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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
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The Huddle
~ 2009 ~
Season Ticket
Sunday Late

Prediction: PIT 13, BAL 20

Update: Ben Roethlisberger is now not going to play because of "exercise induced headaches" and will be held out. With Charlie Batch out as well, this leaves Dennis Dixon taking his first NFL start and a chance for him to throw his second ever pass in an NFL game. This obviously has a negative impact on the game for the Steelers.

The entire AFC North took a tumble last week and that made two losses in a row for the Steelers who still trail the Bengals by one game and they only sport a 2-3 road record. The Ravens are a game behind the Steelers but at 5-5 still have playoff possibilities though they are only 3-2 at home. This is the first meeting between these two teams and both games will only serve to hurt chances to catch the Bengals.

The Steelers swept the Ravens last year, winning 23-20 at home and later 13-9 in Baltimore.

Pittsburgh Steelers (6-4)
Homefield: Heinz Field
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 TEN 13-10 -5 37
2 @CHI 14-17 -3 37.5
3 @CIN 20-23 -4.5 37
4 SD 38-28 -6.5 43
5 @DET 28-20 -10.5 44
6 CLE 27-14 -14 38
7 MIN 27-17 -6 46.5
8 BYE - - -
9 @DEN 28-10 -3 39
10 CIN 12-18 -7 41
11 @KC 24-27 -10.5 39.5
12 @BAL - OFF -
13 OAK - - -
14 @CLE - - -
15 GB - - -
16 BAL - - -
17 @MIA - - -
PIT at BAL Rush Catch Pass
QB Ben Roethlisberger 270,1
QB Dennis DIxon     160,1
RB R. Mendenhall 60 10  
TE Heath Miller   20  
WR Hines Ward   40,1  
WR Santonio Holmes   40  
WR Mike Wallace   30  
PK Jeff Reed 2 FG 1 XP  
Pregame Notes: Losing to the Bengals was bad enough but allowing the Chiefs to beat them was even worse. It did illustrate a surprising fact - the Steelers have allowed a defensive or special teams touchdown in each of their last eight games. Makes it hard to win games when they constantly give away a touchdown each week. The good news here is that after this week the rest of the schedule could see them win out other than potentially week 17 in Miami. Ending 12-4 or 11-5 gets them into the playoffs for sure.

Quarterback: It appears that Ben Roethlisberger will play this week after getting a slight concussion last week. That's a big bonus since Charlie Batch injured his wrist and will not be available for the rest of the season. Aside from the Bengals loss two weeks ago, Roethlisberger had thrown for a score in every game this year and had multiple touchdowns in five of the last season games. He even has four efforts that topped 300 yards.

Roethlisberger passed for 246 yards and one score in Baltimore last year.

The Ravens at home have been very stingy and allowed only four passing touchdowns among the four previous visitors which included Peyton Manning (299, 1 TD). As long as Roethlisberger remains lucid and non-concussed, he should have good yardage and at least one passing touchdown.

Running Backs: Rashard Mendenhall broke his three game scoring drought when he caught a touchdown in Kansas City and he rushed for 80 yards on 21 carries. But he has not rushed in a score since week six and been running for only moderate yardage in most games. He has two big efforts over 150 rushing yards but otherwise has been more likely to only produce 70 or 80 yards per week and not score.

The Steelers as a team rushed for only 64 yards on 22 carries in Baltimore last year.

The Ravens have been slightly softer against running backs this year but that mainly only applies to Cedric Benson and Adrian Peterson. Otherwise it is the same Ravens defense that has limited runners to mediocre showings. With the Steelers on the road and Mendenhall not rushing that well anyway, expect just moderate numbers from him and hope that his four catches last week are repeated since he only had one reception in each of the previous three games.

Wide Receivers: Hines Ward just rolls along, picking up his fifth score of the year last week in Kansas City when he had ten receptions for 128 yards. That was his fourth time over 100 yards this year. Santonio Holmes has been very consistent at around 80 yards per week but he has no idea what a touchdown is like since he has not scored since the season opener. Mike Wallace never has more than around 50 yards per week and has not scored in three weeks. To his credit, the last two touchdowns were against the good defenses of the Broncos and Vikings.

Ward led the Steelers with eight catches for 107 yards in Baltimore last season. Holmes scored once on three catches for 21 yards.

The Ravens at home have only given up two wideout scores this year and Pierre Garcon has the only 100+ yard game there. Look for a strong showing by Ward in the most advantageous flanker role to have the touchdown and decent yardage. Holmes and Wallace will turn in decent to good numbers as well since the Steelers are likely to be forced to a pass heavy attack.

Tight Ends: Heath Miller comes off a season best effort when he had seven receptions for 95 yards and one score in Kansas City. That turned around a three week slide with minimal stats and give him five touchdowns on the season. Miller only had three receptions for 26 yards in Baltimore last year.

The Ravens are better against tight ends than wideouts, so look for Miller to slide back to his recent ways with a lower effort this week.

Gaining Fantasy Points PIT 7 24 5 7 11 9
Preventing Fantasy Points BAL 11 8 15 9 15 2

Baltimore Ravens (5-5)
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 30-7 +4.5 42.5
9 @CIN 7-17 -3 43.5
10 @CLE 16-0 -11 39
11 IND 15-17 +1 44
12 PIT - OFF -
13 @GB - - -
14 DET - - -
15 CHI - - -
16 @PIT - - -
17 @OAK - - -
BAL vs PIT Rush Catch Pass
QB Joe Flacco     220,1
RB Ray Rice 60 60  
TE Todd Heap   20  
WR Mark Clayton   40  
WR Kelley Washington   40  
WR Derrick Mason   70,1  
PK Billy Cundiff 2 FG 2 XP  

Pregame Notes: The Ravens are only 5-5 but they have played very well considering the brutal schedule that has seen their losses go to the Colts, Bengals (2), Patriots and Vikings - all division leaders. The two remaining meetings with the Steelers will be the two toughest games left to play and even if they split with them, chances are not that bad that the Ravens can salvage their season and potentially grab a final wildcard.

I like a defensive score in this game. Why not make it 9 in a row for the Steelers?

Quarterback: Joe Flacco has been struggling lately and not scored in the last three weeks. His yardage in most games tends to hover around the mediocre 200 yard mark but there is speculation that an ankle injury is still bothering him and limiting his mobility. After tossing 12 touchdowns in the first seven weeks, something has happened to depress Flacco's numbers each week.

Flacco only passed for 115 yards and no scores against the visiting Steelers last year.

The Steelers secondary has been weaker this year and the absence of Troy Polamalu makes a significant difference as well. But Flacco cannot be relied on for more than moderate stats at best. These last three weeks have been on the road twice and then against the Colts. This week could see Flacco finally throw a score again.

Running Backs: Ray Rice did not score last week but had a healthy showing against the Colts with 71 yards on 20 runs and 64 yards on seven receptions. He had scored in the five games previous and while he has not topped 100 rushing yards since four, he has exceeded 100 total yards in every game since week two. Rice has been a solid fantasy start each week because if he cannot run as well, he just becomes a more heavily used receiver.

The Ravens as a team only gained 107 yards on 30 carries against the Steelers last season.

The Steelers have allowed only two rushing scores this year and no runner has topped 76 yards against them. Look for a decent game from Rice but likely no score and more receptions than usual against a tough Steelers defense.

Wide Receivers: The scoring drought has obviously hurt the wideouts but other than Derrick Mason they do not count much anyway. Mason comes off a season best game of nine catches for 142 yards versus the Colts for his second 100+ yard game of the year. He has not scored since week eight but been rock solid in all non-Bengals matchups.

No receiver had more than 38 yards versus the visiting Steelers last year.

The Steelers secondary had been generally good against wideouts but Chris Chambers last week and Brandon Marshall had big efforts against them. Look for at least a decent showing by Mason in this game and a good chance that he will catch the touchdown pass.

Tight Ends: Todd Heap maintains his role as a blocker and occasional receiver who has not scored since week two or had more than 51 yards in any game this year.

Gaining Fantasy Points BAL 19 2 20 26 12 7
Preventing Fantasy Points PIT 10 1 19 10 5 32

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