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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
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WEEK 15
2012
CIN at PHI (THU) *GB at CHI *MIN at STL *SF at NE
CAR at SD IND at HOU *NYG at ATL TB at NO
DEN at BAL *JAC at MIA *PIT at DAL *WAS at CLE
*Updated *DET at ARI KC at OAK *SEA at BUF *NYJ at TEN (MON)

Prediction: DEN 24, BAL 20 (Line: DEN by 3)

Players to Watch: Joe Flacco

The 10-3 Broncos remain in the fight for a first round bye with the 9-4 Ravens still not yet clinching the AFC North. The Broncos are on an eight game winning streak and are 5-2 in away games while the Ravens are on a two game losing streak but are 5-1 at home.

Denver Broncos
Homefield: Invesco Field
Grass
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 PIT 31-19 10 @CAR 36-14
2 @ATL 21-27 11 SD 30-23
3 HOU 25-31 12 @KC 17-9
4 OAK 37-6 13 TB 31-23
5 @NE 21-31 14 @OAK 26-13
6 @SD 35-24 15 @BAL  
7 BYE ----- 16 CLE -----
8 NO 34-14 17 KC -----
9 @CIN 31-23 ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
DEN @ BAL Rush Catch Pass
QB Peyton Manning 290,2
RB Ronnie Hillman 20 1-10
WR Demaryius Thomas 5-80,1
WR Wes Welker 7-90,1
TE Jacob Tamme 3-20

Pregame Notes: The Broncos are on a roll to be sure with eight wins in a row and only this week to provide a challenge for the rest of the regular season. This is a "load 'em up" week for the Broncos who could then go on to an eleven game streak to end the year with only home games against the Browns and Chiefs remaining. The only losses on the road so far were to the Falcons and Patriots in Manning's first two road efforts of the year.

Manning remains a lock for a score and high yardage every week. His last four games at home produced three touchdowns each along with decent yardage. The only scary part for Manning owners is if they start to protect him for the playoffs after this week. A need to continue to win to secure a bye and homefield advantage should keep him in the game but for how long against the Browns and Chiefs is needed to ensure a win?

Knowshon Moreno is living proof that running back is one of the most interchangeable positions on the playing field. He comes off a 119 yard effort in Oakland and catches four passes in every game as well. Moreno even showed great yards after first contact last week but it was only the Raiders. Still he has been pretty much "McGahee" good so far and the rushing effort has not evaporated just because the Broncos had to dust off Moreno and point him in the right direction.

Demaryius Thomas suffered a shoulder sprain that continues to be sore but he still played with it and ended with five catches for 83 yards in Oakland. It was his first non-scoring game since week ten and he remains one of the most productive wideouts in the league. Eric Decker came to life last week with 88 yards one eight catches thanks to the matchup but was much less used over the last month. Brandon Stokley is back from a wrist injury though he had no catches last Sunday.

Terrell Suggs did not play last week for the Ravens and may not here. His absence decreases the pass rush pressure and Manning doesn't need much help anyway. Ray Rice is eligible to return this week and would obviously give a spark to the defense.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points DEN 8 21 2 8 16 3
Preventing Fantasy Points BAL 10 22 12 12 28 5

  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
QB Peyton Manning, DEN @NE 0000031030 ***
Think Bill Belichick has Peyton's number? Think again; Manning has multiple TD tosses in five straight regular-season meetings with the Patriots dating back to the 2008 season. He's topped 300 yards in three of those five as well. This iteration of the New England defense has surrendered multiple scoring strikes in four of five; this iteration of Peyton has at least three TDs in four straight and six of seven. Fantasy owners needn't concern themselves with the war; Peyton consistently wins this battle.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Ronnie Hillman, DEN @NE 9003201000 ***
Focus too much on Peyton Manning and Hillman will get ya; he's racked up triple-digit combo yardage in all three starts since Montee Ball went down. The Patriots have allowed three 100-yard rushers in the past four games as well as a couple of 50-plus yard receiving games to backs; if they devote too much game plan to Manning, Hillman's fantasy prospects climb from good to very good.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Juwan Thompson, DEN @NE 201000000 **
Thompson looks to be taking over as the goal line complement to Ronnie Hillman--and a a Patriots D that's allowed five RB TDs in the past four games might be susceptible to a goal line back.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Demaryius Thomas, DEN @NE 0061001000 ***
The Patriots have to hope adding Darrelle Revis to the roster slows Thomas, because nothing else they've tried to date has; in four career meetings he's averaging almost seven catches for almost 110 yards, though he's scored just once in the four games. He brings a four-game streak of 100-yard efforts into this tilt, and you have to like his chances of exiting with at least a fantasy helper if not a fifth straight above the century mark.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Emmanuel Sanders, DEN @NE 004500000 ***
Not only have the Patriots allowed multiple WRs to score in two of their last four games, they never had an answer for Sanders when he played for Pittsburgh; in three games he racked up 16-209-1. With four TDs in the past two games he's beyond his scoring slump, and odds are he won't see Darrelle Revis so the run of success should continue.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Wes Welker, DEN @NE 004400000 ***
Welker has never caught a TD pass against his former mates--not as a Dolphin before joining the Patriots, nor in his lone meeting with them as a Bronco. He's also slid down the passing game pecking order in Denver, to the point that he's a reach of a fantasy play even in a six-team bye week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Julius Thomas, DEN @NE 004601000 ****
After a scorching start Thomas has been kept in check the past two weeks. Don't expect that to continue against a New England defense that's allowed three 90-yard games to TEs and three TE TDs in the past five games.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Brandon McManus, DEN @NE 1144 *****
Kicking behind a Peyton Manning offense has its advantages: four or more PATs in all but one game this year. It also has its disadvantages: only one game with multiple field goal attempts. You'll get solid, but spectacular doesn't appear to be in the offing.

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 13-10
3 NE 31-30 12 @SD 16-13
4 CLE 23-16 13 PIT 20-23
5 @KC 9-6 14 @WAS 28-31
6 DAL 31-29 15 DEN -----
7 @HOU 13-43 16 NYG -----
8 BYE ----- 17 @CIN -----
9 @CLE 25-15 ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
BAL vs DEN Rush Catch Pass
QB Joe Flacco 220,1
RB Justin Forsett 2-10
RB Bernard Pierce 20 1-10
WR Steve Smith 5-70
WR Torrey Smith 5-70
TE Owen Daniels 3-40,1
TE Dennis Pitta 4-50,1
PK Justin Tucker 2 FG 2 XP

Pregame Notes: The Ravens may be the only team that dumped their offensive coordinator while sporting a 9-4 record and leading their own division. Cam Cameron was at odds with both Joe Flacco and HC John Harbaugh for the last two seasons and the loss in Washington provided that final straw. The Ravens offensive scheme has been hard to fathom this season since it was supposed to be the big "opening up" of the passing game, the breaking out of Torrey Smith and Joe Flacco taking the next step up to being an elite quarterback.

None of that happened.

What did happen was mediocre passing that was worse than last season, and then amazingly the under-use of Ray Rice while using Bernard Pierce in even measures at times. Rice has not had a bad year with nine touchdowns already but just not to the level of 2011. More than anything, he has been used inconsistently week to week.

Rice also suffered a hip pointer last week but continued to play with the injury in overtime and is not expected to be limited at all this week.

The firing of Cam Cameron throws the entire offense into an unpredictable state this week. He is replaced for now with Colts ex-head coach Jim Caldwell who was the QB coach. Again - not often that a 9-4 team dumps the offensive coordinator and how that plays out is going to be hard to predict. The move no doubt will be a positive to Flacco and Rice but how that plays out with the play calling this week may not be as good at first.

Anquan Boldin has suddenly if not mysteriously exploded the last two weeks with three touchdowns and at least 78 yards in both games but matches on Champ Bailey. The Broncos are also solid against the run which should limit Rice to some extent though they may use him more as a receiver this week. Just no way of knowing what changes are going to happen in this first week post Cameron.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points BAL 18 11 15 21 7 5
Preventing Fantasy Points DEN 12 7 8 30 10 11

  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
QB Joe Flacco, BAL @PIT 0000024021 ****
In 15 career meetings with the Steelers Flacco has thrown multiple touchdowns exactly thrice--just once in the past six games, his 166 and 2 in the home meeting earlier this year. His average outing in Pittsburgh? 195 yards, one TD. He has just one total TD in two road games against AFC North foes this year, so even though he has three multiple TD outings in the past five games (two at home, one against the hapless Bucs) don't expect big things here.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Justin Forsett, BAL @PIT 6014200000 ****
Forsett had a junior share of the workload in the earlier meeting, yet he still produced 72 yards from scrimmage on a dozen touches. He's the lead dog now, against a Steelers D that's allowed six RB TDs, three 75-yard rushers and a 50-yard receiver in just the past three games.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Lorenzo Taliaferro, BAL @PIT 2002200000 ****
Bernard Pierce carried 22 times for 96 yards in the earlier meeting with Pittsburgh. Taliaferro has taken Pierce's gig, and while 22-96 seems aggressive as the Ravens' goal line guy he should at least be able to capitalize on a Steelers D that's allowed six RB TDs in just the past three games.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Steve Smith, BAL @PIT 006801000 ***
Smith is the Ravens' WR1 but he's no fantasy lock this week. He tallied 6-71 on 10 targets in the earlier meeting with Pittsburgh and is coming off a rough 3-35 on nine targets against Cincy last week. The upside is that the Steelers allowed multiple WRs to score and top 100 yards last week, but this one isn't likely to be the 85 point shootout that was so dial back expectations accordingly.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Torrey Smith, BAL @PIT 003400000 ***
Torrey had one catch in the earlier meeting with Pittsburgh and was shut out in Cincy last week. He can take solace in the fact that the Steelers allowed multiple WRs to score and top 100 yards last week, but this won't be a shootout like that game turned into so keep your expectations in check.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Owen Daniels, BAL @PIT 005301000 ****
You may remember Daniels from his two-TD outing against the Steelers in the earlier meeting. He was the TE2 that game, as Dennis Pitta was still healthy; now Daniels is working his way back from an injury of his own so he's no lock to take the field this week. It's a favorable matchup against a Pittsburgh D that's allowed three more TE TDs since Daniels pulled his double, so if Owen is healthy enough to go he deserves a fantasy look-see.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Justin Tucker, BAL @PIT 1133 ***
Remember when Heinz Field used to be a nightmare for opposing kickers? This season every visiting kicker has tallied at least nine points in Pittsburgh. Tucker has multiple treys in four straight and six of seven; a visit to the confluence of the Ohio, Allegheny and Monongahela Rivers shouldn't be a deterrent.

WEEK 15
2012
CIN at PHI (THU) *GB at CHI *MIN at STL *SF at NE
CAR at SD IND at HOU *NYG at ATL TB at NO
DEN at BAL *JAC at MIA *PIT at DAL *WAS at CLE
*Updated *DET at ARI KC at OAK *SEA at BUF *NYJ at TEN (MON)

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