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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
   
Pittsburgh vs Cleveland Sun, Nov 23; 1 PM on CBS at Cleveland Browns Stadium
  Pittsburgh Rush Catch Pass
QB Tommy Maddox 0 0 240,1
RB Amos Zereoue 10 20 0
RB Jerome Bettis 40 10 0
WR Hines Ward 0 80,1 0
WR Antwaan Randle El 0 20 0
WR Plaxico Burress 0 70 0
  Cleveland Rush Catch Pass
QB Kelly Holcomb 0 0 250,2
RB James Jackson 50,1 20 0
RB Jamel White 10 20 0
WR Andre Davis 0 70,1 0
WR Dennis Northcutt 0 60 0
WR Quincy Morgan 0 80,1 0

Game Prediction: PIT 13, CLE 24

The is a replay of week five when the Browns went to Pittsburgh and throttled the Steelers 33-13. The Browns are feeling much better about themselves after the huge win over the Cardinals and after they beat the Steelers in week five, they went on to beat the Raiders the next week so emotion should not be in play here.

These teams know one another well but the Steelers are not running well or defending the pass and those two things are exact fits into what the Browns can and cannot do. The Steelers on the road have not scored more than 16 points in the past three games.

Pittsburgh Notes

The Steelers come off a nice spanking in San Francisco and are now all alone in the AFC cellar.

Quarterbacks:: Tommy Maddox comes off one of his best games this season by throwing for 327 yards and one touchdown against the 49ers. This makes the fourth consecutive game that he has thrown a touchdown.

Running Backs: Jerome Bettis scored a touchdown on Monday night, but gained only 39 yards on 13 carries. Since becoming the starter again, he has never carried for more than 18 runs in a game and has never gained more than 54 yards rushing. He had almost exactly three yards per run in the last three games because nine feet is how far it takes to pull him down when he crashes into the line. Amos Zereoue only had five runs that totaled to a two yard loss which reflects the fact that he never had a chance to reach the line of scrimmage before getting pulled down. The running game continues to be nonexistent in Pittsburgh and eventually Verron Haynes may get more play to prove that he is no better.

Receivers: Hines Ward only gained 44 yards on four catches last Monday, but injured his neck on one play. He was x-rayed at the game and returned to play. He also badly bit his tongue on the play and said after the game that "meemmurr thhung hurppis leekah beeooch". Ward had two catches after the injury and is expected to play this week. Plaxico Burress had 92 yards on six catches and continued his odd trend to always play much better on the road than at home. Burress has 398 yards on the road but only 95 yards at home in the last four games.

The two receivers were helped out by Antwaan Randle El (4-61, 1 TD) who had his best game of the season and Chris Doering who had just over 60 yards receiving for the second week in a row.

Match against the Defense: This should be a good test for Maddox who only threw for 136 yards in week five when they last met. Maddox is throwing touchdowns again and is hitting more than just Hines Ward. Unfortunately, the Browns secondary was shredded in KC, but otherwise has only allowed one passing touchdown since that week five game. Maddox is not likely to replicate the big numbers from last week.

The Browns held Amos Zereoue to only 13 carries and 38 yards in week five and that is almost exactly what Bettis does now. This should be low scoring on the Pittsburgh side.

Cleveland Notes

The Browns rise to 4-6 on the season with their blowout of Arizona last week.

Quarterbacks:: Kelly Holcomb finally had a monster game reminiscent of what he did last season. He threw for 392 yards and three touchdowns which was 170 more yards than he had thrown in any game this season. He picked the Cardinals defense apart and completed 29 of 35 passes. He only had 149 yards the previous week in KC and only 115 yards in New England. Inconsistent? Yes - but the Steelers are coming to town with a horrible secondary.

Running Backs: Since William Green is suspended, James Jackson took the start last week and gained only 45 yards on 19 carries but scored twice. The Cardinals have a decent run defense as does the Steelers in most games. Lee Suggs had five carries but gained only five yards.

Receivers: The Browns dumped malcontent Kevin Johnson last week and absolutely did not miss him. Both Andre' Davis (7-117, 1 TD) and Quincy Morgan (5-116, 1 TD) had their first 100 yard games of the season and even Dennis Northcutt (6-56, 1 TD) joined in the festival of points. It was such an easy game last week that tight end Keith Heinrich had five catches for 45 yards and everyone thought he was just an equipment guy until last week.

Match against the Defense: The sudden explosion of the Cleveland passing game should have an excellent chance to continue facing a secondary that has allowed multiple passing scores in five of the last seven weeks. In week five, Tim Couch only had 208 yards but had two scores and the Browns led so early he never threw much.

The last time the Steelers allowed a 100 yard rusher was to William Green but the rush defense has been sound since other than the one 78 yard run by Barlow last Monday. Jackson will have another tough time gaining many yards but could score if the passing game gets close to the goalline.

Team Comparisons - Current team rankings (1-32) for FF points scored or allowed by position
Rank (1-32)
QB
RB
WR
TE
PK
DEF
PIT Scores
23
28
8
31
23
28
CLE Allows
4
10
3
29
24
10
PIT AP
-19
-18
-5
-2
1
-18
Rank (1-32)
QB
RB
WR
TE
PK
DEF
CLE Scores
12
26
7
23
12
26
PIT Allows
25
4
32
26
25
26
CLE AP
13
-22
25
3
13
0
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.
PIT
CLE
2003 Game Averages
CLE
PIT
Gains
Allows
QB's
Gains
Allows
223
199
Pass yards
216
231
1.0
0.9
Pass TDs
1.5
1.8
1.1
0.9
Interceptions
0.9
0.5
2
8
Rush yards
2
10
2.0
0.0
Rush TDs
0.1
0.1
----- 
---
RB's
---
----- 
72
85
Rush yards
87
80
0.6
0.5
Rush TDs
0.5
0.6
35
43
Receive yards
25
20
0.0
0.0
Receive TD's
0.1
0.1
----- 
---
WR's
---
----- 
169
113
Receive yards
171
165
1.0
0.5
Receive TD's
1.1
1.4
----- 
---
TE's
---
----- 
19
43
Receive yards
20
46
0.0
0.4
Receive TD's
0.3
0.3
----- 
---
PK's
---
----- 
1.3
2.1
Field Goals
1.8
1.8
1.9
1.4
Extra Points
2.1
2.6
----- 
---
DEF/ST
---
----- 
0.4
0.5
Fumbles
0.6
0.5
0.5
0.9
Interceptions
0.6
1.3
0.1
0.1
Touchdowns
0.1
0.3
2.5
2.3
Sacks
1.8
2.6
0
0.0
Safeties
0.0
0.1
Steelers (3-7)
Score Opp.
34-15 BAL
20-41 @KC
17-10 @CIN
13-30 TEN
13-33 CLE
14-17 @DEN
Week 7 BYE
21-33 STL
16-23 @SEA
28-15 ARZ
14-30 @SF
Week 12 @CLE
Week 13 CIN
Week 14 OAK
Week 15 @NYJ
Week 16 SD
Week 17 @BAL
Browns(4-6)
Score Opp.
6-9 IND
13-33 @BAL
13-12 @SF
14-21 CIN
33-13 @PIT
13-7 OAK
20-26 SD
3-9 @NE
Week 9 BYE
20-41 @KC
44-6 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