Hot/Cold List Playoff week 3
And then there was four…but not the four you were expecting. The Steelers crashed the party along with the hopes of many playoff pools by knocking out the Fantasy Gods on the Colts. If you’re one of the lucky ones with Steve Smith and a QB still playing, congrats on winning your pool. If not, they’ll be another game in 2 1/2 weeks where you might find a pool to enter if you look hard enough.
Jake Delhomme, Carolina (vs. Seattle): You’ve got to think that Seattle will have a game plan in place to shut down the Delhomme/Smith connection this week after watching them dismantle the Bears, right? The absence of DeShaun Foster will make Delhomme’s job more difficult, but the Seahawks do not have the defensive players that the Bears do. Those factors will offset and Delhomme will throw for close to 300 yards again this week with a TD or two to boot. Oh yeah, and some guy named Smith will be the recipient of most of those passes.
Matt Hasselbeck, Seattle (vs. Carolina): Hasselbeck was impressive in leading Seattle to a victory last week after Alexander went down. His effectiveness was helped by his scrambling which Carolina will simply not allow this week. The pressure on Hasselbeck to carry the load solo will be lessened with Alexander’s return, but Carolina will supply more than enough pressure to force bad decisions which equal turnovers.
Mike Anderson, Denver (vs. Pittsburgh): Anderson received the bulk of the carries last week and thanks to a couple carries close to the goal-line, he responded with solid numbers. Pitt has been very tough against the run in the playoffs holding both Rudi Johnson and Edgerrin James to 56 yards rushing. While Denver doesn’t have quite the passing game that either Cincy or Indy can claim, Plummer’s scrambling combined with Rod Smith and Ashley Lelie’s short/deep threat combo will be enough to open the holes Anderson needs to post solid numbers. Look for the salute at least once this week.
Shaun Alexander, Seattle (vs. Carolina): Seattle is a different team without Alexander and that team is not one that can make the Super Bowl. Alexander knows this and the Panthers defense knows this. Alexander will run hard and will find some openings, but it’ll take a while to find daylight. Stay patient Seahawks fans. Alexander will make his mark, but it’ll probably be in the second half.
Nick Goings, Carolina (vs. Seattle): The Panthers offensive line should get most of the credit for last week’s game but this week will be a different story. Goings make catch Seattle off-guard early on as they sit back and try to slow down Steve Smith, but eventually Goings will find himself with company behind the line of scrimmage most often than he would like.
Willie Parker, Pittsburgh (vs. Denver): Parker has posted two decent games in the playoffs, but he’s yet to face a run defense like the Broncos. With Bettis already getting the short-yardage carries and the bulk of the touches in the second half, Parker’s numbers will be limited. This week, they’ll be downright dreadful.
Steve Smith, Carolina (vs. Seattle): Can anyone stop Steve Smith? Granted Mike Brown got hurt for Chicago last week, but no one had an answer for Smith. While Seattle will throw everything but the kitchen sink Smith’s way, he’ll still find his spots and he’ll take advantage of them. Enjoy the ride, Smith owners.
Hines Ward, Pittsburgh (vs. Denver): Ward has not had the breakout game some would expect from a “Stud” WR in the playoffs…yet. Despite Champ Bailey likely to play the role of Ward’s shadow this week, Tom Brady proved Bailey can be beat and the Big Ben/Ward duo will take advantage of Bailey aggressiveness for a couple big plays.
Ashley Lelie, Denver (vs. Pittsburgh): Even though Plummer seemed to be looking in Lelie’s direction every other play last week, Lelie still walked away with only five catches for 50 yards. With the pressure Plummer will the receive, waiting in the pocket for Lelie to find an opening downfield won’t be an option this week. Sorry Ashley, but you had your chance last week.
Bobby Engram, Seattle (vs. Carolina): Engram has caught a total of six passes in the last three Seattle games including last week’s two-catch performance. With Darrell Jackson suddenly Hasselbeck’s best friend, Engram will need to make his mark returning punts which is no easy task. Don’t expect much from Engram this week.
Heath Miller, Pittsburgh (vs. Denver): Miller had a very strong game last week catching three passes for 68 yards and a TD. Expect Roethlisberger to continue to give Miller several looks as Pittsburgh will mix the run and pass very effectively using short, less risky passes which is right up Miller’s alley. Another big game is on tap for the rookie.
Jerramy Stevens, Seattle (vs. Carolina): First Hasselbeck, then Engram. What did you expect? Stevens is unlikely to be one of the top TEs this weekend with Seattle projected to struggle in the passing attack. Expect lots of blocking assignments for Stevens to give Hasselbeck more time to find Darrell Jackson downfield.