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Predictions & Projections
By David M. Dorey
 
The Huddle
WEEK 7
October 15, 2003
Season Ticket
Sun 1 PM TEN at CAR Sun 4 PM Mon 9 PM Bye Week:
*BAL at CIN *NE at MIA *WAS at BUF KC at OAK Arizona
DAL at DET *NO at ATL *CHI at SEA   Indianapolis
*DEN at MIN *PHI at NYG NYJ at HOU Times EST Jacksonville
GB at STL *SD at CLE *TB at SF *updated Pittsburgh
   
San Diego vs Cleveland Sun, Oct 19; 1 PM on CBS at Cleveland Browns Stadium
  San Diego Rush Catch Pass
QB Drew Brees 0 0 180
RB L. Tomlinson 100,1 30 0
TE Justin Peelle 0 10 0
WR David Boston 0 70 0
WR Eric Parker 0 20 0
WR Tim Dwight 0 30 0
  Cleveland Rush Catch Pass
QB Tim Couch 0 0 190,1
RB William Green 110,2 0 0
RB Jamel White 10 20 0
TE Steve Heiden 0 10 0
WR Kevin Johnson 0 50,1 0
WR Dennis Northcutt 0 60 0
WR Quincy Morgan 0 40 0

Game Prediction: SD 10, CLE 27

San Diego Notes

Update: With C Jeff Faine and LG Shaun O'Hara like out for the game, I am lowering the rushing numbers slightly.

Quarterbacks: Piloting the only winless team in the NFL is hardly a crowning glory for Drew Brees, but there have been some reasons to believe that the painful stretch of losses will eventually end. It may take the entire season, but it will end. Brees has improved. While he had six interceptions in the first three games, he had none in the last two while throwing for four touchdowns. His third down rating is the lowest in the league and there never seems to be an end to something wrong happening, but Brees is less a part of the problem than he was and when you are 0-5, you hang your hat on anything that doesn't hit back.

Running backs: While Brees was enjoying his best game this season against the Jaguars, he did so because the entirety of the defense was crowded around LaDainian Tomlinson every play. His eventual 10 carries for 38 yards was merely completing the circle back to the butt-whooping he had in week one when he only gained 34 yards on 13 carries in Kansas City. This was on the heels of a big 211 yard game against Oakland the week before. Losing RT Vaughn Parker for the season does not help Tomlinson though RG Solomon Page will return.

Wide Receivers: If the last game is any measurement, perhaps David Boston has gotten the message finally. Against the Jaguars, Boston had 14 catches for 181 yards and two scores. He was thrown the ball 21 times in the game - over half of the 41 attempts by Brees. No other receiver did more than 44 yards though Eric Parker did score a touchdown as well. Parker is still hampered by a shoulder injury and was held out of practice but I am assuming he is able to play this Sunday.

Tight Ends: While the tight end position has been well used this season by a cast of players, the biggest passing game of the year provided only one catch for Antonio Gates for eight yards. David Boston has a notable effect on the tight ends when he plays well.

Match against the defense: Here is a problem.

The Browns have been the #1 defense against quarterbacks and wideouts this season. The most they have allowed is 215 yards to Jon Kitna in an uncharacteristic outing. They have held Manning to 211 yards and no scores. Garcia had 198 and a goose egg. Tommy Maddox? 136 yards. Gannon? 165 yards. This is not a great place to get better numbers for Drew Brees or David Boston.

LaDainian Tomlinson should have some success though against a defense that allowed 295 yards to Jamal Lewis but otherwise has been good against the run as well. Both teams know Tomlinson is coming but San Diego offers enough of a passing threat that Cleveland cannot ignore Brees and Boston. The Browns, for whatever reason, play worse at home and Tomlinson comes off bye week fresh.

Cleveland Notes

Quarterbacks: After beating the Steelers and Raiders, Tim Couch has brought the team back to .500 which in the AFC North means only a half game out of first place. Couch only threw for 127 yards last week but it was a win, at home, and he never once fumbled a handoff to William Green.

Running backs: Hoping that the worst is behind him, again, William Green recorded his second consecutive 100 yard game last week. He gained 145 yards on 26 carries and scored once. He ran with authority and shed tackles which so far has been Oakland's gift to the league. Jamel White still plays in third down packages and had three catches for 30 yards, but Green took every rushing attempt expect one.

Wide Receivers: The emergence of Green's running again has reduced the need to throw. Last week Dennis Northcutt was the lead receiver with only five catches for 54 yards. Even when the Browns do need to throw the ball, there are five different receivers used.

Tight Ends: No catches last week - too busy blocking.

Match against the defense: Green should enjoy his third 100 yard rushing effort if history means anything. The Chargers are currently ranked dead last against running backs.

Since San Diego also is only 27th against the pass, Couch could take advantage there as well but in an effort to keep the Charger offense from the field, the safest bet is that Green carries a whole lot-o-times to burn the clock. No need to make the game any more adventuresome than it needs to be.

Game Prediction: The Charger offense is better and can score some points with pro-bowler Tomlinson and Brees to Boston if he gets the hot hand. But being saddled with the worst defense in the league is a ticket to... well... 0-6 on the season. Billy Green, dust off those shoes.

Team Comparisons - Current team rankings (1-32) by position for FF points scored or allowed by position
Rank (1-32) QB RB WR TE PK DEF
SD Scores
15
20
9
16
31
28
CLE Allows
1
14
1
22
20
16
SD AP -14 -6 -8 6 -11 -12
Rank (1-32) QB RB WR TE PK DEF
CLE Scores
24
27
13
31
20
22
SD Allows
27
32
16
31
31
9
CLE AP 3 5 3 0 11 -13
Offensive ranks - lower = gains more points, Defensive Ranks lower = allows less points
AP = Advantage Points, the net difference between a positional rank gained or allowed by the teams.
SD CLE 2003 Game Averages CLE SD
Gains Allows QB's Gains Allows
227
171
Pass yards
194
251
1.4
0.7
Pass TDs
1.2
2.0
1.4
1.0
Interceptions
1.2
0.6
6
9
Rush yards
4
4
0.0
0.0
Rush TDs
0.2
0.0
----
----
RB's
----
----
96
107
Rush yards
86
136
0.6
0.5
Rush TDs
0.2
1.2
30
33
Receive yards
24
49
0.0
0.0
Receive TD's
0.2
0.6
----
----
WR's
----
----
168
104
Receive yards
154
162
1.0
0.3
Receive TD's
1.0
0.6
----
----
TE's
----
----
29
34
Receive yards
17
40
0.4
0.3
Receive TD's
0.0
0.8
----
----
PK's
----
----
0.8
2.2
Field Goals
1.7
2.0
2.2
1.2
Extra Points
1.5
3.4
----
----
DEF/ST
----
----
0.6
0.7
Fumbles
0.5
0.4
0.6
1.2
Interceptions
1.0
1.4
0.0
0.2
Touchdowns
0.2
0.0
2.2
1.8
Sacks
1.8
1.6
0.0
0.0
Safeties
0.0
0.0
Chargers (0-5)
Score Opp.
14-27 @KC
13-37 DEN
10-24 BAL
31-34 @OAK
21-27 @JAX
Week 6 BYE
Week 7 @CLE
Week 8 MIA
Week 9 @CHI
Week 10 MIN
Week 11 @DEN
Week 12 CIN
Week 13 KC
Week 14 @DET
Week 15 GB
Week 16 @PIT
Week 17 OAK
Browns(3-3)
Score Opp.
6-9 IND
13-33 @BAL
13-12 @SF
14-21 CIN
33-13 @PIT
13-7 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

* Fantasy point rankings calculated using standard Huddle fantasy points