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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
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The Huddle
~ 2008 ~
Season Ticket
Sunday Late
Update *

Prediction: BAL 20, CIN 10

Update: Mark Clayton injured his back in practice on Thursday and was limited on Friday but is still expected to play even though he was listed as questionable. Todd Heap had the flu but was back in practice on Friday and will play. No changes needed to the projections.

The Ravens continue to trail the Steelers by one game in the AFC North and are 3-3 in road games this year. The Bengals are 1-9-1 and a lost cause from which only despair and blight stem this year. Trap game chance - almost nil because the Ravens like to throttle them twice a year.

The Ravens won their home opener 17-10 against the Bengals.

Baltimore Ravens (7-4)
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 41-13 +1.5 41.5
11 @NYG 10-30 +6.5 42
12 PHI 36-7 -1 38.5
13 @CIN - -7.5 36.5
14 WAS - - -
15 PIT - - -
16 @DAL - - -
17 JAX - - -
BAL at CIN Rush Catch Pass
QB Joe Flacco     150,1
RB Willis McGahee 60 20  
RB Le' Ron McClain 40,1    
TE Todd Heap   20  
WR Mark Clayton   30  
WR Derrick Mason   50,1  
PK Matt Stover 2 FG 2 XP  
Pregame Notes: The Ravens offense has fared much better with the never ending rotational backfield and playing what ends up to be a pretty easy schedule for the last month other than the loss to the Giants. The tough games are starting up in a week though as the Ravens are going to have to traverse a tough stretch though WAS, PIT, DAL and JAC before the season ends. That may not drop them out of wild card contention but it could kill the chances of overtaking the Steelers who visit in week 15.

Quarterback: While Joe Flacco remains stuck below 200 passing yards in most games, he has thrown for two touchdowns in three of the last four games and other than the Giants loss, he's been without an interception since week six. Flacco is developing at a nice pace and getting into the tempo of the NFL game with more than a little help from some easy opponents as of late, The final month will show what he has learned.

Flacco passed for 129 yards in his first ever NFL game against the Bengals and he rushed in one touchdown.

Running Backs: Typically you want your players to face the visiting Bengals but in the case of the Baltimore backfield, flip a coin. Actually, you'll need something with three sides because now Le' Ron McClain is back in the mix with 88 yards and a score last week. Ray Rice is used around eight times each week and has been doing almost nothing with his carries. Willis McGahee has been almost entirely ineffective in these last two games after a three week stretch had four scores and 275 rushing yards.

Whether it is from playing the hot hand, just a coaching whim or literally pulling straws on the sidelines, there are three players for the Ravens that mostly serve to undercut each other and suck out all of the potential fantasy value in this backfield.

McClain rushed for 86 yards and Rice added 64 more when the Bengals came to Baltimore in week one.

Wide Receivers: The passing scheme here doesn't often do much with any wideouts and though Derrick Mason is clearly the primary here, he has only scored twice on the season (both on the road though) and has only two games over 100 yards (both on the road though). Mark Clayton has mattered only twice this year and Yamon Figurs replaced the injured Demetrius Williams but has only one catch in two games. This team is predicated on rushing the ball and good defense. Passing to wideout is highly incidental.

Mason was the lead receiver in the last Bengals game with just four catches for 44 yards.

Tight Ends: Daniel Wilcox had his second score on the season when he caught a one yard pass against the Eagles. That boosts his season totals to five catches for 19 yards. Todd Heap is the primary to the extend that he has two or even three catches per week and usually has almost 20 yards in each game.

Match Against the Defense: The problem here is that the Ravens should manage to score on the ground and have decent yardage but how it will be split up is a nightmare to project accurately. I like the overall numbers and have little confidence in the split out.

Flacco should manage a passing score in this game which heavily favors Mason but only moderate yardage at best and just the one score.

Gaining Fantasy Points BAL 21 7 27 25 22 5
Preventing Fantasy Points    CIN 17 23 20 14 19 28

Cincinnati Bengals (1-9-1)
Homefield: Paul Brown Stadium
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 @BAL 10-17 -1 39
2 TEN 7-24 -1 37.5
3 @NYG 23-26 +13.5 42
4 CLE 12-20 +3.5 44
5 @DAL 22-31 +17.5 44
6 @NYJ 14-26 +6 45
7 PIT 10-38 +9.5 37
8 @HOU 6-35 +10 44
9 JAX 21-19 +7.5 40
10 BYE - - -
11 PHI 13-13 +9 42.5
12 @PIT 10-27 +10.5 35
13 BAL - +7.5 36.5
14 @IND - - -
15 WAS - - -
16 @CLE - - -
17 KC - - -
CIN vs BAL Rush Catch Pass
QB Ryan Fitzpatrick 30   170,1
RB Cedric Benson 40 10  
TE Reggie Kelly   30  
WR Chad Johnson   40  
WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh   60,1  
WR Chris Henry   20  
PK Shayne Graham 1 FG 1 XP  

Pregame Notes: The 2008 season is slowly swirling down the drain in Cincinnati where fans are torn between wanting the Lions to remain winless as a buffer between the Bengals and absolute irrelevance or wanting the Lions to win and give the Bengals the much needed first pick in the draft because there could be a lot of openings on this team in a few months from top to bottom. The season finale against the Chiefs is a must watch in a car wreck sort of way.

Quarterback: The Bengals still have not shelved Carson Palmer much in the same way Norman Bates hung out with his mom. But Ryan Fitzpatrick has started six games this year and racked up six touchdowns against six interceptions and even four lost fumbles from the 28 sacks. He has improved enough to throw for one score and around 160 yards in most games. It's something. Just not a lot of something.

Palmer was playing back in week one and passed for only 94 yards against the Ravens.

Running Backs: Cedric Benson had his one shining game against the Jaguars when he ran for 104 yards and one score and since then - nada. He's been below 52 rushing yards in every other game and only has a 3.1 yard average which sadly ranks him as best of the backfield. He has no holes to run through and has been used as a receiver in only one game.

The Bengals rushed for 55 yards on 21 carries in the first meeting with the Ravens.

Wide Receivers: As if this team needed any more sagas, Chad Ocho Cinco was suspended from last week's game for violating team rules about being a stupid prick insubordinate to the head coach and he returns this week in what has to be his final year in Cincy. He has managed to make it this far without ever gaining more than 60 yards in any game though he has four touchdowns. His first game against the Ravens this year netted a cool one catch for 22 yards.

T.J. Houshmandzadeh is having a down year with only four scores and just two games over 85 yards but he's still an integral part of the offense and the only player here with any measure of consistent production. He's just playing the year out so he can hit the free agent market in the spring and then go shopping for the Bentley(s). Ask him - he freely admits it.

Tight Ends: Reggie Kelly has been turning in around 30 yards in most recent games but neither he nor Ben Utecht has scored at all this year.

Match Against the Defense: The Ravens are not likely to take any pity on the Bengals and this offense is already sputtering. Forget Benson which you should have done weeks ago and figure on Fitzpatrick somehow throwing for one touchdown just to save the skunk at home. I'll credit it to Houshmandzadeh but it could end up with Glenn Holt or Henry.

Gaining Fantasy Points CIN 27 32 19 29 31 28
Preventing Fantasy Points    BAL 5 3 6 10 7 25

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