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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
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The Huddle
~ 2008 ~
Season Ticket
Sunday Late

Prediction: PIT 27, CLE 10

Update: Ben Roethlisberger was held out of practice on Wednesday because of a sore shoulder and a slightly hyperextended knee but returned to limited practice on Thursday and had a full day on Friday. He not only is safe to start, facing the visiting Browns means he is a must start. Donte Stallworth is still doubtful with his quadriceps injury and is not expected to play.

This may not be the way that the Browns wanted to start their season or use up two home games. The Cowboys had their way with the Browns defense last week while the Steelers finally got bored and allowed the Texans to make the score look interesting last week. This game opened the 2007 season and cost Charlie Frye his job. The Steelers won that game 34-7 and later squeaked past 31-28 in their home meeting.

Pittsburgh Steelers (1-0)
Homefield: Heinz Field
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 HOU 38-17 -6.5 43
2 @CLE - -6 45
3 @PHI - - -
4 BAL - - -
5 @JAX - - -
6 BYE - - -
7 @CIN - - -
8 NYG - - -
9 @WAS - - -
10 IND - - -
11 SD - - -
12 CIN - - -
13 @NE - - -
14 DAL - - -
15 @BAL - - -
16 @TEN - - -
17 CLE - - -
PIT at CLE Rush Catch Pass
QB Ben Roethlisberger     180,2
RB Willie Parker 110,1    
RB Rashard Mendenhall 30    
TE Heath Miler   30  
WR Hines Ward   60,1  
WR Santonio Holmes   70,1  
WR Nate Washington   10  
PK Jeff Reed 2 FG 3 XP  
Pregame Notes: The Steelers are starting 2008 out with a vengeance after steamrolling the Texans last week. Willie Parker suddenly looks like 2007 never existed and has almost doubled his touchdown total from last year. Ben Roethlisberger only threw one incompletion last week and appeared to be unchallenged so far. Even Hines Ward was back on fire in week one. It's like the Steelers are coming back together again and that is bad news for the rest of the AFC North.

Quarterback: Last week Ben Roethlisberger completed 13 of 14 passes for 137 yards and two touchdowns in a game that never really needed a pass to win. In a similar vein, he threw for 161 yards and four scores in Cleveland last year. He passed for 278 yards and two scores in the home meeting with the Browns. This bodes very well for this week.

Running Backs: Willie Parker rushed 25 times for 138 yards and three scores last week and looked as good as he has in years. Granted - the Texans were visiting. But Rashard Mendenhall only gained 28 yards on his ten carries and poses no immediate threat to Parker. Even though last year was a downer for Parker, he still gained 109 yards on 27 yards in Cleveland and later gained 105 yards on 25 runs at home. He did not score in either game.

Wide Receivers: Hines Ward had a big game last week when he dominated the receiving stats with six catches for 76 yards and both passing touchdowns for the Steelers. Santonio Holmes managed a paltry 19 yards on two receptions though the Steelers never had a reason to throw deep.

Ward had 51 yards and a score in Cleveland last year while Holmes gained 55 yards and had one touchdown as well. In the home meeting with the Browns, Ward had seven catches for 80 yards and a touchdown while Holmes only had four receptions for 53 yards. Both wideouts should join in the fun this year.

Tight Ends: Heath Miller only had three catches for 26 yards last week and had fallen from use last season but he enjoyed playing against the Browns in 2007. He had four receptions for 35 yards and a score on the road and later seven receptions for 80 yards and a touchdown in the home meeting.

Match Against the Defense: The Browns gave up over 160 rushing yards last week to the Cowboys and Parker was tripping 100 yards in both meetings in 2007. Look for yet another good effort here by Parker who is on a successful mission to show the team does not need Mendenhall.

Expect Roethlisberger to throw for at least two scores though his yardage will not be high. He'll get Holmes involved again and still use Ward. The problem for the Browns is another big loss will really play into their psyche. The Steelers would love to do that.

Gaining Fantasy Points PIT 16 3 11 21 9 5
Preventing Fantasy Points CLE 24 31 27 25 11 7

Cleveland Browns (0-1)
Homefield: Cleveland Stadium
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 DAL 10-28 +5.5 49
2 PIT - +6 45
3 @BAL - - -
4 @CIN - - -
5 BYE - - -
6 NYG - - -
7 @WAS - - -
8 @JAX - - -
9 BAL - - -
10 DEN - - -
11 @BUF - - -
12 HOU - - -
13 IND - - -
14 @TEN - - -
15 @PHI - - -
16 CIN - - -
17 @PIT - - -
CLE vs PIT Rush Catch Pass
QB Derek Anderson     160,1
RB Jamal Lewis 60    
TE Kellen Winslow   70,1  
WR Braylon Edwards   50  
WR Syndric Steptoe   20  
PK Phil Dawson 1 FG 1 XP  

Pregame Notes: The Browns really were thrown back by the Cowboys and dominated from start to finish. The defense continued their 2007 tradition of being a weak link but the passing of Derek Anderson is far too similar to the lower numbers of late last season. After a hot start, Anderson cooled enough to warrant the Browns hedging their bets and making Anderson essentially a one-year contract. Jamal Lewis still ran strong in what few carries he received but Anderson showed none of the magic of last year. A few more games like that and you may see Brady Quinn on more than the one commercial that still plays.

Quarterback: Last week, Derek Anderson only completed 11 of 24 passes for 114 yards and one touchdown. He was errant on his throws much too often and was hampered by more than one dropped pass. Anderson's first game last year was the 184 yards and a score in the season opener against the Steelers when Charlie Frye played his last game for the Browns. Anderson later had only 123 passing yards but threw three touchdowns in Pittsburgh. He needs a good game here and yet faces a potentially better defense than last week.

Running Backs: Jamal Lewis started his season with a healthy 4.8 yard average against the Cowboys but only had 13 carries and gained 62 yards. He ran strong, he just did not get to run enough.

Lewis only gained 35 yards on 11 carries at home against the Steelers last year. He later had exactly 35 rushing yards yet again on 16 carries in Pittsburgh. Not a good sign for this week.

Wide Receivers: Last week Donte Stallworth was a scratch because he is now bypassing the game all together and getting injured in pregame warmups. He will be questionable this week with a strained quadriceps. Worse than that was Braylon Edwards only catching two passes for 14 yards. He had nine passes thrown to him (or at least somewhat close) but could only snag two. Edwards has some of the best hands in the league - this was mostly an Anderson problem.

Edwards had three receptions for 49 yards at home against the Steelers last year and later only managed one catch for 16 yards in Pittsburgh though it was a touchdown. Again - not a good sign for this week.

Tight Ends: The only receiver with any success last week was Kellen Winslow who led the team with just five catches for 47 yards and the one passing score. He basically accounted for half of all completions. Winslow had four receptions for 83 yards in the home meeting with the Steelers and later caught five passes for 46 yards and one score in Pittsburgh. He's been the only consistently productive player this year or against the Steelers last season.

Match Against the Defense: This doesn't look good. Lewis is running well but never did against the Steelers last year. And he's not getting enough carries to matter anyway. Expect moderate rushing yards at best and no score.

Anderson needs badly to have a good game here but all signs point to a struggle. Other than Winslow, it is hard to expect any other receiver to do well this week. The only reason that Andre Johnson had good numbers in Pittsburgh last week is because the Steelers stopped caring. That is less likely in a road game against a divisional rival.

Gaining Fantasy Points CLE 26 30 30 4 25 25
Preventing Fantasy Points PIT 25 4 22 13 14 12

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