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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
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The Huddle
WEEK 7
~ 2009 ~
Season Ticket
Sunday
Sunday
Sunday
Sunday Late
Bye Week
DEN, JAC
Monday
DET, BAL
SEA, TEN
*updated

Prediction: MIN 20, PIT 24

Late Update: Both Peterson and Mendenhall are probable and expected to play with no limitations.

Early Update: Adrian Peterson was limited in practices this week but it's only to rest him. He will play without any limitation and Percy Harvin was also limited but is expected to play. Rashard Mendenhall was limited on Wednesday but returned for a full day on Thursday and will play without limitation.

The Vikings escaped the Ravens thanks to a missed field goal and rise to 6-0 on the year and are already three and a half games in the lead of the NFC North. The Steelers have drawn even with the Bengals at 4-2 and are at home where they are 3-0 so far. This is a really good spot for the Vikings to finally fall from the ranks of the unbeaten on the road in a tough venue against a non-conference opponent. The Steelers have a bye up next while the Vikes have to travel to Green Bay.

Minnesota Vikings (6-0)
Homefield: Metrodome
FieldTurf
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 @CLE 34-20 +3.5 40
2 @DET 27-13 -10 47
3 SF 27-24 -7 40.5
4 GB 30-20 -3.5 46
5 @STL 38-10 -10 39
6 BAL 33-31 -3 44.5
7 @PIT - +4.5 45.5
8 @GB - - -
9 BYE - - -
10 DET - - -
11 SEA - - -
12 CHI - - -
13 @ARI - - -
14 CIN - - -
15 @CAR - - -
16 @CHI - - -
17 NYG - - -
MIN at PIT Rush Catch Pass
QB Brett Favre     250,2
RB Adrian Peterson 50 10  
RB Chester Taylor 10 30  
TE Vishante Shiancoe   40,1  
WR Bernard Berrian   30,1  
WR Sidney Rice   80  
WR Percy Harvin   20  
PK Ryan Longwell 2 FG 2 XP  
Pregame Notes: No denying that the Vikings are much improved this year and presenting a balanced attack which has been good enough to remain unbeaten. Last week was the second time they won by a field goal or less and it's always better to be lucky than good - particularly when they are pretty good anyway. The defense has not been as effective against topflight teams but the offense has not scored less than 27 points in any game this year. Even should the Vikes lose here, they remain one of the best teams in the NFC.

Quarterback: Old man Brett Favre has thrown for at least one score in every game and was at his finest when he posted 278 yards and three scores against the visiting Ravens. That gave him 12 touchdowns on the season against only two interceptions. Supported by a great ground attack, Favre is playing as well as he has in years.

That may hit a bump in the road this week against a secondary that has allowed one or more scores every week but rarely more than one and never more than 254 passing yards to a visitor. Chances are best that Favre does manage a couple of scores here as did Rivers and Cutler. Peterson is the one that will be at a biggest disadvantage this week.

Running Backs: Adrian Peterson twisted his ankle in the fourth quarter last week but had already gained 143 yards against the Ravens and HC Brad Childress said that he did not expect Peterson to have any problems with his ankle this week. It was only the second time this season that Peterson had failed to score a touchdown and yet the second time he faced a great defense.

Chester Taylor is one to watch this week since he has not been much as a runner but his best game as a receiver came in the 49ers game when he had 70 yards on seven receptions. Last week he had no catches though.

Playing Pittsburgh is as bad as it gets for a running back and no opposing runner has gained more than 57 rushing yards there. Jamal Lewis had 21 yards. Tomlinson gained 15. Chris Johnson needed 15 runs to get his 57 yards and no runner has scored in Pittsburgh. Expect a lower afternoon fro Peterson and hope it is not a horrible showing because it could be. The Steelers are #1 against running backs.

Wide Receivers: Percy Harvin re-injured his shoulder last week but x-rays did not reveal any further damage. The rookie has slowed down from his hot start in part because of his shoulder and I will include him in the projections for now and update if he has problems practicing. HC Childress said that Harvin only nicked it up and should be okay. Harvin will be limited if he even plays. Sidney Rice comes off his career best game with 176 yards on six receptions and he's become the primary target for Favre. Bernard Berrian has scored in three of the last four games but his yardage rarely exceeds 50 yards in game.

The Steelers have given up a few 70 yard performances to wideouts but nothing more and only five receivers have scored against them this year. With Peterson likely slowed, expect the passing game to favor the wideouts and a higher volume of passes should make both Berrian and Rice have some fantasy value again this week. I like one passing score that favors Berrian again but Rice has become the yardage player in the passing game.

Tight Ends: Vishante Shiancoe is the leading scorer for the VIkings receivers with five touchdowns that span the last five games. His yardage still has not topped 50 yards in a game but he is the safest bet on a scoring pass and the Steelers are slightly more accommodating to tight ends anyway.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points MIN 13 4 10 16 3 3
Preventing Fantasy Points    PIT 15 1 18 19 2 31


Pittsburgh Steelers (4-2)
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 38-28 -6.5 43
5 @DET 28-20 -10.5 44
6 CLE 27-14 -14 38
7 MIN - -4.5 45.5
8 BYE - - -
9 @DEN - - -
10 CIN - - -
11 @KC - - -
12 @BAL - - -
13 OAK - - -
14 @CLE - - -
15 GB - - -
16 BAL - - -
17 @MIA - - -
PIT vs MIN Rush Catch Pass
QB Ben Roethlisberger     310,2
RB R. Mendenhall 70,1 20  
TE Heath Miller   70,1  
WR Hines Ward   90,1  
WR Santonio Holmes   60  
WR Mike Wallace   60  
PK Jeff Reed 1 FG 3 XP  

Pregame Notes: After dropping games to the Bears and Bengals, the Steelers are peeled off three straight wins while being only two field goals short of being 6-0 on the year. But the schedule has been on the lighter side so far and this week is the toughest matchup yet and thankfully comes at home. Troy Polamalu also returned last week to give the defense a nice shot in the arm. With only a bye week waiting on the other side, this game is a must win if the Steelers are to keep pace with the Bengals.

Quarterback: If there is one commonality during this three game winning streak, it is the play of Ben Roethlisberger who has been on a career best pace this season with ten passing scores and two rushing touchdowns. He is averaging 315 yards per game and comes off a career best 417 last week versus the Browns. Not only are the Steelers getting away from being the run-heavy team of recent seasons, they are fine with the change in focus thanks to the play of Big Ben.

The Vikings have allowed every opponent to score at least once via the pass and that is considering the lackluster opponents as well - CLE, DET, SF and STL. Both the Packers and Ravens passed for over 380 yards and two scores on this defense. Expect a very solid game from Roethlisberger that could be another monster showing.

Running Backs: Willie Parker is back but he's taken a back seat to Rashard Mendenhall now. Parker only had seven carries for 26 yards against the Browns while Mendenhall ran 17 times for 62 yards and a score. He has at least one touchdown in each of the last three games though his yardage has been tailing off some with all the passing by the Steelers. Mendenhall only gained 77 yards against the Lions and 62 yards against the Browns. The scores are there but he did not get more than 17 carries in either game.

The Vikings were gashed by Ray Rice last week but that was the first time that an opposing runner had scored on them and still none have managed more than 84 rushing yards. Look for Mendenhall to have a good chance at a score but his yardage once again is likely to be moderate while Parker has lost any appeal as a fantasy starter.

Wide Receivers: Roethlisberger is doing a great job using all three receivers so that really only Hines Ward is reliable every week since he remains the possession receiver. But Mike Wallace and Santonio Holmes both have topped 100 yards in a game this year and either could do it again. The Vikings secondary has been generally good and not allowed any 100 yard receivers yet so expect more distribution of the passing this week. I like one of the passing scores to end up with a wideout and that favors Ward only slightly.

Tight Ends: Heath Miller is a surprise star in this offense and comes off a season high five catches for 80 yards last week. He has scored in each of the last three games including twice against the Chargers. Now Miller faces the worst ranked team against tight ends? Mark it down - at least one score and healthy yardage again this week.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points PIT 7 12 5 6 17 24
Preventing Fantasy Points    MIN 22 9 13 32 14 11

The Huddle
WEEK 7
~ 2009 ~
Season Ticket
Sunday
Sunday
Sunday
Sunday Late
Bye Week
DEN, JAC
Monday
DET, BAL
SEA, TEN
Other Features
Fantasy Statistics
Early Injury Report
Free Agent Forecast
Commentary From the Edge
Game Recaps
Tunnel Vision
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