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Predictions & Projections
By David M. Dorey
 
The Huddle
WEEK 5
October 1, 2003
Season Ticket
Sun 1 PM *TEN at NE Sun 4 PM Sun 8:30 PM Bye Week:
*ARZ at DAL *MIN at ATL DET at SF *CLE at PIT Ravens
CIN at BUF *NO at CAR WAS at PHI Mon 9 PM Texans
*DEN at KC OAK at CHI *SD at JAX *IND at TB Jets
MIA at NYG SEA at GB   *updated Rams
   
Cleveland vs Pittsburgh Sun, Oct 5; 8:30 PM on ESPN at Heinz Field
  Cleveland Rush Catch Pass
QB Tim Couch 0 0 170,1
RB William Green 50 10 0
RB Jamel White 0 20 0
TE Steve Heiden 0 10 0
WR Kevin Johnson 0 60 0
WR Dennis Northcutt 0 40,1 0
WR Quincy Morgan 0 30 0
  Pittsburgh Rush Catch Pass
QB Tommy Maddox 0 0 220,1
RB Amos Zereoue 90,1 30 0
RB Jerome Bettis 30 0 0
TE Jay Riemersma 0 10 0
WR Hines Ward 0 80 0
WR Antwaan Randle El 0 20 0
WR Plaxico Burress 0 60,1 0


Game Prediction: CLE 16, PIT 20

Update: Plaxico Burress was listed as questionable with a hip pointer and missed practice on Wednesday but returned on Thursday and is expected to be fine for the game. Jay Riemersma has been bothered with a shoulder injury and remains questionable, so I am lowering his numbers. He may not even play.

The Cleveland Browns lost the lottery this year and became the "it" team for 2003 by supplying the Bengals with their first win of the season, even though Cincy was the visitor and had lost Corey Dillon early in the game. Ah - just washes away that 49er win like a high-pressure hose. The Browns are, uh, sort of tied with the Bengals at 1-3 now.

Tim Couch took the start and proved that he is neither the problem nor the answer to the offensive woes for the Browns. Couch did throw for 280 yards and two scores, actually finding the missing Quincy Morgan for a 71 yard score to open up the game. He only connected with Morgan again two more times for 20 yards. Then again, Morgan also fumbled inside the 5-yard line.

Other than the Morgan touchdown, the Browns played to expectations - throw mainly to Kevin Johnson and score using a player that no one has starting on their fantasy team (this time Jamel White). William Green ran 16 times for 47 yards and added 17 yards on three receptions but all too often was hit before he could even reach the line of scrimmage.

The loss makes Cleveland 0-2 this season at home and even Tim Couch and OT Ryan Tucker got into a yelling match with angry fans, a sure sign that the Browns are virtually a road team in every game. Kelly Holcomb missed the game with a hairline fracture in his leg but is considered day-to-day and will be back as soon as he is cleared to play. I am assuming that Couch gets into yelling matches with the Pittsburgh fans this weekend.

After the stinging loss by San Francisco in Minnesota, the week three win has lost almost all its luster. The Browns get to face Pittsburgh who has won the last six meetings between these two teams.

Pittsburgh comes off yet another frustrating loss to the Titans. Tommy Maddox threw for 332 yards but no scores and spent almost the entire game throwing short passes to Hines Ward (9-76) and Plaxico Burress (4-64). In fantasy terms, the most interesting factor was the reliance on Amos Zereoue to produce from the tailback spot. Zereoue gained 51 yards on 18 carries and scored once, while adding 48 more yards on six catches. Jerome Bettis only had three carries for six yards.

Jay Riemersma is making the tight end position mean more than blocking in Pittsburgh. He had three catches for 44 yards last week after having two catches for 28 yards the week before. Maybe it is not league leading, but it is a definite shift in offensive philosophy.

The Browns have not won in Pittsburgh during this millennia and there is little reason to think that will change. Look for Amos Zereoue to have a nice game against a soft rushing defense and even Jerome Bettis to get a few more meaningful carries this week as the Steelers concentrate on ball control and waiting for the Browns to make a mistake. Pittsburgh needs to work on the long passing game but Cleveland cannot be regularly beaten deep, regardless of what Chad Johnson did last week. This will be the final week for William Green to face a stout rush defense before enjoying Oakland, San Diego and New England before the bye week.

While on paper it may seem that the Browns will get dismantled, for some reason they almost always play the Steelers tough (and yet lose).The last three games have been decided by three points in each. Cleveland is a rarity in that they typically play much better on the road.

CLE
PIT
2003 Averages
PIT
CLE
Gains
Allows
QB's
Gains
Allows
208
149
Pass yards
292
176
1.3
1.5
Pass TDs
1.3
0.8
1.5
0.8
Interceptions
1.5
1.0
3
8
Rush yards
-1
11
0.0
0.0
Rush TDs
0.0
0.0
----
----
RB's
----
----
64
72
Rush yards
87
130
0.0
1.0
Rush TDs
0.8
0.5
28
15
Receive yards
33
23
0.3
0.0
Receive TD's
0.0
0.0
----
----
WR's
----
----
164
96
Receive yards
231
114
1.0
1.0
Receive TD's
1.0
0.5
----
----
TE's
----
----
16
38
Receive yards
28
39
0.0
0.5
Receive TD's
0.3
0.3
----
----
PK's
----
----
1.0
0.8
Field Goals
1.8
2.8
1.3
3.0
Extra Points
2.3
1.3
----
----
DEF/ST
----
----
0.5
0.5
Fumbles
0.3
0.5
1.0
1.5
Interceptions
1.0
1.5
0.0
0.8
Touchdowns
0.3
0.3
1.8
2.8
Sacks
2.0
2.0
0.0
0.3
Safeties
0.0
0.0
Browns(1-3)
Score Opp.
6-9 IND
13-33 @BAL
13-12 @SF
14-21 CIN
Week 5 @PIT
Week 6 OAK
Week 7 SD
Week 8 @NE
Week 9 BYE
Week 10 @KC
Week 11 ARZ
Week 12 PIT
Week 13 @SEA
Week 14 STL
Week 15 @DEN
Week 16 BAL
Week 17 @CIN
Steelers (2-2)
Score Opp.
34-15 BAL
20-41 @KC
17-10 @CIN
13-30 TEN
Week 5 CLE
Week 6 @DEN
Week 7 BYE
Week 8 STL
Week 9 @SEA
Week 10 ARZ
Week 11 @SF
Week 12 @CLE
Week 13 CIN
Week 14 OAK
Week 15 @NYJ
Week 16 SD
Week 17 @BAL
(Statistics are game averages from current season )