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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: Cleveland 10, Baltimore 20

The Browns come off a close win over the Bears and with one quarter of the season gone, their .500 record has to be considered a success compared to last year. The Ravens are now 1-3 and appear to be close to imploding with a near record of 21 penalties last week that included two players ejected from the game and as a symbol of their season, the game wrapped up with fullback Shawn Bryson running 77 yards for a touchdown while being chased by Deion Sanders... who could not catch him.

The Browns won 3-20 in the season opener last year against the Ravens but later were beaten 27-13 in Baltimore.

Cleveland Browns (2-2)
1 13-27 CIN 10 Nov 13 @PIT
2 26-24 @GBP 11 Nov 20 MIA
3 6-13 @IND 12 Nov 27 @MIN
4 Open Bye 13 Dec 4 JAC
5 20-10 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 at BAL Rush Catch Pass
QB Trent Dilfer 0 0 170,1
RB Reuben Droughns 70 20 0
TE Steve Heiden 0 40,1 0
WR Antonio Bryant 0 30 0
WR Dennis Northcutt 0 30 0
WR Frisman Jackson 0 40 0
PK Phil Dawson 1 FG 1 XP -
Pregame Notes: There is no denying that the Browns have already improved this year both defensively and offensively. Since the opening loss to the Bengals, they have won two games and lost 6-13 against the Colts. The loss of rookie Braylon Edwards for a couple of weeks is not a help, but this team is on the right track and making good use of what it does have.

Quarterback: While it was a close win over the Bears, Trent Dilfer had a very nice game last week when he threw for 218 yards and two scores to Antonio Bryant - tough to do against Chicago corners and he already was without Edwards as well. Dilfer has only the Packers game as a truly productive one but he's been the game manager they wanted and in a pinch - he can get the scores to keep the Browns in the game.

Running Backs: Forget all the talk about how much splitting of carries there will be in Cleveland this year. Reuben Droughns is the man and there are no others to consider. Lee Suggs has been available for two weeks now and had no carries and only two passes. Suggs has even been rumored as trade bait. William Green has only seven carries on the year. Droughns has not scored yet but he's been consistently productive around 70 yards per game with a high of 78. He also has had at least 20 yards receiving in each week as well.

There are reports that Suggs has a broken thumb now. Even less chance he will amount to anything this season.

Wide Receivers: Antonio Bryant comes off his best game of the year, catching six passes for 83 yards and two scores against likely his toughest matchup as of yet. Braylon Edwards has been lost at least temporarily with an elbow infection which puts Frisman Jackson into the #3 role but he had no catches on three passes last week - not exactly the best of replacements. Dennis Northcutt has yet to gain more than 39 yards in any game this year despite being a #2 wideout.

Tight Ends: And the newest free agent tight end on your waiver wire is Aaron Shea who had six catches for 65 yards last week. It was the first game of the season for him and Steve Heiden remains the starter, so figure that for one of "those" games like Frisman Jackson had to begin the year.

Match Against the Defense: The Ravens rush defense had been stellar this year but fell apart last week in Detroit as the team suffered a meltdown. Prior to that game, no player had rushed in a score and only three passing scores were made against the Ravens in the first three games. Since Droughns has yet to rush in a score, expect that to continue here with him being held to moderate yardage at best.

Since Antonio Bryant draws CB Chris McAlister, expect him to return to pedestrian yardage this week and Northcutt has yet to do anything anyway. The tight ends will get a few more looks here but this game should see the Ravens reasserting themselves at least on defense. Look for Dilfer to have one of his worst games of the year here with no player managing many yards.

Baltimore Ravens (1-3)
1 7-24 IND 10 Nov 13 @JAC
2 10-25 @TEN 11 Nov 20 PIT
3 Open Bye 12 Nov 27 @CIN
4 13-3 NYJ 13 Dec 4 HOU
5 17-35 @DET 14 Dec 11 @DEN
6 Oct 16 CLE 15 Dec 19 GBP
7 Oct 23 @CHI 16 Dec 25 MIN
8 Oct 31 @PIT 17 Jan 1 @CLE
9 Nov 6 CIN . . MON
BAL vs CLE Rush Catch Pass
QB Anthony Wright 0 0 170
RB Jamal Lewis 110,1 10 0
TE Todd Heap 0 50 0
WR Derrick Mason 0 60 0
WR Clarence Moore 0 20 0
WR Mark Clayton 0 20 0
PK Matt Stover 2 FG 2 XP -

Pregame Notes: The Ravens fall to 1-3 and all is not well in Baltimore. The defense has actually played well but continues to see no help from the offense. Their play is getting more sloppy every week with penalties and ejections and a general sense that Billick is starting to lose this team. The Ravens must win this game - it will be their easiest matchup for the next seven weeks.

Quarterback: Anthony Wright comes off his best game of the year but that only equates to 230 yards and two scores with two costly interceptions. Since taking the starting nod, Wright only has three scores in three games with four interceptions. Playing at home this week should mean more rushing than usual which will only further depress Wright's production.

Kyle Boller could end up as the #3 quarterback for this game but he is still a few weeks from returning.

Running Backs: Jamal Lewis comes off his best game as well, rushing for 95 yards on 19 carries and adding a touchdown reception - only his second one of his entire career. Chester Taylor also ran well last week with 46 yards on only nine carries and 24 yards on four receptions as the third down back. Taylor has 20 carries over the last two games, more a symbol of the offensive formations that the Ravens have used than any shift from Lewis.

Jamal Lewis topped out with 81 yards and once score against the Browns in 2004.

Wide Receivers: Derrick Mason had his standard last week, catching six passes for 65 yards. He remains between 54 and 99 yards per game but has only scored once this year. No other wideout had more than one catch last week and outside of Mason, there just is very little production from this group. The best any other wideout has managed this entire season is Mark Clayton's 44 yards in week one.

Tight Ends: After four games, Todd Heap finally had a touchdown when he turned in two catches for 54 yards against the Lions last week. The entire passing attack is little more than Mason and Heap here and the lethargic passing game has limited Heap to no more than 56 yards in any single game this year.

Heap only played in the week one game last year against the Browns but had 86 yards and one score before getting injured and disappointing the rest of the season.

Match Against the Defense: If Jamal Lewis fails to gain 100 yards here, you can write him off as being even average this season. The Browns have already allowed three runners to have not only big games, but the biggest games of their respective seasons thus far. Given the problems with the passing game, expect Lewis to turn in his best effort of the year against the Browns who historically he always feasted on.

That rushing attack will depress the numbers needed from Anthony Wright. Expect a low effort from him that will see Heap and Mason turn in only moderate numbers. If either scores, it will be most likely Mason but anything above a moderate yardage game is probably optimistic here. I also like the chance for a defensive score in this game that the Ravens must win and must show they are not falling apart. This is a "circle the wagons" week and that means the defense has to come up big. At home against the Browns is a great scenario for that to happen.