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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
   
Cincinnati vs St. Louis Sun, Dec 21; 1 PM on CBS at Edward Jones Dome
  Cincinnati at STL Rush Catch Pass
QB Jon Kitna 0 0 270,2
RB Corey Dillon 50 10 0
RB Rudi Johnson 40,1 10 0
TE Stewart/Schobel 0 30,1 0
WR Peter Warrick D D D
WR Kelly Washington 0 70 0
WR Chad Johnson 0 100,1 0
  St. Louis vs CIN Rush Catch Pass
QB Marc Bulger 0 0 280,3
RB Marshall Faulk 100,1 20 0
TE B. Manumaleuna 0 20 0
WR Isaac Bruce 0 50 0
WR Torry Holt 0 110,2 0
WR Dane Looker 0 40,1 0

Game Prediction: CIN 24, STL 30

This game has the potential for good points by both teams and is a relative replay of last week when CIN faced SF and STL went against SEA. Now they face each other and the important fact is that the Rams are at home where they are 7-0 this season while the Bengals are only 3-4 on the road.

Cincinnati Notes

The Bengals rise to 8-6 and are again tied with the Ravens for the lead in the AFC North.

Quarterbacks:: Jon Kitna only threw for 189 yards last week but had two passing scores that bumped up his season total to 25 and keeps Palmer holding that clipboard. Kitna has scored in all but one game this season. He has eight touchdowns in the last three road games.

Running Backs: Corey Dillon had 11 carries to only four for Rudi Johnson in week 14, but when Dillon contracted the flu and was less effective last week, Johnson stepped in yet again to rip off 174 yards and two scores against the normally decent 49er rush defense. In all four games where Johnson has had 20 or more carries this season, he has gained over 100 yards or scored. The Bengals are committed to a sharing scenario for the end of the season but Johnson has been consistently more productive than Dillon has this season.

Receivers: Kitna did not throw a lot last week, but when he did he found Chad Johnson and Peter Warrick both for touchdowns. Johnson now has ten scores on the season and 1211 receiving yards.

Match against the Defense: The Rams have been tough against the run this season but mainly because they have been ahead in most games and force others to throw to stay in the game. Alexander had 126 yards there last week and Jamal Lewis gained 111 yards in St. Louis. The Bengals have incentive to rush to keep the Rams off the field but this will be their first dome game of the season. Their ability to run will be predicated more on game situation than on ability. Add in that Dillon and Johnson share and it makes it less reliable that either will have a big game.

The Rams have not allowed more than one passing score to a visitor since week seven and only Culpepper had a big game there (330). This game holds the potential for some fireworks and lots of passing since the Rams are undefeated at home.

Most of the successful wideouts have come from the right - the Warrick side as it were - but Johnson is moved around to gain better matchups and success can be had as shown by Randy Moss (160 yards, 1 TD) as a predominantly split end.

St. Louis Notes

The Rams rise to 11-3 and have won their last six games along with the NFC West division crown.

Quarterbacks:: Last week Marc Bulger threw for 236 yards and two scores along with the obligatory interception. Bulger always throws for one score at home but has only managed two passing scores once this season in St. Louis. He is a lock for at least 220 yards passing.

Running Backs: Marshall Faulk scored once last week and gained 85 yards on 28 carries - his heaviest load of the season. Faulk has yet to gain over 43 yards receiving this year and last week had only 13 yards on three catches. Last week was the first time in five games that Faulk failed to crest 100 yards on the ground.

Receivers: Last week Torry Holt maintained his NFL receiving lead by catching six passes for 100 yards and one touchdown. That made the ninth time he hit 100 or more yards this season and his ninth game with a score. Holt had gone three games without a score until last week.

Isaac Bruce had only two catches for 43 yards last week but scored for the fourth game in a row. He sustained an injury described as a mild high ankle sprain and I am expecting him to play this week though be slightly limited. I will update if warranted. He is not expected to practice this week and will be evaluated on Saturday during the team walk-thru. HC Mike Martz said he will not put Bruce at risk and the Rams have already sewn up the division and only have to battle the Eagles for homefield.

Match against the Defense: The Bengals have allowed a passing score in every road game this season since week two and three times opponents have thrown for two scores. Bulger has a shot an a big game unless Bruce is out and Faulk is successful by himself. The Bengals have allowed five opponents to throw for over 300 yards this season.

Holt gets the same matchup as Owens had last week when he gained 127 yards and a score. Even David Boston had 139 yards and two scores from the same spot but the flankers have also done well against the Bengals.

The Bengals also allow runners nice days and on the road they have given up rushing scores to most of their opponents. Jamal Lewis, Tomlinson, Shipp and Henry are all recent runners to score and play well.

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
8
11
3
29
5
11
STL Allows
22
14
26
24
9
29
CIN AP
14
3
23
-5
4
18
Rank (1-32)
QB
RB
WR
TE
PK
DEF
STL Scores
11
18
4
27
1
1
CIN Allows
30
27
29
21
27
8
STL AP
19
9
25
-6
26
7
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
STL
2003 Game Averages
STL
CIN
Gains
Allows
QB's
Gains
Allows
230
220
Pass yards
250
269
2.4
1.4
Pass TDs
1.4
1.6
0.4
1.6
Interceptions
1.8
0.6
7
22
Rush yards
8
14
0.0
0.0
Rush TDs
0.2
0.2
---
---
RB's
---
---
153
113
Rush yards
103
115
0.4
0.8
Rush TDs
1.0
1.4
30
26
Receive yards
28
45
0.2
0.0
Receive TD's
0.0
0.0
---
---
WR's
---
---
187
150
Receive yards
208
199
2.0
1.2
Receive TD's
1.2
1.2
---
---
TE's
---
---
13
44
Receive yards
14
26
0.2
0.2
Receive TD's
0.2
0.4
---
---
PK's
---
---
1.6
1.0
Field Goals
2.8
1.6
3.2
2.6
Extra Points
3.2
3.2
---
---
DEF/ST
---
---
1.0
0.4
Fumbles
0.8
0.8
0.6
1.8
Interceptions
1.6
0.4
0.4
0.4
Touchdowns
0.6
0.0
2.4
2.6
Sacks
3.2
2.6
0.0
0.2
Safeties
0.0
0.0
Bengals (8-6)
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
34-27 @SD
24-20 @PIT
13-31 @BAL
41-38 SF
Week 16 @STL
Week 17 CLE
Rams (11-3)
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
26-20 @CLE
27-22 SEA
Week 16 CIN
Week 17 @DET

* Fantasy point rankings calculated using standard Huddle fantasy points using only the last five games played