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

Prediction: IND 17, PIT 23

Update: As expected, Heath Miller has been ruled out this week and Ben Roethlisberger was held out this week with his shoulder sprain but returned for a full day on Friday and is expected to play. But Willie Parker did not practice this week and is listed as doubtful. I am removing him from the projections and inserting good, old Mewelde Moore.

The win last week propped the Colts up to .500 but in a dramatic reversal from previous seasons, they remain four games behind the perfect Titans. The Steelers are 6-2 and atop the AFC North as usual with a 4-1 home record against the Colts 2-2 road mark.

Indianapolis Colts (4-4)
Homefield: Lucas Oil Stadium
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 CHI 13-29 -9.5 44
2 @MIN 18-15 -2 43.5
3 JAX 21-23 -5.5 42
4 BYE - - -
5 @HOU 31-27 -3 47.5
6 BAL 31-3 -4.5 39
7 @GB 14-34 -1 47
8 @TEN 21-31 +4 42
9 NE 18-15 -5.5 45
10 @PIT - OFF -
11 HOU - - -
12 @SD - - -
13 @CLE - - -
14 CIN - - -
15 DET - - -
16 @JAX - - -
17 TEN - - -
IND @ PIT Rush Catch Pass
QB Peyton Manning     240,2
RB Joseph Addai 50 10  
TE Dallas Clark   50,1  
WR Marvin Harrison   50  
WR Reggie Wayne   60  
WR Anthony Gonzalez   50,1  
PK Adam Vinatieri 1 FG 2 XP  
Pregame Notes: The Colts have lost their last two road games by substantial margins and even their two wins were only by four or less points. They catch a break with Roethlisberger banged up but a loss here would be no big surprise for a franchise that has just not clicked this year as they had in years past. Peyton Manning has improved from earlier form but still hasn't risen to previous heights. This looks like a down year for the Colts and this week end will further define it. A road win against a quality team like the Steelers (even without Big Ben potentially) would be a big statement but a loss says these Colts are just not the same crew.

Quarterback: Peyton Manning has thrown for multiple scores in four of the last five games but the biggest change is that he has thrown nine interceptions already this year and what factors in even more is that seven of them came in road games. He has yet to play in an away venue and not throw at least one pick if not two. He has only one effort over 300 yards this season and while he has been good, he is still short of "Manning good".

Running Backs: Joseph Addai is back after missing three games but the Patriots held him to only 32 yards on 17 carries and he has not had more than 78 rushing yards in any game so far. His role as a receiver has taken a slide back with rarely more than one or two inconsequential catches per week. Dominic Rhodes has returned to being just relief with four carries last Sunday.

Between Addai and Rhodes, the Colts had around 70 rushing yards and a score from week two through week seven but facing the Titans and then Patriots killed that streak. Playing In Pittsburgh this week is unlikely to restart it.

Wide Receivers: Reggie Wayne was questionable to play last week because of his knee but even though he only had one partial practice, he suited up against the Patriots and gained 65 yards on five receptions to lead the Colts in catches. Wayne hasn't scored since week six and has no more than three catches for 29 yards in the last two road games.

Marvin Harrison had fared no better as of late with never more than 50 yards over the last three weeks though he has been minimally productive almost every week outside of the Ravens game.

The star last Sunday was Anthony Gonzalez since he scored twice but those were his first touchdowns on the season and he only had 55 yards on four catches. He hasn't provided enough to merit much fantasy attention until last week.

Tight Ends: The wideouts may have seen a recent decline in production but Dallas Clark has turned in his best efforts of the year in each of the last three games where he has remained above 60 yards and even had two touchdowns. It is relevant that the tougher the game, the more Manning has relied on Clark.

Match Against the Defense: The mediocre rushing attack of the Colts heads to Pittsburgh where no opposing runner has gained more than 63 yards and only one has scored. Look for a lower end game from Addai here and a third straight week of no rushing touchdown.

Manning faces a top pass defense that has never allowed more than one touchdown pass in any game this year and on quarterback has ended with more than 206 passing yards against them. The Colts bring in as good a passing game as they have faced so expect the lack of rushing to force Manning to throw for over 240 yards or so and toss at least one score and possibly two even if no one else has so far. Those scores would be for Clark first and foremost and then likely Gonzalez more so than the two starting wideouts.

Gaining Fantasy Points IND 9 29 9 8 32 28
Preventing Fantasy Points    PIT 2 3 3 11 10 24

Pittsburgh Steelers (6-2)
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 38-10 -9.5 37
8 NYG 14-21 -2.5 42
9 @WAS 23-6 +1.5 37
10 IND - OFF -
11 SD - - -
12 CIN - - -
13 @NE - - -
14 DAL - - -
15 @BAL - - -
16 @TEN - - -
17 CLE - - -
PIT vs IND Rush Catch Pass
QB Ben Roethlisberger     190
RB Willie Parker 110,1
RB Mewelde Moore 100,1    
WR Hines Ward   60  
WR Santonio Holmes   40  
WR Nate Washington   40  
PK Jeff Reed 3 FG 2 XP  

Pregame Notes: The Steelers pulled off a big win over the Skins and although it was a Monday night game which makes this a short week, the Steelers are starting off a three game home stretch. The status of Ben Roethlisberger will be of utmost interest this week but the Steeler defense has been playing at a high level recently anyway. A win here sets the ball in motion that rolls into January.

Quarterback: Ben Roethlisberger injured his shoulder last week and gave way to Byron Leftwich who won the game in Washington. Ben is awaiting the results of the MRI at this writing and that will help determine if he can play this week. Early word had him as a decent chance to play and that he had no serious injury. When Leftwich stepped in last Sunday, he completed seven of ten passes for 129 yards and one very important score. Even without Big Ben, the Steelers can get by, particularly when at home.

I will assume that a limited Roethlisberger is able to start this week and update as needed on Friday.

Running Backs: After six weeks of mending, Willie Parker finally played and gained 70 yards on 21 carries with one touchdown at Washington. He had started the season out with two big games before injuring his knee and stepped right back into a decent game. Mewelde Moore had been an effective replacement but only had four carries with Parker back. Back at home, Parker will look to resuming his trend of big games while in Pittsburgh.

Wide Receivers: The Redskins secondary was outstanding last week and held this group to just one score by Santonio Holmes and less than 40 yards for both he and Hines Ward. It was only Holmes second score of the year while Ward has five touchdowns though none in the last two weeks. This unity has been largely average this year and less productive than in 2007 when there was a spotty rushing game in support. Roethlisberger has done a nice job spreading it among the two starters and Nate Washington but this week will be the third straight game against a top secondary.

Tight Ends: Heath Miller is doubtful this week because of a sprained ankle but he has a minimal role this year anyway and his worst games have all been at home.

Match Against the Defense: The Colts have been outstanding against the pass and have allowed only two passing scores on the entire season. They are #1 against both quarterbacks and wideouts and Heath Miller is hurt so tight ends do not matter. Add in Roethlisberger injured and the passing game here is something to avoid.

But Parker is back and healthy and at home against a defense that has allowed six rushing touchdowns in the four road games this year and five runners have topped 100 rushing yards against them. The return of Bob Sanders last week will help but even with him there playing at Indianapolis, the Patriots ran for 117 yards on 25 carries and scored once between Kevin Faulk and Green-Ellis.

Expect a rushing score here by Parker with healthy yardage that could be big. I like the chance for a Steelers defensive score in this game as well.

Gaining Fantasy Points PIT 14 22 10 25 25 9
Preventing Fantasy Points    IND 1 27 1 12 29 19

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