StrategyOctober 22, 2004


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Spotlight Game: Buffalo at Baltimore

By Dave McGrath

Buffalo Preview

Drew Bledsoe: Bledsoe has been relatively ineffective this season, partly because of the offensive line’s inability to give him time to toss the long ball. Another problem, of course, is Drew’s lack of mobility. Look for Baltimore to exploit both of these weaknesses with constant blitz packages. Expect another sub-par performance from Bledsoe as he begins to hear JP Losman’s footsteps. One hundred fifty yards, a TD, and two turnovers should do it. Bledsoe is 2-12 in his last 14 road games, having been sacked 49 times and posting a turnover ratio of -30 during that span.

Eric Moulds: Moulds has put up solid numbers despite his frustrations with Buffalo’s offensive scheme. He’ll again have to work for his yards on Sunday. Bottom line: seventy yards and possibly Drew’s only touchdown toss.

Travis Henry/Willis McGahee: Henry’s status is still unknown for this week, but if he comes back, he will likely only grab only a couple of McGahee’s carries on a ginger ankle. McGahee showed flashes of brilliance last week, gaining 111 yards against a quality Miami run defense. Unfortunately for McGahee owners, he is not a good play this week against an even better Ravens defense. Play him only if you are ravaged by bye weeks and/or injuries. Expect about 50-70 total yards from McGahee (with no scores), and only about 30 from Henry if he plays.

Mark Campbell: Not a bad option if your regular TE has a bye. Campbell had a touchdown last week, and could see more catches as Bledsoe looks to dump the ball off to avoid the blitz. Twenty-five yards and a red zone look should be accurate.

Defense: A solid start against an anemic offense (and Jamal Lewis’ absence doesn’t hurt), the Bills could do some blitzing of their own here, registering a few sacks and possibly pressuring Boller into a couple interceptions.

Baltimore Preview

Kyle Boller: Although the strong point of Buffalo’s defense is stopping the run, Boller will have trouble here. Look for him to be handing it to Chester Taylor and Musa Smith for the majority of the day. Not a good start. One hundred forty yards and an interception.

Chester Taylor/Musa Smith: Taylor is expected to get the majority of the carries here, so he is the play. While Buffalo’s run D is solid, Sammy Morris (yes, Sammy Morris, Miami’s fourth RB) ran all over them last week, so there is a possibility that Taylor could have a productive day. Twenty-five carries for 105 and a TD seem possible. Smith will most likely only receive 5-7 carries, so he is not an option as long Taylor is healthy during Lewis’ suspension.

Baltimore WRs: Nobody in this group is consistent enough to start here. But if you have to use one, go with Randy Hymes, who has been the Ravens’ leading receiver for the last three weeks.

Todd Heap: According to the Baltimore Sun, Heap is a ‘long shot’ for this week. Monitor his status heading into the weekend and hope he improves. If he plays, he is a great option even if he is hobbled. Fifty yards for Heap if he is able to play.

Defense: The Ravens are always a great option, but they have enhanced value this week facing a struggling Buffalo offense. Baltimore will register four sacks and two turnovers while keeping Buffalo off the scoreboard for the most part.

Sleepers:
Lee Evans: The young WR hasn’t completely developed yet, but has shown his ability to catch the deep ball at times this season. He could be a quality waiver wire pickup if Buffalo is ever able to stretch the field to use Evans’ blazing speed.

Prediction

The better team pulls it out in the end. Look for a good day for the kickers of these teams as each finds difficulty punching it in during red zone trips. Baltimore 19, Buffalo 13.

 
Dave McGrath is a freshman at LaSalle University, and will be previewing several games in this way each week. He holds the distinction of being the only Cincinnati Bengals fan in Philadelphia.

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