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  Rushing Matchups  

Week 21 Passing Matchups

[PIT] [SEA]


PLEASE NOTE: This does NOT replace the Cheatsheet ranking. The Cheatsheet rankings are the final say on where we see a player for that week. The Matchup Breakdowns are simply one more tool in the box when it comes to helping choose your lineup.

Also note, just because a player has a "bad" matchup, it does NOT mean he's not a starter in your league. If Peyton Manning is playing the toughest pass defense in the league, that just means he's got a tough matchup that week. He's also your starter unless you're loaded at QB. In the same way, if the worst QB on your roster has a "great" matchup that week, it doesn't necessarily mean he's your starter. It means we think he'll fare better than normal that week.

Bottom line is that the cheatsheets are the final say.


Pittsburgh Steelers Passing Offense vs Seattle Seahawks Passing Defense (Good Matchup)

Ben Roethlisberger has carried his team throughout the playoffs (especially in the divisional and AFC Championship games) - he's racked up an impressive 49/72 for 680 yards, 7 TDs and 1 interception passing and 12/12/1 rushing during the 3-game road-race into the Super Bowl. Hines Ward (19 targets for 10/137/2), Antwaan Randle-El (13 for 9/97/1), Cedric Wilson (10 for 8/196/2) and Heath Miller (8 for 7/107/1) have provided ample choices for Roethlisberger in the passing patterns, while RB Willie Parker has been an important safety-valve (10 targets for 9/80/1). In the AFC Championship, Roethlisberger burned the Broncos to the tune of 21/29 for 275 yards, 2 TDs and 0 interceptions. Cedric Wilson (6 targets for 5/92/1) and Hines Ward (9 targets for 5/59/1) led the team in receiving last week. Antwaan Randle-El (4 for 4/52/0), Heath Miller (2 for 2/31/0) and Willie Parker (3 for 3/20/0) all grabbed every ball that came their way last week. The Steelers' aerial attack is red hot coming into the Super Bowl.

Seattle fielded the league's 25th ranked pass defense this past season, allowing an average of 222.4 yards per game and 18 passing scores during regular season. They coughed up 308.6 passing yards per contest during the final 3 weeks of the regular season, which was not impressive. However, they were first in the NFL with 50 sacks (recording 5 during the final 3 weeks of the regular season while resting key players for much of that stretch) - Mark Brunell was sacked twice in the divisional round, and held to 22/37 for 242 yards, 1 TD and 0 interceptions. Two weeks ago, during the NFC Championship, Seattle elevated their game and imploded the Panther's passing attack. Jake Delhomme eked out 15/35 for 196 yards, 1 TD and 3 interceptions passing (1 each for S Marquand Manuel, S Michael Boulware, and MLB Lofa Tatupu), while being sacked twice by DT Rocky Bernard. Seattle did what no-one else in the NFC playoffs had managed - they blanketed Steve Smith and held him to 5/33/0 during the game (he saw 11 balls, but was often double or even triple-covered). The team averaged 203 net passing yards allowed per game during the NFC playoffs - they totally dominated Carolina in the championship game, though.

Pittsburgh's passing attack is on a roll coming into this game, while the Seahawk's pass D was merely mediocre (despite their strong pass rush). The Steelers gave up 32 sacks during regular season (tied for 15th in the NFL), and have surrendered 5 sacks over the past 3 games - they'll need to keep the Seahawks' rush at bay if Roethlisberger is to excel on Sunday. On balance, this looks like a decent matchup for the Steelers.

The Footballguys.com staff of fantasy football experts were surveyed for their Super Bowl projections - 19 staff members responded to the survey, with 10 predicting a Seattle win, while 9 staffers believe that the Steelers will win. A consensus score was compiled from the 19 projections, resulting in a half-point advantage for Seattle (23.9 points was the average projection for the Seahawks' final score) vs. Pittsburgh (23.4 points was the average projection for the Steelers.)

Weather: This game is to be played in the air-conditioned dome at Ford Field - weather won't be a factor for either team.

PIT Injuries: RB Dan Kreider (Questionable)
SEA Injuries: DB Andre Dyson (Probable)


Seattle Seahawks Passing Offense at Pittsburgh Steelers Passing Defense (Tough Matchup)

Darrell Jackson helped Matt Hasselbeck carry the Seahawks past Washington in the AFC divisional round - Jackson snagged 9/143/1 (catching every ball that Hasselbeck tossed him). Hasselbeck finished the day with 16/26 for 215 yards, 1 TD and 0 interceptions vs. the Redskins. TE Jerramy Stevens (2/13/0) and WRs Joe Jurevicius (1/31/0) and Bobby Engram (2/11/0) chipped in to round out the attack. In the Championship round, Hasselbeck was outstanding, tossing 20/28 for 219 yards, 2 TDs and 0 interceptions vs. Carolina's secondary. HIs pass-blocking held up for the most part (2 sacks for the Panthers during the game), and both Jackson (6/75/1 out of 7 chances) and Stevens (6 targets for 6/66/1) hauled in scores during the game. Bobby Engram saw 4 targets for 3/34/0, while 5 other players pulled down 1 ball (including backup QB Seneca Wallace, who hauled in a long pass for 28 yards for his first reception of the 2005-2006 season). The Seahawk's passing game comes into the Super-Bowl on a roll - Hasselbeck is playing very well, tossing accurate passes and avoiding turnovers.

Pittsburgh opened the playoffs by allowing 25/41 for 263 yards, 1 TD and 2 interceptions to Cincinnati's backup QB (excepting one completion) during the wild-card round. They followed up by mercilessly blitzing Peyton Manning in the divisional round (5 sacks vs. the league's #1 pass-blocking offensive line), while giving up 22/38 for 290 yards, 1 TD and 0 interceptions. Moving on to face the Broncos at Mile High Stadium (the Broncos were the 3rd-best pass blocking team during regular season in terms of sacks allowed, with only 23 given up), Pittsburgh blasted Jake Plummer for 3 sacks and 2 interceptions (also forcing 2 lost fumbles) - he scraped up 18/30 for 223 yards and 1 TD on the plus side of the sheet, but Denver was never really in the game. All told, the Steelers have thrown down 12 sacks and generated 4 interceptions and forced two lost fumbles vs. their opponents during the playoffs, with only 3 passing scores given up (233.6 net passing yards per game, on average).

The Steelers were mediocre vs. opposing passers throughout 2005, averaging 198.0 passing yards given away per game (16th in the NFL) with 15 TDs handed over over 16 games. To close the regular season, the Steelers gave up an average of only 152.3 passsing yards per game over the final 3 weeks (with 11 sacks to their credit in the final 3 regular season games - they have 23 sacks over their most recent 6 games). Pittsburgh ranked 3rd (tie) in the NFL with 47 sacks to their credit during regular season, and they proved they bring pressure to bear against the best with their superb schemes/execution vs. Manning (#1 pass blocking team during regular season) and Plummer (#3 pass blocking team). The Steelers have uncorked a ferocious pass rush during the playoff run. They are playing at the top of their game right now.

Seattle tied for 5th in the NFL allowing only 27 sacks all season long, and they did a good job keeping the Panthers out of Hasselbeck's face. However, the Steelers have already shown us that they can blow through elite OL's with relative ease - this game will in large part be decided by how well Seattle's respected OL and FB Mack Strong/RB Shaun Alexander can hold up against the Steelers' blitzes. One thing we are sure about is that this is going to be a tough matchup for Hasselbeck and company.

The Footballguys.com staff of fantasy football experts were surveyed for their Super Bowl projections - 19 staff members responded to the survey, with 10 predicting a Seattle win, while 9 staffers believe that the Steelers will win. A consensus score was compiled from the 19 projections, resulting in a half-point advantage for Seattle (23.9 points was the average projection for the Seahawks' final score) vs. Pittsburgh (23.4 points was the average projection for the Steelers.)

Weather: This game is to be played in the air-conditioned dome at Ford Field - weather won't be a factor for either team.

SEA Injuries: none
PIT Injuries: DL Travis Kirschke (Questionable), LB James Harrison (Probable)




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