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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
Player Projections by Team
Game Predictions Summary
The Huddle
November 29, 2006
Season Ticket
Sunday Late
Sunday night
ATL at WAS MIN at CHI   TB at PIT Updated

Prediction: BAL 17, CIN 20

This is one of the must watch games of the week. The 9-2 Ravens head into Cincinnati knowing that a win here already guarantees them with the division (not that it wouldn't happen anyway) and it also keeps them in contention for that first round bye. Last week the Ravens shut out the Steelers 27-0. The Bengals beat up on the Browns last week to the tune of 30-0 and have to win this game for a chance at the playoffs at all to be realistic. It couldn't be bigger but the Ravens have never looked so good. This game revolves around the Ravens defensive ability to either cover the Bengals wideouts or at least gain a score of their own.

This is the second meeting for these teams this year. The Ravens won 26-20 in Cincinnati in week nine.

Baltimore Ravens (9-2)
1 27-0 @TB 10 27-26 @TEN
2 28-6 OAK 11 24-10 ATL
3 15-14 @CLE 12 27-0 PIT
4 16-13 SD 13 --- @CIN
5 3-13 @DEN 14 --- @KC
6 21-23 CAR 15 --- CLE
7 Open Bye 16 --- @PIT
8 35-22 @NO 17 --- BUF
9 26-20 CIN - THU MON
BAL at CIN Rush Catch Pass
QB Steve McNair 0 0 250,2
RB Jamal Lewis 50 0 0
TE Todd Heap 0 80,1 0
WR Derrick Mason 0 50 0
WR Mark Clayton 0 80,1 0
WR Demetrius Williams 0 20 0
PK Matt Stover 1 FG 2 XP -
Pregame Notes: The Ravens are on a five game winning streak and the defense has been outstanding. Baltimore is the highest ranked defense in most leagues now and thanks to superior field position and a passing game that kicks in when needed, these birds are proving very hard to beat. But the Ravens on the road barely squeaked past the Titans and Browns and lost to Denver. This should be a bigger challenge than four weeks ago in Baltimore when the Ravens won thanks to an interception return for a score and holding off a late comeback bid by the Bengals.

Quarterback: Steve McNair only threw for 140 yards and one score last week against the Steelers because that was all he had to do in order to win. McNair's production has been inconsistent each week because he merely responds to the game situation which in turn is generally dictated by the Ravens defense.

McNair threw for 245 yards and no scores in the previous match-up with the Bengals.

Running Backs: Jamal Lewis is enjoying this winning streak and has scored five times in the last four games - he only had one touchdown in the first seven games. It's not that he is running better, he still plods along with less than four yards per carry every week but the offense has landed him near enough to the goal line to allow him to score. Last week he had 66 yards on 17 carries and one touchdown. Before that, he ran for 91 yards on 22 carries and scored three times. But he only had 45 yards on 16 carries in week 10 because it was the only game on the road. He has not scored in any of the last four road games and rarely gained more than three yards per carry away from Baltimore. Of his six scores on the year, five came at home and the only road touchdown was back in week one against the Buccaneers.

Lewis gained 72 yards on 24 carries and scored once against the Bengals earlier this year.

Wide Receivers: Mark Clayton finally settled back down when he had just 31 yards on two carries last week but he had been the best receiver for the four previous weeks. Derrick Mason has only scored once this year and hasn't been above the 65 yard mark since week three. When McNair needs a completion, Mason ends up third in the pecking order in this offense.

Clayton led all Ravens receivers against the Bengals in week nine when he had eight catches for 73 yards. Mason was held to just 20 yards on two catches.

Tight Ends: Todd Heap continues to be the lone consistent player in this offense with 60 or more yards in almost every game as of late. He scored his sixth touchdown of the last week when he ended a three game scoring drought.

Heap caught four passes for 84 yards against the Bengals in week nine.

Match Against the Defense: Lewis never gains more than three yards per carry on the road and his scoring potential depends on someone else getting tackled at the one yard line. Look for only moderate yardage here with a better chance of worse numbers than better.

McNair faces a secondary that ranks badly because they Bengals have been scoring a lot of points and forcing opponents to throw to beat them. This time around the defense and rushing game will not carry the Ravens and McNair will have to step up. Look for two passing scores this week that will favor Clayton and Heap. This could end up to be a two score game for Heap.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM    QB   RB   WR   TE   PK  DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points BAL 18 23 27 2 7 1
Preventing Fantasy Points CIN 28 22 8 31 10 9


Cincinnati Bengals (6-5)
1 23-10 @KC 10 41-49 SD
2 34-17 CLE 11 31-16 @NO
3 28-20 @PIT 12 30-0 @CLE
4 13-38 NE 13 --- BAL
5 Open Bye 14 --- OAK
6 13-14 @TB 15 --- @IND
7 17-14 CAR 16 --- @DEN
8 27-29 ATL 17 --- PIT
9 20-26 @BAL - MON THU
CIN vs BAL Rush Catch Pass
QB Carson Palmer 0 0 280,2
RB Rudi Johnson 70 10 0
TE Reggie Kelly 0 30 0
WR Chad Johnson 0 90 0
WR Houshmandzadeh 0 80,1 0
WR Chris Henry 0 60,1 0
PK Shayne Graham 2 FG 2 XP -

Pregame Notes: The Bengals barely lost to the Ravens in Baltimore and then barely lost to the Chargers. The schedule makers had it out for the Bengals this year. Solid wins on the road in New Orleans and Cleveland prepare the Bengals for a big effort this week in a "we cannot afford to lose" sort of game. The offense has been on a roll with everyone healthy and Carson Palmer appears to be getting right back on track after a slower start.

Quarterback: Forget the start of the year when Carson Palmer was inconsistent and still recovering from his knee surgery. Palmer only completed 12 of 26 passes for 195 yards and one touchdown against the Ravens in week nine but he has never been below 275 passing yards or three scores in the three games since that meeting.

Running Backs: Chris Perry suffered a broken leg last week and has been lost for the season. He had done little this year anyway. Rudi Johnson had been on a tear for the last six weeks either scoring a touchdown or rushing for more than 100 yards - though oddly never both. Johnson gained 77 yards on 18 carries and scored once against the Ravens four weeks ago.

Wide Receivers: Chad Johnson only had four catches for 32 yards against the Ravens in week nine. In the three games since then, he has merely reeled off five touchdowns and gained 573 yards to regain his ranking as the highest scoring fantasy wideout in the NFL. This will be an interesting test for Johnson who has been on fire to historic levels since that Ravens game. Last year Johnson had 88 yards and one score when the Ravens came to Cincinnati while T. J. Houshmandzadeh (9-147, 1 TD) was the more productive player. In week nine, Houshmandzadeh had three catches for 66 yards and one score against the Ravens in Baltimore.

Tight Ends: No fantasy relevance but Reginald Kelly can turn in up to 40 yards in a week.

Match Against the Defense: Ray Lewis returned last week which won't help the Bengals but of the two rushing scores allowed to running backs this year, one was by Rudi Johnson. Expect moderate production here but a second touchdown will be hard to get.

Palmer is the key and he has been on fire lately. The Ravens on the road can give up bigger yardage to a good quarterback and Palmer is hitting his groove. Expect a nice yardage game here because it has to happen. I like Palmer to end up near 300 yards passing and throw for at least two scores that will favor Houshmandzadeh and Henry.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM    QB   RB   WR   TE   PK  DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points CIN 6 22 1 27 5 14
Preventing Fantasy Points BAL 15 1 11 4 1 3