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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
The Huddle
~ 2007 ~
Season Ticket
Sunday night
On Bye

Prediction: BAL 17, SF 6

Here's a game that's almost certain to be among the lower scoring of the weekend. The Ravens defense isn't playing all that great and the offense isn't setting anything exactly on fire but the 49ers offense is even worse. Considering the past couple of years, this is shaping up to be like the Ravens Light playing the Ravens Jr.. The defenses may score more than the offenses.

Update: Derrick Mason missed practice on Thursday because of his sprained knee and he is no lock to play this week. I am downgrading him and realize that he may not even play - check the pregame status but this is a later afternoon game on Sunday so many fantasy owners may not have the option of waiting. Todd Heap remains out of practice with his hamstring injury and may miss his first game of the season as well so I am not adding him back in. Daniel Wilcox would take his place but even he is banged up right now with a sore foot. I like McGahee to get a bit more rushing attempts in this game.

As expected, the 49ers will be without Alex Smith and Vernon Davis this week. Trent Dilfer and Delanie Walker will take their places. I removed Taylor Jacobs who was surprisingly released and replaced him with Ashley Lelie.

Baltimore Ravens (2-2)
Homefield: M&T Bank Stadium
Sport Turf
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 @CIN 20-27 +3 40.5
2 NYJ 20-13 -9.5 33
3 ARI 26-23 -7 35.5
4 @CLE 13-27 -4 40
5 @SF   -3 35
6 STL 14-Oct SUN 1:00 PM
7 @BUF 21-Oct SUN 1:00 PM
8 BYE - - -
9 @PIT 5-Nov MON 8:30 PM
10 CIN 11-Nov SUN 4:05 PM
11 CLE 18-Nov SUN 1:00 PM
12 @SD 25-Nov SUN 4:15 PM
13 NE 3-Dec MON 8:30 PM
14 IND 9-Dec SUN 8:15 PM
15 @MIA 16-Dec SUN 1:00 PM
16 @SEA 23-Dec SUN 4:15 PM
17 PIT 30-Dec SUN 1:00 PM
BAL at SF Rush Catch Pass
QB Steve McNair     190,1
RB Willis McGahee 90 30  
WR Mark Clayton   50  
WR Demetrius Williams   50,1  
WR Derrick Mason   40  
PK Matt Stover 1 FG 2 XP  
Pregame Notes: Those Cleveland Browns are really messing up the AFC North. After beating the Bengals, they took down the Ravens last week and at 2-2, the Ravens have problems. The passing game is not clicking in any game this year and the rushing game alone is not enough to catch up when the opponents get the lead. And unfortunately the pass defense is letting opponents get down the field more than any recent year. Then again, the 49ers are without their starting quarterback so the Ravens should be fine here. And with the next two games against the Rams and Bills, they could reach their week eight bye at 5-2 on the season before it gets much harder.

Quarterback: Steve McNair was held out of the week three game because of his injured groin but played in Cleveland last week and produced 307 yards but only one score and one interception in a game against one of the weakest defenses. McNair has only thrown one score per game and no Ravens receiver has managed even one game over 80 yards this season. With the defense allowing opponents to score, McNair needs to use these upcoming games to hone the passing attack for when it will be needed to win games.

Running Backs: Willis McGahee is getting a little better every week and finally topped the century mark in week four when he gained 104 yards on only 14 carries. Problem here is that McGahee still has yet to score a rushing touchdown but his yardage is solid and should remain for at least the next three weeks. McGahee has been an upgrade from Jamal Lewis, but he's no savior for this offense.

Wide Receivers: Derrick Mason is clearly the top dog in this unit with 26 catches in just the last three games but they are all very short and he's only scored once. Mason may be a wideout but his nine yards per catch average is more like a tight end. Demetrius Williams has been good for around 50 yards in the last couple of games and Mark Clayton puts up around 35 yards but overall this is a short passing scheme that doesn't work well in moving the team quickly.

Tight Ends: The tight ends are usually the bright spot on this offense thanks to Todd Heap but he suffered a hamstring strain and could miss this week. And his back-up Daniel Wilcox has a sprained foot and could also miss this game. McNair will need to rely almost solely on the wideouts this week if Heap cannot play. I will not project for a tight end this week since it is likely that none from the Ravens will have any numbers.

Match Against the Defense: The 49ers rush defense was solid last week when it limited Shaun Alexander to just 78 yards on 23 carries and overall it is better than average. Given the challenges of the Ravens to pass, the defense can load up more against McGahee and should hold him to only moderate numbers here unless the Ravens can somehow get a big lead early and spend most of the second half just running the ball. A decent start this week but McGahee will need the right game situation to have a truly good game.

McNair faces a secondary that has upgraded this year and Nate Clements will likely match on Mason unless they keep him in the slot and let Williams take the flanker spot. Clements on Williams would at least keep the deep ball from happening. Look for one passing score here that will favor Mason the most. Heap could have had a nice game here if he wasn't injured. I like the chance for a defensive score in this game by the Ravens going against Trent Dilfer.

Gaining Fantasy Points BAL 19 14 23 7 4 15
Preventing Fantasy Points SF 16 17 14 26 31 29


San Francisco 49ers (2-2)
Homefield: Monster Park
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 ARI 20-17 -3.5 45
2 @STL 17-16 +3 44
3 @PIT 16-37 +9 35.5
4 SEA 3-23 +1.5 40.5
5 BAL   +3 35
6 BYE - - -
7 @NYG 21-Oct SUN 1:00 PM
8 NO 28-Oct SUN 4:15 PM
9 @ATL 4-Nov SUN 1:00 PM
10 @SEA 12-Nov MON 8:30 PM
11 STL 18-Nov SUN 4:15 PM
12 @ARI 25-Nov SUN 4:05 PM
13 @CAR 2-Dec SUN 1:00 PM
14 MIN 9-Dec SUN 4:05 PM
15 CIN 15-Dec SAT 8:15 PM
16 TB 23-Dec SUN 8:15 PM
17 @CLE 30-Dec SUN 1:00 PM
SFO vs BAL Rush Catch Pass
QB Trent Dilfer     140
RB Frank Gore 60 20  
TE Delanie Walker   10  
WR Darrell Jackson   50  
WR Arnaz Battle   30  
WR Ashley Lelie   20  
WR Taylor Jacobs 20
PK Joe Nedney 2 FG    

Pregame Notes: All of the offensive advancements last year are now but a memory and the 49ers possess the same lethargic, stumbling offense that greeted so many of the recent years. Three of the first four games failed to produce even 200 yards of offense and the peak of 20 points scored in the opener has declined each week until they could only manage a single field goal against the visiting Seahawks last Sunday. The Ravens defense may not be the elite squad of recent years, but it will probably look very much like it in this game.

Quarterback: Alex Smith was already struggling this year and now that he has a separated shoulder, Trent Dilfer gets a chance to start against his old team. Okay, so he's been on five teams already and the Ravens were for just one season seven years ago. But Dilfer is going to need all the motivation he can get since he played almost the entire game against the Seahawks and only completed 12 of 33 passes for 128 yards, two interceptions and five sacks. Not a rosy picture here for the 49ers who already were without Vernon Davis and have yet to get the passing game kick started this year.

Running Backs: The good news here is that Frank Gore now represents the entirely of the offense. The bad news is that Frank Gore now represents the entirety of the offense and the defense knows it. Gore has only gained 3.7 yards per carry this year and thanks to the 49ers failing to control the ball, he has yet to carry more than 20 times in a game or gain more than 81 yards. That will not improve this week against an even better defense with an even worse passing offense to support him.

Wide Receivers: The addition of Darrell Jackson has done nothing to spark this passing attack with so man woes at quarterback. Jackson has never had more than 69 yards in any game and still has not scored this year. Arnaz Battle only managed three catches for 19 yards last week with Dilfer at the helm. This is the same sad looking group of recent years despite bringing in Jackson.

Tight Ends: Vernon Davis has a sprained MCL and will miss at least this game if not more. Delanie Walker took the start last Sunday but only had one catch for seven yards.

Match Against the Defense: The problem here is that the only weakness of the Ravens this year is against the pass -particularly the long pass. And that is exactly the same weakness of the 49er offense. Against the run the Ravens have been outstanding, allowing only one touchdown and holding every runner to less than 70 rushing yards per game. If the 49ers can score, it will come on a pass to a wideout but that is far too unlikely to consider with Dilfer taking the start and Davis still out. CB Samari Rolle may miss this game too and it still doesn't matter.

Gaining Fantasy Points SF 31 21 27 28 18 23
Preventing Fantasy Points BAL 22 2 29 11 28 20

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