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Predictions & Projections
David M. Dorey
The Huddle
September 19, 2004
Season Ticket
Sun 1 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 4 PM Sun 8:30 PM
STL at ATL DEN at JAX* Sun 4 PM IND at TEN Mon 9 PM
CLE at DAL* CAR at KC* SEA at TB* NYJ at SD MIN at PHI*
HOU at DET SF at NO* BUF at OAK* Times ET *updated
  Pittsburgh Rush Catch Pass
QB Tommy Maddox 0 0 150
RB Duce Staley 60 20 0
RB Jerome Bettis 2,1 0 0
TE Jay Riemersma 0 10 0
WR Hines Ward 0 60 0
WR Antwaan Randle El 0 30 0
WR Plaxico Burress 0 20 0
PK Jeff Reed 3 FG 1 XP -
  Baltimore Rush Catch Pass
QB Kyle Boller 10 0 180,1
RB Jamal Lewis 100,1 10 0
TE Todd Heap 0 60,1 0
WR Travis Taylor Q Q Q
WR Kevin Johnson 0 50 0
WR Randy Hymes 0 50 0
PK Matt Stover 1 FG 2 XP -

PIT (1-0) vs BAL (0-1)

Game Prediction: PIT 16, BAL 17

The Ravens fly home missing a few feathers left in the Dawg Pound to face the Steelers and prove they are still the old Ravens. Not this new brand no one recognizes. The Steelers are 1-0 but had better not get overconfident - this is still one mean bird.

Pre-Game Notes - PIT

Pittsburgh comes off a satisfying win, holding off the visiting Raiders and showing great rush defense coupled with less than average pass defense. The big plays made by the defense has the team feeling much better about themselves than the Ravens can claim.

Quarterback: Going against the new Raiders defense, Tommy Maddox still only completed 13 of 22 passes for 142 yards and no scores. He was inaccurate, fumbled a snap and just plain lost his grip on another fumble. There are no signs that backup Ben Roethlisberger is on the horizon but performances like that keep people glancing to check.

Running Backs: Going against a defense rebuilt to defend the run via NT Ted Washington, the Steelers were happy with Duce Staley's 91 yards on 24 carries even if that only equals a 3.2 YPC. To make sure Staley's fantasy value is kept in check, they called in Jerome Bettis for three goal line touchdowns and only used him twice more in the entire afternoon. There has likely never been any NFL player with three touchdowns in one game and yet who had only one net rushing yard.

This is how the scheme is designed and it moved the ball better than last season.

Wide Receivers: When Tommy Maddox threw for only 142 yards, that just meant that Hines Ward (7-99) would get his fill and there was nothing left over for any other receiver. Antwaan Randle El only ended with 11 yards on one catch and he was right behind Plaxico Burress and his one catch for 13 yards. Evidently, Maddox is only accurate when he sees Hines Ward. With two upcoming games being at BAL and at MIA, this picture likely will not be changing much soon.

Tight Ends: Keep walking. Two catches for 18 yards and even that is unusually high.

Match Against the Defense: The Steelers likely catch a break since nose tackle Kelly Gregg will miss two weeks with a knee injury. They'll need the help since last year this meeting only generated 54 rushing yards. The Ravens will be loaded for bear this week and with the struggles of the PIT passing game, they'll devote extra attention to Staley and Bettis.

Maddox should improve on his last game in BAL. He only had 108 yards passing. Then again - no guarantees.

Pre-Game Notes - BAL

The Ravens were missing offensive linemen and were ambushed by a team tired of getting pushed around. This week they need to beat the team that has won in the last four of five of these meetings and it was just week 17 last year when they snuck past 13-10.

Quarterback: Kyle Boller threw for 191 yards last week - astronomic by 2003 standards, but he still had no touchdowns, was sacked three times and lost a fumble and two interceptions. Funny thing when the rushing game is suddenly not working. They actually could have used some passing. Pity.

Running Backs: Last week was the day of atonement for the Browns. After surrendering 500 rushing yards and three scores to Jamal Lewis in 2003 - and thereby making his 2000+ yards a reality - they finally said enough is enough and held Lewis to only 57 yards on 20 carries. The loss of center Mike Flynn and in particular tackle Jonathan Ogden had a disastrous effect on the entire offense, starting with the running game.

On a positive note, Ogden is slated to return to practice on Wednesday and likely play on Sunday. Not soon enough for the entire Raven offense.

Wide Receivers: While Boller knows he has receivers - heck, he has to bump into them in the locker room - that doesn't mean he actually throws to them. In a game where the Ravens trailed and needed passing yards, Boller threw 20 times to his three receivers and 15 times to his one tight end. Both Kevin Johnson and Randy Hymes had five catches each but only combined for 82 yards. Travis Taylor only had one catch before leaving the game with his groin re-injured.

I am assuming Taylor is out this week but even if he plays you might not notice. He'll be replaced by Randy Hymes.

Tight Ends: Todd Heap continues to be the focal point, regardless of the scoreboard. Heap had 14 passes and nine catches for 86 yards - double that of any wideout.

Match Against the Defense: The Steelers rushing defense was stout last week and completely stuffed Tyrone Wheatley. Last time these teams played, Lewis ran for 115 yards in his quest for the season yardage record in week 17. They knew he was coming and he still ran well. Needless to say, Ogden should be the highest paid Raven because this game is completely different with or without him. Considering that he should return, Lewis should do better back at home in a game the Ravens need badly to erase the CLE fiasco.

The Steeler pass defense is weak but Boller's game is even weaker and that was before Taylor went out injured. This game will be predicated on how well the defense does and if Lewis resumes 2003 form. Boller is largely inconsequential to the equation.

PIT BAL 2003 Averages BAL PIT
Gains Allows QB's Gains Allows
142 180 Pass yards 191 305
0 1 Pass TDs 0 2
0 0 Interceptions 2 2
13 13 Rush yards 16 0
0 1 Rush TDs 0 0
--- --- RB's --- ---
94 72 Rush yards 72 58
3 0 Rush TDs 0 0
1 32 Receive yards 0 76
0 0 Receive TD's 0 0
--- --- WR's --- ---
123 109 Receive yards 87 197
0 1 Receive TD's 0 2
--- --- TE's --- ---
18 39 Receive yards 104 32
0 0 Receive TD's 0 0
--- --- PK's --- ---
1 2 Field Goals 1 2
3 2 Extra Points 0 1
--- --- DEF/ST --- ---
2 1 Fumbles 0 1
2 2 Interceptions 0 0
0 0 Touchdowns 0 0
3 3 Sacks 2 2
0 0 Safeties 0 0
Steelers (1-0)
Score Opp.
24-21 OAK
Week 2 @BAL
Week 3 @MIA
Week 4 CIN
Week 5 CLE
Week 6 @DAL
Week 7 bye
Week 8 NE
Week 9 PHI
Week 10 @CLE
Week 11 @CIN
Week 12 WAS
Week 13 @JAX
Week 14 NYJ
Week 15 @NYG
Week 16 BAL
Week 17 @BUF
Ravens (0-1)
Score Opp.
3-20 @CLE
Week 2 PIT
Week 3 @CIN
Week 4 KC
Week 5 @WAS
Week 6 bye
Week 7 BUF
Week 8 @PHI
Week 9 CLE
Week 10 @NYJ
Week 11 DAL
Week 12 @NE
Week 13 CIN
Week 14 NYG
Week 15 @IND
Week 16 @PIT
Week 17 MIA

* Fantasy point rankings calculated using standard Huddle fantasy points