projected total on my list. It has been suggested that I am nuts to have the rates so highly with Big Ben sitting out the first four games of the season and Byron Leftwich out with an injury. This has left Dennis Dixon as the starter and Charlie Batch as the primary alternative (just a note, they probably could have added Leinart to the mix here, yet by all indications no serious thought was given to this option).
So what exactly will the Dixon Effect be and how significant will it be on the Steelers' prospecting for winning in the first four weeks. The real problem with trying to make this determination is that Dixon has essentially no NFL experience, so nothing to concretely gauge what we should expect from him. With no real data to work from, I went to the facts that we do know: he was a 5th round pick, he is 25, he will be starting the season and likely playing 4 games and going back to the bench and he has almost no prior experience. This information actually describes a reasonable number of NFl QBs that can help put some parameters on Dixon's likely performance. Since 1980 20 QBs have fit this rough description and while some will give the Steeler faithful hope (Marc Bulger, ok maybe Bulger is the only serious hope on the list) most are in the Koy Detmer/Rusty Hilger model.
What this means for the Steelers is that they can reasonable expect Dixon to complete about 54% of his passes (Big Ben has a career average of 63%), turn 3.6% of his attempts into TDs (5.3% for Big Ben) and be intercepted on 3.9% of his attempts (3.4% for Big Ben) with an average of 6.3 yards per attempt (8 Y/Att for Big Ben).
The yards per attempt difference is large and is likely directly connected to the difference in TD%. As the int% is roughly equal, the biggest impact then will be on the offense's ability to score points. Assuming the Steelers throw on 35 to 40 plays against their week one opponent (Falcons), they will probably score about 4 fewer points due to Big Ben's suspension. As I have the Steelers winning that game rather decisively (26 to 14 with nearly 90% confidence) a drop in offensive output of even 5 points still has them winning by a touchdown, even if Dixon turns out to be Moses Moreno or Cody Pickett.