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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
The Huddle
September 25, 2005
Season Ticket
Sun 1 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 4 PM Sun 8:30 PM
CAR at MIA NOR at MIN Sun 4 PM On Bye: Mon 9 PM

Prediction: Cleveland 7, Indianapolis 27

All the fun has been sucked out of this game by the Colts finding out they have a great defense this season. The Browns bring the higher scoring offense to the game and a surprise win in their first road game under HC Romeo Crennel. The Colts are now just playing well enough to win, just a little better than what their defense allows. They've actually always been that way, it's just that in years past their defense was allowing opponents to score 28 points a game. The Colts now have the #1 defense against scoring? That's just wrong. That's just a travesty. That's just really painful to those of you that burned a #1 on Peyton Manning.

Update: Lee Suggs has returned to practice finally and he is still considered questionable this weekend. He may play and may return kicks, but a decision will be made likely at game time and during the game by HC Romeo Crennel whether Suggs is in the game or not. Suggs is obviously not worth a start here and I am not projecting for him, but be aware he may get some playing time.

Reggie Wayne dislocated a finger in practice but never missed any time and is expected to play without limitation.

Cleveland Browns (1-1)
1 13-27 CIN 10 Nov 13 @PIT
2 26-24 @GBP 11 Nov 20 MIA
3 Sep 25 @IND 12 Nov 27 @MIN
4 Open Bye 13 Dec 4 JAC
5 Oct 9 CHI 14 Dec 11 @CIN
6 Oct 16 @BAL 15 Dec 18 @OAK
7 Oct 23 DET 16 Dec 24 PIT
8 Oct 30 @HOU 17 Jan 1 BAL
9 Nov 6 TEN . . SAT
CLE Projections Rush Catch Pass
QB Trent Dilfer 0 0 190,1
RB Reuben Droughns 40 10 0
TE Steve Heiden 0 30 0
WR Antonio Bryant 0 60 0
WR Braylon Edwards 0 50,1 0
WR Dennis Northcutt 0 30 0
PK Phil Dawson 0 FG 1 XP -
Pregame Notes: It's already a success - averaging almost 20 points per game and a win in their first road game - too bad the dog pound wasn't there to witness it. The Browns needed two rather fortunate long plays to get there, but a win is a win.

Quarterback: Trent Dilfer may be little more than a journeyman quarterback holding the seat for Charlie Frye but in the meantime, he's been a surprisingly effective fantasy quarterback. In just two games he's thrown for 278 and 336 yards with a total of four touchdowns. He had no turnovers last week in Green Bay and while every game won't go nearly as well, Dilfer is meeting expectations for the Browns and exceeding them more often than not.

Even better news for Dilfer fans - he has yet to be sacked.

Running Backs: The Browns are committed to using Reuben Droughns but he's hardly replicated his success in Denver. Droughns only gained 50 yards on 20 carries against the Packers, down from the 78 yards he had against the Bengals. William Green is the starter as long as you only consider special teams. He had no carries last week and only one pass.

The Lee Suggs watch continues.

Wide Receivers: The big game from Frisman Jackson in week one (8-128, 1 TD) sent many fantasy players to the waiver wire last week which is sort of funny considering he had only one catch for 11 yards against the Packers. Now with two games to measure him with, which one is most realistic to expect (hint - not the first one).

Antonio Bryant only managed 32 yards on three catches last week and the surprise-player-o-the-week was actually the rookie Braylon Edwards who ended with 107 yards in the game because he turned an inside slant into a 80 yard touchdown dash that looked amazingly easy. He remains in the slot but at least for one play offered a glimpse of why he was the first receiver taken in the NFL draft.

Tight Ends: The star of the game was Steve Heiden who had 104 yards on six catches including the 62-yard game winner where he proved he was faster than your average defensive tackle. The notable thing here is not so much that Heiden had a big game, but that the scheme already uses the tight end - something to remember when you steal Kellen Winslow late in the season in a keeper league. Heiden is a solid tight end and that was not his first game with multiple touchdowns, but he's also unlikely to repeat that soon. He had 32 yards on three catches in week one.

Match Against the Defense: Hard to know what to expect here. The Browns are not a big rushing team and the Colts offer a decent rush defense so lower any expectations for Droughns that somehow had crept up from marginal production. Where this game has interest is in the passing game. The Ravens threw for a total of 355 yards against the Colts in week one but the Jaguars - with a clearly better quarterback and wideouts - only mustered 198 yards and no passing scores.

One limitation in that game was the close nature that had both teams playing conservatively and this week the Colts should score much more easily, leading to at least some trash time yards and possibly scores. If the Colts continue to play in low scoring games, life as we know it has been diminished. Figure on trash time allowing some scores and yards but the season is still developing and the Colts are still top notch on defense. The tight end Wilcox has the only offensive touchdown against Indianapolis this season and there is no apparent matchup weakness here. I am projecting a score to Edwards from the slot, but it could go anywhere if it even happens.

Indianapolis Colts (2-0)
1 24-7 @BAL 10 Nov 13 HOU
2 10-3 JAC 11 Nov 20 @CIN
3 Sep 25 CLE 12 Nov 28 PIT
4 Oct 2 @TEN 13 Dec 4 TEN
5 Oct 9 @SFO 14 Dec 11 @JAC
6 Oct 17 STL 15 Dec 18 SDC
7 Oct 23 @HOU 16 Dec 24 @SEA
8 Open Bye 17 Jan 1 ARI
9 Nov 7 @NE . MON SAT
IND Projections Rush Catch Pass
QB Peyton Manning 0 0 240,2
RB Edgerrin James 110,1 20 0
TE Dallas Clark 0 20 0
WR Marvin Harrison 0 70,1 0
WR Reggie Wayne 0 50,1 0
WR Brandon Stokley 0 60 0
PK Mike Vanderjagt 2 FG 3 XP -

Pregame Notes: The Colts are now 2-0 and apparently have finally put together the missing element that has kept them out of the SuperBowl these many years. A defense. And a pretty good one if you consider that it has only allowed ten points total in two games.

Quarterback: In week two of the NFL season, 2005 A.D., Peyton Manning (122 yards, 0 TDs) was outgunned by his brother Eli (165 yards, 1 TD). And Satan laughed as the angels wept.

Manning has faced two solid defenses in the Ravens and the Jaguars and the Colts won both games. But Manning only completed 13 of 28 passes last week and had one interception. It's obviously too early to sound fantasy alarms quite yet but with the play of the Colt's defense, we may all need to lower expectations this season. A lot. The Colts have a cakewalk schedule for the next five games - Manning better go back to being Manning (and not the Eli one).

One wonders if the hurricane hitting Manning's hometown has had any effect (though not for his brother who chugs along at the same pace).

Running Backs: Though the passing game has been shelved, Edgerrin James is doing just fine. He had 128 yards rushing and 39 yards receiving last week - that's more rushing yards than Manning had passing. Ran Carthon came in later in the game to spell James but it was near the goal line and Carton scored the only touchdown in the game. He only had five yards on six carries, but his touchdown run lowered what James was doing.

Wide Receivers: Two of the top ten receivers from last year were Colts and yet last week had Marvin Harrison (3-36) and Reggie Wayne (3-19) turn in Baltimore type receiving numbers. Harrison did score in week one and Brandon Stokley had 83 yards in that game but Wayne has topped out at 50 yards so far this season. This is turning into one of the greatest mysteries of our time. For Wayne owners - one of the bigger tragedies.

Tight Ends: Dallas Clark returned to the lineup last week but with such pedestrian numbers for all receivers, only ended with one catch for four yards.

Match Against the Defense: The Colts offense was like having the hottest wife in the entire town. And now she looks like Rosie O'Donnell. "I... I just don't know who you are anymore..."

The Browns can be beaten on the ground (they allowed Rudi Johnson 126 yards and a score) or through the air (622 yards and five scores in two weeks). How the Colts attack that will be interesting indeed. Expect James to turn in a big game here since he continues to shine despite the passing drought. Manning could rip this secondary wide open for 300 yards but he hasn't had that killer instinct this season so far. Expect a bounce back game at home this week, and at least average numbers. And pray for the old Manning to show up.

All the receivers match up well here. The means and opportunity are there, but the motive to roll up a score is unclear.

One other notable fact - the Browns are coached by Romeo Crennel, the only defensive coordinator who always figured out how to beat Manning. Now if he only had the Patriot defense to use...