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

Prediction: OAK 3, PIT 24

Friday Update: Justin Fargas has practiced and will play but I am not adding him into the projections because he's only part of a three-way backfield that should have minimal production in Pittsburgh.

The Raiders dropped to 3-8 in Dallas because trap games on the road are hard to do. The Steelers have fallen to only 6-5 and are on a three game losing streak and trail the Bengals by two full games - three if you count being swept by them and losing on the first tie-breaker. The Steelers are 4-1 at home and need this game desperately to stay in the hunt for the playoffs.

Oakland Raiders (3-8)
Homefield: McAfee Coliseum
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 SD 20-24 +9.5 43
2 @KC 13-10 +4 41
3 DEN 3-23 +1.5 35.5
4 @HOU 6-29 +9.5 41
5 @NYG 7-44 +16.5 40.5
6 PHI 13-9 +14 40.5
7 NYJ 0-38 +6 34
8 @SD 16-24 +16 41.5
9 BYE - - -
10 KC 10-16 -1 37
11 CIN 20-17 +9 36
12 @DAL 7-24 +13.5 40.5
13 @PIT - +11.5 36.5
14 WAS - - -
15 @DEN - - -
16 @CLE - - -
17 BAL - - -
OAK at PIT Rush Catch Pass
QB Bruce Gradkowski     170
RB Darren McFadden 30 30  
RB Michael Bush 20    
TE Zach Miller   50  
WR Louis Murphy   30  
WR Chaz Schilens   30  
WR Darrius Heyward-Bey   20  
PK S. Janikowski 1 FG    

Pregame Notes: The Raiders have lost their last four road trips and never been remotely competitive in those games. There's still a chance for one more win this year with the Redskins showing up in week 14 and even a chance in Cleveland in week 16 but this has been just another standard year of futility and dysfunction. With any luck, the Raiders will win those two games and surprise some other team so that their draft slot is deep enough that they cannot reach another pricey top ten flop.

Of course, Al could always trade up anyway.

Quarterback: Bruce Gradkowski finally had a road game and ended with just 200 yards and one score in Dallas on Thanksgiving. But he has scored three times in his two starts which is more touchdowns than Russell managed in his nine games. Gradkowski pulls the short straw this week playing in Pittsburgh where the Steelers need a win.

There's no reason to expect more than a sub-200 yard effort and while most teams have a score in Pittsburgh, the Raiders are easily the worst passing attack to show up since Derek Anderson threw for just 122 yards there.

Running Backs: Justin Fargas sustained a stinger last week and may not play in this game - a nice sense of timing. That leaves Darren McFadden as the primary runner who has averaged around 20 rushing yards per road game. Michael Bush had minimal play in Dallas as a timeout for having fumbled the previous week but without Fargas, Bush will have to figure in more. Bush has mirrored McFadden in that he has been unable to gain more than around 40 yards in any game not against the Chiefs.

The Steelers have allowed only three touchdowns to runners this year and it is highly unlikely that the Raiders bump that up to four. Expect no reason to start a Raiders back.

Wide Receivers: Darrius Heyward-Bey tied a career best by catching two passes in Dallas and he gained 21 yards. But he also scored a touchdown for the first time and only the third occasion that a Raiders wideout has scored this year. Gradkowski has been far better connecting with his wideouts than JaMarcus Russell was but that still ends around two catches for each with meaningless yardage.

Playing in Pittsburgh this week will be even worse. If anyone here scores, it will be because a defender will intercept the pass, fumble it while changing hands and then another player accidentally kicks it 60 yards down field where the Raider wideout was standing thinking the half was over.

Tight Ends: The lone positive from switching to Gradkowski is waking Zach Miller up. He's had 65 and 73 yards in these last two weeks and is approaching fantasy significance once again. He's not likely to score this week but Miller could be a decent grab from a waiver wire to stash for later weeks in case your primary tight end gets hurt.

Gaining Fantasy Points OAK 32 27 32 18 29 28
Preventing Fantasy Points PIT 9 2 23 9 8 31

Pittsburgh Steelers (6-5)
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 12-18 -7 41
11 @KC 24-27 -10.5 39.5
12 @BAL 17-20 +6 20
13 OAK - -11.5 36.5
14 @CLE - - -
15 GB - - -
16 BAL - - -
17 @MIA - - -
PIT vs OAK Rush Catch Pass
QB Ben Roethlisberger     230,1
RB R. Mendenhall 120,2 10  
TE Heath Miller   30  
WR Hines Ward   50  
WR Santonio Holmes   60,1  
WR Mike Wallace   30  
PK Jeff Reed 1 FG 3 XP  

Pregame Notes: The Steelers were once on a five game winning streak with a 6-2 record but then were beaten by the Bengals again, and then lost heartbreakers to the Chiefs and Ravens on the road. Back at home, the Steelers have to lick their wounds and figure out how to get back into the hunt. Fortunately the Raiders show up this week and then a trip to Cleveland should help right the ship. Two more home games against the Packers and Ravens with a final game in Miami means the Steelers could still win out and play in January.

Hard to see it on a three game losing streak though.

Quarterback: The Steelers resorted to Dennis Dixon last week and had surprisingly effective play from him but in the end not quite enough. Ben Roethlisberger is expected to be recovered enough from his concussion to play this week. Big Ben had been highly productive prior to the concussion and now faces one of the better secondaries in the league.

The Raiders have allowed each road opponent at least one score for the quarterback if not two as they just did in Dallas. Expect a decent showing here by Roethlisberger with at least one score but the rushing game should be enough to win this - as with pretty much all Raiders losses.

Running Backs: This game hinges on how well Rashard Mendenhall runs. He has been very productive overall though he has not rushed in a score since week six and has only two efforts over 100 rushing yards - both against AFC West opponents. But Mendenhall has also faced some stout defenses as of late and he adds in receiving yardage as well.

The Raiders have already allowed 13 rushing touchdowns to runners this year and this should be a very nice place for Mendenhall to score once if not twice. Expect a nice effort here in a game the Steelers really need to win. The Raiders have already allowed six runners to exceed 100 yards.

Wide Receivers: Freakishly, Santonio Holmes has always scored against the Ravens and though he had no touchdowns since the season opener, there he was once again scoring last week against the Ravens. Holmes has been very solid with yardage but has only two scores on the season. Three if you count week 16 when the Ravens show up.

Mike Wallace has really cooled from his scoring spree at mid-season since he has only three catches over the last three weeks and none in Baltimore last Sunday. Hines Ward has the team lead with five touchdowns and four efforts that have topped 100 yards.

The question this week is who will CB Nnamdi Asomugha cover? He would naturally match on Hines Ward and that is likely to stick but the Raiders could change it or move Ward around. Bottom line is that the Raiders secondary is good enough that there's a bigger risk that the wideouts will have a lesser showing this week. This should favor Holmes slightly for a score but low confidence on who it ends up with.

Tight Ends: Heath Miller only had one catch for two yards last week but turned in 95 yards and a score the previous Sunday. He's been that sort of inconsistent this year but only has one score in the last five games. Expect moderate yardage only since the Raiders have never allowed a tight end to score against them.

Gaining Fantasy Points PIT 8 26 6 13 15 7
Preventing Fantasy Points OAK 15 30 13 3 30 24

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