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

Prediction: BAL 6, PIT 20

The Steelers were crushed by the Ravens last year, losing 0-27 in Baltimore and 7-31 at home. No doubt the Steelers remember that since their defense is much better this year and Ben Roethlisberger has not made many mistakes. This is unlike the Ravens who now have a much worse defense and Steve McNair has done little even when he is healthy which has been rather uncommon. Played in Pittsburgh means there's no doubt which team is bringing the most to the party this year.

Update: I am not changing the projections but be aware that Todd Heap has been limited in practice this week because of his hamstring injury. Heap contends that he will be starting on Monday but he could be limited. Both Santonio Holmes (quadricep) and Hines Ward (knee) were held out of practice on Wednesday but returned on Thursday and are expected to play.

Baltimore Ravens (4-3)
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 22-3 -9 36.5
7 @BUF 14-19 -3 35
8 BYE - - -
9 @PIT   +9 36
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 PIT Rush Catch Pass
QB Steve McNair     210
RB Willis McGahee 50 30  
TE Todd Heap   50  
WR Mark Clayton   20  
WR Demetrius Williams   40  
WR Derrick Mason   60  
PK Matt Stover 2 FG    
Pregame Notes: The bye week came at a good time for the Ravens who had numerous players nursing injuries. They are expecting to field a full set of starters for the first time in many games which includes Todd Heap, Steve McNair and Demetrius Williams. The offense has been punchless the last three games though the Ravens managed to win two of them (SF and STL). The Ravens have already seen the softest part of their season pass and came away with only a 4-3 record. The remaining schedule is one of the toughest in the league with two games against PIT and match-ups with SD, NE and IND looming.

Quarterback: Steve McNair is expected back this week but outside of one game in Cleveland when he threw for 307 yards (doesn't everyone?), he's been lucky to gain 200 passing yards in a game and only has three scores in his four games played - never more than one per game. It was supposed to be a new offensive scheme this year but so far all it has been is throw a lot of short passes to Derrick Mason.

McNair only threw for 140 yards and one score when the Steelers visited in 2006 but later scored three touchdowns and passed for 256 yards in Baltimore.

Running Backs: Willis McGahee has been running well this year but hadn't scored until the last two games when he had one touchdown in each. But he's also faced some the worst defenses in the league. In fact almost all of them other than maybe Miami. He's only topped 100 rushing yards twice this season though has been solid enough in every game. That will be hard to replicate for the second half of the season with so many tough defenses on the slate.

The Ravens had a rushing score in both meetings with the Steelers last year and ended up around 70 rushing yards.

Wide Receivers: The pedestrian passing numbers here favor Derrick Mason almost exclusively. He already has 56 catches in just seven games and has the only two receiving scores by a Ravens wideout this year. Outside of Mason, this passing attack has been worse than last year. Even Mark Clayton had eight scores last year.

The only notable performance against the Steelers last year was Mark Clayton's 108 yards and a score on seven receptions back when he actually had decent games.

Tight Ends: While Todd Heap has been banged up this year, he still has been far worse than expected with only one score on the year and just two games over 36 yards. The Ravens just cannot kick start this pass attack and now Mason gets all those short passes that once went to Heap.

Heap had games of 58 and 50 yards against the Steelers last year and scored in the home match-up.

Match Against the Defense: The Steelers at home sport a great rushing defense that has not allowed any rushing touchdowns (and only one including the road games) and no runner has gained more than 64 rushing yards. Chalk this one up as a bad match-up for McGahee.

McNair is expected to return but he's only had two scores over four games played and the Steelers have only allowed one passing score in their three home stands. Do not expect a score here and there should be plenty of passes for Heap and Mason to catch. They just won't be for very much yardage and they will not be near the Steelers goal line.

Gaining Fantasy Points BAL 26 17 23 12 4 15
Preventing Fantasy Points PIT 7 1 7 7 3 12


Pittsburgh Steelers (5-2)
Homefield: Heinz Field
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 @CLE 34-7 -4.5 37
2 BUF 26-3 -10 37.5
3 SF 37-16 -9 35.5
4 @ARI 14-21 -6 42.5
5 SEA 21-0 -6 41
6 BYE - - -
7 @DEN 28-31 -3.5 38.5
8 @CIN 24-13 -3.5 48.5
9 BAL   -9 36
10 CLE 11-Nov SUN 1:00 PM
11 @NYJ 18-Nov SUN 1:00 PM
12 MIA 26-Nov MON 8:30 PM
13 CIN 2-Dec SUN 8:15 PM
14 @NE 9-Dec SUN 1:00 PM
15 JAC 16-Dec SUN 1:00 PM
16 @STL 20-Dec THU 8:15 PM
17 @BAL 30-Dec SUN 1:00 PM
PIT vs BAL Rush Catch Pass
QB Ben Roethlisberger     240,2
RB Willie Parker 90 20  
TE Heath Miler   40  
WR Hines Ward   60,1  
WR Santonio Holmes   80,1  
WR Nate Washington   10  
PK Jeff Reed 2 FG 2 XP  

Pregame Notes: Nothing like facing the Bengals last week to cure the ills from that Denver loss. The Steelers are 3-0 at home and ready for some payback against the Ravens that had their way with them last season. Hines Ward is back on the field and Parker is back at home where he is always a force. The Steelers remaining schedule does feature a road game in NE but the team could easily be 10-2 by that point and already in commanding lead in the AFC North. In a season where the Colts and Pats reign supreme, the Steelers are still probably as good as anything that the NFC could put up.

Quarterback: Ben Roethlisberger is enjoying a career season with 15 touchdowns over the first seven games against only six interceptions - a nice reversal from last year. He's also stayed above 200 passing yards for the last four games and had multiple touchdowns in three of them. With Ward back, Holmes stepping up and Miller always reliable, there are plenty of targets for big Ben this year.

Roethlisberger threw for 214 yards in Baltimore last year with no score and later had 156 yards and one score at home against them. He tossed two interceptions in each game.

Running Backs: The Steelers never had success rushing against the Ravens last year and Willie Parker only had games with 22 and 29 rushing yards against them. But Parker has been golden in every home game this year with at least 100 rushing yards. Najeh Davenport has scored three times and all came in Pittsburgh. This is a game that Parker no doubt has been waiting for this season.

Wide Receivers: While Hines Ward has only been back for two weeks, he has turned in at least seven catches in each and scored twice against the Bengals on Sunday. Santonio Holmes has been good for six catches in each of the last three games and scored three times in that time. When Ward is back, he offers the important possession catching role that extends into end zone work as well. He also helps free Holmes for the longer catches.

Ward never had more than 79 yards against the Ravens last season while Holmes managed 90 yards in the home game against them. Neither receiver scored against the Ravens in 2006.

Tight Ends: Heath Miller has posted at least 40 yards in every game this year and has three scores in the last three weeks. He is averaging a very healthy 14 yards per catch so far and comes off the Cincinnati game with only two catches but still for 42 yards.

Miller never had more than 35 receiving yards against the Ravens in 2006 and scored once in the home meeting.

Match Against the Defense: Parker may want to make amends for the poor showings of last year but he still is facing a defense that has only allowed two rushing scores this year - though both came in road games. No runner has gained more than 84 yards against them though Parker is the most productive back that they will have faced this year.

The Ravens pass defense ranks well because they have faced some rather weak teams - BUF, STL and SF most recently. They have given up two passing scores to three different opponents though and decent yardage to quarterbacks as good as Roethlisberger. Look for at least one passing score that should favor Ward the most though nice yardage could be had by either wideout here. I am projecting for two touchdowns via the pass but one could end up a short rushing score.

Gaining Fantasy Points PIT 7 10 14 4 13 14
Preventing Fantasy Points BAL 6 2 20 2 19 6

The Huddle
~ 2007 ~
Season Ticket
Sunday night
On Bye

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