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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
PK Matt Prater 1 FG 3 XP

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 @SEA 0000027021 ****
Wash the taste of the Super Bowl out of your mouth, take a deep breath, and tell yourself Peyton has three TD tosses in every game so far. Sure, he's entering the place where fantasy quarterbacks go to be erased--see Aaron Rodgers, Week 1--but you didn't draft Peyton to ride pine behind... well, anybody.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Montee Ball, DEN @SEA 5004200000 ***
No opposing back has topped 40 yards against the Seahawks and only John Kuhn has found the end zone. Temper expectations mightily for Montee this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Emmanuel Sanders, DEN @SEA 004801000 ***
Sanders cedes his slot position to the returning Wes Welker, which likely means he'll find himself draped by Richard Sherman at some point during the afternoon. He's a fringe fantasy start based on the matchup, and the return of Welker creates some wait-and-see regarding his role going forward as well.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Demaryius Thomas, DEN @SEA 006600000 ***
You can bet the Broncos will move Demaryius around so as to avoid an entire afternoon of Richard Sherman. However, at some point the two are bound to tangle, and with Peyton's overall numbers subdued the same pall needs to be cast over the receiving corps as well.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Julius Thomas, DEN @SEA 004501000 ***
Antonio Gates took the Seahawks for a hat trick last week, which certainly bodes well for the fantasy prospects of Thomas here; after all, he turned in a hat trick of his own in Week 1 and followed that up by finding the end zone last week as well.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Brandon McManus, DEN @SEA 2222 ****
Can the Broncos emulate their AFC West brethren and drop 30 on the Seahawks? Possible. But if you've been riding McManus while waiting for Matt Prater to return in a couple weeks, and with Denver's bye coming up, this wouldn't be a bad time to bail on Brandon and find a more favorable kicker matchup.

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 @CLE 10000024021 ***
The Browns haven't been shut-down defensively against the pass, but they haven't exactly been pushovers either. Flacco threw for two TDs the last time they met, but it was his first multiple-passing TD game against them in his last four. That 250 and 2 feels like his ceiling here.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Bernard Pierce, BAL @CLE 701000000 ****
Should be a decent outing for Pierce against a Browns' defense that's giving up better than five yards a carry and has particularly struggled with power backs like Le'Veon Bell and Mark Ingram.
Update: Though officially listed as questionable, Pierce practiced in full on Friday and should be available to take what is becoming his regular role in the Baltimore backfield rotation.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Justin Forsett, BAL @CLE 5004200000 ***
Given that the Browns are allowing 192 combo yards per game to opposing backs, Forsett's share of the Ravens' backfield workload should be worth a little something in fantasy circles this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Steve Smith, BAL @CLE 006600000 ***
Smith is turning "Napoleon Syndrome" and a dozen targets a game into a career rebirth in Baltimore. And while the Browns haven't erased opposing wideouts this year the prospect of Joe Haden draped all over Steve does dampen the fantasy enthusiasm a bit.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Torrey Smith, BAL @CLE 004500000 ***
Maybe the Browns tab Steve Smith as Cleveland's top threat and match him with Joe Haden. Maybe that opens up Torrey for more targets, which he could turn into a typical productive matchup against the Browns--he's scored or topped 75 yards in four straight meetings. Of course, until Steve stops hogging more than half the Ravens' WR targets it's all theory and tough to trust in a fantasy lineup.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Dennis Pitta, BAL @CLE 006701000 ****
The Ravens love to force-feed their tight end, but Pitta is no Jimmy Graham. Then again, it's unlikely the Browns use Joe Haden on Pitta. Call it a wash and look for Pitta to turn his typical heavy target load into another productive fantasy outing.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Owen Daniels, BAL @CLE 003300000 ***
In PPR leagues Daniels has value, as the TE spillover in Gary Kubiak's offense is running in the 4-5 catches per game range. However, don't get used to the #TBT Kubiak unleashed on us last week with Daniels' pair of TDs; he's still TE2 in Baltimore and should be treated as such.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Justin Tucker, BAL @CLE 1133 ***
Tucker has had multiple field goal attempts in each game this season, and in every road game dating back to Week 9 of last year. The Browns have a bend-don't-break defense, which should lend itself well to more opportunities for Tucker this week.

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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