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FANTASY FOOTBALL WEEKLY FEATURES

Predictions & Projections
David M. Dorey
The Huddle
WEEK 15
December 15, 2004
Season Ticket
Saturday Sun 1 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 4 PM Sun 8:30 PM
PIT at NYG 1 * BUF at CIN * SD at CLE* STL at ARZ BAL at IND *
WAS at SF 5 * HOU at CHI SEA at NYJ DEN at KC * Mon 9 PM
CAR at ATL 8:30 JAX at GB * DAL at PHI * NO at TB NE at MIA*
Times ET MIN at DET TEN at OAK * *updated Times ET
  Baltimore Rush Catch Pass
QB Kyle Boller 0 0 160,1
RB Jamal Lewis 110,1 0 0
RB Chester Taylor 20 0 0
TE Todd Heap 0 50,1 0
WR Travis Taylor 0 40 0
WR Clarence Moore 0 50 0
WR Kevin Johnson 0 20 0
PK Matt Stover 3 FG 2 XP -
  Indianapolis Rush Catch Pass
QB Peyton Manning 0 0 320,3
RB Edgerrin James 100 30 0
TE Marcus Pollard 0 20 0
TE Dallas Clark 0 30,1 0
WR Marvin Harrison 0 100,1 0
WR Brandon Stokley 0 40 0
WR Reggie Wayne 0 90,1 0
PK Mike Vanderjagt 1 FG 4 XP -

BAL (8-5) vs IND (10-3)

Game Prediction: BAL 23, IND 31

These games are always fun - a high-powered offense pitted against a stingy defense. The difference here though is that the Ravens haven't been all that stingy lately while the Colts offense has been productive to historic proportions. The Ravens are only 3-3 on the road while the Colts have only lost once at home.

Update: Jamal Lewis is expected to start this week though he is still not 100% healthy from his ankle sprain. He said himself he should be good for "20 to 30" carries. He is a safe start but could end up shorted in what he could have done with healthy ankles if the Ravens are able to run for most of the game.

Brandon Stokley now looks like a game time decision with a groin strain. I am lowering his numbers and there is a chance he does not play at all and Troy Walters takes his slot. I am moving his projected score to Dallas Clark as the most likely though as always with Manning, it could go anywhere. The Ravens are planning on heavier than usual blitzes in the hope that can slow down Manning but it may just end up with some nifty long scores for the Colts.

Pre-Game Notes - BAL

At least once a year, the Ravens have to explode offensively and appear that they have some new found firepower. That was the case last week when the Giants came to town and were trashed by Boller's passing.

They manhandled Eli Manning and sent him to the bench. This week they get to see what big brother is all about when Peyton attempts to set the all-time season record for touchdown passes.

Quarterback: It happens usually once a year and this time around, it was the Giants who made Kyle Boller look as if he was an NFL-caliber quarterback. Boller threw for 219 yards and four touchdowns but those scores are less impressive considering the Giants are falling apart and Boller only had seven scores in the first 12 games anyway. He'll face a soft defense again this week but there is no doubt that the Ravens will be running every down they can to keep Manning off the field.

Running Backs: Jamal Lewis played last week but only for eight runs and 32 yards. There were reports that he had re-aggravated his ankle but Lewis said he felt pretty good after the game. Chester Taylor has been a solid replacement but isn't nearly the power back that a healthy Lewis is.

I am assuming that Lewis plays with little or no limitation this week but there will be updates if warranted. The Ravens would love nothing more than to feed Lewis the ball 30+ times this week and control the game.

Wide Receivers: Clarence Moore scored twice last week and has only two games with any touchdowns this season - both of them with two scores. There is really no yardage from him - he only had 37 yards and three catches last week and rarely goes above 60 yards. Travis Taylor hasn't done more than 68 yards in the last six games and has yet to score this season.

Tight Ends: Todd Heap turned in a great game last week against the Giants, scoring twice on five catches for 76 yards. It's only been a short 13 weeks since his last good game. He's finally feeling healthy again and when Boller passes, Heap will resume being the primary target.

Match Against the Defense: The main question here is how quickly the Colts can get a decent lead and make the Ravens stop running the ball. That's the only way this attack will be anything more than Lewis running the entire day. The Colts really have not given up all that much on the ground because most teams are frantically throwing the ball to catch up this season and that is not the strength of the Ravens.

Expect a very solid game from Lewis with occasional help from Taylor. Boller will eventually throw a touchdown pass but if he throws more than one it will be because the Colts scored early and often which would depress Lewis' role. The Ravens want to approach the game in their traditional manner - run Lewis and throw to Heap only when they have to throw.

Pre-Game Notes - IND

The Colts have won their last six games and have clinched the AFC South. There's virtually no chance for them to catch PIT or NE to challenge for a homefield in the Divisional round, so motivation is not as strong for them. Other than Manning facing the team that just beat up his little brother.

Quarterback: All it will take is two touchdowns to tie the record on national TV in the late ESPN game. Those two should be an absolute lock. If Peyton Manning fails to get at least three scores, it will be the first time at home that he has settled for less this season.

Running Backs: Edgerrin James doesn't score much anymore - he only has three touchdowns in the last eight games and two of those were in the same game. But he's still a great yardage guy. He's never failed to get at least 100 total yards in any game this season and has four straight games of 100 yards going now.

Wide Receivers: Biggest thing to watch here as record fall is for Brandon Stokley to catch his tenth touchdown and make it the first time in NFL history that a team has three receivers with 10+ touchdowns on the season. Marvin Harrison has scored in each of the last four games. Reggie Wayne has scored in six of the last seven games. Stokley is way overdue since he did not score last week and of his six games with touchdowns this season, three of them had two or more scores.

Tight Ends: The tight ends have been relatively quiet lately, with only one touchdown by Pollard in the last five games. Dallas Clark has not scored since week 10. This is ridiculous when we are surprised a tight end has not scored in a few games. Welcome to the Colts 2005.

Match Against the Defense: The Ravens have only allowed three passing scores in one game this season - against the Bengals just two weeks ago. Other than that, almost every opponent has only had one score if that. The Ravens rushing defense has also been dinged four times this year by opponents for big games.

What to expect here is much along the lines of what happened when the Ravens faced the Bengals. Carson Palmer threw for over 315 yards in each of those matchups though much of that was during trashtime or in a frantic bid to catch up. The Ravens don't have a weaker side of the field really though Houshmandzadeh in the split end position killed them a couple of weeks ago - matches to Wayne for the Colts. But in a complicated scheme with three great receivers and two good tight ends, the passing could go anywhere.

Look for Harrison to have a solid game here since no team can merely focus on him without getting killed. If you have a Colt receiver, you're undoubtedly going to start him anyway.

BAL IND 2004 Averages IND BAL
Gains Allows QB's Gains Allows
156
268
Pass yards
302
204
0.8
1.5
Pass TDs
3.5
0.8
0.6
1.2
Interceptions
0.7
1.2
10
7
Rush yards
3
10
0.3
0.1
Rush TDs
0.0
0.1
---
---
RB's
---
---
117
112
Rush yards
126
91
0.6
0.6
Rush TDs
0.7
0.5
22
55
Receive yards
36
19
0.0
0.1
Receive TD's
0.2
0.0
---
---
WR's
---
---
93
164
Receive yards
216
146
0.5
1.0
Receive TD's
2.5
0.5
---
---
TE's
---
---
41
49
Receive yards
51
38
0.3
0.5
Receive TD's
0.7
0.2
---
---
PK's
---
---
1.9
1.5
Field Goals
1.1
1.7
1.9
2.2
Extra Points
4.5
1.3
---
---
DEF/ST
---
---
0.9
0.5
Fumbles
1.4
0.9
1.3
0.6
Interceptions
1.2
0.6
0.6
0.0
Touchdowns
0.5
0.2
2.8
0.7
Sacks
3.0
2.5
0.0
0.0
Safeties
0.0
0.0
Ravens (8-5)
Score Opp.
3-20 @CLE
30-13 PIT
23-9 @CIN
24-27 KC
17-10 @WAS
Week 6 bye
20-6 BUF
10-15 @PHI
27-13 CLE
20-17 @NYJ
30-10 DAL
3-24 @NE
26-27 CIN
37-14 NYG
Week 15 @IND
Week 16 @PIT
Week 17 MIA
Colts (10-3)
Score Opp.
24-27 @NE
31-17 @TEN
45-31 GB
24-17 @JAX
35-14 OAK
Week 6 bye
24-27 JAX
35-45 @KC
31-28 MIN
49-14 HOU
41-10 @CHI
41-9 @DET
51-24 TEN
23-14 @HOU
Week 15 BAL
Week 16 SD
Week 17 @DEN