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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
The Huddle
December 7, 2005
Season Ticket
Sun 1 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 4 PM Sun 4 PM Sun 8:30 PM
CLE at CIN* OAK at NYJ SF at SEA MIA at SD* Mon 9 PM
IND at JAC TB at CAR BAL at DEN Updated* Times ET

Prediction: Baltimore 6, Denver 27

The Broncos finally dropped a game last week in Kansas City while the Ravens come off a rare win that required a comeback against the visiting Texans. The Ravens are 0-6 on the road and the Broncos are 6-0 at home. These trends will remain intact after this weekend.

Baltimore Ravens (4-8)
1 7-24 IND 10 3-30 @JAC
2 10-25 @TEN 11 16-13 PIT
3 Open Bye 12 29-42 @CIN
4 13-3 NYJ 13 16-15 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 DEN Rush Catch Pass
QB Kyle Boller 0 0 160
RB Jamal Lewis 30 0 0
RB Chester Taylor 40 30 0
TE Todd Heap 0 50 0
WR Derrick Mason 0 30 0
WR Mark Clayton 0 30 0
WR Randy Hymes 0 20 0
PK Matt Stover 2 FG 0 XP -
Pregame Notes: The great news here is that Kyle Boller just led his team on his first ever game-winning drive in the final minute of a game. The bad news is that it has taken this long and it came against the worst record team in the league that was visiting Baltimore at the time. The Ravens still have a win against the Steelers for feeling positive about, but not much else.

Quarterback: Kyle Boller did lead the team on that winning drive, but he still only had 198 yards and no scores on the game. In five starts this year, Boller only has scored in two games and only once nudged above 200 yards.

Running Backs: The return of Jamal Lewis of old was rather short-lived. After gaining 113 yards on 23 carries against the Bengals, Lewis rang up just 17 yards on eight carries against the Texans. That's the Houston Texans. The team that was ranked #31 against running backs until last weekend. There is talk that the Ravens may franchise Jamal Lewis in the off-season but that would only be an act of kindness to the rest of the league.

Chester Taylor had more play and gained 40 yards on 11 carries. The Ravens are looking to see if they want to have Taylor return next year, so expect more of the sharing to happen.

Wide Receivers: Mark Clayton comes off the best game of his career, gaining 86 yards on seven receptions last week while Derrick Mason was held to only 36 yards. Since Boller returned in week ten, Mason has never done more than 58 yards. With Wright as the quarterback, he rarely was under that mark. The passing game has not been favoring Clayton over Mason until last week, but it has not been favoring Mason much at all since Boller showed back up.

Tight Ends: Boller continues to rely on Todd Heap and the 51 yards last week is about average with Boller throwing the ball.

Match Against the Defense: This offense sputters on most days and playing on the road has not produced a single win this year. The rushing game is split between Taylor and Lewis and the Broncos at home are not going to allow any success to the Ravens. Look for minimal efforts from each with Taylor, of course, running a little better.

Boller rarely exceeds 200 passing yards in a game and there's no reason to expect that to change here. Avoid all the Ravens players this week since even Mason has been downgraded with Boller back. Heap is a safe bet for some moderate yardage if only because of his likely volume of passes. Champ Bailey should have little problem shutting down Clayton unless they move Bailey over to Mason's side. But really - why bother?

Denver Broncos (9-3)
1 10-34 @MIA 10 31-17 @OAK
2 20-17 SDC 11 27-0 NYJ
3 30-10 KCC 12 24-21 @DAL
4 20-7 @JAC 13 27-31 @KCC
5 21-19 WAS 14 Dec 11 BAL
6 28-20 NE 15 Dec 17 @BUF
7 23-24 @NYG 16 Dec 24 OAK
8 49-21 PHI 17 Dec 31 @SDC
9 Open Bye M THU SAT
DEN vs BAL Rush Catch Pass
QB Jake Plummer 0 0 210,1
RB Mike Anderson 70,1 0 0
RB Tatum Bell 50,1 20 0
TE Jeb Putzier 0 40 0
WR Rod Smith 0 60,1 0
WR Ashley Lelie 0 60 0
WR Charlie Adams 0 30 0
PK Jason Elam 2 FG 3 XP -

Pregame Notes: The Broncos fell off a four game winning streak when they lost in Kansas City last week. At 9-3, the Broncos remain one game above both San Diego and Kansas City in the AFC West. The rest of the way is pretty kind for Denver with two home games against the Ravens and Raiders and one road trip against the Bills. And nary a winning record to face until the playoffs. No time to rest on their laurels with an excellent shot at homefield and a bye, but nothing coming up that the Broncos should not be able to handle.

Quarterback: After spending most of the year without a single interception, Jake Plummer has thrown three in the last two games and only managed two touchdowns over the last three games. Other than the one game against the Eagles when he had 309 yards and four scores, Plummer has been mostly an adjunct to the rushing game and just a game manager. That should hold true for the rest of the regular season.

Running Backs: Now that Ron Dayne has been added to the equation, there's hardly any relying on a Denver back in a given week. Mike Anderson had a 66-yard touchdown on a screen pass last week but he only gained 37 yards on 13 carries (but scored a touchdown rushing as well). Ron Dayne had eight carries for 26 yards and even Tatum Bell returned to donate 46 yards on five runs. That's 109 yards rushing in total with none of them managing more than 46 yards. I'll continue to project for Anderson and Bell, but realize that Dayne will have some playing time that will just reduce the other two it appears.

Wide Receivers: Other than the Dallas game with Lelie held without a catch, the duo of Rod Smith and Ashley Lelie remain moderate producers every week, turning in around 60 or 70 yards per game almost each time. Lelie only has one score on the year and Smith has five touchdowns with three of them in the last five games.

Tight Ends: Jeb Putzier comes off a 50 yard effort against the Chiefs and he's managed to gain over 30 yards in six of the last eight games.

Match Against the Defense: Run, run, run. The Ravens rushing defense has gone in the proverbial crapper with Ed Reed and Ray Lewis out and it wasn't all that great when they did play. The Ravens have never allowed less than around 100 rushing yards on the road this year and there's no reason not to expect the trio of Broncos backs to turn in a combined big game here. Even Domanick Davis ran for 155 yards last week against Baltimore. Look for at least one rushing score and likely two.

Plummer will just manage this game but he should manage his standard one touchdown pass. The most common target for a passing score against the Ravens have been slot guys like Henry, Tab Perry or Matt Jones which should mean Adams or even Todd Devoe could snare it but in the Denver scheme it has to favor Rod Smith the most from simple volume and the fact he already has five of the seven touchdowns caught by wideouts this year by Denver.