With three divisional games this week, there's not a ton of intra-divisional matchup stats to dissect. But thanks to a couple of spectacular games between the Steelers and Jaguars in 2007, one late in the regular season and one in the postseason, we've got some numbers to crunch. This is the third meeting between these teams in less than 10 months, so there's all sorts of familiarity.
And as it turns out, the familiarity won't benefit Ben Roethlisberger.
Roethlisberger, who was sacked three times last week and eight times the week before, was sacked 11 total times by Jacksonville in their two meetings (five in the regular season, six in the postseason), and no one player routinely got to him. With Roethlisberger missing one of his starting linemen for the rest of the year, and the line being a problem for several weeks now, you can be sure the Jaguars will find ways to get to him. And they better -- Roethlisberger threw five touchdowns in two games against Jacksonville last year and had a 337-yard passing day in the playoff loss. Then again, Roethlisberger hasn't topped 200 yards passing or two touchdowns in a game yet this season.
|Ben Roethlisberger will likely have to carry the offense against a tough Jaguar defense. (US Presswire)|
And it will be murky for anyone to figure out what kind of help he'll get from his running game. Willie Parker had a 100-yard effort against the Jaguars last year, but broke his leg before the postseason matchup and will be out again in Week 5 with a sprained knee. Najeh Davenport rumbled for a pair of touchdowns in Parker's place but couldn't top 2.0 yards per carry in the game, and he just now re-signed with the club and might need a week to knock off the rust. The Jaguars' run defense has not been stout this year, but they might look like world beaters against Davenport, third-down back Mewelde Moore and fullback types Carey Davis and Gary Russell. All signs point to Roethlisberger shouldering the load for the Steelers again. If he's up to it, he'll get some help playing against the NFL's 24th-ranked pass defense (six pass TDs allowed) likely to be without safety Reggie Nelson.
Let's move to the other offense. David Garrard had a solid 2007 campaign, throwing a total of six interceptions, if you include the postseason. Three of those six, however, came in two games against the Steelers, and when you factor in his four interceptions through four games this season, chances are he'll get picked off a couple of times this week, too. His stats from last year against the Steelers are otherwise better -- four passing touchdowns, 337 passing yards and 64 rush yards on nine carries (including the infamous 32-yard run he had in the playoff contest). Pittsburgh's defense (both run and pass) is red hot right now and could keep Garrard from having a decent stat line. None of Jacksonville's receivers did well in the series with the Steelers, and only Matt Jones has shown signs of consistency so far this season.
But we all know that the Jaguars come off the bus running. Even against the Steelers run defense last year, Maurice Jones-Drew and Fred Taylor totaled 61 carries and seven receptions. Taylor even posted a 100-yard rushing performance in the regular-season meeting and scored on the ground in both games, while Jones-Drew scored both of his touchdowns in the playoff meeting. The Steelers are as stingy as ever on the ground this season, allowing one score by a running back and one player to amass more than 50 rush yards in a game (LeRon McClain did both last week) so far this season.
Bottom line: Defense should still rule the day in this game, and it could mean miniscule stats for some prominent Fantasy players. Oddly enough, if that were to happen it would contradict history, not prove it accurate.
Santana's streak to slip?
The last time Santana Moss scored on the Eagles was in 2003. He was a Jet. Vinny Testaverde threw the pass. Herman Edwards was his coach.
Moss was traded to Washington two years later, and ever since he has struggled with the Philadelphia defense. In five career games, he's averaging 4.4 catches per game for 60.4 yards per (no 100-yard games) with no touchdowns.
Why is this? For starters, the Eagles' secondary has been solid for years, and this year they're deeper than ever before. They've also had an unbelievable run of staunch pass defense against the Redskins. Before Jason Campbell's three-TD game in their second meeting last year, the Eagles held the Redskins without two passing scores in a game since Week 15 of the 2002 season! Some folks will point to Clinton Portis' arrival into D.C. in 2004 as the reason for it, but he's had two 100-yard games and six touchdowns (one in his last three) in his efforts against Philly since coming from Denver. Give credit where it's due: going nine games without two touchdowns through the air is proof that the Eagles own the Redskins.
But there are two glimmers of hope for Moss' owners. One, Moss is on a tear this season, owning two 100-yard games and three games with a touchdown. He's been good for at least 13 Fantasy points per week the last three weeks in standard-scoring leagues. Two, James Thrash took apart the Eagles' secondary in their last meeting, scoring two short-range touchdowns on five receptions. Thrash started for Moss.
Teams coming off the bye in Week 5 are the Colts, Dolphins, Giants, Lions, Patriots and Seahawks. Here's a look at how their players have historically done in their first game back from the bye. Keep in mind that this raw data doesn't factor in matchups, just the pure post-bye week stats for these players.
|In games off the bye …|
|Joseph Addai||Zero TDs, zero 100-yard games|
|Dallas Clark||TD in each of last two|
|Matt Hasselbeck||6 TDs, 1 INT in last three|
|Brandon Jacobs||Zero TDs in two games|
|Julius Jones||2 TDs, 1 100-yard game in last two|
|Jon Kitna||1 TD in last two|
|Eli Manning||1 TD in each of last three|
|Peyton Manning||2+ TDs in 9 of 10 games; 320 pass yards in 3 of last 4|
|Laurence Maroney||49 total yards, TD in two career games|
|Randy Moss||1+TD and/or 100 yards in 7 of 10 career games|
|Reggie Wayne||Three straight games with 120+ yards|
|Roy Williams||1 TD, 1 100-yard game in career|
History suggests ...
|... starting these players|
|Joseph Addai||4 TDs in last four vs. Houston with 2 100-total-yard games|
|Jason Campbell||4 TDs, 1 INT vs. Philadelphia in '07|
|Dallas Clark||213 yards, 5 TDs in last 5 vs. Houston; 7 TDs overall|
|Jon Kitna||5 TDs in last 2 at home vs. CHI; 257.0 pass yards, 0 INTs, 3 FL in last 4 overall|
|Peyton Manning||10 TDs, zero INTs, 297.2 passing yard average in last 4 against Texans|
|Derrick Mason||8 catches, TD in each of last three vs. Titans|
|Donovan McNabb||240+ yards passing in each of last 3 vs. WAS; 6 TDs in those games|
|Greg Olsen||Bears TEs totaled 2 TDs vs. Lions in '07|
|L.J. Smith||TD in two of last three vs. Redskins|
|... sitting these players|
|Andre Johnson||Zero 100-yard games in career vs. Colts (eight games)|
|Julius Jones||Never scored on NYG while with Dallas (1 career 100-total-yard game)|
|Clinton Portis||1 TD, one 100-yard game in last three vs. Eagles|
|Reggie Wayne||1 TD in last six vs. Texans (came in last meeting)|
|Roy Williams||1 TD in last four vs. Bears|
|Note: This only takes past performance into consideration and should not be considered a recommendation to start or sit a player.|
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