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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
The Huddle
December 21, 2005
Season Ticket
Sat 1 PM Sat 1 PM Sat 1 PM Sat 4 PM Sun 8:30 PM
BUF at CIN NYG at WAS TEN at MIA* IND at SEA* Mon 9 PM
DET at NO* SD at KC* CHI at GB Updated* Times ET

Prediction: Minnesota 6, Baltimore 17

The Ravens are ending their season on a higher note having own three of their last five games - incidentally the three last home games. The Vikings finally fell after winning six straight games and at 8-6 with week 17 match-up against the Bears, those playoff dreams are likely over. The Vikings are only 3-4 on the road this year while the Ravens are 5-2 at home.

Minnesota Vikings (8-6)
1 13-24 TBB 10 24-21 @NYG
2 8-37 @CIN 11 23-20 @GBP
3 33-16 NOR 12 24-12 CLE
4 10-30 @ATL 13 21-16 @DET
5 Open Bye 14 27-13 STL
6 3-28 @CHI 15 3-18 PIT
7 23-20 GBP 16 Dec 25 @BAL
8 13-38 @CAR 17 Jan 1 CHI
9 27-14 DET . . MON
MIN at BAL Rush Catch Pass
QB Brad Johnson 0 0 150
RB Michael Bennett 40 10 0
TE Jermaine Wiggins 0 30 0
WR Koren Robinson 0 20 0
WR Nate Burleson 0 20 0
WR Marcus Robinson 0 30 0
WR Troy Williamson 0 20 0
WR Travis Taylor 0 20 0
PK Paul Edinger 2 FG 0 XP -
Pregame Notes: The Vikings last 3-18 last week by the same way that they had been winning games - defense and special teams plays that worked against them instead of for them. The Steelers even recorded the rare safety. The string of wins was impressive, but other than the Giants win that came by every way other than offensively, the Vikings have not been a good road team and have been crushed whenever they play outside their own division.

Quarterback: Brad Johnson the game manager is good enough to win games as long as the defense gets turnovers and holds the score down. But last week he had only 143 yards and two interceptions against a stout defense and in any game that he goes against at least an average secondary, he has been turning in sub-200 yard games without a score.

Running Backs: The old Michael Bennett was back last week when he ran for only 43 yards on 11 carries with one catch for a five yard loss. The Vikings are not rushing well anyway and on the road outside of their own division, the results have been lacking. Bennett remains the starter but Moore had two carries last week and could get more here as the bigger back.

Wide Receivers: Utter and complete chaos. The Vikings now shuttle in up to five wideouts in a game and last week not one had more than 38 yards. Against the Rams the previous week, the best any wideout had was just 49 yards. There are no primary wideouts now and no one is getting enough passes to rank as having potential.

Tight Ends: Jermaine Wiggins was turning in decent games with Johnson but in the last two weeks he has not exceeded 18 yards in a game. The passing game here has lost all consistency and recently - most of the productivity as well.

Match Against the Defense: The Ravens have allowed only one rushing touchdown in Baltimore this season and Rudi Johnson does not play for the Vikings. Expect moderate yardage at best from Bennett and no scores.

Johnson heads to Baltimore where opponents have only throw for five scores and four of those were from Peyton Manning or Carson Palmer. Expect Johnson to continue his 150 yard ways that will show no preference or scores for any receiver.

Baltimore Ravens (5-9)
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 10-12 @DEN
6 16-3 CLE 15 48-3 GBP
7 6-10 @CHI 16 Dec 25 MIN
8 19-20 @PIT 17 Jan 1 @CLE
9 9-21 CIN . . MON
BAL vs MIN Rush Catch Pass
QB Kyle Boller 0 0 230,2
RB Jamal Lewis 60 0 0
TE Todd Heap 0 70,1 0
WR Derrick Mason 0 70,1 0
WR Mark Clayton 0 60 0
WR Randy Hymes 0 10 0
PK Matt Stover 1 FG 2 XP -

Pregame Notes: The Ravens are mostly playing to keep their jobs now but they've been a far better team when at home than on the road. Safety Ed Reed is back and while Ray Lewis is out, the defense is compensating for his loss. This is the final home game for the Ravens and a chance to leave the fans with a positive feeling for next year.

Quarterback: Kyle Boller comes off his best game of the year when he threw for 253 yards and three scores last week against the Packers. His numbers may have been a bit excessive since he continued to throw deep even when the Ravens had a significant and entirely safe lead. Boller is fighting for his chance to remain the starting quarterback in 2006 and his last two games coming in at 250 passing yards is helping.

Running Backs: Jamal Lewis comes off his second 100 yard game in the last three weeks which is very impressive if you ignore the 17 yards he gained against the Texans. Lewis has been a major disappointment this year but has looked better at the end of the year - a nice resume builder for a guy that looked almost worthless a few weeks ago.

Chester Taylor remains in the mix and he had 37 yards on six carries last week. These last two games of the year need to give the Ravens a clear idea on what to do with Lewis in the offseason.

Wide Receivers: Mark Clayton had been on a roll for a few games until last week when he only had two catches for 24 yards but he added a touchdown run. The Ravens are now using Clayton on at least one running play each game for the last month to get the ball into his hands more. Derrick Mason had not bee doing as well with Boller back but finally connected for five catches and 97 yards last week against the Packers. Even Randy Hymes scored a touchdown. It's like the offense suddenly realized they were going to be cut in the offseason for non-performance and all the players are doing what they should have been doing all along. Then again - facing the Packers helps.

Tight Ends: Todd Heap comes off his best game of the year. He caught nine passes for 110 yards and two scores and no player has benefited more with Boller's return than Heap,

Match Against the Defense: The Vikings rushing defense has been very solid in the second half of the season when they have not allowed any runners to top 100 yards. Look for moderate gains by Lewis and no scores with a chance that Chester Taylor could lower Lewis' production even more.

Boller goes against a secondary that has allowed most teams to score one or two passing touchdowns this year. The Vikings secondary has not been all that great at stopping yards or even scores but their ability to get turnovers have made the difference. That should keep shorter passes from Boller who will not want to make mistakes and therefore benefit Heap the most.