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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
The Huddle
September 18, 2005
Season Ticket
Sun 1 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 4 PM Sun 8:30 PM
BUF at TBB NE at CAR Sun 4 PM MIA at NYJ Mon 9 PM
JAC at IND* PIT at HOU* STL at ARI *Update Times ET

Prediction: Baltimore 27, Tennessee 14

Here's a messy game. One team has no detectable defense and the other has little offense. As everyone knows, detectable defenses win messy games.

Update: Ben Troupe is listed as questionable again this week, but he had no swelling in his foot (he had broken it back in May and just returned last week) and he is practicing again. He's safe to start this week, especially since he scored against the Steelers last Sunday.

Baltimore Ravens (0-1)
1 7-24 IND 10 Nov 13 @JAC
2 Sep 18 @TEN 11 Nov 20 PIT
3 Open Bye 12 Nov 27 @CIN
4 Oct 2 NYJ 13 Dec 4 HOU
5 Oct 9 @DET 14 Dec 11 @DEN
6 Oct 16 CLE 15 Dec 19 GBP
7 Oct 23 @CHI 16 Dec 25 MIN
8 Oct 31 @PIT 17 Jan 1 @CLE
9 Nov 6 CIN . . MON
BAL Projections Rush Catch Pass
QB Anthony Wright 10 0 230,2
RB Jamal Lewis 110,1 0 0
TE Todd Heap 0 40 0
WR Derrick Mason 0 110,1 0
WR Clarence Moore 0 30 0
WR Mark Clayton 0 40,1 0
PK Matt Stover 2 FG 3 XP -
Pregame Notes: The Ravens opened the season by hosting the Colts - never a choice part of the schedule. While the defense played up to form for most of the game, the offense was no less stagnant than ever in spite of adding Derrick Mason and getting Heap back this summer. And then, Boller was injured and things are starting to actually look up.

Quarterback: Kyle Boller was supposed to have his break out year in 2005 because finally he had better wideouts and a healthy team with no distractions. He went against the Colts defense last week and looked much like he always did, completing 15 of 23 for 141 yards and one interception. When he went down with a hyper-extended toe, Anthony Wright entered the game and did what he always does - look better than Kyle Boller. Wright completed 19 of 31 passes for 214 yards and the lone score in the game.

There is no final word on how long Boller will be out, but for this week at least the Ravens turn to Wright and with that, the specter of a passing game begins to grow.

Running Backs: Jamal Lewis was largely ineffective against the Colts last week, gaining only 48 yards on 16 rushes and breaking his finger. He is not expected to miss any time from his finger injury and the team downplayed any importance on it. Chester Taylor subbed for only four carries and had 27 yards.

Wide Receivers: Derrick Mason complained after the game that the team had lost and the starting quarterback was injured. That had to be pure acting on his part to prevent him from turning cartwheels and throwing money into the air. In three quarters with Kyle Boller, Derrick Mason had five passes of which he caught three for 23 yards. In little over one quarter with Anthony Wright, he had five catches for 76 yards. Oh yeah, sorry to hear it there, Kyle. You rest up, buddy.

The rookie Mark Clayton (5-44) also showed more promise under Wright.

Tight Ends: Hopefully this is not a trend, but Todd Heap had four catches for 38 yards. And Darnell Dinkins had three receptions for 30 yards. And Daniel Wilcox topped them all with eight catches for 78 yards and one touchdown. This is TEBC and I do not care for it. This week should clear up the confusion and hopefully land Heap back on top of the, you know, "heap".

Match Against the Defense: The Titans made Ben Roethlisberger look like Peyton Manning playing a high school team last week. This is a very good thing if you rushed out and grabbed Anthony Wright. In the salary purge last spring, the Titans evidently removed all those costly tacklers and replaced them with geriatric greeters from WalMart ("There you go, have a nice day"). Nothing against Roethlisberger, but he is not typically a 9 of 11 for 218 yards and two scores kind of quarterback, at least not yet.

Jamal Lewis should rumble easily through this defense that was just shredded by by Willie Parker unless his ankle (and now finger) is bothering him more than he is letting on. Expect 100 and a score here.

There is no reason not to expect a good game from Wright and Mason either. He could include one of his merry band of tight ends as well and assumedly that is Heap but all bets are off for now. If you have a Raven player, this may be the best week of the year to start him. Except Boller of course.

Tennessee Titans (0-1)
1 7-34 @PIT 10 Open Bye
2 Sep 18 BAL 11 Nov 20 JAC
3 Sep 25 @STL 12 Nov 27 SFO
4 Oct 2 IND 13 Dec 4 @IND
5 Oct 9 @HOU 14 Dec 11 HOU
6 Oct 16 CIN 15 Dec 18 SEA
7 Oct 23 @ARI 16 Dec 24 @MIA
8 Oct 30 OAK 17 Jan 1 @JAC
9 Nov 6 @CLE . . SAT
TEN Projections Rush Catch Pass
QB Steve McNair 0 0 220,2
RB Chris Brown 50 0 0
RB Travis Henry 30 0 0
TE Ben Troupe 0 30 0
TE Erron Kinney 0 40,1 0
WR Drew Bennett 0 30 0
WR Tyrone Calico 0 30 0
WR Brandon Jones 0 60,1 0
PK Rob Bironas 0 FG 2 XP -

Pregame Notes: It was going to be a rough game opening in Pittsburgh, but the situation that the defense immediately threw the offense into made the game nothing but an embarrassing endurance test last week for the Titans. The new offense by OC Norm Chow had got moments and some success, but was already playing in one of the most inhospitable venues in the NFL even before the game got out of hand. This could become a common occurrence if the defense doesn't pull together.

Quarterback: Faced with a daunting task and without Derrick Mason, Steve McNair played relatively well going 18 of 26 for 219 yards and one touchdown against one interception. The young crew of wideouts struggled to keep up as would be expected but McNair made nice use of Bennett and the tight ends. This offense should work much better from here on out with easier matchups. Unfortunately, that doesn't really start until next week against the Rams.

Running Backs: Chris Brown looked good by gaining 63 yards on 11 carries and while Travis Henry had 10 runs for 35 yard, he did not appear really until the second quarter. Brown's playing time came almost entirely in the first quarter and really just the first series. Brown was also much more successful running so based on one game, Henry is just around for some relief for Brown and to enter the game when it is hopelessly lost.

Wide Receivers: Drew Bennett ended with only three catches but gained 79 yards. Tyrone Calico (2-2) was a complete nonfactor and slot receiver Brandon Jones (2-30) was only marginally more successful. The Steeler corners easily shut down Bennett for the most part and Calico entirely.

Tight Ends: Sadly, TEBC lives (Tight End by Committee). Ben Troupe returned to the lineup and had four catches for 28 yards and one score while Erron Kinney turned in five receptions for 58 yards. Even the rookie Bo Scaife had two catches for 22 yards. It is doubtful that was by design - the Steelers just forced the use of the tight ends by shutting down the wideouts.

Match Against the Defense: This week may end up as a replay of last Sunday though played in Nashville yields at least minor advantage to the Titans. Expect that Chris Brown does not get enough runs to amount to even a moderate fantasy game and that Henry once again comes in for mop duty and to get blasted by Ray Lewis.

McNair will likely have around the same level of success with a young and inexperienced receiver squad. if any wideout turns in many yards, it will more likely be Brandon Jones who like Stokley last week doesn't get one of the top corners covering him. Chris McAlister matches on Drew Bennett and that will shut him down.