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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
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SUPER BOWL XLVII Baltimore Ravens vs. San Francisco 49ers

Prediction: BAL 20, SF 27 (Line: SF by 3.5)

And so now we know. The team that was the regular season bully that got called out was Atlanta. The Patriots are still every bit as good as they have ever been except for winning Super Bowls. We have to talk about the curse of Peyton as if he never made it to a Super Bowl before because he did lose in the first game out of the gate... again. We're faced with a 49er team that was a powerhouse, then they were not so good. Then they wiped up the Patriots. Then they were not that good. And once they got into the playoffs, yes, they were that good. The Ravens defy explanation which is exactly as it should be for one of the Superbowl teams. The world loves a dark horse and it all makes for a compelling storyline.

Better yet - this is West coast vs. East coast. Harbaugh vs. Harbaugh. Both teams are noted for their defenses - which by rule you need to win a championship - and yet both have great offenses if only on occasion. It is all about timing.

Baltimore Ravens
Homefield: M&T Bank Stadium
Sport Turf
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 CIN 44-13 11 @PIT 13-10
2 @PHI 23-24 12 @SD 16-13
3 NE 31-30 13 PIT 20-23
4 CLE 23-16 14 @WAS 28-31
5 @KC 9-6 15 DEN 17-34
6 DAL 31-29 16 NYG 33-14
7 @HOU 13-43 17 @CIN 17-23
8 BYE ----- 18 IND 24-9
9 @CLE 25-15 19 @DEN 38-35
10 OAK 55-20 20 @NE 28-13
News | Statistics | Roster
BALTIMORE Rush Catch Pass
QB Joe Flacco - - 280,2
RB Ray Rice 50 4-40 -
TE Dennis Pitta - 5-50,1 -
WR Anquan Boldin - 5-70 -
WR Jacoby Jones - 2-40 -
WR Torrey Smith - 4-80,1 -
PK Justin Tucker 2 FG 2 XP -

Pregame Notes: What is there to say really? By the numbers they should not be here but they very much are and have already been the underdog twice and won. The story line goes to Ray Lewis playing out his final games and while he has made 12+ tackles in each playoff game, he has not sacked anyone or come up with a turnover (though he came close). The defense has played well overall with no argument and even shut down the Patriots in their stadium for the second half when normally it would be Brady Time.

The difference has come from a solid defensive effort but they still allowed 35 points in Denver. What has been the change is the offense that had has averaged 30 points per game while in the playoffs supposedly facing the best teams. And the last two came in road games for a team that was only 4-4 on the road during the regular season. And that included a 9-6 win in Kansas City.

Joe Flacco has thrown eight touchdowns over the last three games and never fewer than two. He never managed that sort of scoring during the season. He had ten interceptions on the season - none in the playoffs. He threw three scores in Denver and New England.

Ray Rice scored in the last two games though he was held to only 48 yards on 19 runs by the Patriots. When playing against good rushing defenses like in Pittsburgh, he was only able to gain 40 yards on 20 runs though he was used as a receiver much more in the season than in the playoffs where he has only four catches. He was good for four or five in most games this year.

Anquan Boldin was the hero against the Colts (5-145, TD) and in New England (5-60, 2 TD). That is three scores in the last three games. He only had three scores in the previous 15 games. His best game of the year was versus the Colts. In Denver, he was controlled more by Champ Bailey and Torrey Smith came through with two scores and 98 yards on only three catches.

Flacco now faces one of the top defenses against quarterbacks but one that has uncharacteristically allowed 396 yards and three scores to Matt Ryan but held Aaron Rodgers to two scores and 257 yards in the Divisional Round. Flacco has been playing better these last three weeks than he did all season and has made himself a ton of money on his next contract in the process. He;s been a lock for two scores over the last six games and it is less likely that Ray Rice is going to be a major factor here at least as a runner given that the 49ers have never been worse than the #2 defense against running backs this year.

Flacco is playing without errors lately and that cannot be undervalued, particularly playing a defense that had 40 sacks and 16 interceptions this year. Dennis Pitta is likely to have a decent to good game here against a defense that allowed nine scores to the position including Tony Gonzalez (8-78, TD) just last week.

Boldin has fared much worse when facing a solid secondary and the scores allowed to wideouts by the 49ers tended to be more to the faster split end types. The Ravens have continually surprised though and even Roddy White gained 100 yards last week playing the same flanker as Boldin. Of course Julio Jones scored twice and ended with 182 yards in that home game.

The rushing effort should be held in check which means the pass is going to once again have to be the way the Ravens compete. That should be more about Pitta and Smith though Rice has been oddly quiet as a receiver for the playoff run.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points BAL 18 10 19 10 9 14
Preventing Fantasy Points SF 6 2 5 14 1 9


San Francisco 49ers
Homefield: Monster Park
Grass
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 @GB 30-22 11 CHI 32-7
2 DET 27-19 12 @NO 31-21
3 @MIN 13-24 13 @STL 13-16
4 @NYJ 34-0 14 MIA 27-13
5 BUF 45-3 15 @NE 41-34
6 NYG 3-26 16 @SEA 13-42
7 SEA 13-6 17 ARI 27-13
8 @ARI 24-3 19 GB 45-31
10 STL 24-24 20 @ATL 28-24
News | Statistics | Roster
SAN FRANCISCO Rush Catch Pass
QB Colin Kaepernick 50,1 - 230,1
RB LaMichael James 40 - -
RB Frank Gore 80,1 3-20 -
TE Delanie Walker - 2-20 -
TE Vernon Davis - 2-30 -
WR Randy Moss - 3-40 -
WR Michael Crabtree - 7-80,1 -
PK David Akers 3 XP 2 FG -

Pregame Notes: This is bound to be a great game. We already covered the Ravens who have been playing better in the post-season than in the regular season. And we have the 49ers who blew their chance to host the NFC Championship and then won it anyway. The offense has been scoring 28+ points in the postseason. And in the Divisional Round, Colin Kaepernick set the all-time NFL record with 181 rushing yards on 16 carries and scored twice as a runner. No one saw that coming, much less the Packers. He followed that up with only two runs for 21 yards in Atlanta.

In the NFC Championship, the surprises were hardly over. All Vernon Davis did was to catch five passes for 106 yards and the lone passing touchdown in what was his best fantasy game of the year. He only scored once in the previous 13 games and not at all in the last eight. He failed to catch more than one pass in the five games previous to the win over the Falcons. At this rate, maybe Randy Moss will suddenly show up this week with 100 yards and a couple of scores because the 49ers twice have won their games thanks to something that never really happened until the playoffs. Assumedly he did not mention anything to his brother over Christmas break.

Following the surreal lead of the others, Frank Gore turned in his two best games of the year when in the playoffs. He ran for 119 yards and a score on the Packers while catching two passes for 48 yards. He then gained 90 yards on 21 runs in Atlanta with two touchdowns but no catches. He too has apparently been pacing himself. LaMichael James scored once in Atlanta on a nice 15 yard run but he still is only getting four to six touches since Gore is assuming almost the entire load.

Michael Crabtree has enjoyed a breakout season and rolled up nine catches for 119 yards and two scores on the Packers but was held to only 57 yards in Atlanta while the rushing effort and Vernon Davis led the way. The troublesome aspect to his otherwise fine year is that his eleven touchdowns were only boosted by four from road games and those were just two games against the Cardinals and Patriots - hardly the same as the Ravens. With Mario Manningham gone, Randy Moss has taken a bigger load but he remains locked around sub 45-yard games as he has almost the entire season.

Where the 49ers need to focus - assuming they have no more tricks up their sleeve - is most with the run. Both Kaepernick and Gore will make a difference here and the Ravens have not faced rushing quarterbacks much this year. Robert Griffin gained 34 yards on seven runs on them but left early with an injured knee. The only other rushing quarterback they faced was Michael Vick (10-34, TD) back in the season opener. Gore is running as well as he has all year and Kaepernick at least presents the potential for rushing. The Ravens biggest weakness has been versus the run.

But Crabtree is not necessarily a bad bet this week either given that the Ravens has allowed seven receiving scores to wideouts over the last five road games.

What also drives this game will be turnovers and any defensive or special teams touchdown. Davis should be certain to crawl back under his rock against one of the best defenses against tight ends that gave up only two scores to the position over the 18 games played this year.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points SF 11 14 21 7 10 15
Preventing Fantasy Points BAL 7 18 17 2 29 11

 


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