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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
The Huddle
~ 2007 ~
Season Ticket
Sunday night

Prediction: SF 3, PIT 27

The 49ers are now 2-0 after squeaking past two teams but heading into Pittsburgh where the Steelers are also 2-0 is no place to expect a West Coast trifecta. The Steelers under HC Mike Tomlin look a lot like the Steelers of 2005.

Update: Darrell Jackson was held out of practice on Wednesday and Thursday because of an upper back sprain but insists that he will still play this week against the Steelers. I am lowering his numbers slightly which were already pretty low. Arnaz Battle was held out on Wednesday and returned to limited work on Thursday because of his groin strain. He is expected to play this week.

San Francisco 49ers (2-0)
Homefield: Monster Park
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 ARI 20-17 -3.5 45
2 @STL 17-16 +3 44
3 @PIT 23-Sep +9 38
4 SEA 30-Sep SUN 4:05 PM
5 BAL 7-Oct SUN 4:15 PM
6 BYE - - -
7 @NYG 21-Oct SUN 1:00 PM
8 NO 28-Oct SUN 4:15 PM
9 @ATL 4-Nov SUN 1:00 PM
10 @SEA 12-Nov MON 8:30 PM
11 STL 18-Nov SUN 4:15 PM
12 @ARI 25-Nov SUN 4:05 PM
13 @CAR 2-Dec SUN 1:00 PM
14 MIN 9-Dec SUN 4:05 PM
15 CIN 15-Dec SAT 8:15 PM
16 TB 23-Dec SUN 8:15 PM
17 @CLE 30-Dec SUN 1:00 PM
SFO at PIT Rush Catch Pass
QB Alex Smith 20   120
RB Frank Gore 50 20  
TE Vernon Davis   30  
WR Darrell Jackson   30  
WR Arnaz Battle   20  
WR Taylor Jacobs   10  
PK Joe Nedney 1 FG    
Pregame Notes: After opening the year with two wins, now the 49ers have to face PIT and BAL with the Seahawks sandwiched in. With a lack of any passing game and relying almost solely on Frank Gore, the 49ers may have a better record but appear to have taken a step backwards on the offense. That will play out big this week in a bad way.

Quarterback: Alex Smith progressed last year under Norv Turner but two games of exactly 126 passing yards says hello to Alex Smith, version 2005. The lack of any fear of the pass by the defenses is really holding back Frank Gore as well.

Running Backs: Frank Gore has scored three times already this year which is a welcomed improvement from 2006 when he could get the yards but not many scores. But... now the yards are down sharply with only 136 over two games which were against softer defenses and. The passing game's near absence has been a big detriment to Gore getting on track. Take away Gore's 43-yard touchdown run last Sunday and his numbers are even worse.Take away that one run and he had only averaged 2.5 yards per carry.

Wide Receivers: The lack of passing numbers have obviously hit this group and Darrell Jackson has the season's best game so far with three catches for 61 yards. The only wideout to score was Arnaz Battle on a one-yard run. That will not improve this week.

Tight Ends: The expected emergence of Vernon Davis has just not happened in this offense that cannot pass. Davis only had two catches in each of the first games and never had more than five passes even thrown to him. He fast, he is talented, he does not get the passes.

Match Against the Defense: Okay, so here is where is starts to go very bad for the 49ers. Frank Gore has to face a defense that held Jamal Lewis to just 35 yards and Marshawn Lynch to only 64. Gore is already being boxed in from defenses quickly realizing that the pass is dead for the 49ers once again so it'll be eight in the box - at least - for him. Look for the Steelers to focus on shutting down Gore and having success with it. If Gore can gain more than 50 yards here it will be because he broke a long gainer.

Alex Smith may string together three straight games of 126 passing yards since Losman had 154 and Derek Anderson stopped with 184. This game has an equal chance of being a shutout as it does for the 49ers to score a touchdown. Stay away from all 49er receivers this week and maybe all weeks if Alex Smith cannot show more than his major step backwards this year.

Gaining Fantasy Points SF 32 14 26 31 20 14
Preventing Fantasy Points PIT 4 2 4 21 1 3


Pittsburgh Steelers (2-0)
Homefield: Heinz Field
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 @CLE 34-7 -4.5 37
2 BUF 26-3 -10 37.5
3 SF 23-Sep -9 38
4 @ARI 30-Sep SUN 4:15 PM
5 SEA 7-Oct SUN 1:00 PM
6 BYE - - -
7 @DEN 21-Oct SUN 8:15 PM
8 @CIN 28-Oct SUN 1:00 PM
9 BAL 5-Nov MON 8:30 PM
10 CLE 11-Nov SUN 1:00 PM
11 @NYJ 18-Nov SUN 1:00 PM
12 MIA 26-Nov MON 8:30 PM
13 CIN 2-Dec SUN 8:15 PM
14 @NE 9-Dec SUN 1:00 PM
15 JAC 16-Dec SUN 1:00 PM
16 @STL 20-Dec THU 8:15 PM
17 @BAL 30-Dec SUN 1:00 PM
PIT vs SF Rush Catch Pass
QB Ben Roethlisberger     220,2
RB Willie Parker 120,1    
TE Heath Miler   40  
WR Hines Ward   60,1  
WR Santonio Holmes   70,1  
WR Nate Washington   30  
PK Jeff Reed 2 FG 3 XP  

Pregame Notes: The Steelers have not only rolled to a 2-0 mark, they have not won a game by less than 23 points. That may not end this week either. The offense is clicking with both the run and the pass and the defense has only allowed 10 points this year. The Steelers look very much like they will bring a 5-0 record into their bye week before it all gets much, much tougher.

Quarterback: After throwing for four scores in week one, Ben Roethlisberger only had one score but completed 21 of 34 for 242 yards against the Bills last week. He never needed to score more than that because the Bills never had any touchdowns. The same could be true this week.

Running Backs: Willie Parker has now turned in back to back 100 yard games and scored once against the Bills. He isn't used as a receiver much because the need just has not been there but with 235 rushing yards on 50 carries, he's averaging a solid 4.7 yards each run. Najeh Davenport has also figured in with about seven runs for 40 yards each week though the blowouts have needed someone like Davenport to serve as a closer.

Wide Receivers: The wideouts have posted only two scores so far and oddly enough both Santonio Holmes and Hines Ward have both turned in around 50 yards in each game. Nate Washington had 60 yards last week but none in the opener. This offense has not been fully tested yet and shouldn't be this week either. Solid numbers so far that should only climb once the opponents start scoring points.

Tight Ends: Perhaps the most surprising so far is the use of the tight end position in the new offense. Heath Miller has six catches for 69 yards and a score and Matt Spaeth only had three catches for 15 yards but two of those went for touchdowns. Again - this offense has not had to hit a top gear yet so the tight end numbers may just be inflated compared to when the schedule gets tougher.

Match Against the Defense: The 49ers played tough in the home opener against the Cardinals but then on the road to St. Louis last week, they gave up 368 yards and a score to Bulger. They did slow down Steven Jackson but the Steelers still have a healthy line and are at home where Parker never fails. Expect a good game here from Parker with a nice shot a a score if Davenport doesn't take it away.

Roethlisberger should turn up the burners a notch this week with a couple of scores that should primarily favor Santonio Holmes since Hines Ward draws CB Nate Clements unless they move Ward around much. But Ward only needs a few passes to do damage and near the endzone is where is usually shines. It could still go to the tight ends yet again.

Gaining Fantasy Points PIT 9 8 14 4 1 9
Preventing Fantasy Points SF 19 13 20 12 18 17

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