Joe Flacco: 8/10
It’s been a brutal run for Flacco and the offense, but this match-up appears to be just what the doctor ordered. Flacco is coming off a bye week and will take on a team he is 9-0 against in his career. Flacco’s last big passing game of the season came against the Browns in week four, as he threw for 356 yards. Since that robust output, Flacco hasn’t had a game in which he threw for more than 234 yards. Meanwhile, since that week four match-up, the Browns’ pass defense has not gotten much better, as they rank 25th and have been vulnerable to the big play. Expect the Ravens to get the passing game back on track after a rough patch, so Flacco should have a pretty big game.
Prediction: 290 yards passing, two touchdowns, one interception
Ray Rice: 9/10
It has been a bit of a disappointing first half of the season for Rice. He hasn’t played poorly; rather, he has been under-utilized, leading to the sub-par numbers. The Ravens know that Rice is their best offensive weapon, so a steady diet of Rice is to be expected against the Browns. With the Ravens’ defense reeling, Rice’s ability to chew up both yards and clock can only help an ailing defense that has been on the field way too much. Rice did have his worst game of the season in regards to yards per carry against the Browns in week four, but he has traditionally had big games against the Browns, and this game may be a chance to avenge his poor performance in week four. If the Ravens are to turn around their struggling offense, Rice must be the focal point, so 20-25 touches seem to be in order.
Prediction: 110 yards rushing, 35 yards receiving, one touchdown
Torrey Smith: 7/10
Smith’s consistency remains a problem, which is scary for fantasy owners. He is currently mired in one of his bad stretches (as most of the offense is); Smith has a measly 103 yards receiving and one touchdown in the last three games combined. That may be a good sign as he is ready to go into one of his customary hot stretches following a rough patch. Smith did go for 97 yards and a touchdown against the Browns in week four, so the Browns pass defense may be exactly what Smith needs to get going again. Smith should see a lot of Browns’ top cornerback Joe Haden, so he will have a battle on his hands. Smith remains a risky fantasy play, but his match-up against Cleveland is tempting.
Prediction: 80 yards receiving
Anquan Boldin: 8/10
Boldin has been the steadiest of all Ravens’ players involved in the passing game. He leads the team in receiving yards, and hasn’t had the large swings in play like Smith and Dennis Pitta. Boldin has only found the end zone once this season, and that was in week one, so he may be due to finally hit pay-dirt again. With Haden expected to be on Smith, Boldin should be a top target for Flacco. Boldin should be a difference-maker as his possession-receiver abilities should be a security blanket for Flacco. I think this is finally the week that Boldin finds the end zone again.
Prediction: 70 yards receiving, one touchdown
Dennis Pitta: 7/10
Pitta has become a nearly forgotten man on the Ravens’ sinking offense. Pitta’s decline in production started in the Ravens’ week four win over the Browns, as he had no catches in that game. Since the Browns game, Pitta has a mere 88 yards in the last four games. However, Pitta is Flacco’s best buddy on the team, so I expect Flacco to look Pitta’s way this week to get their top tight end back on track. If the Ravens are to get their once-potent passing attack turned around, Pitta needs to be a contributing factor. I’m going out on a limb here, but I think Pitta turns things around to an extent, and finds the end zone.
Prediction: 45 yards receiving, 1 touchdown