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

Prediction: PIT 24, ARI 20

The Steelers are 3-0 and have not won a game by less than 21 points this year - though their schedule has hardly been daunting and they come off two home games. The Cardinals drop to 1-2 with their loss in Baltimore and every game was decided by just three points. The Cardinals are improved this year but so are the Steelers and that combination makes for yet another close loss by the Cardinals.

Update: Hines Ward's sprained knee has kept him out of practice this week and while he has not been ruled out yet, I am removing him from the projections since at best he would be very limited and most likely he will not play. Cedrick Wilson would get the playing time in Ward's absence.

I am also removing Anquan Boldin from the projections as well because he has not practiced this week because of his bruised hip. He has not been ruled out but it does not appear likely that he will play. Check the inactives if you really need him but realize he will not be 100% healthy against a good secondary.

Pittsburgh Steelers (3-0)
Homefield: Heinz Field
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 @CLE 34-7 -4.5 37
2 BUF 26-3 -10 37.5
3 SF 37-16 -9 35.5
4 @ARI 30-Sep -5.5 41.5
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 at ARI Rush Catch Pass
QB Ben Roethlisberger     240,2
RB Willie Parker 80    
RB Najeh Davenport 20,1 10  
TE Heath Miler   60  
WR Hines Ward 30
WR Cedrick Wilson   40  
WR Santonio Holmes   80,1  
WR Nate Washington   50,1  
PK Jeff Reed 1 FG 3 XP  
Pregame Notes: The Steelers may have changed coaches finally and installed slightly different schemes but the results are stellar as long as they face weak opponents. Unlike last year, these Steelers are healthy and Big Ben already has six scores on the year without having a need to air it out much this year. The schedule bulks up after the bye week so wins like this week need to be secured to keep Pittsburgh atop the AFC North.

Quarterback: With all the blowouts this year, Ben Roethlisberger hasn't thrown too much so far but his time is coming soon enough with road trips to Denver and Cincinnati coming up later in the year. With Willie Parker tearing up every game, the pass is just there for the occasional score but this week will be the toughest test to date for Roethlisberger.

Running Backs: Willie Parker is proving to be one of the few golden picks for first round running backs last summer. He has never had less than 100 rushing yards this year and has scored once. Parker is not being used in the passing game much in this new scheme but he keeps churning out the rushing yards. This week will be his biggest test of the season thus far as well.

Najeh Davenport has also quietly produced decent fantasy points each week as well with three straight games over 40 yards and one touchdown on the season. He only gets around six carries per game to 23+ for Parker and some of those may disappear in games where there is no blowout.

Wide Receivers: The minimal passing this season has left the wideouts has relatively under-used and Santonio Holmes has been the best with three games around 50 yards every week. Hines Ward was at the same level but only turned in one catch last week after being injured. Ward sustained a bruised knee that forced him from the game and he is doubtful to play this week. The X-rays were negative on his leg but more should come out about this later in the week. I am projecting for him to play but be limited. He may not play at all and there will be updates as warranted.

Tight Ends: Heath Miller is a constant in the passing attack with a score in the first game and around 30 yards in each of the first two weeks. He turned in 82 yards on four receptions against the 49ers and should see more work in the tougher games this season.

Match Against the Defense: The Cardinals defense has been much better this year and so far no runner has eclipsed the 100 yard mark against them. Look for Parker to dip below the century mark for the first time this year and the one rushing score here is more likely to go to Davenport.

Roethlisberger hasn't needed to pass too much this year and the Cardinals secondary has been very solid. They have only allowed two passing scores this year though Hasselbeck did throw for 281 yards in Arizona. This will finally be a game where the Steelers will need the pass in order to win. Holmes gets the more used match-up and Ward is probably banged up this week anyway. Expect two passing scores in this game with one for Holmes and the other likely to head to either Miller or Washington.

One potential impact to this game is if Leinart struggles again and allows the Steeler defense to dictate the game. That would result in more rushing and less passing here.

Gaining Fantasy Points PIT 15 7 22 3 1 3
Preventing Fantasy Points ARI 12 14 19 2 29 11


Arizona Cardinals (1-2)
Homefield: University of Phoenix Stadium
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 @SF 17-20 +3.5 45
2 SEA 23-20 +2.5 42.5
3 @BAL 23-26 +8 35.5
4 PIT   +5.5 41.5
5 @STL 7-Oct SUN 1:00 PM
6 CAR 14-Oct SUN 4:05 PM
7 @WAS 21-Oct SUN 1:00 PM
8 BYE - - -
9 @TB 4-Nov SUN 1:00 PM
10 DET 11-Nov SUN 4:15 PM
11 @CIN 18-Nov SUN 1:00 PM
12 SF 25-Nov SUN 4:05 PM
13 CLE 2-Dec SUN 4:05 PM
14 @SEA 9-Dec SUN 4:05 PM
15 @NO 16-Dec SUN 1:00 PM
16 ATL 23-Dec SUN 4:05 PM
17 STL 30-Dec SUN 4:15 PM
ARI vs PIT Rush Catch Pass
QB Matt Leinart     190,1
RB Edgerrin James 80,1 10  
TE Leonard Pope   30  
WR Anquan Boldin 70
WR Larry Fitzgerald   70,1  
WR Bryant Johnson   50  
PK Neil Rackers 2 FG 2 XP  

Pregame Notes: For the want of three points in two games this year, the Cardinals could be 3-0 instead of 1-2 and wondering what happened to Matt Leinart. Last week Kurt Warner provided an obvious spark but there's no quarterback controversy here yet. Leinart is the future and the aging Warner is just there for support. That likely won't look any better this time next week against the Steeler secondary but at least the rushing game has much improved this year. The Cardinals have beaten the spread in every game this year despite never being favored in any game.

Quarterback: Matt Leinart was horrible last week in Baltimore with only nine completions on 20 passes for 53 yards before Warner rallied the team to another close loss. HC Ken Whisenhunt has already reasserted that Leinart is the starter here but after last week, his leash may be a little shorter if the game looks in reach. That puts more risk on using Leinart this week than a fantasy starter should have.

Running Backs: While Edgerrin James only gained 57 yards last week, he only had ten carries in the blowout loss. James has been running strong this season with his first two efforts topping 90 yards and more importantly, his lone home game this season resulted in 24 carries for 128 yards and one score against the visiting Seahawks. The Cardinals will stick with the run as long as they can and it all goes to James.

Wide Receivers: Anquan Boldin set a personal record with 14 receptions against the Ravens last Sunday and he scored twice in the game. While he had 181 yards on the day, 102 of those and both scores came from Warner who always favored him in the past. In most weeks, Larry Fitzgerald and Boldin will get roughly the same use while Bryant Johnson does almost nothing. Boldin now has three scores on the year though and Fitzgerald has yet to score a touchdown.

Tight Ends: Needed more as a blocker last week, Leonard Pope did not have a catch in Pittsburgh. That could happen again this week.

Match Against the Defense: This is where the Cardinals fortunes this week are likely to take a hit. James faces a defense that has not allowed a rushing score nor any runner to gain more than 64 rushing yards but this is the Steelers first foray away from Pittsburgh other than the Cleveland game, so James should have a better game than any so far. Look for moderate yardage here and the chance for one rushing score.

Leinart goes against a secondary that has only given up two passing scores this year and Alex Smith's 209 yards last week were the most allowed - and most of those were trash time. Expect just moderate passing numbers here with no more than one passing touchdown that could go anywhere. This will be the best set of receivers that the Steelers have faced this year.

Gaining Fantasy Points ARI 14 19 9 18 6 25
Preventing Fantasy Points PIT 9 3 7 19 4 2


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