week with Hines Ward out but more importantly, with a wildly successful rushing game. This week will be more interesting since the last five road games by Roethlisberger have all had at least two interceptions. In those five games away from Pittsburgh, he has thrown 13 interceptions against only three touchdowns so he'll need to reverse his season-long trend if the Steelers are going to avoid a losing season this year.

Running Backs: What's not to love about owning Willie Parker when he runs for 223 yards? Granted - he only had one touchdown and never caught a pass but the rushing game has never looked better (and I mean in Steelers; history) than it did last week. That was Parker's second game over 200 rushing yards this year but his first over 100 rushing yards in seven weeks.

Parker has turned in almost every good game this year at home and now hits the road where he has averaged only 46 rushing yards per effort with a high game of 83 yards in Oakland.

Wide Receivers: Hines Ward was out last week and Nate Washington had a nice enough game with 67 yards on just two catches with one touchdown scored. Santonio Holmes gained 81 yards on four catches and continues to become a bigger factor in the offense even though the Steelers could have won last week without ever throwing a single pass.

Ward had several bone fragments removed from his left knee and it is not yet known how long he is expected to be out. Pending reports that he is back to practice, I will assume he is out again this week.

Tight Ends: Heath Miller had only 27 yards on two catches last week which is right around his average game but he scored once last Sunday and has four touchdowns on the season.

Match Against the Defense: The Panthers rushing defense has been generally quite good this year and even better at home. Parker always decelerates on the road anyway so look for only moderate yardage here and likely no rushing score.

Roethlisberger goes against a secondary that isn't even as good as the ranking suggests. But at home the Panthers typically play better and most visiting quarterbacks have only totaled eight passing scores in seven games. Only two (Brees and Romo) have thrown for more than 200 passing yards. Look for the diminished passing game to make Roethlisberger throw more in this match-up and score possibly twice. Heath Miller should be a slam dunk for one score against the #32 defense against tight ends and the other score most likely favors Holmes playing as a third wide out - the Panther corners are much better than the rest of the defense.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM    QB   RB   WR   TE   PK  DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points PIT 7 8 9 17 21 12
Preventing Fantasy Points CAR 20 8 7 32 13 7


Carolina Panthers (6-7)
1 6-20 ATL 10 24-10 TB
2 13-16 @MIN 11 15-0 STL
3 26-24 @TB 12 13-17 @WAS
4 21-18 NO 13 24-27 @PHI
5 20-12 CLE 14 13-27 NYG
6 23-21 @BAL 15 --- PIT
7 14-17 @CIN 16 --- @ATL
8 14-35 DAL 17 --- @NO
9 Open Bye - - MON
CAR vs PIT Rush Catch Pass
QB Chris Weinke 0 0 250,2
RB DeShaun Foster 40 10 0
RB DeAngelo Williams 10 20 0
TE Kris Mangum 0 20 0
WR Steve Smith 0 90,2 0
WR Drew Carter 0 50 0
WR Keyshawn Johnson 0 60 0
PK John Kasay 2 FG 2 XP -

Pregame Notes: The Panthers stumbled against the Cowboys but then won twice to reach 6-4 on the season and everything was looking good. Then the other three teams from the NFC East showed up and now the Panthers are all but eliminated from the playoffs. The remaining schedule is hardly a cakewalk with two road games in Atlanta and New Orleans so this week is their best shot at a much needed win.

Quarterback: Jake Delhomme missed last week with a torn ligament in his thumb and Chris Weinke dusted off his helmet to throw for 423 yards and one score against the Giants. He had three very critical interceptions and almost no rushing game support, but for sitting around for three years - Weinke played pretty well. I am projecting for Weinke to start again this week though Delhomme may return. Updates as warranted.

Running Backs: The three greatest mysteries of all time - who shot Kennedy, where is Jimmy Hoffa and why do the Panthers insist on making DeShaun Foster a starting tailback? Foster missed two games and returned to gain only 23 yards on eight carries - at home no less. DeAngelo Williams ran for 63 yards on 17 carries in Washington and 74 yards in 17 carries in Philadelphia the previous two weeks with 101 receiving yards and a score last Sunday. Both of Williams' games - on the road in losses - were better than anything that Foster has done in the last six games he has played which included home games against the Rams and Buccaneers.

Wide Receivers: With Weinke at the helm last Sunday, the star wasn't Steve Smith (5-67) or Keyshawn Johnson (5-51), instead it was Drew Carter catching eight passes for 144 yards and one score. Carter only had 14 yards in total during the three previous games. It was also the first time in five games that Steve Smith failed to score a touchdown. This is still Smith's team - but Carter can show up at least when Weinke plays.

Tight Ends: Weinke actually used Kris Mangum last week for a season high four catches for 45 yards.

Match Against the Defense: The Steelers rushing defense has been stellar this season regardless of where it plays and only two road opponents have rushed in touchdowns. Look for yet another week of wondering why they bother with Foster.

The Steelers pass defense has a good ranking but that comes in large part to playing a lot of teams that don't throw much - CLE, OAK, BAL, TB, etc.. Against teams that have actual receivers they have fared much worse and Weinke (or Delhomme) will need to be the one to win this game. Look for two passing scores there that favor the wideouts heavily. Smith should be back to scoring, more so if Delhomme plays and is not limited by his thumb.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM    QB   RB   WR   TE   PK  DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points CAR 21 20 8 31 15 29
Preventing Fantasy Points PIT 11 5 26 16 14 30