Game Predictions & Player Projections - PIT vs BAL

Game Predictions & Player Projections - PIT vs BAL

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Game Predictions & Player Projections - PIT vs BAL

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Prediction: PIT 20, BAL 17 (Line: BAL by 2.5)

Players to Watch: Ravens Backfield

The Steelers come off a close win over the visiting Browns which usually doesn’t bode well but the Ravens not only lost at home against the Bengals, but now have released long-time running back Ray Rice. Let’s make this worse – this is a Thursday night game so no time to absorb what just happened and plenty of distractions in the four days between games. These teams always play close, usually low-scoring games. The “Rice Effect” puts a new variable into play this week.

The Ravens won 22-20 when the Steelers visited last year. The Steelers won their home meeting 19-16.

Pittsburgh Steelers

1 CLE 30-27 10 @NYJ —–
2 @BAL —– 11 @TEN —–
3 @CAR —– 12 BYE —–
4 TB —– 13 NO —–
5 @JAC —– 14 @CIN —–
6 @CLE —– 15 @ATL —–
7 HOU —– 16 KC —–
8 IND —– 17 CIN —–
9 BAL —–  
News | Statistics | Roster
PIT @ BAL Rush Catch Pass
QB Ben Roethlisberger 260,2
RB Le’Veon Bell 60 3-20
RB DeAngelo Williams
WR Antonio Brown 4-60
WR Markus Wheaton 5-70
TE Ladarius Green 2-30
TE Heath Miller 3-30
PK Shaun Suisham 2 FG 2 XP

The Steelers barely beat the Browns but at least the offense looked in good shape in the season opener. The schedule holds numerous good defenses yet to play and this chance to win a road game would go a long way to being competitive in the AFC North again. Facing the Ravens now could be a case of very good timing.

QUARTERBACK : Ben Roethlisberger opened with a nice showing – 365 pass yards and one score but he tossed an interception and was sacked four times. The offense intended to use more no-huddle plays to minimize how often Roethlisberger would get hit and keep the offense on the move. Then again, for being one of the league’s biggest statues, four sacks is not that bad. The next five games will be a big test for Big Ben.

Roethlisberger passed for 257 yards and two scores in Baltimore last year.

RUNNING BACK : The sharing ratio between Le’Veon Bell and LeGarrette Blount was of interest and when the smoke cleared it was Bell who was clearly in the driver’s seat. He rushed 21 times for 109 yards and one touchdown and added six receptions for 88 yards for a great season opener. Blount scored once but only gained six yards on four carries. Neither seems to be in much trouble for now so Bell looks better than expected so far. The string of tough defenses will impact him directly and he’s not at home this week.

Bell ran for 73 yards and one touchdown on 16 carries in Baltimore last season.

WIDE RECEIVER : Antonio Brown picked up from last year when he turned in 116 yards and one touchdown on five catches versus the Browns. Markus Wheaton’s first start turned into a respectable six catches for 97 yards and Justin Brown ended with 38 yards on three receptions. Going against a decent secondary the Steelers were able to fid their wide receivers with success. Both Wheaton and Justin Brown should continue to develop.

Brown never gained more than 59 yards in any meeting with the Ravens last year and never scored. Emmanuel Sanders scored once on his six catches for 43 yards.

TIGHT END : Heath Miller only caught three passes for 26 yards. He was behind both all wideouts and Bell as a preferred target though his role could expand depending on the defense. Miller ended with eight catches for 86 yards in Baltimore last season.

MATCH TO THE DEFENSE: Both teams are largely the same from 2013 with the exception of the Ravens offense. The Ravens were tough against the Bengals last week and were mostly dinged by the long touchdown to A.J. Green. Bell is a must start regardless though should be less productive on the road unless the Ravens are really distracted and allow the Steelers a sizable lead. Brown is another weekly starter but this is not a great matchup that would make Wheaton be a reasonable option.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points PIT 10 4 5 29 5 24
Preventing Fantasy Points BAL 16 8 23 12 1 23

Baltimore Ravens

1 CIN 16-23 10 TEN —–
2 PIT —– 11 BYE —–
3 @CLE —– 12 @NO —–
4 CAR —– 13 SD —–
5 @IND —– 14 @MIA —–
6 @TB —– 15 JAC —–
7 ATL —– 16 @HOU —–
8 @CIN —– 17 CLE —–
9 @PIT —–  
News | Statistics | Roster
BAL vs PIT Rush Catch Pass
QB Joe Flacco 260,1
RB Justin Forsett 60,1 3-20
RB Trent Richardson 40 4-20
RB Lorenzo Taliaferro 20 1-10
RB Terrance West 60
WR Steve Smith 7-80
WR Mike Wallace 8-70,1
TE Dennis Pitta 5-60
PK Justin Tucker 1 FG 2 XP

Gary Kubiak was brought in to install the same offense he directed in Denver and Houston but the install is hitting rather major bumps. Playing without Ray Rice last week is now just the way it is and the media attention that his story now brings has to be of some distraction, particularly in a game played on Thursday night. The Ravens even remain at home which means not even getting a plane trip away from guys with microphones. The offense not only has to deal with the loss of Rice as a player, and the distraction but he was a friend in the locker room to make it even more complicated.

This would normally be just a lower scoring matchup that the Ravens should win by a small margin. But this new “layer” to the game will have some impact. How much is hard to gauge but given that it happened on Monday, very suddenly (and graphically) and the Ravens have to play on Thursday – it has to affect them.

QUARTERBACK : Joe Flacco passed for 345 yards but only one score last week. He also was sacked three times and intercepted once by a solid Bengals defense. The new offense seems to fit well since Flacco did a nice job of spreading the ball around to his tight end and both wideouts. Once the team gets past this Rice situation and settle on a backfield, it looks like better days are ahead. So far, adding Steve Smith was just what this offense needed..

Flacco passed for 251 yards and one score when the Steelers came to Baltimore last year.

RUNNING BACK : What a week. Ray Rice – gone. Bernard Pierce was benched last week after only six carries for 14 yards because he lost the first fumble of his three year career. Not a lot of room for error apparently. He was returning from a concussion but the Bengals clearly prepared to stop him. There is speculation too that Kubiak is not that fond of him and that is why he got the early hook.

Of course Justin Forsett ran for 70 yards and one score on 11 rushes which sends everyone to their waiver wire to grab the 28-year old back. Most running backs don’t breakout in their seventh season on their fourth team. This week will be very interesting to see who is being used and how much. Don’t forget that the Ravens used their 4.38 pick on Lorenzo Taliaferro. This backfield is in flux and the Ravens are sure to bring someone else in if only for depth. This week is critical to see how the Ravens want to proceed.

All totaled the Ravens only rushed for 67 yards on 21 carries when the Steelers visited last year.

WIDE RECEIVER : Torrey Smith has always been a great deep receiver to stretch the field. Last year he was cast as more of a possession receiver and responded with moderately good results. Now Smith is back to his old role and Steve Smith is cast as the possession guy with great results for the first game. Smith caught seven passes for 118 yards and one score. Torrey Smith only brought in three receptions but gained 50 yards. That is a solid start for the new scheme and promising that Steve Smith brings in a new piece of the puzzle that had been missing.

Smith ended with 93 yards on six catches and one score against the Ravens last year.

TIGHT END : Kubiak likes his tight ends and spend the summer moving Dennis Pitta all around the offense. That continued against the Bengals when Pitta led the team with ten catches for 83 yards. Pitta should continue to post top ten stats if not top five.

MATCH TO THE DEFENSE: This is a challenge to predict. The Steelers have only played the visiting Browns and gave up a ton of rushing yards and two scores to running backs. But the backfield of the Ravens could include almost any mixture this week. Pitta and Steve Smith should be every week starts so far and Torrey Smith is only marginal. There may be nice rushing yards here but it is a risk to assume that Forsett is going to go off on the Steelers.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points BAL 12 21 7 10 28 32
Preventing Fantasy Points PIT 9 26 16 19 11 18

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