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

Prediction: PIT 20, DEN 17

This should be a good game with the Broncos coming off their bye week and needing a decent game badly while the Steelers are also rested and remembering all too well that the Broncos won 31-20 in Pittsburgh during week seven of last year. Payback time but the Steelers are only 1-1 on the road this year.

Update: More bad news. Javon Walker will miss this wek and a few others after undergoing surgery on his knee on Friday. He had swelling on the knee this week that prompted the more extended look at his knee. I am removing him from the projections and this really hurts the Broncos offense that has never passed well without him in the lineup.

Pittsburgh Steelers (4-1)
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 14-21 -6 42.5
5 SEA 21-0 -6 41
6 BYE - - -
7 @DEN   -3.5 38.5
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 DEN Rush Catch Pass
QB Ben Roethlisberger     200,1
RB Willie Parker 110 10  
RB Najeh Davenport 30,1    
TE Heath Miler   70,1  
WR Hines Ward   50  
WR Santonio Holmes   50  
WR Cedrick Wilson   20  
PK Jeff Reed 2 FG 2 XP  
Pregame Notes: The Steelers have cruised to a 4-1 record with only the blip in Arizona as a black mark. Otherwise, this team has won each game by at least 21 points. The passing game has been solid with Roethlisberger even though Ward and Holmes have struggled to remain healthy enough to play. The Steelers rushing attack has been the biggest key to victory so far and now face one of the worst rush defenses in the league.

Quarterback: After five games, Ben Roethlisberger has thrown for at least one touchdown every week but his yardage has never been more than 244 yards thanks to a rushing game that has been outstanding other than in the loss in Arizona. This week will be the toughest secondary he has faced this season but if Parker gets into gear, it will not matter.

Roethlisberger threw for 433 yards and one score against the Broncos last year and had three interceptions in the game.

Running Backs: Take away that one trap game in Arizona and Willie Parker has been golden as a rusher. He has topped 100 yards four times this year and has been relied on to carry as much as 28 times in a game. Najeh Davenport has showed up as a goal line back with three scores over the last three games but this attack starts and ends with Parker who will delight in facing the #29 rushing defense this week.

Parker only gained 70 yards on 14 carries against the Broncos last year but had a rushing touchdown and added 67 yards on seven receptions with another touchdown as well.

Wide Receivers: Hines Ward has missed the last two games with a sprained right knee but could be ready to go this week. Santonio Holmes also missed the last game with a hamstring that tightened up in pregame warm ups but should be able to play with the bye week to heal up. I will project for both to play this week and will update as needed.

Ward gained 127 yards on seven catches while Holmes turned in 58 yards on six receptions when the Broncos came to town last year.

Tight Ends: The new offensive scheme has used Heath Miller more this year and he has always had at least 34 yards each week with a high of 82 yards. Miller has scored twice this year and should be a bigger factor this week against a team with the best cornerbacks in the league.

Heath Miller had five catches for 34 yards against Denver last year.

Match Against the Defense: The key here is if Denver has been able to resolve their rushing defense woes during the bye week. This unit has given up huge yardage in games this year and three runners have already topped 130 rushing yards against them. Look for a nice effort here by Parker and enough left over to give Davenport a score.

Roethlisberger faces a solid secondary that should keep him to only moderate numbers even with Ward and Holmes back. Champ Bailey takes Ward this week and should keep him to average numbers and Dre Bly covers Holmes. That means that like Dallas Clark and Antonio Gates recently, Heath Miller should have at least a decent showing this week with a good chance for a big game if the Broncos somehow force the Steelers to pass.

Gaining Fantasy Points PIT 12 7 17 5 6 6
Preventing Fantasy Points DEN 16 29 1 30 19 29


Denver Broncos (2-3)
Homefield: Invesco Field
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 @BUF 15-14 -3.5 37
2 OAK 23-20 -10 37.5
3 JAC 14-23 -3 35.5
4 @IND 20-38 +10 46.5
5 SD 3-41 +1 43
6 BYE - - -
7 PIT   +3.5 38.5
8 GB 29-Oct MON 8:30 PM
9 @DET 4-Nov SUN 1:00 PM
10 @KC 11-Nov SUN 1:00 PM
11 TEN 19-Nov MON 8:30 PM
12 @CHI 25-Nov SUN 1:00 PM
13 @OAK 2-Dec SUN 4:05 PM
14 KC 9-Dec SUN 4:15 PM
15 @HOU 13-Dec THU 8:15 PM
16 @SD 24-Dec MON 8:00 PM
17 MIN 30-Dec SUN 4:15 PM
DEN vs PIT Rush Catch Pass
QB Jay Cutler     190,1
RB Travis Henry 60,1 20  
TE Daniel Graham   20  
TE Tony Scheffler   30  
WR Javon Walker 60
WR Brandon Stokley   50  
WR Brandon Marshall   50,1  
PK Jason Elam 1 FG 2 XP  

Pregame Notes: The Broncos started the season off with shaky wins over the Bills and visiting Raiders but they were still wins. And they were also a sign of things to come which include three straight losses that included two at home to the Jaguars and Chargers. The Broncos still have a great secondary and perhaps the best cornerback tandem in the league. But they cannot stop any opposing rusher. One of the reasons why that pass defense is ranked so highly is that opponents are just running all over the Broncos. Complicating it further is the inability of Jay Cutler to make a meaningful difference but he has been without Javon Walker for the last two games.

For fantasy purposes, the Broncos have two weeks to figure this all out because after two home games against the Steelers and Packers, they only play two home games in the next eight weeks.

Quarterback: Jay Cutler threw for exactly one touchdown in the first four weeks but then was scoreless against the Chargers. After throwing for 304 and 269 yards in the first two weeks with a healthy Javon Walker, he dipped down to just 195 yards on average in the last three efforts. All three were losses. Walker is expected back this week from his knee injury and that has to help Cutler whose numbers and effectiveness went down immediately when Walker was injured.

Plummer was still the starter last year when the Broncos played in Pittsburgh and he threw for 227 yards and three scores with no turnovers in that game.

Running Backs: The Travis Henry saga is likely to continue for three more weeks since his court case is not expected to get a ruling before then. That gives some hope to the Broncos for these next home games since Henry has been the lone player with big numbers for the Broncos. But even he has been a part of the decline of the offense, only gaining 100 rushing yards in the home games against the Jaguars and Chargers combined.

Everyone that went out and grabbed Selvin Young are going to have to wait to see if their gamble is paying off. Unfortunately, Young at best would take over during the toughest stretch of games for the Broncos.

The Bronco runners combined for only 37 rushing yards on 20 carries in Pittsburgh last year.

Wide Receivers: The return of Javon Walker has to spawn optimism since he started the year with back-to back games over 100 yards and had at least eight catches in each. Brandon Marshall had the only other big game when the Broncos hosted the Jaguars and he caught seven passes for 133 yards. But otherwise, no wideout here has done much more than 70 yards in a game and usually much less in the last two games. The return of Walker merits attention here because the Broncos passing game has never been as good without him and yet the only two games he played came against two of the weaker opponents this year.

Javon Walker had a career best scoring game when he had 134 yards on six catches with two touchdowns and added a 72-yard run for a third score in Pittsburgh last year.

Tight Ends: Not much action here this season with Tony Scheffler topping all performances with only 37 yards. Daniel Graham has the one score caught by a tight end this year.

Match Against the Defense: Here is where a problem exists. The Broncos have received three great rushing games from Travis Henry but the Steelers are numero uno against running backs. They have not allowed more than 77 yards to any runner this year and only two have topped 40 rushing yards. The Steelers are on the road but the defense has just been tops against runners this year. Look for a moderate output by Henry but a chance for one score.

Cutler gets back Walker which should be a big positive but again - the Steelers secondary is one of the best in the league and Cutler has yet to throw for more than one score this year. Look for that one score this week as the most you should expect and only moderate yardage. The only two scores by wideouts against the Steelers have gone to slot receivers.

Gaining Fantasy Points DEN 20 13 15 21 19 31
Preventing Fantasy Points PIT 2 1 5 6 1 5

The Huddle
~ 2007 ~
Season Ticket
Sunday night
On Bye

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