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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
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The Huddle
~ 2009 ~
Season Ticket
Bye Week
Sunday Late

Prediction: CIN 17, PIT 27

This is definitely a "where are we now?" sort of game. The Bengals upset the Steelers 23-20 in Cincy back in week three and at 6-2 are tied with the Steelers for the AFC North lead. The Bengals are even 3-0 on the road including winning in Baltimore. The Steelers are 4-0 at home of course and on a five game winning streak that started the next week after the Bengals beat them. This game definitely favors the Steelers who are looking very strong again and even handed the Broncos their first loss last Monday in Denver. If the Bengals win this - they will take the division. Is the Steelers win - they'll likely be the champs again. Though this is only week ten, this is the game of the year in the AFC North.

And the Steelers are playing like champions again.

Cincinnati Bengals (6-2)
Homefield: Paul Brown Stadium
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 DEN 7-12 -5 42.5
2 @GB 31-24 +9 42
3 PIT 23-20 +4.5 37
4 @CLE 23-20 -5.5 38
5 @BAL 17-14 +8.5 42
6 HOU 17-28 -5.5 46
7 CHI 45-10 -1 42.5
8 BYE - - -
9 BAL 17-7 +3 43.5
10 @PIT - +7 40.5
11 @OAK - - -
12 CLE - - -
13 DET - - -
14 @MIN - - -
15 @SD - - -
16 KC - - -
17 @NYJ - - -
CIN at PIT Rush Catch Pass
QB Carson Palmer     230,1
RB Cedric Benson 50,1 10  
WR Chad Ochocinco   60  
WR Laveranues Coles   50  
WR Andre Caldwell   40,1  
PK Shayne Graham 1 FG 2 XP  
Pregame Notes: All the marbles are on the table this week but don't tell the Bengals that it will be business as usual when they just swept the Ravens this season. The Bengals defense has not played this week in many years and the offense is as balanced and productive as any in recent history. It all boils down to this week for the division lead. Future games of @MIN, @SD and @NYJ end the year and will be major tests. But the Bengals already know - you cannot win the division until you go through the Steelers.

Quarterback: Carson Palmer has thrown for at least one score in each of the last seven games and remains well above 200 yards a week. But three of the last four were single score games and Palmer passed for 183 yards and one score against the visiting Steelers in week three. Anything more than one touchdown and moderate yardage will be a victory in Pittsburgh.

I like Palmer to make a game of this at least early on and have respectable yardage totals but only one touchdown. This is a big game and the Steelers at home won't give up more than that. The return of Troy Polamalu has made a very visible impact in recent games.

Running Backs: They may intend on running Cedric Benson into the ground since he is on a pace to run nearly 400 times this year but he continues to look fresh and powerful and just logged his second 100+ yard game against the Ravens this year. That gives him four games over the century mark and a score in each of the last four games.

Benson rushed for 76 yards and one touchdown versus the Steelers this year.

In Pittsburgh this year no runner has gained more than 69 rushing yards and only one has scored (Peterson). Look for a lesser yardage effort from Benson who will find this his toughest venue of the year but a chance he could still score a short touchdown.

Wide Receivers: The Bengals lost Chris Henry for the rest of the season to a broken arm but he was only #4 in the pecking order anyway. Chad OchoCinco continues his rebirth in Cincy with his worst game of the year when he had five catches for 54 yards against the Steelers this season. Andre Caldwell turned in 52 yards on six receptions with the one receiving touchdown in that game and also had scores in both the Ravens matchups. The best news though is that Laveranues Coles has scored in two of the last three games and had a season high 72 yards on six catches against the Ravens last week.

Playing in Pittsburgh is always tough and the most likely to score is the slot guy like Caldwell who already did earlier this year. Removing Chris Henry from the equation makes it even more likely but playing in Pittsburgh casts great risk over relying on any player. The Steelers are out for revenge this time.

Tight Ends: No reliable fantasy value.

Gaining Fantasy Points CIN 15 16 6 30 29 13
Preventing Fantasy Points PIT 9 1 23 13 1 31

Pittsburgh Steelers (6-2)
Homefield: Heinz Field
  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 28-10 -3 39
10 CIN - -7 40.5
11 @KC - - -
12 @BAL - - -
13 OAK - - -
14 @CLE - - -
15 GB - - -
16 BAL - - -
17 @MIA - - -
PIT vs CIN Rush Catch Pass
QB Ben Roethlisberger     270,1
RB R.Mendenhall 100,1 20  
TE Heath Miller   30  
WR Hines Ward   90,1  
WR Santonio Holmes   50  
WR Mike Wallace   60  
PK Jeff Reed 2 FG 3 XP  

Pregame Notes: The Steelers served up a big "shut up" to the rest of the league on Monday night when they plowed through the unbeaten Broncos in Denver with both running, passing and defense all working to perfection in the second half. The Steelers opened their season with losses in the first two road games but have been on a role since then and looking better each week. There are still a few tough games left to play of course, but a big win here serves divisional notice that nothing has changed from last year.

I like a defensive score in this game.

Quarterback: Rely on Ben Roethlisberger to keep the Steelers headed in the right direction. He has scored in every game this year and only once had less than two scores since the season opener. He has three games over 300 yards and one over 400 yards. Perhaps none of those were as impressive as Monday night when he carved up the vaunted Denver defense for three touchdowns and 233 yards.

Roethlisberger passed for 276 yards and one touchdown in Cincy this season.

The Bengals pass defense is much improved from 2008 and only one quarterback has thrown for more than one touchdown against them including Roethlisberger. This game should not end up as an aerial war either so I like more moderate yardage for Big Ben and just one score. It could be more, but it probably does not have to be.

Running Backs: Rashard Mendenhall came to life in the second half of the Denver game and ripped up the Broncos for 155 yards on just 22 carries for his second game over 100 rushing yards. He has not scored since week six but has been better in home games and will be relied on to keep the Bengals offense off the field. Parker already rushed for 93 yards on 25 carries and had two catches for 36 yards and a touchdown in Cincy this year.

Look for a score and no less than good yardage from Mendenhall but unless they can break the Bengals like they did the Broncos, he'll only have a decent showing and not produce monster numbers.

Wide Receivers: Hines Ward racked up two scores last week giving him four on the season and all three of his 100 yard games came in home matchups. Ward caught four passed for 82 yards while Wallace led all receivers with 107 yards on seven catches in Cincy this year. Holmes only managed one catch for 18 yards. That is becoming the norm. Mike Wallace had scored in three of the last four games and remained above 50 yards since week three. Santonio Holmes has not scored since the season opener but has been worth 50 yards or more in all but the previous Cincy game.

While improved, the Bengals secondary has still allowed four receivers to top 100 yards and no one likes a show in Pittsburgh more than Ward. Figure him for another touchdown and solid yardage for the rest.

Tight Ends: Heath Miller had a nice string of three games when he scored four times against softer opponents but he only had 18 yards in Denver and 20 yards on five catches against the Bengals this year. He'll block more this week. His best games are against bad teams.

Gaining Fantasy Points PIT 5 20 5 10 15 6
Preventing Fantasy Points CIN 21 14 11 24 4 9

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