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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
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WEEK 17
2012
ARI at SF CLE at PIT JAC at TEN OAK at SD
BAL at CIN DAL at WAS KC at DEN PHI at NYG
CAR at NO GB at MIN MIA at NE STL at SEA
  CHI at DET HOU at IND NYJ at BUF TB at ATL

Prediction: BAL 20, CIN 24 (Line: CIN by 2.5)

Players to Watch: Anyone who looks like they are trying

Ends up that this game that many thought might be for all the AFC North marbles really isn't for anything. The Ravens already own the division and the Bengals are locked into being a wild card team. That could mean either team may rest players since both will be playing in the first round. This is a replay of the season opener that the Ravens won 44-13 at home. This is a messy game to call and a good reason why week 17 is bad for fantasy football. Both coaches will say they want to win but what happens in the course of the game is very hard to call. HC Jim Harbaugh says they are going to Cincinnati to win and use all resources to accomplish that despite the fact that there is nothing to win and there is a chance these same two teams meet next week in the playoffs as well.

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 17-34
7 @HOU 13-43 16 NYG 33-14
8 BYE ----- 17 @CIN -----
9 @CLE 25-15 ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
BAL @ CIN Rush Catch Pass
QB Joe Flacco 230,1
RB Bernard Pierce 30 2-10
WR Steve Smith 6-90,1
WR Torrey Smith 5-70,1
TE Owen Daniels 4-40,1
TE Dennis Pitta 5-50
PK Justin Tucker 2 FG 2 XP

Pregame Notes: The Ravens come off a solid win over the Giants and are glad to have won the division since they are only 4-3 in road games this year and play much less effectively when away from home. Going to Cincinnati would have been interesting if the division was still up for grabs but now becomes essentially a scrimmage. These two teams already know each other very well anyway.

Joe Flacco passed for 299 yards and two scores in that season opener in Cincy and he's managed to score nearly every week. The Ravens are now two weeks into the new offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell but any changes to the play calling are not that apparent other than Ray Rice getting a heavy workload in week 16.

Rice turned in 107 yards as a runner and then had six catches for 51 yards and another score in his heaviest workload of the year. He was only ran ten times in that season opener though he gained 68 yards and scored twice. The switch to Caldwell's offense will be a success if he does nothing more than to give the ball more to their best player - Ray Rice.

The only offensive scheming that may happen in this game is to get Anquan Boldin a 1000 yard season since he just needs 79 more yards to get there. He already posted four catches for 63 yards and a score in the first meeting

There is nothing more to accomplish this week aside from keeping players healthy to potentially play the same team next week in Baltimore. That puts risk on all the players regardless what Harbaugh says to the media. Why not say it is for real - nothing to lose by seeing how the Bengals prepare for them.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points BAL 18 10 18 11 7 12
Preventing Fantasy Points CIN 6 15 5 19 16 26

  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
QB Joe Flacco, BAL @HOU 0000024020 ****
Mostly "meh" trends here, as the Texans are neither a bad nor great matchup, Flacco's a little worse on the road but not awful, etc. You'll be okay starting Flacco, but at this juncture hopefully you've got some "wow" arsenal at your disposal.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Justin Forsett, BAL @HOU 9012200000 ***
The key number is 20 carries. Forsett hasn't been there for a couple games, and not coincidentally Forsett's three-game streak of 100-yard games came to an end at that juncture. The Texans have allowed only three 100-yard rushers on the year, and not coincidentally they've faced only three players who received 20 carries. Yes, the same three. If Forsett was healthy enough to get 16 carries against Jacksonville last week he should make it to 20 this weekend--with appropriate results.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Bernard Pierce, BAL @HOU 400000000 ***
No reason for Pierce to handle too many touches here, and he'll need some fortunate timing for them to carry any fantasy weight.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Steve Smith, BAL @HOU 006801000 ***
Smith likes facing the Texans: he's scored in all three career games against them while averaging a robust 108 yards per outing. More recently, the Texans have been giving up big yardage to primary receivers but letting secondary targets find the end zone. Hard to tell which Smith is which in any given week for the Ravens, but suffice it to say both have reasonably high fantasy expectations here.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Torrey Smith, BAL @HOU 004601000 *
Only two teams have allowed more WR TDs than the Texans, so if Smith is healthy enough to play he's a quality fantasy start; the question is whether or not he or Steve Smith will take a turn as Joe Flacco's favorite.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Owen Daniels, BAL @HOU 002300000 ***
Daniels, fresh off returning to the end zone last week, against his former team--who just allowed a TE TD last week. Not a particularly strong trend in Daniels' favor, but who's gonna know how to get a tight end open against that defense better than Gary Kubiak?
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Justin Tucker, BAL @HOU 1144 ***
Tucker's been solid, with multiple field goals in three of his last four overall and three of his last four at home. Don't expect Houston to disrupt Tucker's flow; in fact, the Texans' QB issues might make it that much easier for the Ravens to play defense and settle for field goals.

Cincinnati Bengals
Homefield: Paul Brown Stadium
FieldTurf
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 @BAL 13-44 10 NYG 31-13
2 CLE 34-27 11 @KC 28-6
3 @WAS 38-31 12 OAK 34-10
4 @JAC 27-10 13 @SD 20-13
5 MIA 13-17 14 DAL 19-20
6 @CLE 24-34 15 @PHI 34-13
7 PIT 17-24 16 @PIT 13-10
8 BYE ----- 17 BAL -----
9 DEN 23-31 ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
CIN vs BAL Rush Catch Pass
QB Andy Dalton 250,2
WR A.J. Green 6-80,1
WR Marvin Jones 4-60,1
WR Greg Little 2-20
TE Jermaine Gresham 5-50

Pregame Notes: The Bengals get into the playoffs while kicking the Steelers down the ladder last week - how great was that? They even won their last four road games as well and now can notch their tenth win if the Ravens acquiesce to reality and try to mail this one in and rest players. This has been a good season for the defense that has held six of their last seven opponents to fewer than 14 points.

Andy Dalton only passed for 221 yards and no scores in that opener but had at least one score in every successive game until last week in Pittsburgh. He's already scored 26 passing touchdowns and even added four more as a runner. His pace has been off in recent weeks though with never more than one passing touchdown in the last four weeks.

BenJarvus Green-Ellis was on a hot streak with five straight weeks of 100+ total yards but then was swamped in Pittsburgh. He ran for 91 yards and a score on 18 carries in Baltimore this year. His last six weeks probably saved his job since he was stuck around 60 yards per game prior to week ten.

Mike Nugent may be back this week since his calf has improved. In the end, you never want to rely on a fantasy kicker in a meaningless game though. Josh Brown has kicked well in relief but may be released this week or next.

Jermaine Gresham only managed three catches for 30 yards in Pittsburgh while A.J. Green settled for five receptions and 70 yards. He would start his nine game scoring streak the following week.

There are no safe plays here this week. A.J. Green and Green-Ellis are both considerations and should be good for decent yardage at least but there is nothing on the line here but the wrong things - see what you opponent looks like and stay healthy for next week in case you play the Ravens again. It is all a big risk.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points CIN 12 26 7 16 10 6
Preventing Fantasy Points BAL 9 23 12 5 28 7

  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
QB Andy Dalton, CIN DEN 0000023021 ***
No guarantee that attempting to keep up with Peyton Manning translates into helpful fantasy stats; didn't work for Derek Carr, Shaun Hill, Alex Smith or Philip Rivers over the past six weeks. Dalton's been too unreliable a fantasy contributor of late to not be lumped in with that mediocre grouping, especially given his penchant for coming up small in big games.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Jeremy Hill, CIN DEN 5004200000 ***
Tre Mason is the only back to find fantasy success against the Broncos. Not that the Bengals won't try with Hill, but his big games have come against bottom-feeding run defenses (New Orleans, Cleveland, and Jacksonville all rank in the top 10 in fantasy points allowed to RBs). Dial your expectations back accordingly.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Giovani Bernard, CIN DEN 3003200000 ***
It's official: Gio's a complementary back. And with feature backs having enough trouble carving out fantasy value against the Broncos, no reason to reach for a secondary guy for fantasy help.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR A.J. Green, CIN DEN 005601000 **
It's not impossible for Green to carve out fantasy value against the Broncos, especially given the volume of targets he's bound to see. But it won't be easy, so keep your expectations in check.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Mohamed Sanu, CIN DEN 003300000 ***
Complementary targets have found the end zone against Denver while primary targets posted bigger yardage--as recently as Week 14, when Sammy Watkins did the heavy lifting with 127 yards while Chris Hogan found the end zone. However, multiple receivers have posted fantasy helpers on the Broncos only four times in 14 games, so Sanu's chances of warranting a spot in your lineup are slim.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Jermaine Gresham, CIN DEN 004301000 ****
Update: Looks like Gresham will play this week, though he's been little if any fantasy help this season and doesn't look like he'll change that fact this week.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Mike Nugent, CIN DEN 1122 ***
Since serving up 16 points to Greg Zuerlein and the Rams in Week 11 the Broncos have allowed a total of 17 kicker points in four games. The Nuge broke a two-game field goal drought with three against the Browns last week, but the overriding trend here is opposing kickers falling short against Denver. Plan accordingly.

WEEK 17
2012
ARI at SF CLE at PIT JAC at TEN OAK at SD
BAL at CIN DAL at WAS KC at DEN PHI at NYG
CAR at NO GB at MIN MIA at NE STL at SEA
  CHI at DET HOU at IND NYJ at BUF TB at ATL

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