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Predictions & Projections
By David M. Dorey
 
The Huddle
WEEK 14
December 3, 2003
Season Ticket
Sun 1 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 4 PM Sun 8:30 PM
CHI at GB IND at TEN TB at NO KC at DEN CAR at ATL
CIN at BAL OAK at PIT WAS at NYG MIA at NE Mon 9 PM
DAL at PHI SD at DET Sun 4 PM NYJ at BUF STL at CLE
HOU at JAX SEA at MIN ARZ at SF *updated Times EST
   
St. Louis vs Cleveland Mon, Dec 8; 9 PM on ABC at Cleveland Browns Stadium
  St. Louis Rush Catch Pass
QB Marc Bulger 0 0 230,2
RB Marshall Faulk 80,1 30 0
TE B. Manumaleuna 0 10 0
WR Isaac Bruce 0 60,1 0
WR Torry Holt 0 100,1 0
WR Dane Looker 0 20 0
  Cleveland Rush Catch Pass
QB Kelly Holcomb 0 0 180,2
RB James Jackson 60 20 0
RB Jamel White 20 20 0
TE Darnell Sanders 0 10 0
WR Andre Davis 0 30,1 0
WR Dennis Northcutt 0 40 0
WR Quincy Morgan 0 60,1 0

Game Prediction: STL 24, CLE 17

Update: Quincy Morgan appears to be over the concussion he received last week and will play. One crucial factor to those of you depending on players is that the Browns are out of the playoffs and may start using younger players before the season ends - maybe as early as this week.

Lee Suggs may get some carries that could dig into James Jackson's numbers and it will be interesting to see how much work Northcutt gets since he is a free agent next season and the Browns have made no movement towards getting him signed. I am slightly lowering his numbers and increasing Morgan.

There is almost no rhyme or reason as to what the Browns produce from week to week though the deeper in the season they get, the more towards the bad sign they lean. The Rams are only 3-3 on the road but that is actually better than the 2-4 for the Browns in Cleveland. This could be an upset - the Rams go cold outside as a visitor and the Browns - at least sometimes - put up a good defense, Or this could be another blowout against Cleveland. The only nice factor is that you know by halftime if not earlier. The bad factor is that it only happens after kickoff.

St. Louis Notes

The Rams rise to 9-3 and remain one game ahead of Seattle in the NFC West.

Quarterbacks:: Marc Bulger threw for 22 yards and one score with only one interception last week - the first time in five games he did not throw at least two interceptions. Considering in lost fumbles, he had 12 turnovers in the previous four games. His 222 yards was his second lowest of the season and was a function of the success Marshall Faulk was having.

Running Backs: Marshall Faulk ran for 108 yards on 17 carries and scored three times last week. In the four games since his return, Faulk has six touchdowns and has three consecutive 100 yard rushing games.

Receivers: While Tory Holt did not score, he still had eight catches for 102 yards last week while Isaac Bruce (3-49) snagged the one scoring pass. Holt's 1387 yards receiving leads the league by almost 150 yards over #2 Randy Moss with 1239 yards though Moss takes the TD lead with 11 versus 10 held by Holt and Santana Moss.

For the first time since week two, Brandon Manumaleuna did not have a catch.

Match against the Defense: This is harder to call since it depends on which Browns and which Rams show up for the game.

Cleveland has allowed anywhere from only 73 yards passing (Maddox) to 328 yards (Hasselbeck) and that is just the last two weeks. Trent Green (368) was before Jeff Blake (121). The one key is that the Browns are at home where they have held most passers to under 200 yards (except for Kitna - 215 yards and three touchdowns).

Three of Bulger's last four road trips resulted in games over 328 yards passing and even in Chicago with 240 yards he still managed two scores. In the high yardage games, he only had one pass for a touchdown.

Not unlike their passing inconsistency, the Browns have allowed 200 yards to Tomlinson in Cleveland in the game before Marcel Shipp only managed 23 yards. Against Cleveland, Faulk could have 200 yards or maybe only 30 yards. Either end is more likely than the middle making it even more fun to project.

Cleveland Notes

The Browns fall to 4-8 which drops them from contention, even in the AFC North.

Quarterbacks:: Kelly Holcomb was struggling last week against the Seahawks, so Tim Couch went in and instead of a spark, he sprained the MCL in his left knee. He will be questionable to play on Monday night And Holcomb likely takes the start again.

Running Backs: William Green's never ending soap opera of tragedy continues on with additional suspension and some wondering where he even is these days. Tragic story and wasted opportunity.

James Jackson took the start last week but only managed 32 yards on 12 carries in a game that quickly got out of hand. It was his lowest performance since filling in for Green. Jackson will start again this Monday.

Receivers: Dennis Northcutt led receivers with five catches for 61 yards last week and Quincy Morgan had 30 yards on three receptions but suffered a mild concussion in the first quarter. He returned later in the second half.

Other than the one week 11 game against the Cardinals, this group has been largely unproductive this entire season. Northcutt has the most yards for the season with only 502 and no game over 62 yards.

Match against the Defense: The Rams defense has a tendency to allow two passing scores while on the road - they have done it in four of the last six road games. Oddly enough, most of those games had less than 200 yards passing by the opponent which matches up well with the Browns average but the last two games by Cleveland has only posted a total of 13 points by the offense.

The Browns are always all over the map with their offense, gaining as many as 392 passing yards or as little as 149 passing yards which, of course, came on consecutive weeks. The best you can do with this offense is bank on averages and hope this week swings the pendulum towards the big side.

Team Comparisons - Current team rankings (1-32) for FF points scored or allowed by position
Rank (1-32)
QB
RB
WR
TE
PK
DEF
STL Scores
3
20
1
26
1
1
CLE Allows
5
12
5
29
28
16
STL AP
2
-8
4
3
27
15
Rank (1-32)
QB
RB
WR
TE
PK
DEF
CLE Scores
22
27
11
27
17
26
STL Allows
18
8
23
6
4
32
CLE AP
-4
-19
12
-21
-13
6
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.
STL
CLE
2003 Game Averages
CLE
STL
Gains
Allows
QB's
Gains
Allows
275
199
Pass yards
215
205
1.4
1.1
Pass TDs
1.2
1.4
1.8
0.8
Interceptions
1
1.7
7
7
Rush yards
2
15
0.4
0
Rush TDs
0.1
0
---
---
RB's
---
---
89
94
Rush yards
82
91
1.1
0.5
Rush TDs
0.4
0.4
22
42
Receive yards
35
30
0
0
Receive TD's
0.1
0.2
---
---
WR's
---
---
227
122
Receive yards
160
143
1.3
0.6
Receive TD's
0.9
1.1
---
---
TE's
---
---
27
35
Receive yards
19
33
0.1
0.5
Receive TD's
0.2
0.1
---
---
PK's
---
---
2.4
2.1
Field Goals
1.6
1.1
3.3
1.6
Extra Points
1.8
2.4
---
---
DEF/ST
---
---
1.3
0.9
Fumbles
0.5
0.7
1.7
1
Interceptions
0.6
1.8
0.4
0.1
Touchdowns
0.2
0.5
2.7
2.5
Sacks
1.9
2.3
0.1
0
Safeties
0
0
Rams (9-3)
Score Opp.
13-23 @NYG
27-24 SF
23-24 @SEA
37-13 ARZ
Week 5 BYE
36-0 ATL
34-24 GB
33-21 @PIT
10-30 @SF
33-22 BAL
23-21 @CHI
30-27 @ARZ
48-17 MIN
Week 14 @CLE
Week 15 SEA
Week 16 CIN
Week 17 @DET
Browns(4-8)
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
6-13 PIT
7-34 @SEA
Week 14 STL
Week 15 @DEN
Week 16 BAL
Week 17 @CIN

* Fantasy point rankings calculated using standard Huddle fantasy points