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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
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The Huddle
~ 2008 ~
Season Ticket
Sunday Late
Bye Week
* Updated

Prediction: BAL 24, HOU 16

Update: All the running backs had limited practice until Friday when they all had a full day. That should mean that we will see a three-headed monster this week to some extent though Ray Rice should remain the primary back. It would be risky to start McGahee or McClain this week for a fantasy team and even Rice has at least some risk from the likelihood of sharing carries but the matchup should be nice for the Ravens to have at least decent overall rushing numbers and most of those will go to Rice.

Kevin Walter has a sore back and was held of out practice on Wednesday and was limited yesterday but had a full day today and will play.

This is the game that originally was moved from week two thanks to Hurricane Ike. The Ravens are 5-3 and on a three game winning streak. They are only one game behind in the AFC North while the Texans are only 3-5 and at the bottom of the AFC South with yet another change at quarterback. The Texans are 3-1 at home and the Ravens are just 2-2 on the road.

Baltimore Ravens (5-3)
Homefield: M&T Bank Stadium
Sport Turf
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 CIN 17-10 +1 39
2 BYE - - -
3 CLE 28-10 -2 38.5
4 @PIT 20-23 +6 34.5
5 TEN 10-17 +3 35
6 @IND 3-31 +4.5 39
7 @MIA 27-13 +3 36.5
8 OAK 29-10 -7 36
9 @CLE 37-27 +1.5 36.5
10 @HOU - +1.5 41.5
11 @NYG - - -
12 PHI - - -
13 @CIN - - -
14 WAS - - -
15 PIT - - -
16 @DAL - - -
17 JAX - - -
BAL @ HOU Rush Catch Pass
QB Joe Flacco     190,1
RB Ray Rice 100,1 10  
RB Le'Ron McClain 20,1    
TE Todd Heap   20  
WR Mark Clayton   70  
WR Demetrius Williams   20  
WR Derrick Mason   60,1  
PK Matt Stover 1 FG 3 XP  
Pregame Notes: Streaky team this year. After losing three in a row, the Ravens have won three straight and are showing signs of an actual offense finally. More impressive yet is that it happened in the middle of playing five road games over six weeks time. The Ravens are still tinkering with the offense but so far it is just getting better. Even the defensive injuries haven't been a factor.

Quarterback: Joe Flacco comes off his best game yet when he passed for 248 yards in Cleveland and had two passing scores for the first time. He only has thrown for five touchdowns but four have come in the last three weeks. Flacco also has two rushing scores as well and had thrown for over 200 yards in each of the last three road games. He slowly getting better, but he is definitely headed in the right direction with no interceptions in the last three weeks.

Running Backs: Willis McGahee is banged up and while he dressed for the game in Cleveland, he was never intended to be more than an emergency option. It was never needed since Ray Rice went on to have the best rushing effort by a Raven since 2004 when he ran for 154 yards on 21 carries and added 22 yards on three catches. But HC John Harbaugh would not commit to who would start this week in Houston. This is usually a committee backfield and all three players will be involved if healthy. I will project for Rice as the starter and update as warranted. It could still be a messy situation there regardless of Rice's big game.

Wide Receivers: Derrick Mason has finally stepped up with games of 87 and 136 yards and a score in the last three weeks but those sandwiched a one catch game just to penalize anyone relying on the Ravens passing attack. Mark Clayton has a season high four catches for 87 yards and scored for the first time last week. Clayton has been little used but finally had some deep throws with nice results. His progress is notable since Mason has no complement. While this is still a lackluster unit, it is improving in recent weeks.

Tight Ends: By this point all one can assume is that they are keeping Todd Heap on as some sort of torture. No word on what he did what would result in being written out of the game plan this year.

Match Against the Defense: The Texans play much better at home and the run defense was better in terms of yardage allowed but the Texans have already allowed 12 rushing touchdowns this year and plenty of yards to those teams committed to the run. Look for a solid to great game by Rice with a score for him and McClain as well unless McGahee horns in which will likely happen. I will update on Friday with the best info I can get.

Flacco goes against a weaker secondary that is masked in part by the rushing that teams prefer to do against the Texans. Look for one passing score here and decent yardage that will mostly favor Mason but could end up with a running back just as easily.

Gaining Fantasy Points BAL 26 5 26 27 21 10
Preventing Fantasy Points    HOU 23 26 8 19 17 27

Houston Texans (3-5)
Homefield: Reliant Stadium
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 @PIT 17-38 +6.5 43
2 BYE - - -
3 @TEN 12-31 +5 38.5
4 @JAX 27-30 +7.5 42
5 IND 27-31 +3 47.5
6 MIA 29-28 -3 45
7 DET 28-21 -9 48
8 CIN 35-6 -10 44-
9 @MIN 21-28 +4.5 47
10 BAL - -1.5 41.5
11 @IND - - -
12 @CLE - - -
13 JAX - - -
14 @GB - - -
15 TEN - - -
16 @OAK - - -
17 CHI - - -
HOU vs BAL Rush Catch Pass
QB Sage Rosenfels     230,1
RB Steve Slaton 50 30  
TE Owen Daniels   70,1  
WR Andre Johnson   70  
WR David Anderson   20  
WR Kevin Walter   30  
PK Kris Brown 3 FG 1 XP  

Pregame Notes: The giddy three game winning streak ended in Minnesota and now back at home in the only place the Texans can win they face off with the Ravens. So far those wins came against MIA (one point), DET and CIN and that was against far lesser defenses than the Ravens. Even after this week the Texans catch no breaks with three more road trips over the next four games. The change in quarterback is no help here.

Quarterback: Matt Schaub has torn his MCL and will miss a month of playing time but there was no hint that he would be placed on injured reserve. Instead Sage Rosenfels will take his second start of the year after hosting the Colts in week five and passing for 246 yards and one score. Rosenfels is a suitable backup but going against the Ravens would be challenge enough for a first-stringer.

Running Backs: Steve Slaton continues to provide the starting role for the Texans and he has scored twice in the last three weeks. He is averaging 4.5 yards per carry though he has never had more than 17 carries in a game this year. On the plus side for this week, he has been a bigger factor as a receiver when the Texans face a top defense.

Ahman Green was held out last week with multiple injuries and Ryan Moats was the #2 back but never had a carry in Minnesota. This remains Slaton's backfield and he has all but one of the seven touchdowns by a running back this year.

Wide Receivers: Andre Johnson is currently #1 in the NFL with 834 receiving yards and his 60 catches are second only to Houshmandzadeh (61). After logging over 130 yards in four consecutive games, Johnson fell to only four catches for 62 yards in Minnesota. The biggest troubling factor with Johnson is that his three bad games all came on the road and all four home games served up those 120+ yard efforts.

No other wideout really matters here though Kevin Walter will show up with the occasional two touchdown game and then almost nothing the next week.

Tight Ends: Owen Daniels had already been one of the best tight ends in the league this year and led the position last week with 11 catches for 113 yards. He still only has one game with a score but he's been nearly golden at turning in 60+ yards each week.

Match Against the Defense: The problem here is that the Ravens are #1 against running backs and have allowed only one rushing score this year. Look for only moderate numbers from Slaton with no score and even then he will need to be used as a receiver to have any real fantasy value.

Rosenfels could have picked a better week to regain the start. The Ravens secondary has almost always allowed a touchdown every week but rarely more than one. Expect Rosenfels to connect with Daniels for a score and for Johnson to settle for yardage.

Gaining Fantasy Points HOU 3 21 3 7 24 19
Preventing Fantasy Points    BAL 8 1 6 16 11 23

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