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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
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New Orleans at Seattle, 4:30 PM EST Baltimore at Kansas City, 1 PM EST
New York Jets at Indianapolis, 8 PM EST Green Bay at Philadelphia, 4:30 PM EST

Prediction: BAL 23, KC 17

The Ravens are on the road despite having the better record (12-4 vs. 10-6) because the AFC West remains the softest division in the AFC. The Ravens are 5-3 in road games this year while the Chiefs are 7-1 at home with their only loss being week 17 against the Raiders in a somewhat meaningless game. The Ravens are favored by three points in this game.

Baltimore Ravens (12-4)
Homefield: M&T Bank Stadium
Sport Turf
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 @NYJ W 10-9 10 @ATL L 21-26
2 @CIN L 10-15 11 @CAR W 37-13
3 CLE W 24-17 12 TB W 17-10
4 @PIT W 17-14 13 PIT L 10-13
5 DEN W 31-17 14 @HOU W 34-28
6 @NE L 20-23 15 NO W 30-24
7 BUF W 37-34 16 @CLE W 20-10
8 Bye - 17 CIN W 13-7
9 MIA W 26-10   - -
Ravens Report | Statistics | Roster
BALTIMORE Rush Catch Pass
QB Joe Flacco - - 260,2
RB Ray Rice 70 40 -
RB Willis McGahee 20 - -
TE Todd Heap - 40 -
WR Anquan Boldin - 80,1 -
WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh - 30 -
WR Derrick Mason - 60,1 -
PK Billy Cundiff 3 FG 2 XP -
Pregame Notes: The Ravens on the road won their last three though against the weakest of opponents. They lost to both the Falcons and Patriots prior to those games. There has not been much in the way of common opponents between these teams either other than Cleveland who the Ravens swept with relative ease and the Chiefs barely clipped in Cleveland back in week two. The Ravens not only have the better record here, they have played the tougher schedule by a large margin.

QUARTERBACK: Joe Flacco improved this season and his 25 passing touchdowns went against just ten interceptions. He passed for a score in nearly every game and more often had two or three touchdowns in each matchup. Most of Flacco's best games came away from home because the running game was less effective and the Ravens offense needed to score more.

The Chiefs at home allowed a score or two to all but one visitor this year and that includes a case of less than stellar passers. None have exceeded 300 yards there though almost all had over 220 yards in their matchup. About the only visiting quarterback of note against the Chiefs was Philip Rivers in week one when he passed for 298 yards and two scores.

RUNNING BACKS: Ray Rice scored only six times this year and topped 100 rushing yards just twice but he has been very productive as both a runner and a receiver. Only Arian Foster and LeSean McCoy had more yards as a receiver than Rice. This totals could have been higher but the Ravens suddenly stopped throwing to him at all in the final two games of the regular season.

Rice has only scored in one road game this year and that was in Carolina. The Chiefs had not allowed any runner to score at Kansas City until last week when Michael Bush went uncharacteristically nuts on them. Only two runners ever gained more than 70 yards in Kansas City. Expect a return as a receiver for Rice and at least healthy yardage but a score would be very much out of character for both him and the Chiefs to allow. Willis McGahee has been almost no impact since midseason and he shows up mainly only when the opponent is really weak and there is too much rushing to all give to Rice.

WIDE RECEIVERS: The Ravens are not even average in their use of the wide receivers though they show up when they need to be there and the addition of Anquan Boldin has helped even if not so much his own statistics. Boldin started the year with a couple of clunkers but mostly big games and by mid-season - that really took a tailspin. Defenses started paying more attention to him and limited him to only one game over 50 yards during the second half of the season. What is more notable about Boldin is that the tougher the defense - the better he does. His latest scores went against PIT (5-118), @ATL(5-50) and @NE (4-63).

Derrick Mason did almost the opposite of Boldin with his recent scores being @CLE (4-50), @HOU (6-78) and TB (8-87). Five of his seven scores came in road games. T.J. Houshmandzadeh has rarely been worth more than 40 yards per game if that.

The Chiefs biggest weakness has been against wide receivers and this is where Boldin needs to show up - Mason too. The Chiefs have not hosted many top passing teams but still has allowed eight touchdowns to visiting wideouts - roughly one per game. But this is where the Ravens are going to have to be successful and both Boldin and Mason are decent bets to have a good game here. I like both for a score but the yardage won't likely be that big for either.

TIGHT ENDS: Todd Heap should be completely healthy this week after returning in week 17 to catch three passes for 53 yards. Heap has been a factor in most games and has five touchdowns on the season. The Chiefs have been very good against tight ends this year and allowed only two touchdowns in Kansas City this season. Heap has a shot at a score if the Ravens end up needing him but he is a safer risk to rely on for moderate yardage only.

Gaining Fantasy Points BAL 18 9 20 17 12 18
Preventing Fantasy Points KC 12 16 20 3 10 4
Advantage(+) or Disadvantage(-)   -6 7 0 -14 -2 -14

Kansas City Chiefs (10-6)
Homefield: Arrowhead Stadium
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 SD W 21-14 10 @DEN L 29-49
2 @CLE W 16-14 11 ARI W 31-13
3 SF W 31-10 12 @SEA W 42-24
4 Bye - 13 DEN W 10-6
5 @IND L 9-19 14 @SD L 0-31
6 @HOU L 31-35 15 @STL W 27-13
7 JAC W 42-20 16 TEN W 34-14
8 BUF W 13-10 17 OAK L 10-31
9 @OAK L 20-23 - - -
Chiefs Report | Statistics | Roster
KANSAS CITY Rush Catch Pass
QB Matt Cassel - - 210,1
RB Jamaal Charles 110,1 40 -
RB Thomas Jones 40 10 -
TE Tony Moeaki - 40 -
WR Chris Chambers - 30 -
WR Dexter McCluster 20 30 -
WR Dwayne Bowe - 50,1 -
PK Ryan Succop 1 FG 2 XP -

Pregame Notes: The bothersome part for the Chiefs is that they won 10 games and not one came against a team with a winning record. In fact as it ended up, they only played one team all year that finished with a winning record and that was the Colts who beat them 19-9 at Indy back in week five. The Chiefs are always a force at home and that definitely plays into their favor this week. But while the Ravens have been facing PIT, NE, NYJ and NO among others, the Chiefs have played against the NFC West and the AFC South along with the AFC West. It really doesn't get any easier than that this year. You could not buy an easier road and yet they ended up 10-6.

QUARTERBACK: Matt Cassel comes off a very productive regular season with 27 touchdown passes but he only passed for more than 250 yards twice all year. The reality with Cassel is that he's only what Dwayne Bowe does - otherwise the passing game offers minimal help. Bowe has broken out and made a huge difference to be sure but no other receiver had more than three scores or 213 yards over the entire season.

Both Roddy White (12-138, 2 TD) and Andre Johnson (9-140, 2 TD) had big games against the visiting Ravens but otherwise really no one else has. So the question is the one-man show of Bowe enough here? Cassel should end up with one touchdown and that almost has to end up with Bowe but when Bowe went against a decent defense he'd turn in a clunker.

RUNNING BACKS: There is no doubt that the running backs enjoyed what proved to be one of the easier schedules in the NFL this year and the split between the two may have diminished what Jamaal Charles could have done by himself but he is healthy and fresh now when it counts most. Charles has rarely been given more than 15 carries in a game and when he has - the results are stellar. And they are also against bad teams that the Chiefs are crushing by the run alone. Charles role depends on how many times they want to use him and how small Thomas Jones' workload is. This is a home game and Charles is primed for being a workhorse here. The expectation has to be a heavier load for Charles this week because Jones has not been effective as a runner unless facing the weakest of defenses and that is not the case here.

The Ravens have only allowed three rushing touchdowns in road games this year but Charles is special. This is the defense that just held Peyton Hillis to only 35 yards on 12 carries two weeks ago and then Benson to 53 yards on 21 runs last Sunday, If Charles cannot be ridden hard in this game, the Chiefs have almost no chance. If Charles can get early success, this will be a very good game.

WIDE RECEIVERS: Dwayne Bowe was held out of practice on Wednesday but it was described as an illness that won't keep him out on Sunday. That would be critical to the chances of the Chiefs who really have no other receiver besides Bowe. Literally. Bowe has 15 touchdowns on the season and no other wideout here has more than one. Chris Chambers is the next best with only 22 catches for 213 yards. There is no reason to cover anyone other than Bowe really. The imbalance works great @HOU(6-108, 2 TD), @DEN (13-186, 2 TD) when they go prevent defense and do not care, ARI (6-109, 2 TD), and @SEA (13-170, 3 TD). But when he faced the Colts corners, he had 3-33. When Champ Bailey cared enough to cover him in the second meeting, Bowe had no catches. The Chargers held him to one reception for three yards. There is no relying on any other wideout on this team and really the tight ends have fallen back in use as well.

Bowe was limping after the Raiders game last Sunday but nothing has been reported other than the illness. If the Ravens got a big lead - Bowe would have a nice game. But even Roddy White and Andre Johnson has fellow receivers that matter some. Bowe really doesn't.

TIGHT ENDS: Tony Moeaki set a Chiefs rookie record for tight ends with 47 catches (Tony Gonzalez only had 33) but he has only scored once since week three and that was in Seattle. He does tend to be used more at home but Leonard Pope sometimes shows up as well. The Ravens have never allowed a score to a tight end in a road game so it's not going to happen here.

Gaining Fantasy Points KC 23 4 25 21 24 16
Preventing Fantasy Points BAL 9 3 23 5 14 5
Advantage(+) or Disadvantage(-)   -14 -1 -2 -16 -10 -11

New Orleans at Seattle, 4:30 PM EST Baltimore at Kansas City, 1 PM EST
New York Jets at Indianapolis, 8 PM EST Green Bay at Philadelphia, 4:30 PM EST
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