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

Prediction: PIT 24, CIN 10

Update: Willie Parker will not be playing this week and Mewelde Moore gets a very nice matchup as the starter. Jeff Reed had been nursing a strained calf but is expected to fill all kicking duties.

The Steelers remain a force in the AFC North that no longer looks to be a race since the Ravens have folded their tents. The Bengals are still searching for that elusive first win but even as much as this could be a trap game, the Steelers are coming off a bye week and already know the Bengals well. Having Carson Palmer out only makes this even less likely to be an upset.

The Steelers swept the Bengals in 2007, winning 24-13 in Cincinnati and later 24-10 in Pittsburgh.

Pittsburgh Steelers (4-1)
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 26-21 +4 36
6 BYE - - -
7 @CIN - -9.5 37
8 NYG - - -
9 @WAS - - -
10 IND - - -
11 SD - - -
12 CIN - - -
13 @NE - - -
14 DAL - - -
15 @BAL - - -
16 @TEN - - -
17 CLE - - -
PIT at CIN Rush Catch Pass
QB Ben Roethlisberger     230,2
RB Willie Parker 90,1
RB Mewelde Moore 90,1 20  
TE Heath Miler   30,1  
WR Hines Ward   80,1  
WR Santonio Holmes   70  
WR Nate Washington   30  
PK Jeff Reed 1 FG 3 XP  
Pregame Notes: This week is a must win because it will be the easiest game for the Steelers until five weeks later when they play the Bengals again. There is not much pressure in the AFC North so the Steelers may coast to another divisional title but the schedule is going to be much tougher banging into NFC East teams. But these Steelers have been up to the task and the win in Jacksonville was a big confidence booster.

Quarterback: 2008 had been a down year for Ben Roethlisberger in fantasy terms. The Steelers won four of five and the rushing game has been far better this year but within that the passing numbers have been lower - particularly scoring. The first four games of the year only saw Big Ben post a total of four touchdowns and never top 191 passing yards in a game. But against the Jaguars and without Willie Parker, he passed for 309 yards and three touchdowns. Finally. After four games many fantasy owners had lost the faith but for at least one week Roethlisberger was in top form.

In two meetings with the Bengals last year, Roethlisberger passed for a pair of touchdowns in both games and around 200 yards.

Running Backs: With Parker and Mendenhall out, Mewelde Moore was impressive rushing for 99 yards on 17 carries in Jacksonville. The plan going forward is to mix Moore in with Parker since he brought a new dynamic to the backfield. Parker has been out with a sprained knee but is expected to be back after running sprints last week.

Parker ran for 126 yards on 22 carries in Cincinnati with one score last season and later had 87 yards on 28 runs when they visited.

Wide Receivers: Santonio Holmes still hasn't met the expectations he created last year but he's been good enough lately to be a fantasy starter. He still only has one score on the season and usually turns in around 65 yards in most games. Hines Ward has been the better player to have with a team high four receiving touchdowns roughly the same yardage as Holmes.

Santonio Holmes only played in the road game against the Bengals last year and had six catches for 87 yards. Hines Ward tore them up though, with two touchdowns and right around 90 yards in both games.

Tight Ends: Heath Miller come off his first touchdown on the season but he's been under 45 yards in all but one game and really merits nothing more than being a bye week filler.

Miller had games of 30 and 42 yards against the Bengals last year.

Match Against the Defense: Parker has always enjoyed decent to great games against the Bengals and this year should be no exception. Look for solid to good yardage by Parker who remains to be known how healthy he is or how much Moore may mix in. I may update later in the week but the assumption is that Parker is good to go and this will be a good week.

Big Ben has also had good but never huge games against the Bengals since the rushing game usually takes up most plays. And with the Bengals missed Carson Palmer still, that makes it even more likely to be a defensive, rush-heavy game.

Gaining Fantasy Points PIT 15 27 11 20 19 7
Preventing Fantasy Points    CIN 10 25 8 18 20 22

Cincinnati Bengals (0-6)
Homefield: Paul Brown Stadium
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 @BAL 10-17 -1 39
2 TEN 7-24 -1 37.5
3 @NYG 23-26 +13.5 42
4 CLE 12-20 +3.5 44
5 @DAL 22-31 +17.5 44
6 @NYJ 14-26 +6 45
7 PIT - +9.5 37
8 @HOU - - -
9 JAX - - -
10 BYE - - -
11 PHI - - -
12 @PIT - - -
13 BAL - - -
14 @IND - - -
15 WAS - - -
16 @CLE - - -
17 KC - - -
CIN vs PIT Rush Catch Pass
QB Ryan Fitzpatrick     160,1
RB Chris Perry 50 10  
TE Reggie Kelly   20  
WR Chad Johnson   40  
WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh   60,1  
WR Chris Henry   20  
PK Shayne Graham 1 FG 1 XP  

Pregame Notes: The Bengals have never given up in any game this year despite always losing. The loss of Carson Palmer cuts deeply into a team that had no margin for error anyway. The rushing game has been non-existent and the passing game now wanes. Add that into a defense that has been getting even worse and that Bengals first win will be a surprise whenever it happens.

Quarterback: Ryan Fitzpatrick's first game as a starter did not end very well. He only had 152 yards and no scores against the Jets with five sacks and one lost fumble. He did rush in one score though. And now he gets to face one of the best defenses in the league. This should be a long and yet unproductive game for Fitzpatrick.

Palmer never had a good game against the Steelers last year. He passed for 205 yards and one score at home and later only 183 yards and no score in Pittsburgh.

Running Backs: The nice thing about the Bengals backfield is that even though it is still muddled, it doesn't matter. Whoever they end up using is not going to produce anything this week and have only limited prospects in the future. Chris Perry has been horrible in the last three weeks and Cedric Benson's brief showing in week five was countered by gaining only six yards on four carries against the Jets last week. Now the coaching staff is glowing about Kenny Watson in practice even though they already have known him for years and recently released and later re-signed him. Until the Bengals get on a winning track, this backfield has far more risk than reward.

The Bengals had minimal success rushing against the Steelers last year, with Kenny Watson gaining 88 yards at home and later Rudi Johnson rushing 14 times for 34 yards and one score in Pittsburgh.

Wide Receivers: Chris Henry is officially back now that he had one catch last week but it was only one catch. With Fitzpatrick playing, the Bengals had limited success and T.J. Houshmandzadeh fielded seven receptions but only gained 49 yards and no score. Chad Johnson comes off his most productive game of the year but that only means he had 57 yards on five catches. On the plus side, the Bengals are falling behind and throwing more but not particularly well or very far down the field.

Houshmandzadeh caught 7 passed for 81 yards and one score when the Steelers visited last year but Chad Johnson only had 51 yards on five receptions.

Tight Ends: Never any touchdowns and always minimal yardage.

Match Against the Defense: The Steelers have only allowed two rushing scores to running backs this year and the Bengals are the worst rushing team in the NFL. Stay away this week. There is no certainty as to who will carry how much anyway.

Fitzpatrick faces a very good secondary that has not allowed more than 202 passing yards or one score to any opponent this year. Consider the Bengals good enough to get the one score even if it comes in trash time at the end of the game. That score could go anywhere but at least Houshmandzadeh gets the most passes.

Gaining Fantasy Points CIN 23 32 22 29 27 18
Preventing Fantasy Points    PIT 6 6 4 15 4 23

The Huddle
~ 2008 ~
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