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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
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The Huddle
WEEK 9
~ 2009 ~
Season Ticket
Sunday
Sunday
Sunday
Sunday Late
Bye Week
BUF, CLE
Monday
NYJ, OAK
STL, MIN
* updated

Prediction: PIT 17, DEN 24

This game should be fun to watch if only from a defensive perspective. The Steelers come off their bye with a four game winning streak and the Broncos head home after losing their first game of the year in Baltimore. Whatever does happen here probably won't have a lot of points involved. The Steelers are tied with the Bengals for the AFC North lead but are only 1-2 on the road. The Broncos remain two games up in the AFC West and are 3-0 at home. This should be an entertaining Monday night game.

Pittsburgh Steelers (5-2)
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 27-17 -6 46.5
8 BYE - - -
9 @DEN - -3 39
10 CIN - - -
11 @KC - - -
12 @BAL - - -
13 OAK - - -
14 @CLE - - -
15 GB - - -
16 BAL - - -
17 @MIA - - -
PIT at DEN Rush Catch Pass
QB Ben Roethlisberger 10,1   260,1
RB R.Mendenhall 60 20  
TE Heath Miller   20  
WR Hines Ward   50  
WR Santonio Holmes   60  
WR Mike Wallace   60,1  
PK Jeff Reed 1 FG 2 XP  
Pregame Notes: The Steelers had a solid win over the Vikings just prior to taking their bye but the only road game they have won was week five in Detroit that was only 28-20. This week is a major test for the Steelers to see if they can win on the road after dropping games in Chicago and Cincinnati. The Steelers are favored this week but they have been favored in every game so far this year.

Quarterback: Ben Roethlisberger has scored in every game this year and has more than one touchdown in all but two. He's tended to be less productive away from Pittsburgh with no game of more than 276 yards but he rushed in touchdowns in both Chicago and Cincinnati. One of the bigger concerns for this week is that as usual Big Ben has already been sacked 24 times and now faces the Broncos who have 23 sacks on the year. That's a bad equation this week.

The Broncos have only allowed four passing scores this year and in Denver no one has passed for more than 255 yards. Look for the Steelers to pass for only moderate yardage and a score. Anything more would be the most the Broncos have allowed.

Running Backs: Rashard Mendenhall has scored four times this year but only once in a road game and that was Detroit which never really counts. Mendenhall has was still sharing with Parker back in the earlier road games but has been more productive since becoming the primary runner. Willie Parker has only had a minimal role since being injured back in week three and losing his job. The biggest concern this week is that the rushing game will be facing one of the better defenses and no runner has topped 68 yards in Denver where only one rushing score has been allowed. Mendenhall has only been a marginal receiver so far but needs to be used more in this capacity to maintain fantasy value.

Wide Receivers: Hines Ward is having a big year but comes off a single catch effort against the Vikings. That ended a nice string of big games that has seen him score twice (DET and CLE) and have three efforts over 100 yards. Santonio Holmes has been slogging away with around 50 yards in most weeks and hasn't scored since week one. Mike Wallace has been the better bet for a touchdown with two in the last three weeks and he too remains around 50 yards or more each week. Wallace will be getting more work this week with the corners of the Broncos busy with Ward and Holmes. Figure Ward for a down game with Champ Bailey locked on him.

Tight Ends: If Wallace doesn't catch the touchdown, then Miller is next in line with his team leading four scores on the season. But Miller has done less on the road so far and may need to help block more than receive in this game. The Broncos have been very good against tight ends with only Antonio Gates turning in more than 31 yards against them.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points PIT 6 20 6 5 15 15
Preventing Fantasy Points DEN 2 11 7 1 13 5


Denver Broncos (6-1)
Homefield: Invesco Field
Grass
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 @CIN 12-7 +5 42.5
2 CLE 27-6 -3 38
3 @OAK 23-3 -1.5 35.5
4 DAL 17-10 +3 43
5 NE 20-17 +3.5 41.5
6 @SD 34-23 +3.5 44
7 BYE - - -
8 @BAL 7-30 +4.5 42.5
9 PIT - +3 39
10 @WAS - - -
11 SD - - -
12 NYG - - -
13 @KC - - -
14 @IND - - -
15 OAK - - -
16 @PHI - - -
17 KC - - -
DEN vs PIT Rush Catch Pass
QB Kyle Orton     220,2
RB Knowshon Moreno 50 10  
RB Correll Buckhalter 30 30  
TE Tony Scheffler   20,1  
WR Brandon Marshall   50  
WR Eddie Royal   30  
WR Jabar Gaffney   40,1  
PK Matt Prater 1 FG 3 XP  

Pregame Notes: The Broncos finally fell from the ranks of the unbeaten in a big way when the Ravens crushed them 30-7. But that entailed giving up a kick return for a score and the Ravens still only had two offensive touchdowns and only around 300 total yards. The Broncos were due a down week and not return home to face another tough opponent on Monday night. Once again, the Broncos are not favored and would be just 2-5 right now if they played to expectations. Back at home, no team has scored more than 17 points against the Broncos including the Cowboys and Patriots.

I like the chance of a defensive score in this game.

Quarterback: Kyle Orton finally had his first game without a touchdown for the Broncos and his 152 passing yards were his low of the season but he still had no turnovers and only has one interception against nine touchdowns on the year. Playing in Denver has already resulted in Orton's two best games of the year against the Cowboys and Pats.

The Steelers remain the best rushing defense but have been less stout against the pass this year. They have allowed at least one passing score in every road game and most games end with the opponents passing for more than 240 yards. Look for Orton to throw for at least one touchdown and likely two with decent yardage. The primary directive of this game will be to make no mistakes, not light up the sky.

Running Backs: Knowshon Moreno scored last week in Baltimore but only gained 39 yards on ten carries and lost a fumble that killed a scoring drive. He still shared nearly even in carries with Correll Buckhalter and gives way to him as a receiver. C-Buck had a season high six catches for 30 yards in Baltimore and has been good for around four or five catches per game.

But the Steelers have been dominating against the run even on the road. No runner has gained more than 76 yards against them and they have allowed only two rushing scores. Expect only marginal numbers from the backfield this week.

Wide Receivers: Brandon Marshall has been fairly quiet in the last two games since his three game scoring spree and the 24 yards on four catches in Baltimore was a season low. Back at home, Marshall has turned in his best efforts and had three scores in the Dallas and Patriots games. Eddie Royal had his one big effort against the Patriots but then has only two catches for 10 yards over the last two weeks. Jabar Gaffney has been more productive than Royal.

The Steelers secondary has been very good at shutting down the #1 receiver of their opponent so expect a lesser effort again from Marshall. I like one passing score here that should likely end up with Gaffney considering the other wideouts who have scored against the Steelers (Knox, Caldwell and Northcutt).

Tight Ends: The oddity about the Broncos tight ends is that Tony Scheffler has the only two touchdowns and the only big yardage game. But Daniel Graham has the consistency with right around 30 yards every week. Scheffler has three games with less than 15 yards and yet 101 yards in San Diego. Safest bet here is that the tight ends score once and have only moderate numbers. The stronger corner play of the Steelers should result in a small uptick to the use of tight ends this week.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points DEN 18 15 18 16 10 5
Preventing Fantasy Points PIT 14 1 23 19 1 31

The Huddle
WEEK 9
~ 2009 ~
Season Ticket
Sunday
Sunday
Sunday
Sunday Late
Bye Week
BUF, CLE
Monday
NYJ, OAK
STL, MIN
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