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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
Player Projections by Team
Game Predictions Summary
The Huddle
November 8, 2006
Season Ticket
Sunday Late
Sunday night
GB at MIN NYJ at NE     Updated

Prediction: NO 20, PIT 24

Here's a fascinating game. If these teams had swapped records, no one would have batted an eye back in August. But instead we have the Saints leading the NFC South by a full game and the Steelers sharing the AFC North cellar along with Cleveland, a mere four games out of first place. The Steelers are on a three game losing streak but the two wins this year did come at home. Long as Roethlisberger can avoid throwing interception after interception after interception, the Steelers can definitely win this. So far, six times Big Ben could not stop with the turnovers.

This is a defining game. The Saints get the job done even when it is hard to understand how it all happened. The Steelers almost never got the job done despite doing much more than should be necessary. It is the fight between the best and worst mojo in the NFL.

Update: Joe Horn remains questionable to play this week though he did return to practice on Thursday. I am slightly lowering his projection though he has played hurt many times before and done fine. The groin injury could slow him though.

New Orleans Saints (6-2)
1 19-14 @CLE 10 --- @PIT
2 34-27 @GB 11 --- CIN
3 23-3 ATL 12 --- @ATL
4 18-21 @CAR 13 --- SF
5 24-21 TB 14 --- @DAL
6 27-24 PHI 15 --- WAS
7 Open Bye 16 --- @NYG
8 22-35 BAL 17 --- CAR
9 31-14 @TB - - MON
NOR at PIT Rush Catch Pass
QB Drew Brees 0 0 250.2
RB Reggie Bush 1 30 0
RB Deuce McAllister 40 10 0
TE Mark Campbell 0 10 0
WR Joe Horn 0 60,1 0
WR Marques Colston 0 70,1 0
WR Devery Henderson 0 60 0
PK John Carney 2 FG 2 XP -
Pregame Notes: The Saints dropped their home game against the Ravens in a big way but then turned around and throttled the Bucs in Tampa Bay as a sign that this whole Cinderella thing is not nearly over yet. For all the hoopla over drafting Reggie Bush, the media should have been focusing more on where the real positive change was made - quarterback. He's made the difference on this team more than any other single player.

Quarterback: Drew Brees was just a manager of sorts for most of the season, handing off to McAllister or dumping off to Bush but the last three weeks has seen Brees throw for three touchdowns in every game and never fall below 275 yards while doing so. That effort came against the Eagles, Ravens and Buccaneers. This offense isn't getting stale in the running game, it is starting to take shape with the pass.

Running Backs: These last three weeks have seen the rushing effort really tail off and Deuce McAllister has only scored once and never totaled more than 64 yards in any game. Reggie Bush has all but disappeared by now, he turned 11 carries into a net five yard loss and only had 22 yards on four catches. For the last three weeks, he has been very ineffective and only a couple of receiving efforts this year has kept him from complete obscurity. Think J.J. Arrington last year.

The rushing game has been going against better defenses lately but going to Pittsburgh is not going to change that trend.

Wide Receivers: Joe Horn was inactive for Sunday's game with the Bucs because of a groin injury but he had over 110 yards in both of the previous games with three touchdowns. That left Marques Colston to fend for himself in Tampa Bay and all he did was to catch 11 passes for 123 yards and one touchdown. It's become very much like Brees has simply substituted Colston for Antonio Gates and just keeps on hitting him despite defenses scheming against him. Colston has scored in all but two games this season. Devery Henderson replaced Horn last week and had a career best 111 yards and two touchdowns - on only three catches. Brees is impressive lately and making stars of everyone.

I am assuming that Horn is able to play this week. Updates as warranted.

Tight Ends: Brees may have done magic with the wideouts, but since he has decided that Colston is his New Orleans version of Gates, none of the actual tight ends matter here.

Match Against the Defense: The Steelers have a great rushing defense at home and with the trend of the last three weeks, figure on McAllister and Bush failing to turn in more than minimal yardage here and not score.

Brees will have to carry this game and the Steelers at home are inconsistent at best, allowing Carson Palmer four scores but holding Damon Huard to none. But Brees has been red hot lately, so look for a least two scores here that will favor the wideouts. The Steelers are way over due for a stand up and fight game and they are at home, but the Steelers keep faltering and the Saints keep surprising. Horn gets the more exploited match-up and is the most likely to score - but don't tell that to Colston.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM    QB   RB   WR   TE   PK  DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points NO 7 14 4 15 5 16
Preventing Fantasy Points PIT 16 5 29 21 19 30


Pittsburgh Steelers (2-6)
1 28-17 MIA 10 --- NO
2 0-9 @JAX 11 --- @CLE
3 20-28 CIN 12 --- @BAL
4 Open Bye 13 --- TB
5 13-23 @SD 14 --- CLE
6 45-7 KC 15 --- @CAR
7 38-41 @ATL 16 --- BAL
8 13-20 @OAK 17 --- @CIN
9 20-31 DEN - MON THU
PIT vs NO Rush Catch Pass
QB Ben Roethlisberger 0 0 260,2
RB Willie Parker 90,1 20 0
TE Heath Miller 0 20 0
WR Hines Ward 0 100,2 0
WR Cedrick Wilson 0 50 0
WR Santonio Holmes 0 60 0
PK Jeff Reed 1 FG 3 XP -

Pregame Notes: The only reasonable explanation for the Steelers falling to 2-6 after winning the Super Bowl is that they are just cursed. How else can you explain losing every road game this season? How else could they actually lose to the Raiders who couldn't normally beat the dust out of a rug? It has to be a curse. That and Roethlisberger leading the NFL with 14 interceptions. And replacing Antwaan Randle El with a rookie who constantly fumbles punts. But mostly the curse.

Quarterback: The latest loss by the Steelers had Ben Roethlisberger setting a Steeler record with 38 completions and while he had 433 passing yards against the Broncos with one score, he had three interceptions that sealed his fate. The most frustrating part of all the losses is that Roethlisberger has posted nice yardage and at least one score in each of the last four games but his continual problem with turnovers has undermined everything - usually at the worst possible time. Big Ben faces a softer secondary this week but he doesn't need to throw any more than he has, he just needs to stop hitting the opposing defensive backs.

Running Backs: While the Steelers languish in futility in the standings, Willie Parker has been outstanding this season. Since week three, Parker has scored six rushing and one receiving touchdowns while posting impressive yardage almost every week. Parker has scored twice in each of the last three home stands while easily exceeding 100 total yards. While Big Ben may end many drives badly, Parker has been keeping most of them on track for a score.

Wide Receivers: With the big passing numbers as of late, Hines Ward has regained his standing as a fantasy stud with a three score game against the Falcons and almost 400 receiving yards in the last three weeks. Cedrick Wilson still has not caught a touchdown but he's remained above 50 yards in each of the last three games while Nate Washington is mostly quiet now. Santonio Holmes has figured in more lately as well when he is not busy fumbling punts. The fantasy value is there for almost all the receivers, it just hasn't translated into many wins.

Tight Ends: Surprisingly, Heath Miller has not taken a big role in the increased passing numbers and while he scored in week seven, he has not had more than 35 yards in any game since week one. He only has two scores on the season.

Match Against the Defense: The Saints have a decent rushing defense that has only allowed two tailbacks to score this year but they have yet to face as good a rushing attack as Willie Parker on the road. Look for nice numbers from Parker that will resort to receptions if that is needed.

Roethlisberger goes against a secondary that is actually pretty back and that has given up at least two scores in six different games this year. Expect at least two scores (for the Steelers) that strongly favor Hines Ward. Roethlisberger should have more big numbers this week, the only question is if he can hold down the interceptions.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM    QB   RB   WR   TE   PK  DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points PIT 9 9 7 22 19 11
Preventing Fantasy Points NO 28 11 24 28 1 9