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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
The Huddle
October 16, 2005
Season Ticket
Sun 1 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 4 PM Sun 8:30 PM
CAR at DET* MIA at TBB* Sun 4 PM On Bye: Mon 9 PM
CLE at BAL NYG at DAL* NYJ at BUF PHI, SF *Updated

Prediction: Cincinnati 24, Tennessee 13

The Bengals come off their first loss of the year and the Titans feasted on playing the Texans last week. Those results should be reversed this week with the Bengals getting back to their winning ways and the Titans defense being overloaded trying to cover the Bengals wideouts.

The Titans beat the Bengals 27-20 in week eight last year.

Update: T.J. Houshmandzadeh is still listed as questionable with his bruised hand and did not practice on Wednesday or Thursday. He still claims he will be playing on Sunday just the same as he did last week (note - inactive). I am downgrading his numbers and be aware that he may once again miss this week.

Rudi Johnson was also held out of practice on Wednesday with a sore knee but returned on Thursday. He will play this week and is only listed as probable.

Drew Bennett is listed as questionable once again but he has continued to play with a sore knee and practiced on Thursday after sitting out on Wednesday. I am expecting him to play once again.

Cincinnati Bengals (4-1)
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 20-23 @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 TEN Rush Catch Pass
QB Carson Palmer 0 0 270,3
RB Rudi Johnson 80 0 0
RB Chris Perry 30 30 0
TE Matt Schobel 0 20 0
WR Chad Johnson 0 110,2 0
WR Houshmandzadeh 0 40 0
WR Chris Henry 0 70,1 0
PK Shayne Graham 1 FG 3 XP -
Pregame Notes: The Bengals passing game was limited last week with Chad Johnson held at bay and T.J. Houshmandzadeh out for the game with a hand injury. Palmer still had a decent game but in the end, the difference came from the Bengals suddenly no longer being able to stop the run. Playing the Titans with Chris Brown should prove easier this week.

Quarterback: Carson Palmer had 239 yards and two scores last week and that makes 11 touchdowns on the season for him. He's not getting the same level of rush support that he once had and the running game has not scored since back in week one but Palmer has always been enough until last week. Missing Houshmandzadeh was just enough to lose last week but he could return for week six.

Palmer threw for 247 yards but no scores against the Titans in 2004.

Running Backs: Rudi Johnson started out the season with 126 yards and one score but he's since been consistently around 80 yards per game with no scores and he rarely has more than one inconsequential catch per game. Chris Perry has actually been more productive with lesser carries, gaining 55 yards on seven runs last week and providing about 30 yards in receptions per week.

Rudi Johnson only gained 56 yards against the Titans last year but did score once.

Wide Receivers: Chad Johnson was publicly whining about lack of throws last week but the reality is that he had nine passes of which he caught five for 52 yards and one score. That was more passes than he had in the two previous weeks, he just did less with them. T.J. Houshmandzadeh was inactive last week with a swollen hand but the assumption is that he can return this week to play since he was a late scratch last week - updates as warranted. Chris Henry has been a great addition this year and the rookie had 85 yards and a score on only three catches against the Jaguars. Maybe he could tell Johnson how to do more with less...

Chad Johnson gained 67 yards and Houshmandzadeh had 81 yards against the Titans in 2004. Neither scored.

Tight Ends: If Matt Schobel has more than 20 yards in a game, it's been highly successful.

Match Against the Defense: The Titans' rush defense should allow Rudi Johnson his best chance at a 100 yard game this year since they have allowed as much to a couple of runners and Domanick Davis ripped them apart last week. Johnson will likely fall just short once again and fail to score since the Bengals prefer to throw even near the endzone.

Palmer faces a secondary that has allowed many big games this year and he should be a lock for over 250 yards and two scores - possibly well above that mark. There is no truly weak side since both flankers and split ends have fared very well this year, enough so that the slot receivers have done little against them since there was no need to read that far on passing plays. Expect a bounce back game from Johnson just to shut him up and even Houshmandzadeh should score here if he plays.

Tennessee Titans (2-3)
1 7-34 @PIT 10 Open Bye
2 25-10 BAL 11 Nov 20 JAC
3 27-31 @STL 12 Nov 27 SFO
4 10-31 IND 13 Dec 4 @IND
5 34-20 @HOU 14 Dec 11 HOU
6 Oct 16 CIN 15 Dec 18 SEA
7 Oct 23 @ARI 16 Dec 24 @MIA
8 Oct 30 OAK 17 Jan 1 @JAC
9 Nov 6 @CLE . . SAT
TEN vs CIN Rush Catch Pass
QB Steve McNair 0 0 210,1
RB Chris Brown 70 10 0
TE Ben Troupe 0 40,1 0
TE Erron Kinney 0 40 0
WR Drew Bennett 0 50 0
WR Tyrone Calico 0 10 0
WR Brandon Jones 0 30 0
PK Rob Bironas 2 FG 1 XP -

Pregame Notes: The Titans come off a nice win over the perpetually struggling Texans but they have yet to string two wins together this year. Facing the Bengals this week should only extend that streak. The beauty of the new offense for Tennessee is not so much that it works well, but that it uses three tight ends more than the actual wideouts, a necessity driven in part by the lack of production by any player outside of Drew Bennett.

Quarterback: Steve McNair has been very consistent this season, throwing for around 220 yards and one or two scores in every game. Last week he even ran in one score for his first three touchdown effort on the year but he's been no runner normally and the play worked last week because of the rarity of McNair's rushing. McNair has yet to have a big game and has not had a bad game. He's just middle of the road every week.

Volek was the starting quarterback in week eight last year and threw for 212 yards and two scores against the Bengals.

Running Backs: Chris Brown took a great opportunity against the Texans last week but only managed to gain 78 yards on 22 carries and he still has yet to score this year. Jarrett Payton came into the game and had the lone rushing score by the Titans this season. Payton has only been a bit relief player but had a few more carries at the end of last week while the team awaits the return of Travis Henry.

Chris Brown rushed for 147 yards and one score against the Bengals last year.

Wide Receivers: Drew Bennett ended last week's game with 99 yards and one score - his first of the year and only the second score by a wideout this season. Outside of Bennett there has been little help. Brandon Jones only had 21 yards on three catches and has yet to turn in more than 41 yards in any game. Tyrone Calico finally has disintegrated completely, having no catches last week. This wideout crew has been little help for McNair this season and beyond Bennett has made no difference. And even Bennett has been good in only about half his games.

Mason had 85 yards against the Bengals last year but Drew Bennett had no catches that week.

Tight Ends: As noted, being a tight end for the Titans is the place to be for opportunities. Last week, McNair threw a total of 16 passes at his tight ends and he typically has at least ten or more every game. Ben Troupe is the emerging star of the group and had his best game of the year against the Texans when he caught eight passes for 67 yards and one score. Troupe has three of the four touchdowns caught by Titans tight ends this season. Erron Kinney has not score but has been the most consistent of the group with around 30 to 60 yards per week.

Match Against the Defense: The Bengals were ravaged by the rushing game of the Jaguars last week and that should play into this matchup at least a little. Brown has not been particularly productive even as the primary without Henry around but should manage at least moderate yardage here unless the score board forces the Titans to switch to a pure passing attack.

The Bengals have been very good against the pass and in particular, against starting wideouts so look for McNair to continue with his standard attack - throwing to tight ends and Drew Bennett who should turn in a sub-par game here regardless. The Bengals will look to post some quick points via the pass to move this game away from defending the run and the Titans simply do not have the quick strike ability this season from a lack of productive wideouts.