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

Prediction: STL 10, BAL 23

The Rams stumble into this week 0-5 on the season and with declining reasons to expect more than a few wins this year. The Ravens barely made it past the 49ers last week but at home against a team that plays poorly no matter where, the Ravens should take this one with just defense and a bit of McGahee.

Update: Steve McNair was held out of practice on Thursday because his back was tight but HC Brian Billick played it off as McNair just sleeping wrong on it and that he expected him to play this week. Todd Heap missed last week with a thigh injury but has been able to have limited practice this week. It looks favorable for him to play this week and I am adding him back into the projections. Heap was a gametime decision last week after not practicing at all so even his limited practice this week is favorable. He may not be 100% but is good enough that I will add him back into the projections. Heap owners should follow this before Sunday to ensure that he is going to play and not be too limited.

St. Louis Rams (0-5)
Homefield: Edward Jones Dome
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 CAR 13-27 +1 42
2 SF 16-17 -3 44
3 @TB 3-24 +4 38.5
4 @DAL 7-35 +13 47
5 ARI 31-34 +3 40.5
6 @BAL   +9 37
7 @SEA 21-Oct SUN 4:15 PM
8 CLE 28-Oct SUN 1:00 PM
9 BYE - - -
10 @NO 11-Nov SUN 1:00 PM
11 @SF 18-Nov SUN 4:15 PM
12 SEA 25-Nov SUN 1:00 PM
13 ATL 2-Dec SUN 1:00 PM
14 @CIN 9-Dec SUN 1:00 PM
15 GB 16-Dec SUN 1:00 PM
16 PIT 20-Dec THU 8:15 PM
17 @ARI 30-Dec SUN 4:15 PM
STL at BAL Rush Catch Pass
QB Gus Frerotte     220,1
RB Brian Leonard 50 30  
TE Randy McMichael   20  
WR Torry Holt   70,1  
WR Dante Hall   30  
WR Drew Bennett   60  
PK Jeff Wilkins 1 FG 1 XP  
Pregame Notes: The Rams came tantalizingly close last week which was a big upgrade from just getting blown out but the offense just loses more players each week without getting them back. Now the Rams are on the road where they have scored just ten points in two trips.

Quarterback: The Rams opted to sit Marc Bulger last week to rest his numerous injuries (like cracked ribs for one) and Gus Frerotte was more than merely serviceable throwing for 262 yards and three scores against the visiting Cardinals. He even threw three interceptions to complete the replacement job for Bulger. I am assuming that Bulger sits out this week since playing in Baltimore is not likely a ticket for returning to health.

Running Backs: Brian Leonard may have inherited the same sad sack injured offensive line that got Steven Jackson injured, but last week he looked sharp gaining 102 yards on just 18 carries and adding 33 yards on five catches. Jackson remains out with a partially torn groin muscle (wince) but Leonard has been a decent fill-in, particularly given the minimal expectations of this offense.

Wide Receivers: Maybe Torry Holt has not reprised his big yardage ways of the past, but at least he has three scores on the season and is the most used target here. His five catches for 89 yards on Sunday was a season high but he has never been worse than five catches or 52 yards. Isaac Bruce sat out with a hamstring strain and was replaced by Drew Bennett who had two catches for 32 yards but scored his first Rams touchdown. This offense remains heavy on the Holt and when he declines, everyone else does as well.

I assume that Bruce misses one more week but will update if needed.

Tight Ends: At least one recent development that does not have anything to do with someone new being injured is that Randy McMichael finally showed up as a receiver last week with Frerotte at the helm. McMichael recorded three catches for 45 yards and scored once. This week should answer if that was just an aberration or if it was the use of Frerotte that sparked his increase.

Match Against the Defense: The Ravens defense is not the impregnable force of seasons past but the rushing defense remains very good with only one score allowed to opposing runners. Look for a down game here from Leonard who could make it up with receptions if Frerotte will continue to use him in that capacity.

Frerotte faces a secondary that has already given up eight scores in five games and that includes such quarterbacks as Kellen Clemens and Trent Dilfer. Every team has scored at least once against them though none have had more than two passing touchdowns. Look for a decent game here by Frerotte since the rushing game likely will not work and the Ravens biggest weakness is against wide receivers. I expect just one passing score here that comes late in the decided game. That ends up with either Bennett or Holt.

Gaining Fantasy Points STL 25 30 16 20 23 23
Preventing Fantasy Points BAL 15 3 28 1 18 12


Baltimore Ravens (3-2)
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 9-7 -3.5 34.5
6 STL   -9 37
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 vs STL Rush Catch Pass
QB Steve McNair     230,1
RB Willis McGahee 110,1 40  
TE Quinn Sypniewski   10  
TE Todd Heap   30  
WR Mark Clayton   20  
WR Demetrius Williams   50,1  
WR Derrick Mason   80  
PK Matt Stover 3 FG 2 XP  

Pregame Notes: The Ravens rise to 3-2 on the season thanks to the inability of the 49ers to score even ten points in a game. The passing game has yet to take shape this year beyond short strikes to Derrick Mason but the Ravens are 2-0 at home and face their easiest opponent of the year this week. The schedule will get tougher after the bye in week eight but this game in particular is as easy as it will get for the offense that has yet to catch fire.

Quarterback: The biggest failing of the Ravens so far this year has been in the passing game where Steve McNair just hasn't offered a spark. In the four games he started, McNair only has two scores against two interceptions and his four lost fumbles leads the entire NFL. In the loss in Cleveland, McNair did have 307 yards but only one score. Otherwise he has remained around 200 passing yards every game. This weekend is the best chance for McNair to get something clicking in the passing attack and yet the Ravens will likely just continue to rely on rushing and defense to win games.

Running Backs: Willis McGahee is solid with yardage this year and has not been below 77 yards in any game and had 97 and 98 yards in the two home games this season. But he has only scored once and that came on a pass against the Jets. The Ravens are using McGahee more as a receiver in the last few weeks and he had a season high seven catches for 48 yards in San Francisco last Sunday. This week is the best chance of the year that McGahee finally runs in a score.

Wide Receivers: It may have taken two seasons, but McNair has re-united with Derrick Mason in a big way and throws at least a dozen passes at him every week. Every week. Mason comes off a season high 11 catches for just 85 yards last week and he has never had more than those 85 yards in any game this year. He leads the NFL with 44 catches this year which is a pace to end with 141 receptions. If that sounds big (and it would be 20 more than ever in NFL history), consider that he only has 372 yards so far which is a pace for just 1190 yards. Mason only averages 8.5 yards per catch - that's lower than most tight ends. That's lower than many running backs. McNair's passing game is all about hitting Mason close to the line of scrimmage and then he gets tackled.

Mark Clayton remains in hiding and Demetrius Williams does what he can with his three or four catches per game. This entire crew only has one touchdown this year. If it doesn't happen this week, it just is not going to happen.

Tight Ends: Todd Heap missed last week with a hamstring strain and Quinn Sypniewski turned in four catches for 28 yards as his replacement. I will assume Heap needs one more week until later week practice news is known.

Match Against the Defense: It just doesn't get much better than the Rams on the road this year. Look for a big game from McGahee who should top 100 yards and score his first rushing touchdown as a Raven. If not two. The Rams have not allowed a 100 yard rusher this year but mainly because most teams pass to beat them or have committee backfields. The Rams have already allowed six rushing scores this year.

The Rams have never allowed less than 17 points in a game this year and usually cough up about 24 or more on the road. This will be a game where McNair could have nice numbers if only he will pass it much but likely the rushing game will be successful and the need won't be there. Look for just one passing score that could be more if he wanted. If Heap plays, then two scores but without him, Williams should see the endzone for the first time this year.

Gaining Fantasy Points BAL 22 15 27 10 4 20
Preventing Fantasy Points STL 22 30 22 8 16 16

The Huddle
~ 2007 ~
Season Ticket
Sunday night
On Bye

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