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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
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The Huddle
WEEK 4
~ 2009 ~
Season Ticket
Sunday
Sunday
Sunday
Sunday Late
Bye Week
ARI, PHI
Monday
ATL, CAR
*Updated

Prediction: SD 23, PIT 20

Saturday Update: Willie Parker never practiced this week because of the turf toe and is listed as doubtful. The Steelers have not ruled him out officially but he not likely to incur a miraculous recovery in a day. Tomlinson is probable and had full practices every day. I am upgrading him slightly from yesterday but he still is not that attractive in Pittsburgh where almost no runners succeed.

Friday Update: LaDainian Tomlinson has gone through two full days of practice and is now expected to play. No doubt that Darren Sproles remains very involved but the question will be now the two will share. That will depend on game situation and how well Tomlinson plays. Playing in Pittsburgh is never a treat for a running back and now the workload will be split up in some measure. Both runners are very risky starts with a far better chance of a bad game than a good one.

Willie Parker has missed both practices this week with turf toe and that's troublesome even though they have not called him out. I am removing him from the projections and adding in Rashard Mendenhall and Mewelde Moore. Practice today will be the key if he is out.

Here's a a chance for the Chargers to make up for 2008 when they lost to the Steelers 10-11 in Pittsburgh during week 11 and again later 35-24 when the Chargers visited during the Divisional Round of the 2008 playoffs. The Chargers have one loss so far but the Steelers are reeling at 1-2 on the year and are acting like so many Super Bowl Champs who struggle against adversity for the next season.

San Diego Chargers (2-1)
Homefield: Qualcomm Stadium
Grass
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 @OAK 24-20 -9.5 43
2 BAL 26-31 -5 40.5
3 MIA 23-13 -6 42
4 @PIT - +6.5 43
5 BYE - - -
6 DEN - - -
7 @KC - - -
8 OAK - - -
9 @NYG - - -
10 PHI - - -
11 @DEN - - -
12 KC - - -
13 @CLE - - -
14 @DAL - - -
15 CIN - - -
16 @TEN - - -
17 WAS - - -
SD at PIT Rush Catch Pass
QB Philip Rivers     260,2
RB Darren Sproles 20 30,1  
RB L. Tomlinson 50 30  
TE Antonio Gates   70,1  
WR Chris Chambers   10  
WR Vincent Jackson   50  
WR Malcolm Floyd   40  
PK Nate Kaeding 3 FG 2 XP  
Pregame Notes: This is a golden opportunity for the Chargers to enter the bye next week on a very high note. They played the Steelers competitively last year though always not quite good enough. But these Steelers are not playing nearly as well and Troy Palomalu is not expected back for another week. And the Steelers pass defense has fallen down a tick as well. It'll take a huge effort but the Steelers are in a precarious situation now and could be beaten more easily than last year.

Quarterback: Nothing wrong with Philip Rivers who has averaged 330 passing yards per game and thrown for three scores thus far. He has also added one rushing touchdown as well. With a diminished ground game from Tomlinson's injury, Rivers has stepped right back to the same level he had in 2008.

Rivers only passed for 164 yards and no scores in the first meeting with the Steelers last year but had 308 yards and three touchdowns in the playoff loss.

These Steelers are more subject to the pass than before in part because of Palomalu's absence. Every opponent has thrown for at least one touchdown against them and Cutler had two. Look for a decent to good game here by Rivers that posts two passing touchdowns and around 250 yards. It could be more if the Steelers make this into a shootout and both teams abandon the run.

Running Backs: Darren Sproles has faced two outstanding rush defenses of the Dolphins and Ravens with predictably lower results but his role as a receiver helps the team and his fantasy value. The team has not ruled out LaDainian Tomlinson out so far but I won't add him into the projections until he is cleared. While Tomlinson could get two more weeks of rest with a bye waiting next week, the chance to win this game may supersede that and see Tomlinson suit up. Updates if that happens.

Tomlinson ran for 57 yards and one score in the first meeting with the Steelers. He missed the second game and Sproles only managed 15 yards on 11 carries but gained 91 yards and a score on five receptions. His 181 yards as a receiver currently leads all running backs.

The Steelers have only allowed on rushing score so far and no runner has more than 76 yards against them. Sproles will have to double up as a receiver to have an impact and has done just that in the past meetings.

Wide Receivers: Chris Chambers has just become invisible and has two games without a catch. Vincent Jackson has truly taken the next step up from last year and become a weekly stud for Rivers. He has over 120 yards in both of the most recent games and scored twice as the only wideout with a touchdown. Malcolm Floyd has been quietly effective hauling in one or two longer passes each week. Jackson has really evolved here but at the expense of all other wideouts.

Jackson only had two catches for 25 yards in the first meeting with the Steelers and later made it two receptions for 46 yards and one score in the playoff loss.

The Steelers will be all over Jackson this week and will give him his toughest challenge so far. Look for only moderate yardage and no score here since the Steelers can cover the primary two every week.

Tight Ends: Nothing like consistency. Antonio Gates has five catches in every game, has not score and turns in around 70 yards per week. As a coincidence, Gates caught five passes for 59 yards in the playoff loss to the Steelers. I like Gates to finally score in Pittsburgh.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points SD 5 14 11 17 2 12
Preventing Fantasy Points    PIT 13 3 22 17 2 29


Pittsburgh Steelers (1-2)
Homefield: Heinz Field
Grass
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 TEN 13-10 -5 37
2 @CHI 14-17 -3 37.5
3 @CIN 20-23 -4.5 37
4 SD - -6.5 43
5 @DET - - -
6 CLE - - -
7 MIN - - -
8 BYE - - -
9 @DEN - - -
10 CIN - - -
11 @KC - - -
12 @BAL - - -
13 OAK - - -
14 @CLE - - -
15 GB - - -
16 BAL - - -
17 @MIA - - -
PIT vs SD Rush Catch Pass
QB Ben Roethlisberger     270,1
RB Willie Parker 90,1 10
RB R. Mendenhall 30,1 10  
RB Mewelde Moore 50    
TE Heath Miller   20  
WR Hines Ward   80  
WR Santonio Holmes   80,1  
WR Mike Wallace   60  
PK Jeff Reed 2 FG 2 XP  

Pregame Notes: Pretty somber faces in Pittsburgh for a team that just won the Super Bowl. But slides the next season are more then rule than the exception and injuries have already taken some toll on the Champs. The defense has been decent even without Palomalu and is only allowing around 16 points per week. But the offense has yet to score more than 20 points and the lone win came over the visiting Titans who are now 0-3. The Steelers will right the ship and get back on track but they are ripe for one more loss against a quality opponent that almost won there last year.

Quarterback: Part of the offensive woes have been that Ben Roethlisberger has yet to throw for more than one touchdown per game. Against that are four interceptions and seven sacks. He started out with an impressive 363 yards against the Titans but that was before we knew the Titans would have no pass defense this year. He has helped the team by rushing in a score in both the road trips but as the record shows - Roethlisberger cannot do this alone.

Roethlisberger passed for 308 yards and no scores in the first game with the Chargers last year and later settled for 181 yards and one touchdown during the playoffs.

The Chargers this year have not yet faced a truly good passing attack so the 208 yards allowed the Ravens are no limit here. Expect healthy pass yardage and at least one passing score.

Running Backs: Willie Parker had a season high 25 carries for 93 yards in Cincinnati and finally scored this year via a reception. Parker has only averaged around 53 rushing yards per week and has a 3.1 yard average. Playing in Pittsburgh will help but having a light case of turf toe will not. Parker will likely rest his toe this week but is still expected to play.

Rashard Mendenhall did not play last week in a disciplinary move but will be back and should Parker have any problems with his toe, Mendenhall will need to step up. Parker had a fine effort, finally, just last week and had to hold off Mendenhall for at least a while longer.

Parker enjoyed nice games against the Chargers last year. He gained 115 yards on 25 carries in the first meeting and later rushed 27 times for 146 yards and two touchdowns during the playoffs.

The Chargers have not allowed a runner to gain more than 79 yards yet but mostly because the opponents abandon the run and no one has been able to carry the ball more than 18 times against them this year. They are allowing 4.6 yards per carry overall and that should be a big benefit to Parker who could turn in a score as well since every opponent has at least one rushing touchdown against them so far this year.

Wide Receivers: The biggest issue in the passing game has been how Santonio Holmes went for 9-131 and a score in week one to suddenly have a case of the drops. He had 14 passes in week two but caught only five for 83 yards. He had five passes thrown to him last week but had just a single catch. Mike Wallace has stepped up and taken over the #3 role from Limas Sweed and the rookie had his first 100 yard effort just last week. With Holmes struggling, Wallace is filling in. Hines Ward remains the sold possession receiver but he still has not scored and stays around six catches or so every game.

Ward collected 11 passes for 124 yards and Holmes snagged five passes for 63 yards in the first meeting with the Chargers last season. The playoff game saw Ward with 70 yards on four catches and Holmes only managed 25 yards on two receptions. The duo should again be held at bay by a secondary that has been top five against quarterbacks and receivers. This would be a very opportune time for Holmes to get his act together again and it is his first game back home since he had his big opener there.

Tight Ends: Heath Miller is only a marginal receiver never worthy of a fantasy start. The lone score to a tight end bypassed him and went to Matt Spaeth who has three catches on the season.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points PIT 7 27 12 19 24 29
Preventing Fantasy Points    SD 5 30 5 14 22 20

The Huddle
WEEK 4
~ 2009 ~
Season Ticket
Sunday
Sunday
Sunday
Sunday Late
Bye Week
ARI, PHI
Monday
ATL, CAR
Other Features
Fantasy Statistics
Early Injury Report
Free Agent Forecast
Commentary From the Edge
Game Recaps
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