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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 PIT 0000026011 ***
Flacco has now thrown 62 passes in back-to-back season openers, but last year he didn't come within a dozen attempts of that number the rest of the season, and he's had more than 37 attempts against the Steelers just once in 12 career meetings. As a result Flacco has but one 300-yard effort and two multiple touchdown outings against Pittsburgh and it's tough to see Baltimore changing its spots enough for him to be a fantasy factor on Thursday night.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Justin Forsett, BAL PIT 6013200000 **
Prior to last week's 84 yards from scrimmage and a touchdown it had been five years since Forsett was fantasy relevant. He'll be battling Bernard Pierce and Lorenzo Taliaferro for touches in Baltimore's backfield, but last week's performance puts him in the lead role for now. Against a Steel Curtain that just served up 175 yards and two TDs to the Terrance West/Isaiah Crowell/Ben Tate combo platter, that's enough to warrant consideration this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Bernard Pierce, BAL PIT 400000000 **
Pierce fumbled away his opportunity to lock up what now looks to be at least a season-long run as the Ravens' feature back; now he's sharing with Justin Forsett and maybe even rookie Lorenzo Taliaferro, and as the junior partner in the backfield jobshare he's a difficult fantasy start at best.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Lorenzo Taliaferro, BAL PIT 2001100000 ***
The rookie can't be banked on for a fantasy start just yet, but he has all the traits of the kind of back that emerges from a muddy backfield on a zone-blocking team to become... well, the next Alfred Morris or Arian Foster. If you get potential points he's startable; otherwise he's a bench stash with upside.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Torrey Smith, BAL PIT 003601000 ***
Torrey took a back seat to new teammate Steve Smith last week, but historically against the Steelers he's been at the fore: 40 targets in the past five meetings, including 16 (resulting in 9-154-1) last year as he moved out from under Anquan Boldin's shadow. Expect him to be more involved this week, enough so to at least warrant fantasy consideration.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Steve Smith, BAL PIT 007800000 ***
Smith saw twice as many targets as any other Raven last week and turned one of them into a highlight-reel touchdown catch-and-grab. Going forward you can't expect the looks to be so lopsided, but it's worth noting that the leading target for Cleveland last week was the similar-in-stature (and role) Andrew Hawkins.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Dennis Pitta, BAL PIT 005600000 ***
Pitta didn't play in either Steelers game last season and had just one catch in each end of the 2012 season series. But after racking up 33 targets, 20 catches, and 169 yards in a month of action last year--then opening with 10-83 on 15 targets in Week 1 it's clear he's an integral part of this offense. Pittsburgh surrendered 90 yards to a trio of Cleveland tight ends last week; feels like an eminently reachable touchdown for Pitta this week.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Justin Tucker, BAL PIT 1122 ***
Tucker has multiple treys in each of his four career outings against the Steelers; coming off two field goals and three PATs last week he should be in line for another busy evening here.

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
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 ATL 0000028010 ***
The Bengals weren't nearly as run-heavy as anticipated under new OC Hue Jackson, but that was more a function of the opponent. Expect a little more running and a little less passing this week, though not enough to relegate Dalton to certain fantasy bench duty.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Giovani Bernard, CIN ATL 9015400000 ****
Gio didn't get quite the extensive workout fantasy owners had hoped for under Hue Jackson, but that should change against an Atlanta defense that surrendered 183 combo yards to backs last week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Jeremy Hill, CIN ATL 301000000 **
Hill was lightly used in his NFL debut, a product of the opponent as much as anything else. Now he'll face a Falcons defense that surrendered three RB rushing scores in Week 1; as Cincy's goal line guy you have to like his odds of slicing off a piece of that pie for himself.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR A.J. Green, CIN ATL 0061201000 ****
Mildly surprising that Green didn't have at least as many targets as the rest of Cincy's wideouts combined last week, but not surprising that he thoroughly outproduced them. The Falcons couldn't contain either Marcus Colston or Brandon Cooks last week, unlikely they'll find a way to slow Green's roll here.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Mohamed Sanu, CIN ATL 004500000 ***
Until the Pips start producing consistently, which may not be until Marvin Jones returns, AJ Green is the only member of Cincy's wide receiving corps worthy of fantasy attention.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Jermaine Gresham, CIN ATL 003300000 ***
Gresham inherits at least some of the looks vacated by the injury to Tyler Eifert, though he's still a long shot to turn those extra looks into fantasy-relevant productivity.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Mike Nugent, CIN ATL 3333 ***
The Nuge got his kicks last week--five of them, in fact, on six attempts--and it's unlikely Atlanta keeps the Bengals off the scoreboard so he's a decent fantasy bet again this week.

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

a d v e r t i s e m e n t