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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
The Huddle
November 23, 2005
Season Ticket
Thanksgiving Sun 1 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 4 PM Sun 8:30 PM
DEN at DAL CHI at TB* SF at TEN* MIA at OAK Mon 9 PM
Sun 1 PM CLE at MIN STL at HOU GB at PHI* PIT at IND
BAL at CIN NE at KC   NYG at SEA Times ET

Prediction: Baltimore 6, Cincinnati 20

The Ravens ended a four game losing streak by defeating the Steelers in one of the bigger upsets last week while the Bengals dropped a shoot-out against the Colts in the game of the year so far. The Ravens will go for another upset here but there are a few rather significant differences here. The Bengals have Carson Palmer instead of Tommy Maddox. And the Ravens have never scored 20 points in any game this season and the Bengals already won this match-up 21-9 back in week nine in Baltimore.

As an oddity, this game is the only match-up in the NFL this week between divisional rivals.

Baltimore Ravens (3-7)
1 7-24 IND 10 3-30 @JAC
2 10-25 @TEN 11 16-13 PIT
3 Open Bye 12 Nov 27 @CIN
4 13-3 NYJ 13 Dec 4 HOU
5 17-35 @DET 14 Dec 11 @DEN
6 16-3 CLE 15 Dec 19 GBP
7 6-10 @CHI 16 Dec 25 MIN
8 19-20 @PIT 17 Jan 1 @CLE
9 9-21 CIN . . MON
BAL at CIN Rush Catch Pass
QB Kyle Boller 0 0 150
RB Jamal Lewis 30 0 0
RB Chester Taylor 50 10 0
TE Todd Heap 0 30 0
WR Derrick Mason 0 50 0
WR Mark Clayton 0 40 0
WR Randy Hymes 0 10 0
PK Matt Stover 2 FG 0 XP -
Pregame Notes: The Ravens caught a break last week when the visiting Steelers were back to using Tommy Maddox and that alone kept the Steelers to only 13 points. Boller played better last week in one of the several trap games in the NFL but there's still almost no offense with the Ravens. That never bodes well when a team goes against one of the most explosive offenses in the league.

Quarterback: Kyle Boller played better in his second game back but that only means he went from three interceptions down to only one against the Steelers. Boller threw for 163 yards and one touchdown which is still lower than almost all the games that Anthony Wright had while he subbed for eight weeks.

Wright was still the quarterback in week nine when the Ravens only passed for 153 yards against the Bengals.

Running Backs: Jamal Lewis is getting so bad that the Ravens are slowly starting to use Chester Taylor in equal measure. Lewis only gained 28 yards on 13 carries against the Steelers and that wasn't even his worst game. Taylor ran for 59 yards on 19 carries in his best game of the year. The Ravens hate to admit publicly that Taylor is running better than Lewis, but the results from last week speak for themselves.

Lewis only gained 49 yards on 15 carries against Cincinnati earlier this season.

Wide Receivers: With Boller as quarterback, Derrick Mason is not turning in any better numbers than he did with Wright. Mason only had 42 yards on four catches last week and 63 yards against the Jaguars the previous game. Randy Hymes had the lone touchdown pass against the Steelers but ended with just two catches for 15 yards and he had no catches the previous week. Nothing new with Boller taking snaps other then slightly better numbers for Mason than what Boller had with wideouts in his previous seasons.

Derrick Mason had five catches for 60 yards but no other wideout had more than one catch in week nine against the Bengals.

Tight Ends: Todd Heap had four catches for 29 yards but managed 58 yards in the previous game with Boller. If the pass doesn't go to Mason, it almost certainly heads for Heap. Heap only had 28 yards on four catches against the Bengals three weeks ago and while he did not score, he did manage to lose one fumble.

Match Against the Defense: The Bengals held the Ravens to only nine points on three field goals in week nine and that was a home game for the Ravens. Expect that this rematch has no better performances since the Ravens are 0-5 on the road. Chester Taylor could provide some better rushing numbers here but that depends on the Ravens continuing to use him over Lewis.

Boller will continue to provide only moderate to minimal numbers in most games and likely less in this match-up. The Ravens couldn't find the endzone before against the Bengals and this game should be even worse.

Cincinnati Bengals (7-3)
1 27-13 @CLE 10 Open Bye
2 37-8 MIN 11 37-45 IND
3 24-7 @CHI 12 Nov 27 BAL
4 16-10 HOU 13 Dec 4 @PIT
5 20-23 @JAC 14 Dec 11 CLE
6 31-23 @TEN 15 Dec 18 @DET
7 13-27 PIT 16 Dec 24 BUF
8 21-14 GBP 17 Jan 1 @KCC
9 21-9 @BAL . . SAT
CIN vs BAL Rush Catch Pass
QB Carson Palmer 0 0 240,1
RB Rudi Johnson 80,1 10 0
RB Chris Perry 10 20 0
TE Matt Schobel 0 10 0
WR Chad Johnson 0 100,1 0
WR Houshmandzadeh 0 70 0
WR Chris Henry 0 20 0
PK Shayne Graham 2 FG 2 XP -

Pregame Notes: The Bengals dropped their big match-up with the Colts but there's no shame in scoring 37 points or in getting beaten by the Colts - it is a large and growing club. In fantasy terms, the Bengals faced a very good defense and came away with big numbers and showed that Palmer is absolutely a legitimate star quarterback in the league. The only concern with this game is that the Bengals have to go play in Pittsburgh the following week and the temptation to overlook this match-up will be real.

Quarterback: Carson Palmer comes off an impressive 335 yard, two touchdown effort against the Colts and that was his second 300+ game of the year. He has thrown for 20 touchdowns already this season. Palmer threw for 248 yards and two scores against the Ravens already this year.

Running Backs: While Rudi Johnson has not topped the century mark since week one, he has been very consistent in every game and scored twice last week against the Colts while gaining 76 yards on only 16 carries. Johnson has only scored in four games this season but one came in the previous meeting with the Ravens when he gained 91 yards in Baltimore.

Wide Receivers: The Colts may have won last week but the blame is hardly on Chad Johnson who turned in a season best 189 yards and one score. That marks his third game over 130 yards this season and he's stepping up his play in the biggest games. T.J. Houshmandzadeh only managed to catch five passes for 47 yards last week and he only had one score since week two. He's become just a possession receiver and little more than Johnson's sidekick. Chris Henry has not been getting many passes, but he has managed to score in both of the last games.

Chad Johnson had five catches for 91 yards against Baltimore three weeks ago and T.J. Houshmandzadeh turned in 61 yards. Chris Henry scored once but only had three catches for 17 yards in that game.

Tight Ends: Only one or two catches a week and never more.

Match Against the Defense: In theory this game should not vary much from the meeting only three weeks ago in Baltimore but the Bengals are coming off a big game against the Colts and will know that the Steelers are waiting in Pittsburgh the next week. Most likely this should end up a near replay of the first effort with no need for the Bengals to do more than they need to in order to win.

Look for a score from Rudi Johnson but only moderate yardage. Palmer could throw for a couple of scores here as he already has against the Ravens and that continues to favor Henry and Johnson as his preferred endzone targets.