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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
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The Huddle
WEEK 16
~ 2009 ~
Season Ticket
Friday
Sunday
Sunday
Sunday
Sunday Late
Sunday
Monday
*Updated

Prediction: BAL 14, PIT 20

The Ravens have won two straight to reach just one game back of the Bengals but short of them losing their last two games, the Ravens are going to have to settle for a wildcard if they can win out or have others lose. Currently The Ravens are tied with the Broncos at 8-6 but there are six other teams at 7-7 including these Steelers. The Ravens are only 2-4 in road games though and the Steelers are 5-2 at home. The Ravens have not won in Pittsburgh since 2006.

The Ravens won 20-17 when the Steelers visited in week 12.

Baltimore Ravens (8-6)
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 20-17 -6 20
13 @GB 14-27 +3 44
14 DET 48-3 -14 40.5
15 CHI 31-7 -10.5 39.5
16 @PIT - +2.5 41
17 @OAK - - -
BAL at PIT Rush Catch Pass
QB Joe Flacco     260,2
RB Ray Rice 60 50  
TE Todd Heap   20  
WR Demetrius Williams   60  
WR Kelley Washington   30,1  
WR Derrick Mason   90,1  
PK Billy Cundiff   2 XP  
Pregame Notes: The Ravens are in the driver's seat for a wild card but two remaining road games are looking tougher all the time. Just one loss drags the Ravens down into the mass of other teams and two will likely knock them out. The Ravens have feasted on the visiting Lions and Bears in the last two weeks but the offense was not nearly that good leaving home. This is a playoff game of sorts for both these teams.

Quarterback: Joe Flacco had a dramatic increase last week. While he only managed 230 yards and one score the previous week against the Lions, he turned in 234 yards and four touchdowns against the visiting Bears. He had not thrown for multiple scores in a game since week six. Flacco only has one touchdown over the last three road games.

Flacco passed for 289 yards and one score in the previous meeting with the Steelers. The Steelers secondary has not improved and Troy Polamalu is not certain to return this week. Expect a decent showing this week with lesser yardage than the last time but a chance for two scores.

Running Backs: Ray Rice has been less productive in recent weeks with only one score in the last five games which came against the visiting Lions - also his only game over 88 rushing yards in that time. Rice has been pulled from some games at the end which lowers his potential output.

Rice rushed for 88 yards on 19 carries and added 67 yards on five catches against the visiting Steelers four weeks ago.

Willis McGahee scored once in that game and has tacked on three more sores in the last three weeks to drain away what Rice could do by himself.

The Steelers have allowed just two rushing touchdowns in Pittsburgh this year and never more than 63 rushing yards. Expect a lower effort from Rice this week but his receptions should boost his fantasy value.

Wide Receivers: Derrick Mason remains the primary and has scored in three of the last four games including against the Steelers when he caught seven passes for 62 yards. Kelley Washington was held to just one catch in that game while Mark Clayton had a season best 129 yards on seven receptions. He has been out the last few games and is replaced by Demetrius Williams who had his first NFL touchdown just last week versus the Bears.

Flacco is going to have to throw and should see success with it. Mason is always a sure bet to show up big and the other score could end up with either wideout.

Tight Ends: Todd Heap had two scores last week for the first time since week two but only accounted for a season low one catch for six yards in the previous meeting with the Steelers. He is not worth a start this week.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points BAL 14 1 19 24 13 6
Preventing Fantasy Points PIT 14 1 27 10 12 30


Pittsburgh Steelers (7-7)
Homefield: Heinz Field
Grass
  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 17-20 +6 20
13 OAK 24-27 -14.5 37
14 @CLE 6-13 -10 34
15 GB 37-36 -2.5 41.5
16 BAL - -2.5 41
17 @MIA - - -
PIT vs BAL Rush Catch Pass
QB Ben Roethlisberger     260,2
RB R. Mendenhall 70 20  
TE Heath Miller   30  
WR Hines Ward   80,1  
WR Santonio Holmes   70,1  
WR Mike Wallace   40  
PK Jeff Reed 2 FG 2 XP  

Pregame Notes: The win last week may not save the season but it probably helps with the sanity. The Steelers had been on a five game losing streak and all but given up on the playoffs but at 7-7 there is still a glimmer of hope that 9-7 may make it in.

Quarterback: Ben Roethlisberger comes off a career best game and one he is not likely to ever top when he passed for 503 yards and three touchdowns in the last second win over the Packers. By contrast, he had no scores and only 201 yards the previous week in Cleveland. Big Ben has missed just one game this year - week 12 in Baltimore when Dennis Dixon passed fro 145 yards and one score and almost beat the Ravens.

The Ravens secondary is not nearly as good this year and especially away from home. where the have allowed multiple touchdowns for quarterbacks in four of six games. Look for nice stats this week with at least two passing scores and a chance for three.

Running Backs: Rashard Mendenhall has not been much for scoring this year but has two touchdowns in the last three games for a total of six rushing scores on the year, Mendenhall has topped 100 yards only three times this year and has rarely been involved in the passing game. Except. of course, for the six reception, 73 yard game against the Packers. Otherwise, he has been turning in one or two inconsequential catches each week.

Mendenhall ran for 95 yards on 24 carries in Baltimore and added two receptions for 22 yards in that game.

The Ravens remain very tough against the run and only two players have logged a rushing score there. Expect moderate yardage and no scores this week.

Wide Receivers: Hines Ward remains day-to-day with a sore hamstring and the Steelers signed Joey Galloway to fill in for Limas Sweed who is out with an undisclosed illness. There's no expectations that Galloway will be anything more than just depth. Ward gained 126 yards on seven catches against the Packers to lead the team while Mike Wallace had two scores on two catches for 79 yards. Wallace is melding very well into the passing attack and not at the expense of another receiver.

Ward had three catches for 47 yards in Baltimore while Santonio Holmes gained 74 yards on six catches with one score there. Wallace had four passes but no catches in that game.

Barring negative information, I will assume that Ward can play this week with little or no limitation. The Ravens are much less formidable on the road and both scores should end up with a receiver. Ward is an obvious safe bet and Holmes should score against them for the second time this year.

Tight Ends Heath Miller has set a Steelers franchise record for tight ends with 68 receptions on the season and he comes off his first 100+ yard game when he had seven receptions for 118 yards versus the Packers. Miller has only one score in the last eight weeks but has been solid in most games. Of course his lowest of the season was in Baltimore when he only had one catch for two yards. Expect a better game this week but not much more.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points PIT 5 26 5 12 11 19
Preventing Fantasy Points BAL 6 4 8 5 5 4

The Huddle
WEEK 16
~ 2009 ~
Season Ticket
Friday
Sunday
Sunday
Sunday
Sunday Late
Sunday
Monday
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