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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
Player Projections by Team
Game Predictions Summary
The Huddle
December 20, 2006
Season Ticket
Sunday Late
Sunday Late
updated IND at HOU TEN at BUF CIN at DEN NYJ at MIA

Prediction: BAL 13, PIT 16

The Ravens remain tied for the #2 seed with the Colts at 11-2 so there's a big incentive for winning out in the regular season. The Ravens are 5-2 on the road and head into Pittsburgh where the Steelers come off a thrashing of the Panthers last week and at 7-7, they still have a chance at a wildcard though they will need several teams to lose games to get there. The Steelers are 5-2 at home and have won all three games since the last meeting in Baltimore.

The Ravens won 27-0 when they decimated the Steelers in week 12.

Update: The Ravens will be without Jonathan Ogden this week and that will hurt both Jamal Lewis and the passing game potentially. Mark Clayton is questionable to play with a chest contusion and missed practice on Thursday but could still play. I am lowering his projections and bumping up Demetrius Williams a bit. Derrick Mason is also questionable with a sore thigh and has missed practice but is expected to play. I am changing the game scores because without Ogden, Lewis will have a much harder time getting a touchdown.

Baltimore Ravens (11-3)
1 27-0 @TB 10 27-26 @TEN
2 28-6 OAK 11 24-10 ATL
3 15-14 @CLE 12 27-0 PIT
4 16-13 SD 13 7-13 @CIN
5 3-13 @DEN 14 20-10 @KC
6 21-23 CAR 15 27-17 CLE
7 Open Bye 16 --- @PIT
8 35-22 @NO 17 --- BUF
9 26-20 CIN - THU MON
BAL at PIT Rush Catch Pass
QB Steve McNair 0 0 190,1
RB Jamal Lewis 50 10 0
TE Todd Heap 0 50 0
WR Derrick Mason 0 40 0
WR Mark Clayton 0 50,1 0
WR Demetrius Williams 0 40 0
PK Matt Stover 2 FG 1 XP -
Pregame Notes: The Ravens final two games - at Pittsburgh and against the Bills - appear a bigger challenge now than they did just a month ago but even without Steve McNair, this team has one of the premier defenses in the league. The loss by the Bengals on Monday night cemented the AFC North title but that much valued first round bye still hangs in the balance and the Colts only have Houston and Miami left to play.

Quarterback: Steve McNair left after the Ravens' sixth offensive play after ILB Andra Davis stepped on his throwing hand. Kyle Boller replaced him for the balance of the game and ended with a season high 238 yards and two scores against the Browns. McNair said he expects to play this week and he will be assumed as good to go but updates will be made if needed.

McNair threw for 140 yards and one score in the shut out over the Steelers this year and did not even play a full game.

Running Backs: After 13 games, Jamal Lewis finally turned in just his second game with more than 100 rushing yards when he gained 109 on 22 carries against the Browns. Lewis has scored in four of the last five games now and he's been running better later in the season. Lewis has scored eight times this year and seven touchdowns have come in the last seven games.

Lewis ran for 66 yards on 17 carries and scored once against the Steelers this year. He ran for 61 yards on 17 carries in Pittsburgh last season.

Wide Receivers: No wideout had more than 43 yards in the previous meeting with the Steelers since the game was well in hand early. Demetrius Williams had 100 yards on two catches last week with his first score on the year thanks to a 77-yard touchdown reception but he would have been right at his norm without that one catch. If anything happens with this unit, it typically goes to Mark Clayton.

Tight Ends: Todd Heap bruised his thigh late in the game and was limping afterwards last Sunday. Heap only has one score in the last seven games but usually comes up with 50 or more yards each week and he's constantly been dinged up the entire year.

Heap caught seven passes for 58 yards and one score against the Steelers this season. He only had 31 yards and no scores in Pittsburgh last year.

Match Against the Defense: No opposing runner in Pittsburgh has run for more than 60 yards this season though four players have scored against them. Expect a much more moderate showing in yardage for Lewis this week but a decent chance he could come up with one touchdown.

McNair - or even Boller if it comes to that - should find some success here against a secondary that has been soft against decent passing attacks this year. Look for one score that favors either Clayton or Heap and most likely Clayton since Heap is banged up and not scoring much this season.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM    QB   RB   WR   TE   PK  DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points BAL 14 22 22 4 7 2
Preventing Fantasy Points PIT 11 5 25 17 12 29


Pittsburgh Steelers (7-7)
1 28-17 MIA 10 38-31 NO
2 0-9 @JAX 11 24-20 @CLE
3 20-28 CIN 12 0-27 @BAL
4 Open Bye 13 20-3 TB
5 13-23 @SD 14 27-7 CLE
6 45-7 KC 15 37-3 @CAR
7 38-41 @ATL 16 --- BAL
8 13-20 @OAK 17 --- @CIN
9 20-31 DEN - MON THU
PIT vs BAL Rush Catch Pass
QB Ben Roethlisberger 0 0 220,1
RB Willie Parker 70 40 0
TE Heath Miller 0 30 0
WR Hines Ward 0 80,1 0
WR Santonio Holmes 0 50 0
WR Nate Washington 0 20 0
PK Jeff Reed 3 FG 1 XP -

Pregame Notes: Nothing like facing the Bucs, Browns and Panthers to make everything seem right again. The Steelers have come up big in the last three weeks but were waxed by the Ravens in week 12. These final two games will determine if the Steelers go to the playoffs, end .500 or have a losing season on the heels of winning the Super Bowl. The last three weeks says that the Steelers should win this game and that everything is fine once again. The previous 11 games say that the Steelers just mopped up against weak teams recently. This week may be the closest to a Super Bowl that the Steelers are going to play this season.

Quarterback: Ben Roethlisberger has had his struggles this year, but most of those came in road games and at home he has thrown for nine scores in the last five games with always at least one touchdown per week. Roethlisberger has only thrown for one interception over these last three games. His yardage in home games tends to be lower because the rushing game usually shines in Pittsburgh.

Roethlisberger threw for 214 yards and two interceptions against the Ravens this year. He had 177 passing yards and two scores when the Ravens came to Pittsburgh last year.

Running Backs: Hats off for Willie Parker who had been a far less productive runner away from home but he ran for 132 yards on 23 carries in Carolina last week and scored once. Parker has been a terror when at home this year and gained over 200 rushing yards in two of the three most recent home games but against solid defense he has turned in significantly less even at home. When Denver came to town he only had 70 yards on 14 carries though he scored twice in that game and has a season high 67 receiving yards. He only gained 61 yards on 22 carries against the Bucs in week 13 in the only home game without a touchdown.

Parker ran for only 22 yards on ten carries in Baltimore this season. He gained 63 yards on 14 carries against the visiting Ravens last year.

Wide Receivers: No Steeler wideout had more than 49 yards in Baltimore this year and none scored. Hines Ward had six catches for 81 yards against the visiting Ravens last year. Ward returned last week to catch four passes for 59 yards but has not scored since week ten. Cedrick Wilson missed last week with a high ankle sprain and was replaced by Santonio Holmes who only had three catches for 25 yards.

Tight Ends: Heath Miller is locked in around 25 or 30 yards every week with only the odd touchdown every few weeks.

Miller had three catches for 35 yards against the Ravens this season. He had two touchdowns on just three catches against the visiting Ravens last year.

Match Against the Defense: Parker is likely to have a lesser effort here against a team that has been successful when facing him. Expect more from him as a receiver this week with moderate rushing yardage.

Roethlisberger has been much better lately against softer defenses but the Ravens have always given him problems. Only Brees was able to throw for more than one score against the visiting Ravens this year and this is a game that the Ravens will be motivated to win. Look for just one passing score here that strongly favors Hines Ward since Samari Rolle sprained his left shoulder last week and may be questionable for this game.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM    QB   RB   WR   TE   PK  DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points PIT 6 7 10 18 13 12
Preventing Fantasy Points BAL 12 1 18 4 1 2