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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
RB Ray Rice 60,1 5-30
WR Steve Smith 6-100,1
WR Torrey Smith 4-50,1
WR Brandon Stokley 3-50,1
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 @CIN 0000022012 ****
Flacco has just one multiple touchdown outing in his past six games, or since he threw for 140 & 2 against the Bengals back in Week 10. Cincy has allowed only one multiple touchdown since then as well, plus they've surrendered only eight passing scores in seven home games. Last year Flacco came through in the clutch; this season, expectations are diminished.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Ray Rice, BAL @CIN 3006300000 ****
The Bengals have allowed exactly one RB TD in Cincinnati this year, and Rice isn't having the kind of season where he would be a good bet to buck that trend. He's essentially splitting carries with Bernard Pierce and only posting helpful fantasy numbers when an easy matchup is at hand. This is not that matchup.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Bernard Pierce, BAL @CIN 200000000 ***
Pierce is seeing a larger share of the workload, but neither he nor Ray Rice are doing anything with those touches--and the matchup isn't particularly favorable, either.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Torrey Smith, BAL @CIN 004501000 ***
Smith scored in the earlier matchup with Cincy, though it took 15 targets for him to do so. The Bengals have allowed five WR TDs in the subsequent five games, and with Smith still the top-targeted Raven wideout he's the best bet of the passing game to score.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Jacoby Jones, BAL @CIN 004500000 ****
Jones and Marlon Brown continue to alternate adequate showings as Baltimore's secondary target. That has some fantasy value in a favorable matchup, but this isn't a favorable matchup.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Marlon Brown, BAL @CIN 003400000 ***
Brown and Jacoby Jones continue to alternate adequate showings as Baltimore's secondary target. That has some fantasy value in a favorable matchup, but this isn't a favorable matchup.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Dennis Pitta, BAL @CIN 004300000 ***
Pitta is still splitting looks with Ed Dickson; against a Bengals defense that's shut out three straight tight ends, there's just not enough to go around here.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Justin Tucker, BAL @CIN 3311 ***
Tucker has been feast or famine of late: three triple-digit games, wrapped around a couple minuscule single-digit efforts. He posted eight points in the previous meeting with Cincy, and this one is likely to play out in a similar fashion as the two teams battle for playoff spots.

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
RB Felix Jones 80,1 4-30
RB LaRod Stephens-Howling 60,1 4-20
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 CLE 0000024020 ***
The Browns have allowed multiple passing scores in 10 straight games, a stretch that includes Big Ben's 217 & 2 in Week 12. Roethlsiberger's yardage has been subdued of late, but he has multiple TD tosses in five of six and will stick around as long as it takes with the Steelers' playoff hopes still clinging to life support.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Le'Veon Bell, PIT CLE 7014300000 ***
Bell rushed for 80 yards in the earlier meeting with Cleveland. Since then the Browns have softened a bit, surrendering 100-yard outings in back-to-back games. Bell rushed for 124 yards last week in Green Bay and has scored in back-to-back games; he also has a couple 50-yard receiving games in that span as well. With the Steelers still playing for something, Bell's about as good a fantasy back bet as there is this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB LeGarrette Blount, PIT CLE 601000000 **
Prior to last week's aberration against the Dolphins, the Bills allowed back-to-back 100-yard rushers. They also served up 162 rushing yards to the Patriots in the earlier meeting this season; unfortunately, after Shane Vereen (if healthy) takes his bite off the top the leftovers will be split between Blount and Stevan Ridley--and only Bill Belichick knows who'll get the money shots.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Antonio Brown, PIT CLE 005801000 ***
With 92 yards and a TD in Cleveland earlier this season, Brown ain't 'fraid of no Haden. He's scored in three straight and five of six and is consistently Big Ben's favorite target so don't sweat the Iron Haden.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Lance Moore, PIT CLE 002200000 ***
Moore has to battle Kenny Stills and Robert Meachem for secondary looks behind Marques Colston in an offense that throws to the tight end and running backs more than the wideouts. That's not a recipe for fantasy success.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Heath Miller, PIT CLE 003200000 ***
The Steelers have one TE TD in the past nine games, and it went to Matt Spaeth, not Miller. Heath had 5-41 in the earlier meeting with Cleveland, a game sandwiched in between outings in which the Browns gave up multiple touchdowns. So there's at least a glimmer of hope here.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Shaun Suisham, PIT CLE 2233 ***
Suisham tallied nine in Cleveland last month and has 20 points over the past two games. With the Steelers clinging to playoff hopes, Suisham will be pressed to put points on the board once again.

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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