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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
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WEEK 11
2012
MIA at BUF (THU) *CLE at DAL *NO at OAK TB at CAR
*ARI at ATL GB at DET NYJ at STL *CHI at SF (MON)
*BAL at PIT *IND at NE PHI at WAS Bye:
*UPDATED CIN at KC JAC at HOU *SD at DEN MIN, NYG, SEA, TEN

Prediction: BAL 17, PIT 16 (Line: PIT by 3.5)

Players Updated: Rashard Mendenhall, Jonathan Dwyer, Isaac Redman

Players to Watch: Ray Rice, Byron Leftwich

This was to be the battle for the AFC North. The 7-2 Ravens are on a two game winning streak and have a one game lead on the Steelers that could be whittled away with a win here. But the 6-3 Steelers are on a four game winning streak and just lost their franchise quarterback when Ben Roethlisberger was injured in the Monday night game against the Chiefs. That should prove significant to this week.

The Ravens swept the Steelers last year, winning 35-7 in Baltimore and later 23-20 in Pittsburgh..

Baltimore Ravens
Homefield: M&T Bank Stadium
Sport Turf
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 CIN 44-13 10 OAK 55-20
2 @PHI 23-24 11 @PIT -----
3 NE 31-30 12 @SD -----
4 CLE 23-16 13 PIT -----
5 @KC 9-6 14 @WAS -----
6 DAL 31-29 15 DEN -----
7 @HOU 13-43 16 NYG -----
8 BYE ----- 17 @CIN -----
9 @CLE 25-15 ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
BAL @ PIT Rush Catch Pass
QB Joe Flacco 10 190,1
RB Justin Forsett 20 2-10
WR Steve Smith 6-100,1
WR Torrey Smith 4-50,1
TE Owen Daniels 5-60,1
TE Dennis Pitta 4-40
PK Justin Tucker 1 FG 2 XP

Pregame Notes: The Ravens remaining schedule just got a whole lot easier looking. With Ben Roethlisberger out this week and potentially more, playing the Steelers twice in three weeks could not have possibly come at a better time. The rest of the schedule is no cakewalk with DEN, NYG and @CIN ending the regular season but the only real competitor in the AFC North is the Steelers anyway.

Joe Flacco comes off his best game of the year when he passed for 341 yards and three scores on the Raiders and he added a rushing touchdown. That was his first effort over 240 yards in five weeks and the first multiple touchdown production in the last six weeks. When at home against a really weak secondary, Flacco really shines. All others - not so much. He's been stuck at sub-200 yard outings in his last three road trips and now faces the #2 defense against quarterbacks.

Ray Rice salvaged some fantasy value with a touchdown last week but only ran 13 times for 35 yards in a game the Ravens won by 35 points. In Houston in week seven he only was allowed nine runs for 42 yards. The Ravens use of Rice has been a surprise this year given his wild success last year and he's still gaining 4.6 yards per carry now. Rice has to be bitter about getting just 13 carries against a Raiders team that yielded 251 yards to Doug Martin the previous week.

Dennis Pitta popped up again in the Oakland game when he scored on his five catches for 67 yards but he was on a five week string of games that never produced more than 33 yards. It was just one decent game and he only scores when at home anyway.

Torrey Smith's not tearing up opponents like he did last year since he only has the one effort against the Patriots when he topped 100 yards but to his credit he has become the preferred scoring target for Flacco. Smith already scored seven times this year and three in just the last two games. His yardage remains low with nothing over 70 yards since week four but he's recorded a score in five of the last seven games. Anquan Boldin produces like a tight end and not even a very good one. He's been held to fewer than 60 yards since week six and has minimal fantasy value.

This game seems destined for a low score and moderate stats at best for the Ravens players who all face top three defenses against their position.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points BAL 17 11 18 14 8 6
Preventing Fantasy Points PIT 2 3 2 12 12 10

  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
QB Joe Flacco, BAL CAR 0000024011 ***
It took 62 attempts for Flacco to approach fantasy relevancy in Week 1; he hasn't returned to either that number of throws or a significant fantasy contribution since. While Carolina has given up two TD tosses a couple times already--matching last season's total--they have yet to surrender a 20-fantasy point game to a quarterback. And after giving up multiple 100-yard rushers last week you'd think the Baltimore game plan would be run-heavy as well.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Bernard Pierce, BAL CAR 5011000000 ***
Update: Pierce is listed as probable this week, but what if any role he returns to in the crowded Baltimore backfield remains to be seen.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Lorenzo Taliaferro, BAL CAR 401000000 ***
On the heels of an 18-91-1 coming out party in Cleveland Taliaferro gets to face a Panthers defense that just got shredded for a matching set of 100-yard games by two Steelers RBs. Expect the fun to continue for the rookie.
Update: Bernard Pierce is expected back, but Gary Kubiak has always been a "hot hand" kind of guy and none of the Baltimore backs is hotter than Taliaferro. Even if Pierce gets the start, expect Taliaferro to remain in the mix--at minimum in goal-line work.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Justin Forsett, BAL CAR 5004200000 **
While Forsett is ceding touches to rookie Lorenzo Taliaferro he still has fantasy value as a change-of-pace guy; the Panthers have allowed two RB receiving scores already this season and served up 6-61 receiving to Joique Bell. Doesn't hurt that he'll likely get 10 carries as well, or that he's averaging better than six yards a tote.
Update: Whether it's Bernard Pierce or Taliaferro as the feature back, expect Forsett to maintain his change-of-pace duties. In this matchup, that's good enough to be a fantasy helper.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Steve Smith, BAL CAR 0071001000 ****
How can you not like Smith in a revenge game against the club that told him he couldn't play anymore? The Panthers haven't allowed a wideout to top 90 yards against them, but between the volume of targets Smith is seeing and the revenge multiplier there's significant fantasy upside here.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Torrey Smith, BAL CAR 002300000 ***
Torrey has taken a back seat to Steve in the Panthers' passing game pecking order, and that's unlikely to change with Steve facing his former club and looking to dish out a measure of revenge.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Jacoby Jones, BAL CAR 002200000 ***
Secondary receivers have found little success against the Panthers; no reason to think Jones bucks that trend on Steve Smith Revenge Day.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Owen Daniels, BAL CAR 004300000 ***
With Dennis Pitta out for the season expect Daniels to take over his familiar role in Gary Kubiak's offense. Unfortunately, he'll open with a stout matchup against a Panthers D that has yet to allow a TE TD on the year.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Justin Tucker, BAL CAR 2233 ***
Tucker's had multiple field goal attempts in each game this year and has posted back-to-back double-digit points. He's a solid fantasy option again this week.

Pittsburgh Steelers
Homefield: Heinz Field
Grass
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 @DEN 19-31 10 KC 16-13
2 NYJ 27-10 11 BAL -----
3 @OAK 31-34 12 @CLE -----
4 BYE ----- 13 @BAL -----
5 PHI 16-14 14 SD -----
6 @TEN 23-26 15 @DAL -----
7 @CIN 24-17 16 CIN -----
8 WAS 27-12 17 CLE -----
9 @NYG 24-20 ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
PIT vs BAL Rush Catch Pass
QB Ben Roethlisberger
WR Darrius Heyward-Bey 3-40
WR Lance Moore 5-70
TE Heath Miller 4-50
PK Shaun Suisham 3 FG 1 XP

Pregame Notes: The injury to Ben Roethlisberger could mean everything to the Steelers fortunes. He was said to have separated his shoulder, then just sprained his shoulder but it was enough to prompt the Steelers to bring him to the hospital that night. Some sources say that Big Ben has just a sprain and will merely be questionable for this week. Others speculate the injury is more significant and that his throwing shoulder will prevent him form playing for at least a few weeks. With the two meetings with the Ravens coming in the next three weeks this could not be timed worse.

Obviously he'll be tracked all week because the Steelers need him. HC Mike Tomlin says that it is a sternoclavicular sprain which is when the collarbone popped in front/behind sternum. It almost has to keep him out at least this week and could linger. It is the same injury that ended Brett Favre's 297 consecutive starts.

Antonio Brown remains questionable this week because of his ankle sprain and Rashard Mendenhall will also be questionable because of his strained Achilles.

Byron Leftwich is expected to take the start and that makes no one happy. Leftwich only completed seven of 14 passes for 73 yards versus the Chiefs and is a major step down from Big Ben.

The Steelers go with the hot hand at running back and there should be much more focus on the rushing effort if Big Ben is out since the Ravens are weaker versus the run than the pass. Isaac Redman gained 147 yards and a touchdown in week nine but Jonathan Dwyer proved better in the rain and was given 19 carries for 56 yards last Monday night while Redman was limited to eight runs and 21 yards. At best these runners just diminish each other and only producing 77 combined rushing yards against the Chiefs was a very disappointing surprise. It was the first time in four games that one of the two did not rack up over 100 rushing yards.

The rainy weather was not conducive to passing last week but Leftwich was unable to generate anything promising as a passer. That has to downgrade both Mike Wallace and Heath Miller.

This game needs to be a defensive battle because neither offense is likely to do much.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points PIT 14 15 14 7 6 31
Preventing Fantasy Points BAL 9 21 22 18 28 8

  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
QB Ben Roethlisberger, PIT TB 0000024020 ***
While Big Ben's numbers haven't been overly fantasy friendly thus far, he should enjoy this matchup with a Bucs D that has held only Austin Davis in check thus far this season.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Le'Veon Bell, PIT TB 9014300000 ***
Bell has topped 100 combo yards in all three games and should extend that run against an undermanned Tampa Bay defense that hasn't seen a back of his caliber yet this year.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB LeGarrette Blount, PIT TB 201000000 **
Unlikely that Blount is able to churn out another 100-yard game like he did last week against Carolina. However, after seeing two different Falcons backs score on the Bucs last week it wouldn't be at all surprising if he was able to find the end zone while carrying out his goal line and change-of-pace duties.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Antonio Brown, PIT TB 0071001000 ****
The Bucs couldn't stop Kelvin Benjamin or Julio Jones; unlikely they'll find a way to keep Brown from his appointed rounds.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Justin Brown, PIT TB 002301000 ***
Brown remains a bit player in this offense, with no compelling trends or evidence to suggest he warrants consideration over the Steelers' passing game mainstays.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Markus Wheaton, PIT TB 005600000 ***
It's not an overly compelling matchup for secondary receivers, though Wheaton is seeing more targets than other WR2s the Bucs have faced so he may be able to turn those looks into production.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Heath Miller, PIT TB 004400000 ***
If you're into 50 yards, Miller's your guy. If you want more from your fantasy tight end, best look elsewhere.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Shaun Suisham, PIT TB 1144 ****
Multiple field goals in every game this season make Suisham a fantasy regular; doesn't hurt that the Bucs just gave up 56 points, either.

WEEK 11
2012
MIA at BUF (THU) *CLE at DAL *NO at OAK TB at CAR
*ARI at ATL GB at DET NYJ at STL *CHI at SF (MON)
*BAL at PIT *IND at NE PHI at WAS Bye:
*UPDATED CIN at KC JAC at HOU *SD at DEN MIN, NYG, SEA, TEN

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