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Predictions & Projections
By David M. Dorey
 
The Huddle
WEEK 12
November 19, 2003
Season Ticket
Sun 1 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 4 PM Sun 8:30 PM
CAR at DAL NE at HOU SF at GB CHI at DEN WAS at MIA
DET at MIN NO at PHI Sun 4 PM OAK at KC Mon 9 PM
IND at BUF PIT at CLE CIN at SD TEN at ATL NYG at TB
JAX at NYJ SEA at BAL STL at ARZ *updated Times EST
   
Cincinnati vs San Diego Sun, Nov 23; 4 PM on CBS at Qualcomm Stadium
  Cincinnati Rush Catch Pass
QB Jon Kitna 0 0 250,2
RB Rudi Johnson 60,1 10 0
RB Corey Dillon 50 10 0
TE Stewart/Schobel 0 20 0
WR Peter Warrick 0 80,1 0
WR Kelly Washington 0 30 0
WR Chad Johnson 0 90,1 0
  San Diego Rush Catch Pass
QB Doug Flutie 20 0 230,1
RB L. Tomlinson 100,1 30 0
TE Stephen Alexander 0 20 0
WR David Boston 0 80,1 0
WR Reche Caldwell 0 50 0
WR K. Osgood 0 40 0

Game Prediction: CIN 21, SD 20

Update: Corey Dillon is no longer on the injury report and HC Marvin Lewis repeatedly has said he is exploring ways to use both of them and possibly in the same backfield. I am changing the numbers to reflect a greater sharing of the carries but only the game will show how that will transpire.

This is a nice combo - one team at home that comes off a humiliating loss and the other coming off perhaps the biggest win for the franchise in 15 or more years. San Diego is only 1-3 at home but the Bengals are only 1-3 on the road. What's even stranger is that the Bengals are favored on the road.

This game is less clear cut than it seems since it includes several emotional elements. The numbers favor the Bengals since the Chargers defense is terrible and Cincinnati is merely "bad but getting better". The Charger offense comes off a display of ineptitude of gigantic proportions while the Bengals are excited once again to be an NFL team.

This could make for an interesting upset but probably will not.

Cincinnati Notes

The Bengals rise to 5-5 with their win over the Chiefs and are now tied for the AFC North lead.

Quarterbacks:: Jon Kitna was efficient and effective last week against the Chiefs, throwing for 233 yards and two scores while completing 19 of 32 passes. It was his best game in a month and his fourth consecutive with a passing score.

Running Backs: Rudi Johnson ran the ball only 22 times last week but gained 165 yards. It was his first game without a score in four games and he now has exceeded 100 yards in three of the last four weeks. The Bengals beat a 9-0 team, are tied for the divisional lead and are chanting "Ru-Di! Ru-Di!". Is this a great country or what?

Corey Dillon went from questionable to doubtful and then back to probable last week in the span of only a few days and in the end, he only had six carries for 21 yards. HC Marvin Lewis contends that Dillon will be the starting back whenever he is healthy but since only Lewis can say when that is, the safest bet is to jump on the Rudi train until there is proof that it doesn't continue on a hot streak.

Receivers: Chad Johnson made the guarantee last week that the Bengals - the "lowly" Bengals - would beat the undefeated Chiefs and he was right. Johnson had seven catches for 74 yards last week and Peter Warrick ended up being the difference maker with six catches for 114 yards and one very important touchdown.

The Bengals like to throw to their tight ends as well but never used them much last week since Reggie Kelly was out with a foot injury and will miss this game and Matt Schobel suffered a hamstring pull but returned to the game to help block for Rudi.

Match against the Defense: This will be interesting since the Bengals have to fight the urge to let last week affect this week. The Chargers feature one of the worst defenses in the NFL and will likely miss SS Kwamie Lassiter this week since he sprained his MCL knee Sunday. There should be some Bengal points here and they could come a number of ways.

Safest bet is that Kitna takes advantage of a terrible secondary now one player worse and has a big passing game that benefits both Warrick and Johnson. Since the Chargers will be likely to throw up some points of their own, the Bengals will be forced to remain productive the entire game in order to win.

Rudi Johnson and his sidekick Dillon will likely gain over 100 yards rushing though the split will not be completely known until the game is over. Most likely Johnson enjoys another nice afternoon.

San Diego Notes

The Chargers come off a thrashing by the Broncos of near collegiate proportion. They are now 2-8 on the season and no longer under the impression Flutie cures what ails you.

Quarterbacks:: Doug Flutie has now played both extremes - throwing for 248 yards and two touchdowns while rushing in two more against the Vikings and then following that up with a 9 of 25, 70 yard effort against the Broncos. The one trash time drive that scored saved the game from being one of the all-time best whooping either team had been party to in their history.

Good or bad, and he has been both, Flutie gets the start again this week.

Running Backs: LaDainian Tomlinson comes off his worst game since likely around 4th grade in his backyard. Tomlinson only gained 29 yards and only was given the ball on nine carries. Like Flutie, this comes only a week after he gained 205 total yards and scored twice.

Unfortunately, RT Solomon Page is still about a week away from even practicing.

Receivers: The rumors that there were some wearing Charger uniforms proved to be untrue.

David Boston had seven catches for 82 yards and one score two weeks ago with Flutie. It may be repeating old news but it is the last good news that this unit has seen. Boston only had two catches for 14 yards last week.

Tim Dwight spent the night in a Denver hospital with a partially collapsed lung and is not expected to play this week.

Match against the Defense: With Flutie safely back at home, the Chargers should be better than last week as if that is not a lock anyway. He faces the Bengals secondary that has allowed multiple passing scores in each of the past five games and given up three 300 yard efforts during that timespan.

To make matters worse for Cincinnati, CB Jeff Burris is likely out with a concussion though he would have lined up across from Tim Dwight on many plays. Reche Caldwell could have a better game here if in fact he does not continue to drop passes at an alarming rate.

The Bengals are also one of the worst teams at stopping tight ends which could bode well for Stephen Alexander who actually played last week but missed all four of his passes (he did score a two point conversion). The Bengals have allowed five tight end touchdowns in the past three games. However, the Chargers have not shown to have ones that actually can catch which may negate that advantage.

LaDainian Tomlinson faces a defense that should get him back into the 100 yard area again, the same defense that allowed Marcel Shipp to gain 141 yards during the last Bengal road trip.

Team Comparisons - Current team rankings (1-32) for FF points scored or allowed by position
Rank (1-32)
QB
RB
WR
TE
PK
DEF
CIN Scores
20
31
14
11
25
22
SD Allows
31
25
23
32
29
17
CIN AP
11
-6
9
21
4
-5
Rank (1-32)
QB
RB
WR
TE
PK
DEF
SD Scores
24
6
24
26
29
17
CIN Allows
28
20
24
31
13
1
SD AP
4
14
0
5
-16
-16
Offensive ranks = #1 gains most points, Defensive ranks = #1 allows least points
AP = Advantage Points, the net difference between a positional rank gained or allowed by the teams.
CIN
SD
2003 Game Averages
SD
CIN
Gains
Allows
QB's
Gains
Allows
195
252
Pass yards
182
251
1.5
2.3
Pass TDs
0.9
1.9
0.5
1.0
Interceptions
1.3
0.9
6
9
Rush yards
11
5
0.0
0.0
Rush TDs
0.3
0.0
---
---
RB's
---
---
73
110
Rush yards
112
102
0.4
0.6
Rush TDs
1.0
0.5
19
42
Receive yards
42
34
0.1
0.5
Receive TD's
0.0
0.4
---
---
WR's
---
---
137
164
Receive yards
122
165
1.1
0.9
Receive TD's
0.6
0.9
---
---
TE's
---
---
39
45
Receive yards
18
52
0.3
0.9
Receive TD's
0.3
0.6
---
---
PK's
---
---
1.1
1.6
Field Goals
0.9
1.4
2.1
3.1
Extra Points
2.3
2.4
---
---
DEF/ST
---
---
0.6
0.5
Fumbles
0.6
0.1
0.8
1.4
Interceptions
1.0
0.6
0.1
0.1
Touchdowns
0.1
0.0
1.9
2.0
Sacks
2.1
1.8
0.0
0.1
Safeties
0.0
0.0
Bengals (4-6)
Score Opp.
10-30 DEN
20-23 @OAK
10-17 PIT
21-14 @CLE
16-22 @BUF
Week 6 BYE
34-26 BAL
27-24 SEA
14-17 @ARZ
34-27 HOU
24-19 KC
Week 12 @SD
Week 13 @PIT
Week 14 @BAL
Week 15 SF
Week 16 @STL
Week 17 CLE
Chargers (2-8)
Score Opp.
14-27 @KC
13-37 DEN
10-24 BAL
31-34 @OAK
21-27 @JAX
Week 6 BYE
26-20 @CLE
10-26 MIA
7-20 @CHI
42-28 MIN
8-37 @DEN
Week 12 CIN
Week 13 KC
Week 14 @DET
Week 15 GB
Week 16 @PIT
Week 17 OAK

* Fantasy point rankings calculated using standard Huddle fantasy points