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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
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The Huddle
WEEK 8
~ 2009 ~
Season Ticket
Sunday
Sunday
Sunday
Monday
Bye Week
CIN, TB
KC, NE
WAS, PIT
*updated

Prediction: DEN 23 , BAL 20

Both these teams come off their bye week but the Broncos are undefeated and the Ravens are on a three game losing streak after starting the year looking very strong. This game gets a bit intensified since both teams are due to break their strings and yet the Broncos have continued to be at least good enough every week while the Ravens have continued to be just bad enough to lose against quality opponents. Throw in a bye week and both teams should make this an intense game.

Denver Broncos (6-0)
Homefield: Invesco Field
Grass
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 @CIN 12-7 +5 42.5
2 CLE 27-6 -3 38
3 @OAK 23-3 -1.5 35.5
4 DAL 17-10 +3 43
5 NE 20-17 +3.5 41.5
6 @SD 34-23 +3.5 44
7 BYE - - -
8 @BAL - +3 41
9 PIT - - -
10 @WAS - - -
11 SD - - -
12 NYG - - -
13 @KC - - -
14 @IND - - -
15 OAK - - -
16 @PHI - - -
17 KC - - -
DEN at BAL Rush Catch Pass
QB Kyle Orton     240,1
RB Knowshon Moreno 50 10  
RB Correll Buckhalter 20 40  
TE Tony Scheffler   40  
WR Brandon Marshall   50,1  
WR Eddie Royal   50  
WR Brandon Stokley   40  
PK Matt Prater 3 FG 2 XP  

Pregame Notes: The Broncos are 6-0 and yet have been the favored team only twice. The win in San Diego was very big since it was the first road trip against a known rival who had been a problem in the past. Not so in week six. Hosting the Steelers next week is the start of the tougher stretch of the schedule but the defense has been outstanding and now special teams have kicked it up a notch. It's almost like the Broncos are the new Ravens.

I like a defensive score in this game.

Quarterback: No denying that Kyle Orton is a far better quarterback in Denver than he was in Chicago where there were no decent receivers and the team just rushed almost every play. Orton has improved as the season progresses, throwing for two touchdowns in each of the last three games and remaining above 230 yards in almost every week. He's thrown only one interception and been sacked just nine times in six games.

The Ravens defense has slipped a notch now that Rex Ryan left and every opponent not from Cleveland has thrown at least one touchdown against them. Palmer passed for 271 yards and a score in Baltimore. Favre had 278 yards and three touchdowns in week six when the Ravens came to Minnesota. Expect at least one passing score and moderate yardage here but this game smacks of a lower scoring effort from both offenses. The Ravens have spent two weeks now preparing for this game.

Running Backs: Correll Buckhalter is back in the mix now and had ten carries for 46 yards and four catches for 29 more yards in San Diego. Not enough to make him very worthy of fantasy attention but plenty enough to knock all the wind out of Knowshon Moreno's fantasy sails.

Moreno had a season high 90 yards and a score in Oakland but two other road efforts netted no more than 44 rushing yards and Moreno loses receptions to Buckhalter when he plays.

The Ravens normally stout rush defense has taken a dive over the last two games with Adrian Peterson (22-143) and Cedric Benson (27-120) playing big and Benson even scored. Prior to that, the best was just 52 yards. The split with Moreno and Buckhalter makes both unattractive this week. Rest assured Ray Lewis and company spent the bye week figuring out how to stop a running back again.

Wide Receivers: Eddie Royal returned a kick and a punt for a touchdown in San Diego but was held without a catch. His ten catch, 90 yard effort in New England is now the extreme exception - all other games have been 20 yards or less and he still has not scored as a receiver. Brandon Marshall had his three game scoring streak end in San Diego when he ended with five catches for 49 yards but getting spotted two scores from special teams mean the Broncos were not in a passing mode for much of the game.

Both Brandon Stokley and Jabar Gaffney show up with as many as 80 yards in a game or as few as no catches. But both must be accounted for or they will make a difference.

The Ravens secondary is not as dominating as it once was. Five wideouts have scored against them and four players had at least 90 receiving yards. The Vikes had Sidney Rice rack up 176 yards against them and OchoCinco gained 94 yards in Baltimore. The Ravens have been allowing the split ends to do the scoring which favors Marshall but Royal could have at least a decent showing here if they will use them.

Tight Ends: Tony Scheffler comes off his best game of the season with 101 yards and a score in San Diego. Daniel Graham gets slightly more consistent use around three catches for 35 yards each week but he has not scored and Scheffler has the only fantasy promise. The Ravens have been great against tight ends but have only faced two teams that actually use them much. Antonio Gates had 78 yards on five receptions and Vishante Shiancoe scored twice and had 48 yards in the most recent game. Scheffler could be a surprise here but more than average yardage is risky to rely on.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points DEN 19 14 13 15 9 4
Preventing Fantasy Points    BAL 23 19 18 9 29 2


Baltimore Ravens (3-3)
Homefield: M&T Bank Stadium
Sport Turf
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 KC 38-24 -12.5 36
2 @SD 31-26 +4 41
3 CLE 34-3 -13 38.5
4 @NE 21-27 +2 44.5
5 CIN 14-17 -8.5 42
6 @MIN 31-33 +3 44.5
7 BYE - - -
8 DEN - -3 41
9 @CIN - - -
10 @CLE - - -
11 IND - - -
12 PIT - - -
13 @GB - - -
14 DET - - -
15 CHI - - -
16 @PIT - - -
17 @OAK - - -
BAL vs DEN Rush Catch Pass
QB Joe Flacco     250,1
RB Ray Rice 70,1 70  
TE Todd Heap   40  
WR Mark Clayton   30  
WR Kelley Washington   40,1  
WR Derrick Mason   40  
PK Steve Hauschka 2 FG 2 XP  

Pregame Notes: No doubt that these Ravens have been stewing about their three straight losses while on their bye. Each one was lost by less than a touchdown and giving up a win to the visiting Bengals who had Cedric Benson run wild in Baltimore is a sign that this team has changed. Samari Rolle is likely out for the rest of his life, Rex Ryan is over in New York and notable stars are all a year older. Amazingly this defense has given up f f 24 or more points in four games so far.

Quarterback: Joe Flacco has been outstanding as a sophomore and scored in every game. He has topped 300 passing yards three times already and had multiple scores in four games. Flacco tweaked his ankle against the Vikings in week six but is expected to be fine for this week.

And this week will be the biggest challenge yet going against a defense that ranks no worse than top 8 against any fantasy position. The Broncos have only allowed three passing scores this year and those were from Philip Rivers (1) and Tom Brady (2). The first four opponents did not have any passing touchdowns and Rivers set the season high at just 274 passing yards. Flacco at home will be a good test for him and the Denver defense. Expect one passing score and decent yardage that could grow big depending on the game situation. But no quarterback has turned in a "big" game against Denver.

Running Backs: The Willis McGahee owners are no longer giggling. They may be crying though if they dared to use him in the last couple of games. The offense has evolved away from McGahee who started the year with six scores in the first three weeks but since then has only totaled 12 yards on 13 carries over the last three games. The matchups have all been much tougher in recent games so he may have value again against Cleveland or Detroit but for now, McGahee no longer matters.

Ray Rice has become not only the primary runner, but he's also been heavily involved in the passing game as well with 17 catches in just the last two games. He has four touchdowns on the season and is a true double threat.

But the Broncos rush defense has been dominating and only allowed two rushing touchdowns this year. No runner has gained more than 76 yards and they have allowed just 73 rush yards per opponent on average. No doubt that Rice will come into play both as a runner and a receiver this week. I like the chance for a rushing score and Rice should have very good total yards.

Wide Receivers: Derrick Mason remains the #1 despite having no catches in week five. He had over 88 yards and a score in three of the most recent four games and at least usually is the only reliable receiver. Mark Clayton has scored twice but has locked in around 40 or 50 yards per week while Kelley Washington does a shade less. Mason has the only efforts over 80 yards among all wide receivers for the Ravens.

The Broncos, most assuredly, will match Champ Bailey on Mason which would be the natural pairing anyway. With superior corner play, I like the one receiving score to go to Washington in the slot trying to match up on safeties. None of these players will have a big game and holding down Mason will really hinder this offense.

Tight Ends: Todd Heap is a consistent player at around 40 yards per week though he has not scored since week two. The Broncos are #1 against the position anyway so expect nothing more than an average showing by Heap this week.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points BAL 10 1 16 19 18 13
Preventing Fantasy Points    DEN 2 8 6 1 5 3

The Huddle
WEEK 8
~ 2009 ~
Season Ticket
Sunday
Sunday
Sunday
Monday
Bye Week
CIN, TB
KC, NE
WAS, PIT
Other Features
Fantasy Statistics
Early Injury Report
Free Agent Forecast
Commentary From the Edge
Game Recaps
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