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

Prediction: PIT 17, JAX 20

Update: Ben Roethlisberger was held out of practice on Wednesday and Thursday and only had limited work on Friday because of his shoulder. He is listed as questionable but this is an injury that he has had since week one and it has yet to keep him out. Unusually it had him miss practice two days this week though. He is still a gametime decision though almost a lock to play. Problem is that this is a late night Sunday game and unless you hold Byron Leftwich you may have no options if Roethlisberger would end up as a scratch. It seems pretty unlikely though so expect him to play but not be 100% again this week. He's been really battered even more than usual this year and that is starting to take its toll.

Here's a sure to be great game that pits the 3-1 Steelers coming off a short week on the road to Jacksonville where the Jags barely clipped the visiting Texans last week. Neither team can afford a loss really but beating the Ravens last week bought the Steelers a little breathing room.

The Jaguars won 29-22 in Pittsburgh last year.

Pittsburgh Steelers (3-1)
Homefield: Heinz Field
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 HOU 38-17 -6.5 43
2 @CLE 10-6 -6 45
3 @PHI 6-15 +3 45
4 BAL 23-20 -6 34.5
5 @JAX - +4 36
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 JAC Rush Catch Pass
QB Ben Roethlisberger GTD   220,2
RB Mewelde Moore 40 40  
TE Heath Miler   20  
WR Hines Ward   60,1  
WR Santonio Holmes   50,1  
WR Nate Washington   40  
PK Jeff Reed 1 FG 2 XP  
Pregame Notes: It took an overtime win but the Steelers beat the Ravens even though they had almost lost all running backs in the game. The Steelers also lost guard Kendall Simmons for the year when he tore his Achilles tendon and he joins Rashard Mendenhall on injured reserve. That's won't help the rushing game at all for this week though Willie Parker is expected to be back after the bye next week.

Quarterback: The high-powered passing attack of the Steelers has yet to show up for 2007. Ben Roethlisberger had only four touchdowns on the season - about half the rate he had last year - and he still has not thrown for over 200 yards this season. His old problem of holding onto the ball and getting sacked has never been fixed and he is on a pace for 60 sacks this year (which no one lasts through that sort of pounding). Problem this week is that he's always sacked more on the road.

Roethlisberger passed for 142 yards and three scores against the visiting Jaguars during the regular season and later had 337 yards and two touchdowns during the playoffs.

Running Backs: What a mess. Rashard Mendenhall was lost for the year with a fractured shoulder and Willie Parker remains out until week seven at the earliest. The Steelers just re-signed Najeh "What? Sure! I can be there!" Davenport this week and may even end up using him if Mewelde Moore and Carey Davis are not enough for short yardage. I will project for Moore but realize there are potentially three running backs at play this week.

Parker rushed for 100 yards on 14 carries in the week 15 meeting with the Jaguars and was out with a broken leg in the second meeting. Najeh Davenport took his place that week and had two scores against the Jags.

Wide Receivers: For fantasy owners still starting him, Santonio Holmes had his first score of the year on Monday night but only added three catches for 61 yards against the Ravens. Hines Ward also had a season low with just two receptions for 57 yards. For at least this week, the Steelers will have to throw the ball to stay in the game and that means Holmes and Ward both need to be involved if the team is going to have a chance.

Holmes never had a big day against Jacksonville last year, catching only four passes for 34 yards in the first meeting and later three receptions for 49 yards and one score during the playoffs. Ward turned in 27 yards and one score in the first meeting and then ten catches for 135 yards in the playoff game.

Tight Ends: Not much consistency here. Heath Miller had a season high four catches for 63 yards in week three but followed that up with only two catches for eight yards and no tight end has scored for the Steelers - not even worthy as a bye week replacement.

Miller scored in both games against the Jaguars last year and had two catches for 24 yards during the season and later eight receptions for 85 yards during the playoffs.

Match Against the Defense: The Jaguars rushing defense has been better than the rankings suggest but twice gave up big yards to running backs as receivers. No runner has rushed for more than 78 yards against them and the Steelers always run worse on the road. Add in Parker is out and there's no reason beyond desperation to use Mewelde Moore this week though he may have enough yards as a receiver to make him fantasy relevant.

Roethlisberger goes against a secondary that has allowed at least one score every week but even Manning only had 216 yards against them. Schaub had 307 yards last week but it was more a trap game than this could possibly be. Expect lower 200's in yardage for the first time for Big Ben and at least one touchdown.

Gaining Fantasy Points PIT 24 25 16 25 20 6
Preventing Fantasy Points    JAC 22 25 9 22 6 6

Jacksonville Jaguars (2-2)
Homefield: J'ville Municipal Stadium
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 @TEN 10-17 -3 37
2 BUF 16-20 -6 38
3 @IND 23-21 +5.5 42
4 HOU 30-27 -7.5 42
5 PIT - -4 36
6 @DEN - - -
7 BYE - - -
8 CLE - - -
9 @CIN - - -
10 @DET - - -
11 TEN - - -
12 MIN - - -
13 @HOU - - -
14 @CHI - - -
15 GB - - -
16 IND - - -
17 @BAL - - -
JAX vs PIT Rush Catch Pass
QB David Garrard 30   180,1
RB Fred Taylor 40 10  
RB Maurice Jones-Drew 30,1 30  
TE Marcedes Lewis   10  
WR Jerry Porter   20  
WR Matt Jones   50  
WR Reggie Williams   40,1  
PK Josh Scobee 2 FG 2 XP  

Pregame Notes: The Jaguars needed overtime to beat the visiting Texans last week but that smacked of a trap game since the Texans were 0-2 and the Jags were coming off a win over the Colts and knowing they would be hosting the Steelers this week. The rushing game that looked fixed against the Colts broke down again but David Garrard turned into a runner himself to save the game. The next two weeks are tough against the Steelers then in Denver, but then the schedule gets much lighter for the rest of the way. If you were so disposed to desire a trade to get a Jaguar, wait until they look their worse after week six heading into their bye week and before they start playing CLE, CIN, DET, etc..

Quarterback: David Garrard came to the rescue last week when he not only passed for a season high 236 yards and one score but he added seven runs for 41 yards and a rushing touchdown. Amazingly that only gives Garrard two passing scores on the year and only one in the last three weeks.

Garrard passed for 197 yards and three scores in Pittsburgh during the regular season and later just 140 yards and one score in the playoff game.

Running Backs: Ignoring the big game against the Colts - and by now you really should - the Jaguars lack of a rushing game is reaching a critical state. Against the Texans last week, Fred Taylor only gained 25 yards on ten carries and Maurice Jones-Drew only had seven runs for 32 yards. That's 17 carries for 57 yards against the visiting Texans. Take away the one Colts game and Taylor has 33 carries for 103 yards and Jones-Drew totaled 19 runs for 62 yards. For an offense predicated on rushing the ball, that's more than merely pedestrian. The losses on the offensive line have not yet been compensated.

Taylor gashed the Steelers for 147 yards on 25 carries and scored once in Pittsburgh last year. Jones-Drew had 69 yards on 12 carries in that game. In the playoff meeting three weeks later, Taylor only had 48 yards and a score and Jones-Drew was held to 29 yards and one score.

Wide Receivers: Last week Matt Jones did what no other Jaguars wideout had done - he caught a touchdown pass. Jones remains the only player here with any fantasy value and even that is marginal with just one score and around 60 yards per week. Jerry Porter finally hit the field last week but only had one pass that resulted in a six yard gain. Reggie Williams has disappeared this season after being a touchdown machine in 2007.

Other than Dennis Northcutt's 81 yards in the first meeting with the Steelers last year, no Jaguars wideout had more than 39 yards in either game.

Tight Ends: The tight ends actually make the wideouts look productive. Rarely anything other than blocking from this unit.

Match Against the Defense: The Jaguars rushing game has been lackluster almost every week and now faces the best defense yet. Look for another sad week of minimal yardage with a chance for one touchdown by Jones-Drew.

Garrard goes against a solid secondary but one that has allowed a passing score in almost every game. The Jaguars have no single receiver of note which makes the Steelers coverage job a little harder this week. Expect one touchdown pass but likely no more. I will award that score to Reggie Williams but the confidence factor is very low on any of these receivers.

Gaining Fantasy Points JAC 17 12 25 30 6 22
Preventing Fantasy Points    PIT 9 5 4 9 10 16

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