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Predictions & Projections
By David M. Dorey
 
The Huddle
WEEK 8
October 22, 2003
Season Ticket
Sun 1 PM *DET at CHI Sun 4 PM Sun 8:30 PM Bye Week:
CAR at NO NYG at MIN HOU at IND BUF at KC Atlanta
*CLE at NE SEA at CIN *NYJ at PHI Mon 9 PM Green Bay
DAL at TB *STL at PIT *SF at ARZ *MIA at SD Oakland
*DEN at BAL TEN at JAX   *updated Washington
   
Denver vs Baltimore Sun, Oct 26; 1 PM on CBS at Ravens Stadium
  Denver Rush Catch Pass
QB Danny Kanell 0 0 200,1
RB Clinton Portis 90,1 30 0
TE Shannon Sharpe 0 40,1 0
WR Rod Smith 0 70 0
WR Ed McCaffrey Q Q Q
WR Ashley Lelie 0 30 0
  Baltimore Rush Catch Pass
QB Kyle Boller 10 0 140,1
RB Jamal Lewis 70 10 0
TE Todd Heap 0 50,1 0
WR Travis Taylor 0 50 0
WR Frank Sanders 0 20 0
WR Marcus Robinson 0 10 0


Game Prediction: DEN 20, BAL 10

Update: Kyle Boller was listed as questionable to play with a shoulder injury to his non-throwing arm but he is expected to play. Jamal Lewis has taken it light with practice this week due to his shoulder injury and will play but since it is a minor, yet nagging, injuty, he may see Chester Taylor take a few more snaps than normal to keep Lewis from getting too sore.

Denver comes off a tough loss on the road to the Vikings and by losing their QB, may be better situated to win this game. Kanell can apparently provide enough passing to keep Baltimore from stacking 8 or 9 guys consistently in the box or he will throw the ball to get them out.

The best strength of Baltimore's offense has a sore shoulder and faces his toughest rushing defense of the season. Denver cannot afford another loss with the Chiefs now two games up on them and in the AFC North, a loss probably means little in the standings anyway.

Denver Notes

Denver is 5-2 and trail by two games in the AFC West. They come off a loss in Minnesota.

Quarterbacks: Steve Beuerlein was talked out of retirement last spring but may be heading there now. He had three interceptions and was only 9 of 19 for 119 yards before breaking his right pinky. It was not a hairline fracture sort of break. It was a Halloween - "hey look at this" sort of break. He is out for six weeks and you can pretty much toss that file you have been saving about him. Danny Kanell sparked the offense when he entered the game and completed 12 of 18 passes for 104 yards and one score in the game. Compared to Beuerlein, Kanell was very impressive.

Running Backs: Nothing wrong with Clinton Portis these days. He turned in 117 yards rushing and 43 yards receiving against the Vikings and scored once. Portis had several uncharacteristic stuffs at the line but broke several nice runs. Losing LT Ephraim Salaam may not help.

Wide Receivers: Since Plummer has been gone, the Bronco wideouts have been feeling the decrease in passing numbers and only Rod Smith has managed to be a factor. He was not even that last week. Ed McCaffrey was a scratch last week due to a knee injury and though an MRI was negative, he may not play this week either. Ashley Lelie is still languishing in the background.

Tight Ends: Shannon Sharpe has been the primary receiver the past two games and has 134 yards and a score from the combined efforts. He has a deep knee bruise but is expected to play this week.

Match against the defense: The first question is if the Ravens can stop Clinton Portis since he alone is the main weapon now for the Broncos. The most similar rusher against the Ravens has been Tomlinson who gained 105 yards in week three. Priest Holmes had 90 yards in week four. The Ravens can be ran on but that alone is not enough to beat them. Portis should have at least a decent day and if the passing game commands respect, he can turn in a good game.

The Ravens have yielded multiple passing scores in half their games this season and only Drew Brees was held to no touchdowns. Danny Kanell will have to throw the ball well in order to put the Broncos ahead. Kanell was impressive in his brief showing last week but will be tested in Baltimore much more with the Ravens expecting him.

Assuming that Kanell can do at least adequately, Rod Smith should have a good game since other receivers on his side (Boldin, Boston, Johnson and Burress) have had nice games against the Ravens.

Baltimore Notes

The Ravens are 3-3 but still lead the AFC North. They come off a somewhat surprising loss in Cincinnati.

Quarterbacks: Just when you figure Kyle Boller will never exceed 200 yards passing, he throws for 302 yards last week against the Bengals. Boller completed 15 of 27 passes for two touchdowns last week and even - 'gasp' - noticed that Travis Taylor was more than garnish on the plate. Boller sprained his shoulder in the game and is considered day-to-day but is expected to play this week. Chris Redman will get more time practicing this week in case Boller's shoulder is a problem.

Running Backs: Jamal Lewis is also bothered with a shoulder sprain though he continues to play. Lewis still turned in 101 yards on 19 carries last week which makes it five consecutive games over 100 yards on the ground. The Bengals front line had a nice push last week and held Lewis on most plays. Were it not for three runs that totaled 70 yards, his afternoon would be viewed as a huge disappointment.

Lewis had to sit out a few plays due to this shoulder and Chester Taylor snaked the touchdown during his five carries in the game. Until Lewis has his shoulder 100%, expect Taylor to get at least a few carries a game.

Wide Receivers: Travis Taylor lives. He had four catches for 138 yards and two scores last Sunday that were 19 and 73 yards long. Granted, Frank Sanders only managed one catch for eight yards but when a wideout like Taylor catches 138 yards, horns start honking all over Baltimore. Just in case that makes Taylor look like a new stud, consider that he also dropped a certain touchdown in the endzone.

Tight Ends: Todd Heap complained about not getting any passes last week and evidently was heard by the staff. He caught seven balls for 129 yards and had two catches on two point conversions.

Match against the defense: As with any team against the Ravens, the rushing defense is the first consideration. In this case, it is one of the better ones in the NFL. Denver has held Priest Holmes and LaDainian Tomlinson to under 100 yards this season and dominated teams if they offered no big time runner. With Jamal Lewis having his shoulder still an issue, he is less likely to extend his 100 yard streak this week.

Denver also has produced a top passing defense with the exception of Minnesota and no one is confusing Kyle Boller and Travis Taylor for Culpepper and Moss quite yet.

Team Comparisons Current team rankings (1-32) by position for FF points scored or allowed by position
Rank (1-32) QB RB WR TE PK DEF
DEN Scores
9
4
29
1
3
22
BAL Allows
21
5
23
30
16
14
DEN AP 12 1 -6 29 13 -8
Rank (1-32) QB RB WR TE PK DEF
BAL Scores
32
3
31
7
12
7
DEN Allows
5
3
15
14
2
17
BAL AP -27 0 -16 7 -10 -10
Offensive ranks - lower = gains more points, Defensive Ranks lower = allows less points
AP = Advantage Points, the net difference between a positional rank gained or allowed by the teams.

DEN BAL 2003 Game Averages BAL DEN
Gains Allows QB's Gains Allows
200
226
Pass yards
141
195
1.6
1.7
Pass TDs
0.7
1.1
1.1
1.3
Interceptions
1.2
0.7
18
9
Rush yards
6
4
0.1
0.0
Rush TDs
0.0
0.0
---
---
RB's
---
---
119
79
Rush yards
167
77
0.9
0.5
Rush TDs
1.0
0.4
42
33
Receive yards
20
20
0.3
0.0
Receive TD's
0.0
0.1
---
---
WR's
---
---
110
156
Receive yards
62
139
0.4
1.0
Receive TD's
0.5
0.9
---
---
TE's
---
---
47
38
Receive yards
59
36
0.9
0.7
Receive TD's
0.2
0.1
---
---
PK's
---
---
2.1
1.5
Field Goals
1.8
1.1
2.7
2.3
Extra Points
2.2
1.9
---
---
DEF/ST
---
---
0.4
1.0
Fumbles
0.3
0.6
0.7
1.2
Interceptions
1.3
1.1
0.1
0.0
Touchdowns
0.5
0.3
2.7
2.3
Sacks
2.7
2.0
0.0
0.0
Safeties
0.0
0.0
Broncos (5-2)
Score Opp.
30-10 @CIN
37-13 @SD
31-10 OAK
20-16 DET
23-24 @KC
17-14 PIT
20-28 @MIN
Week 8 @BAL
Week 9 NE
Week 10 BYE
Week 11 SD
Week 12 CHI
Week 13 @OAK
Week 14 KC
Week 15 CLE
Week 16 @IND
Week 17 @GB
Ravens (3-3)
Score Opp.
15-34 @PIT
33-13 CLE
24-10 @SD
10-17 KC
Week 5 BYE
26-18 @ARZ
26-34 @CIN
Week 8 DEN
Week 9 JAX
Week 10 @STL
Week 11 @MIA
Week 12 SEA
Week 13 SF
Week 14 CIN
Week 15 @OAK
Week 16 @CLE
Week 17 PIT

* Fantasy point rankings calculated using standard Huddle fantasy points