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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
The Huddle
October 9, 2005
Season Ticket
Sun 1 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 4 PM Sun 8:30 PM Mon 9 PM
CHI at CLE SEA at STL* CAR at ARI On Bye:  
NE at ATL TEN at HOU* WAS at DEN MIN, NYG Updated*

Prediction: Cincinnati 17, Jacksonville 13

The Bengals show up here with the best record in the NFL, unbeaten after four games and not one of their previous opponents have a winning record. The Jaguars come off a surprisingly thorough thumping by the Broncos and hope no one notices that their rushing game disappears when facing a good defense. The Bengals are bound to lose a game soon and the Jaguars are better than their 2-2 record suggests, but behind all that offensive firepower of Cincinnati is a defense better than it has been in a decade.

Update: T.J. Houshmandzadeh has been added to the injury list as questionable due to a swollen right hand and has been held out of practice. He has been getting treatment on his hand including wearing a removable cast to get the swelling down. It appears most likely that he will play but I am slightly lowering his projections.

Cincinnati Bengals (4-0)
1 27-13 @CLE 10 Open Bye
2 37-8 MIN 11 Nov 20 IND
3 24-7 @CHI 12 Nov 27 BAL
4 16-10 HOU 13 Dec 4 @PIT
5 Oct 9 @JAC 14 Dec 11 CLE
6 Oct 16 @TEN 15 Dec 18 @DET
7 Oct 23 PIT 16 Dec 24 BUF
8 Oct 30 GBP 17 Jan 1 @KCC
9 Nov 6 @BAL . . SAT
CIN at JAX Rush Catch Pass
QB Carson Palmer 0 0 230,2
RB Rudi Johnson 90 10 0
RB Chris Perry 10 30 0
TE Matt Schobel 0 20,1 0
WR Chad Johnson 0 70 0
WR Houshmandzadeh 0 50,1 0
WR Chris Henry 0 70,1 0
PK Shayne Graham 1 FG 2 XP -
Pregame Notes: The Bengals have rolled to a 4-0 record thanks in part to a soft opening schedule, but they have also rolled over every opponent until last week when the Texans used their bye to spend two weeks figuring out how to stop Cincinnati. Probable too is that the Bengals were not that worried about the winless Texans and did not completely prepare for the game thinking they could just win with little effort. They were right.

Quarterback: Carson Palmer finally cooled down a bit when he only had one score against the Texans but he still threw for 276 yards. It was his first game of the year without multiple scores and he is still averaging over two touchdowns a game. He's been rock solid in completion percentages and hasn't thrown an interception since three weeks ago.

Running Backs: Rudi Johnson opened the year with a big 126 yard effort but the last three weeks has seen him consistently remain around 90 yards a game without a score. Chris Perry only had four carries last week but continues to provide about four catches a game for around 30 yards as he integrates into the offense and waits for Johnson to get injured one day.

Against the Texans, the fullback Jeremi Johnson had a receiving touchdown for the second time this year and in both games, it was the only catch he had. Jeremi normally gets only one touch a game.

Wide Receivers: Chad Johnson comes off his worst game of the year but still managed to have seven catches for 67 yards while T.J. Houshmandzadeh reeled in eight catches for 105 yards - his best effort of the year. Chris Henry has taken over the slot role and while he had only two catches for 34 yards last week, he had a long touchdown catch called back because of a penalty. The rookie is the one to watch in games that feature good cornerbacks that can cover Houshmandzadeh and Johnson - which will be pretty rare.

Tight Ends: No real fantasy value here from Matt Schobel who only had one catch for 20 yards last week.

Match Against the Defense: The Jaguars rush defense has been dinged by both James and Anderson this year though last week's 178 total rushing yards allowed was freakishly high. This same unit held Alexander to only 73 yards and Martin to 67. Look for Rudi Johnson to replicate what he has been doing every week - about 80 to 90 yards and no scores.

Palmer faces a good secondary that has not allowed much this year mainly because the rushing defense has been more exploited. Plummer had only 136 yards last week but two scores. This should be an interesting match-up because the Bengals like to use their two wideouts heavily and yet the Jacksonville corners have been outstanding this year, allowing no more than 79 yards to any receiver and just two touchdowns to wideouts. It took two trick plays to tackle-eligible Dwayne Carswell for the scores last week.

This passing attack will be the biggest test for the Jaguars so far this year and should manage to break the incredible string of limiting opponent wideouts. Consider too that the only team with more than 28 pass attempts against the Jaguars was Seattle which did manage scores to Jackson and Jurevicius.

Jacksonville Jaguars (2-2)
1 26-14 SEA 10 Nov 13 BAL
2 3-10 @IND 11 Nov 20 @TEN
3 26-20 @NYJ 12 Nov 27 @ARI
4 7-20 DEN 13 Dec 4 @CLE
5 Oct 9 CIN 14 Dec 11 IND
6 Oct 16 @PIT 15 Dec 18 SFO
7 Open Bye 16 Dec 24 @HOU
8 Oct 30 @STL 17 Jan 1 TEN
9 Nov 6 HOU . . SAT
JAX vs CIN Rush Catch Pass
QB Byron Leftwich 10 0 240,1
RB Fred Taylor 60 0 0
RB Alvin Pearman 10 30 0
TE Kyle Brady 0 10 0
WR Jimmy Smith 0 80,1 0
WR Reggie Williams 0 40 0
WR Ernest Wilford 0 30 0
WR Matt Jones 0 30 0
PK Josh Scobee 2 FG 1 XP -

Pregame Notes: The Jaguars were ambushed last week and the 7-20 score against the Broncos does not indicate just how badly they lost. Compounding this week's game is the knowledge that they have to go to Pittsburgh next week and if they are 2-4 during the week seven bye, they can pretty much forget about even getting a wild card this season. Leftwich has been consistent enough but the rushing game has been no major help this year.

Quarterback: While Byron Leftwich had 240 passing yards last week, much of that came in trash time and he only had one touchdown against two interceptions and a lost fumble. Leftwich had been very efficient this season with multiple scores in half his games but facing a good Denver defense last week made him look like a rookie again.

Running Backs: Fred Taylor was squashed by Denver and only managed to gain 14 yards on eight carries. He only has one touchdown on the season and is only averaging 3.3 yards per carry. He's basically about the same as last year with the only real change lately being Alvin Pearman taking over the third down role more. Pearman had four catches for 42 yards last week though he lost one fumble.

Wide Receivers: Though the rest of the offense floundered last week, Jimmy Smith remains the lone consistently good feature of the offense. He had five catches for 109 yards and the lone touchdown last week and he has scored in three of the four games this year. Reggie Williams comes off his worst game of 2005 when he only had three catches for 22 yards in a game that the Jaguars abandoned the run. Matt Jones looked promising this summer but so far has topped out at only 31 yards in a game. Outside of Jimmy Smith, this crew has been below average.

Tight Ends: No scores this year, no reliable yardage and no fantasy relevance.

Match Against the Defense: Fred Taylor has not been a good runner this year and the Bengals have held most opponents well below 100 yards rushing. Expect more of the mediocre running by Taylor and almost no chance for a score since both he and the Bengal defense have only seen one all season.

Leftwich is going against a secondary that has only allowed two scores this entire season. He's likely to remain around 240 passing yards and one score with most of that coming once they realize Taylor is not going to be a factor. The only good game allowed to a receiver this season was to Frisman Jackson thanks mainly to one long touchdown catch. This should be nearly a repeat of last week.