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

Prediction: PIT 23, STL 13

The loss to the Jaguars sets the Steelers back to being tied with the Browns in the AFC North and now tied with the Chargers as well. Now with two road games left to play, the Steelers need to win out to maintain their division title but are only 2-4 on the road with two road games left to play. The Rams are only 1-6 at home though and thought they are healthy again, still remain as one of the worst teams in the league. Short week for both teams helps the Steelers more.

Pittsburgh Steelers (9-5)
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 28-31 -3.5 38.5
8 @CIN 24-13 -3.5 48.5
9 BAL 38-7 -4 48
10 CLE 31-28 -9.5 47.5
11 @NYJ 16-19 -9.5 40.5
12 MIA 3-0 -16 35.5
13 CIN 24-10 -7 46
14 @NE 13-34 +10.5 51
15 JAC 22-29 -4 39
16 @STL   -7.5 45
17 @BAL 30-Dec SUN 1:00 PM
PIT at STL Rush Catch Pass
QB Ben Roethlisberger     240,2
RB Willie Parker 90 10  
TE Heath Miler   30  
WR Hines Ward   70,1  
WR Santonio Holmes   80,1  
WR Nate Washington   40  
PK Jeff Reed 3 FG 2 XP  
Pregame Notes: The Steelers have lost their last two games and are looking much less formidable than did when they were 9-3 and a lock for the AFC North title. Now the Browns are tied with them and thanks to sweeping them, the Steelers still hold on to the division but cannot risk any more missteps. The final two games are against the Rams and Ravens, but are both on the road where the Steelers have struggled this year anyway.

Quarterback: Ben Roethlisberger may have lost the last two games but his three scores against the Jaguars gives him 29 on the season - the new single season record for the Steelers surpassing Terry Bradshaw's 28 scores back in 1978. But Big Ben had only passed for four scores over the last four games thanks in part to Santonio Holmes being injured and he has not been above 195 passing yards since week ten. The Steelers are playing like they have peaked too early and Roethlisberger's play has been a part of that.

Running Backs: Willie Parker holds a six yard lead over Tomlinson for the best rushing yardage in the league (1317) and he's stepped up his play in the last two weeks with 100+ yards against both the Patriots and the Jaguars. But he still has only two scores on the year and rarely is any factor as a receiver. He almost always good for 80+ rushing yards and no touchdowns.

Wide Receivers: Hines Ward needs just 42 more yards to get another team record -- John Stallworth's career total of 8,723 yards receiving. Ward's numbers have dipped in the last two weeks against the NE and JAC defenses but he had been good for around 80 yards in most games and has six scores on the season. Santonio Holmes has also been rather quiet for the last two games though he was returning from a mild high ankle sprain and had been the better option this year with two games over 100 yards and seven scores. Holmes did not appear on the injury report last week so his ankle should not be an issue anymore.

Tight Ends: Heath Miller has been stuck around 20 or 30 yards per game for a month now but did have one score last week. He has seven touchdowns this year but only one since week ten.

Match Against the Defense: The Rams may rank poorly against running backs but they still have not allowed any runner to pass 100 rushing yards this season. Granted, most will score and almost all add on appreciable receiving yards but scoring and catching is not exactly in the cards for Parker this season. Look for moderate to good yardage and no score this week.

The Rams secondary is below average and is where most teams secure their win. Despite playing a soft schedule, seven opponents have recorded multiple passing touchdowns and three times there have been more than two scores allowed. Look for Ward and Holmes to get back into gear this week after two very tough games that held them in check. The wideouts here have to step up for the Steelers to win.

Gaining Fantasy Points PIT 8 18 10 7 16 23
Preventing Fantasy Points STL 16 22 24 12 30 24


St. Louis Rams (3-11)
Homefield: Edward Jones Dome
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 CAR 13-27 +1 42
2 SF 16-17 -3 44
3 @TB 3-24 +4 38.5
4 @DAL 7-35 +13 47
5 ARI 31-34 +3 40.5
6 @BAL 3-22 +9 36.5
7 @SEA 6-33 +9 40
8 CLE 20-27 +3 43.5
9 BYE - - -
10 @NO 37-29 +12 46
11 @SF 13-9 -2.5 41
12 SEA 19-24 +3 44.5
13 ATL 28-16 -4.5 42
14 @CIN 10-19 +7 47
15 GB 14-33 +9.5 44
16 PIT   +7.5 45
17 @ARI 30-Dec SUN 4:15 PM
STL vs PIT Rush Catch Pass
QB Marc Bulger     210,1
RB Steven Jackson 70 50  
TE Randy McMichael   20  
WR Torry Holt   60  
WR Isaac Bruce   50,1  
WR Drew Bennett   20  
PK Jeff Wilkins 2 FG 1 XP  

Pregame Notes: The Rams only have three wins this year and those came against NO, SF and ATL - not exactly the best of opponents and the Saints win was a big upset. Jackson is rushing well again but the passing game has never met expectations outside of few games against horrible secondaries - not the case this week. This is the final home game for the Rams but no reason to expect that this week should be any different.

Quarterback: Marc Bulger has started ten games this year but has only scored in six with more than one touchdown only once all year (@NO). While he had over 300 passing yards against the Browns, 49ers and Saints, he's struggled to top 200 yards in most games and continues to get sacked about four times per game. Just wait until he meets the Steelers blitz this week. Even worse he only has seven scores against 11 interceptions and three lost fumbles.

Running Backs: With minimal good news from this year, at least Steven Jackson has been holding up his end with over 90 rushing yards in the last five games and he's back to getting around four catches each week. He only has five touchdowns this season but four of them came in home games and he comes off a season high 143 rushing yards against the visiting Packers last week. He's a disappointment as the #2 draft pick in most fantasy leagues but he has been paying off later in the year - if the fantasy team reached the playoffs despite him.

Wide Receivers: The passing numbers and scores may be sharply down this year but that is because all the receivers are doing less - except for Torry Holt who has somehow managed to play through a bad knee to score seven touchdowns and top 100 yards three times this year. While Isaac Bruce has the occasional decent game, Holt has been money in almost every game this year and even when his yardage has been low, he usually tosses in a touchdown to keep his fantasy value up. This week will be his biggest challenge yet though and he has not fared well against the top defenses.

Tight Ends: Randy McMichael is consistent around 20 yards and two catches nearly every week but he only has one touchdown in the last five weeks.

Match Against the Defense: The Steelers are #1 against running backs and have only given up four rushing scores on the season. But they play less effectively on the road and are coming off two very tough games. It's optimistic to expect Jackson to turn in many rushing yards here or even to score, but his role as a receiver should prop up his fantasy value this week.

Bulger goes against one of the top secondaries in the league and nothing in the ten games played this year suggests that Bulger will turn in more than one touchdown this week. In most cases, the Steelers shut down the #1 wideout of their opponent and leave any scoring opportunity to secondary players. I am awarding the score to Bruce but it could go anywhere.

Gaining Fantasy Points STL 25 23 13 24 27 20
Preventing Fantasy Points PIT 5 1 10 4 5 17

The Huddle
~ 2007 ~
Season Ticket
Sunday Late

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