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Predictions & Projections
By David M. Dorey
 
The Huddle
WEEK 16
December 17, 2003
Season Ticket
Saturday Sun 1 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 4 PM Sun 8:30 PM
ATL at TB 1 BAL at CLE NYG at DAL ARZ at SEA DEN at IND
KC at MIN 5 CIN at STL NO at JAX SD at PIT Mon 9 PM
NE at NYJ 8:30 DET at CAR TEN at HOU SF at PHI GB at OAK
Times EST MIA at BUF WAS at CHI *updated
   
Baltimore vs Cleveland Sun, Dec 21; 1 PM on CBS at Cleveland Browns Stadium
  Baltimore at CLE Rush Catch Pass
QB Anthony Wright 0 0 170,1
RB Jamal Lewis 140,1 10 0
TE Todd Heap 0 60,1 0
WR Travis Taylor 0 50 0
WR Frank Sanders 0 10 0
WR Marcus Robinson 0 30 0
  Cleveland vs BAL Rush Catch Pass
QB Tim Couch 0 0 180,1
RB Lee Suggs 30 0 0
RB Jamel White 30 10 0
TE Darnell Sanders 0 20 0
WR Andre Davis 0 20 0
WR Dennis Northcutt 0 60,1 0
WR Quincy Morgan 0 40 0

Game Prediction: BAL 20, CLE 10

Jamal Lewis heads into this week chasing the 2000 yard mark made largely possible by the 295 yards already gained against the Browns earlier this season. Cleveland comes off a valiant effort last week but the Ravens have lost all margin for error with the loss in Oakland last week.

Baltimore Notes

The Ravens slide down to 8-6 and again are tied with the Bengals in the NFC North.

Quarterbacks:: Anthony Wright did himself no favors last week when he only managed 193 yards and one score against the Raiders. He lost both a fumble and interception. For the first time in four games, he failed to connect with Robinson for a score though he did finally make use of Heap again. He is still the unquestioned starter.

Running Backs: Jamal Lewis gained 125 yards rushing last week in Oakland and currently leads the NFL in rushing yards. He is still on pace for a 2000 yard season if he can gain 126 yards on average in his final two games. Now that the Ravens have to fight to maintain a playoff chance, Lewis should figure heavily into the equation and has a realistic shot at the 2000. Since his final game is against a decent rush defense of Pittsburgh, a big game here would make the final week easier to get him over the fence.

The Browns already gave him an NFL record 295 rushing yards in their previous meeting so Lewis has a good shot at racking up some yards here. The Browns will be extra motivated to prevent him from doing well, but that alone may not be enough.

Receivers: Marcus Robinson went from catching six touchdowns in the last three games to only having one pass last week and he did not catch it. Travis Taylor had 62 yards on three catches but Todd Heap finally has his first score in six weeks when he ended with 93 yards against the Raiders.

Back in their prior meeting, Boller had only thrown for 78 yards since he spent the game handing off to Lewis and then watching him run for an NFL record.

Match against the Defense: This comes down to what Jamal Lewis can do. He already torched the Browns for 295 yards earlier this season which gives him an average of 147 a game before he even has one carry this week. Cleveland is highly inconsistent on defense and has allowed big games to Lewis, Tomlinson, Alexander and Portis this year. Even in Cleveland, Tomlinson gained 200 yards on the ground. The defense will be devoted to stopping Lewis but has not shown the ability to do that and that focus will only help Wright throw the ball more effectively.

Wright's numbers will be a result of the effectiveness of Lewis. Expect that Lewis takes center stage here and that Wright has lower passing yards. By that token, Heap should have a good game since the linebackers are going to stack the line and when the Browns drop back into the nickel defense, they have been allowing the occasional long pass play as well.

Cleveland Notes

The Browns come off yet another painful loss and fall to 4-10 on the season.

Quarterbacks:: Last week, Tim Couch had 181 yards and two touchdowns but only completed eight passes out of 18 throws. Back in week two against the Ravens, Holcomb was the starter and only managed 147 yards and one score against two interceptions.

Running Backs: The Broncos held Jamel White to only 55 yards on 20 carries last week and surprisingly, White never had a catch which is typically his strongest production. Lee Suggs had five carries in the game and ended with 30 yards including a nice 17 yard dash. Look for Suggs to get more carries as the season concludes.

Back in week two, William Green was still pre-suspension/ DUI / stabbing and only gained 54 yards rushing against the Bengals.

Receivers: Dennis Northcutt played like someone about to end his contract last week when he gained 115 yards on only three catches, the only Brown receiver with more than one catch. Back in week two, Northcutt was again the best receiver with 62 yards.

Match against the Defense: The Ravens should be plenty steamed about the embarrassing loss in Oakland and the Browns are not rushing well against a good defense lately. Jamel White will mix with Lee Suggs and face and defense that has allowed runners no more than 105 yards this season. Of the six rushing scores allowed by Baltimore this season, all were on the road but Cleveland only had 54 yards against them in week two and the Ravens will be much more motivated in this game than the Browns will.

The Ravens secondary has been very stingy since the midpoint of the season and held all opponents to less than 208 passing yards with the exception of the Seattle shootout. Cleveland will need to throw to get onto the scoreboard and yet this defense had been stellar against the pass in the past month.

Team Comparisons - Current team rankings (1-32) for FF points scored or allowed by position
Rank (1-32)
QB
RB
WR
TE
PK
DEF
BAL Scores
17
12
17
5
3
4
CLE Allows
10
12
17
26
32
24
BAL AP
-7
0
0
21
29
20
Rank (1-32)
QB
RB
WR
TE
PK
DEF
CLE Scores
13
26
8
15
16
22
BAL Allows
16
9
24
3
28
21
CLE AP
3
-17
16
-12
12
-1
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.
BAL
CLE
2003 Game Averages
CLE
BAL
Gains
Allows
QB's
Gains
Allows
189
209
Pass yards
235
203
1.6
1.0
Pass TDs
1.4
1.4
1.2
1.2
Interceptions
1.2
1.4
13
9
Rush yards
5
8
0.0
0.0
Rush TDs
0.0
0.0
---
---
RB's
---
---
135
105
Rush yards
83
102
1.0
0.6
Rush TDs
0.6
0.2
22
34
Receive yards
41
48
0.0
0.0
Receive TD's
0.0
0.0
---
---
WR's
---
---
118
142
Receive yards
179
126
1.2
0.6
Receive TD's
1.0
1.4
---
---
TE's
---
---
49
34
Receive yards
15
29
0.4
0.4
Receive TD's
0.4
0.0
---
---
PK's
---
---
2.2
2.6
Field Goals
1.4
2.2
3.0
1.8
Extra Points
2.2
1.6
---
---
DEF/ST
---
---
1.2
1.4
Fumbles
0.2
1.4
1.4
1.0
Interceptions
0.8
1.2
0.4
0.2
Touchdowns
0.2
0.0
2.4
2.8
Sacks
2.8
3.0
0.0
0.0
Safeties
0.0
0.0
Ravens (8-6)
Score Opp.
15-34 @PIT
33-13 CLE
24-10 @SD
10-17 KC
Week 5 BYE
26-18 @ARZ
26-34 @CIN
26-6 DEN
24-17 JAX
22-33 @STL
6-9 @MIA
44-41 SEA
44-6 SF
31-13 CIN
12-20 @OAK
Week 16 @CLE
Week 17 PIT
Browns(4-5)
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
20-26 STL
20-23 @DEN
Week 16 BAL
Week 17 @CIN

* Fantasy point rankings calculated using standard Huddle fantasy points from the past five weeks only