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Predictions & Projections
David M. Dorey
The Huddle
September 19, 2004
Season Ticket
Sun 1 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 4 PM Sun 8:30 PM
STL at ATL DEN at JAX* Sun 4 PM IND at TEN Mon 9 PM
CLE at DAL* CAR at KC* SEA at TB* NYJ at SD MIN at PHI*
HOU at DET SF at NO* BUF at OAK* Times ET *updated
  Cleveland Rush Catch Pass
QB Jeff Garcia 20 0 250,2
RB William Green 40 10 0
RB Lee Suggs 40 10 0
TE Kellen Winslow 0 50,1 0
WR Andre Davis 0 50 0
WR Dennis Northcutt 0 40 0
WR Quincy Morgan 0 80,1 0
PK Phil Dawson 1 FG 2 XP -
  Dallas Rush Catch Pass
QB V. Testaverde 0 0 230,2
RB Eddie George 30,1 0 0
RB Julius Jones 50 10 0
TE Jason Witten 0 40 0
WR Keyshawn Johnson 0 80,1 0
WR Terry Glenn 0 60 0
WR Antonio Bryant 0 40 0
PK Bill Cundiff 1 FG 3 XP -

CLE (1-0) vs DAL (0-1)

Game Prediction: CLE 17, DAL 24

This is a role reversal from last year. The Browns come off a solid win over the Ravens while the Cowboys defense, in the words of HC Bill Parcells, has "gone from 1st to 32nd in only one game". The Browns are feeling pretty good about themselves now while the Cowboys are all avoiding eye contact with Parcells.

Pre-Game Notes - CLE

After being a whipping boy of historic proportions, the Browns finally turn the tables on the Ravens and relish in perhaps the most satisfying win since they came back to Cleveland.

Quarterback: New guy Jeff Garcia appears to have decent numbers - 15 of 24 for 180 yards and one touchdown. The reality is that contains a 46-yard score to Morgan and a 51-yard completion to Andre Davis. Otherwise he only had 13 completions for 83 yards in the game. Against the Cowboys this week, he will have just as good an opportunity for a long gainer.

Running Backs: With Lee Suggs out due to a neck stinger, William Green got the start against the Ravens defense and gained 65 yards on 22 carries. Nothing major, but against a very good defense. About the same as both he and Suggs did in two games last year against Baltimore. Suggs is expected back to practice on Wednesday and should play this week.

Update: Suggs did return to practice but is still may not be 100%. I have lowered his numbers and raised William Green's numbers but by game time, Suggs could end up with many more carries. This will be a situation that may not be completely clear and could change according to the game situation and how Suggs is doing. Neither Suggs nor Green are attractive plays this week and only Green is assured of at least some numbers.

Wide Receivers: As noted, there was very little happening here other than the two long pass completions which were the only catches for either Quincy Morgan or Andre Davis. Dennis Northcutt had three receptions but only gained 12 yards. The passing game is still a work in process but capable of the long strike. Garcia only attempted eight passes to wideouts in the game.

Tight Ends: Kellen Winslow had his first NFL start but the results were hardly up to the expectations of such a confident player. Winslow had six throws (almost as many as all wideouts) and caught four for 49 yards. He already is the most common target for Garcia.

Match Against the Defense: What to make of the Dallas defense?

The absence of a suitable right cornerback plus safety Darren Woodson out was more than the secondary could handle against the Vikings but that also reflects the inordinate amount of attention Dallas paid to Randy Moss. Since Dallas still had problems rushing the passer, Garcia should be able to have enough time to find Quincy Morgan with the better matchup. Davis pulls Terrence Newman which is the strength of the secondary, such as it is.

Since Dallas is at home and needing to prove itself, it is unlikely that any CLE runner will notch big numbers. Add in that Suggs and Green are both slated to play and that makes for even lesser of an attractive fantasy situation.

Pre-Game Notes - DAL

They sort of feared they were likely to get beat. They sort of feared that Randy Moss was going to be a problem and that Culpepper would have a field day if allowed. Now they know they were right to be concerned.

Quarterback: Vinny Testaverde had a great game, throwing for a week one best of 355 yards and one score with no interceptions. He threw a total of 50 passes - a sure sign that the game is not staying in the plan. Testaverde did a nice job spreading it around to the three wideouts and Jason Witten.

Running Backs: A position that was supposedly upgraded in the offseason certainly looks similar to 2003. Eddie George only gained 25 yards on eight carries and did not play in the second half when the Cowboys went to their spread offense. So far George has been little more than a pair of designer jeans for Dallas - way too expensive, bought for the name and the reality is that is doesn't help you score.

Julius Jones was made inactive for the game for reasons varying between a lingering rib injury to just pissing off the coaches and being taught a lesson. The former is the officially listed reason, the latter the more likely. Reshard Lee got play in the second half and gained 35 yards and one touchdown. He looked good but then again, he was being compared to Eddie "Jordache" George.

This week it is assumed that Jones and George will be playing. Richie Anderson injured his knee and is being examined by the medical staff. More should be known on Wednesday when teams must announce injury situations. Reshard Lee could get time to see if last week was just a fluke as well.

Update: Anderson now looks unlikely to play and will put a hole in the plans of the Cowboys since he serves as a fullback and tailback, particularly in passing situations. He is back at practice but still limping. Julius Jones appears to be likely to play this week but was a last minute scratch last Sunday. The Cowboys intend on using Eddie George more this week, particularly near the goal line. Given that Jones has no regular season play yet and George is supposed to be used more, I am slightly lowering Jones numbers while bumping Eddie George up a bit.

Wide Receivers: Keyshawn Johnson, unlike George, has justified his price tag so far with nine catches for 111 yards last week. Antonio Bryant had eight catches for 112 yards while Terry Glenn only had 84 yards but the lone passing touchdown. When a quarterback throws for 355 yards, there's plenty to share for everyone. This will not be the preferred nor normal use of the position this season.

Tight Ends: Jason Witten only had three catches for 17 yards, but had eight passes thrown to him. Once the Cowboys fell behind, the passing scheme became longer than what Witten typically will fill. His number of targets shows he is heavily in the game plan and should turn in bigger numbers once the Cowboys are not being pummeled by their opponent.

Match Against the Defense: Now which Cleveland defense if coming to Dallas?

They did have nine months and 500 reasons to concentrate on Jamal Lewis last week (who was without his best blocker OT Ogden). They did face the least effective passing game in the NFL for 2003. Now on the road, will they be able to post the same effort?

The RB spot is still hard to forecast for Dallas. Eddie George should still get significant play though Parcells would prefer to keep him for short-yardage and goal line duty. Julius Jones should be primed to shine if he gets the chance but Reshard Lee looked effective last week when the Vikings were all dropped back in the nickel or dime. The Cowboys need to establish the run to control the game and minimize how often the secondary has to be exposed to Morgan or Davis.

Keyshawn should have a decent game with at least possession catches but beyond Jason Witten, the other receivers will be used depending on the game situation.

CLE DAL 2003 Averages DAL CLE
Gains Allows QB's Gains Allows
180 242 Pass yards 355 191
1 5 Pass TDs 1 0
0 0 Interceptions 0 2
13 25 Rush yards 0 16
1 0 Rush TDs 0 0
--- --- RB's --- ---
72 111 Rush yards 71 72
0 0 Rush TDs 1 0
32 79 Receive yards 31 0
0 1 Receive TD's 0 0
--- --- WR's --- ---
109 158 Receive yards 307 87
1 4 Receive TD's 1 0
--- --- TE's --- ---
39 42 Receive yards 25 104
0 0 Receive TD's 0 0
--- --- PK's --- ---
2 0 Field Goals 1 1
2 5 Extra Points 2 0
--- --- DEF/ST --- ---
1 2 Fumbles 0 0
2 0 Interceptions 0 0
0 0 Touchdowns 0 0
3 1 Sacks 2 2
0 0 Safeties 0 0
Score Opp.
20-3 BAL
Week 2 @DAL
Week 3 @NYG
Week 4 WAS
Week 5 @PIT
Week 6 CIN
Week 7 PHI
Week 8 bye
Week 9 @BAL
Week 10 PIT
Week 11 NYJ
Week 12 @CIN
Week 13 NE
Week 14 @BUF
Week 15 SD
Week 16 @MIA
Week 17 @HOU
Cowboys (0-1)
Score Opp.
17-35 @MIN
Week 2 CLE
Week 3 @WAS
Week 4 bye
Week 5 NYG
Week 6 PIT
Week 7 @GB
Week 8 DET
Week 9 @CIN
Week 10 PHI
Week 11 @BAL
Week 12 CHI
Week 13 @SEA
Week 14 NO
Week 15 @PHI
Week 16 WAS
Week 17 @NYG

* Fantasy point rankings calculated using standard Huddle fantasy points