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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
The Huddle
October 19, 2005
Season Ticket
FRI 7 PM Sun 1 PM SF at WAS* Sun 4 PM Sun 4 PM
KC at MIA* NO at STL Sun 4 PM DEN at NYG TEN at ARI*
Sun 1 PM PIT at CIN* DAL at SEA* On Bye: Mon 9 PM
GB at MIN* IND at HOU BUF at OAK CAR, TB Updated*

Prediction: Detroit 10 Cleveland 14

One of these teams will be .500 after the game is over and that could be the Lions who are tied for the NFC North lead despite possessing not a shred of offensive ability. The Browns are not exactly stocked with superstars on offense, but unlike Detroit they seem to get everything there is to get from their players. This is bound to be a low scoring matchup and if the first part of the season stands, it will be one of the final starts for Joey Harrington. This game turns if there is even one defensive score.

Update: I am not changing the projections, but be aware that Jeff Garcia has been practicing with the first team along with Joey Harrington and there is a chance - though small - that he could get significant play here. Garcia is returning early from a broken fibula and the Lions likely don't want to rush him in if it means risking more injury to the player that is considered a potential savior for the franchise only because he is not Harrington. Just realize that if you were planning on starting Harrington, and you have my condolences, there may be even less points from his this week.

Roy Williams is still questionable to play this week and has missed practice. I am not including him in the projections as it seems likely he will not play.

Detroit Lions (2-3)
1 17-3 GBP 10 Nov 13 ARI
2 6-38 @CHI 11 Nov 20 @DAL
3 Open Bye 12 Nov 24 ATL
4 13-17 @TBB 13 Dec 4 MIN
5 35-17 BAL 14 Dec 11 @GBP
6 20-21 CAR 15 Dec 18 CIN
7 Oct 23 @CLE 16 Dec 24 @NOR
8 Oct 30 CHI 17 Jan 1 @PIT
9 Nov 6 @MIN . THU SAT
DET at CLE Rush Catch Pass
QB Joey Harrington 0 0 140
RB Kevin Jones 50,1 10 0
TE Marcus Pollard 0 30 0
WR Scott Vines 0 20 0
WR Mike Williams 0 30 0
WR Kevin Johnson 0 50 0
PK Jason Hanson 1 FG 1 XP -
Pregame Notes: The Lions are winless on the road this season and allowed the Panthers to come back and take away a win last week in Detroit. The defense has been very sound in most games but the offense has been nearly horrific outside of Kevin Jones who has only average numbers overall, but compared to the rest of the team he looks like a star. A very small, sort of dim star.

Quarterback: Joey Harrington remains the starter here mainly because he is the only car in the garage. There is little doubt that Jeff Garcia will become the starter when he is available in a few weeks if only because he cannot be any worse. Harrington has thrown one touchdown in the last three games and has four on the season against eight interceptions. Last week he threw for a season high 201 yards but that was only because of an 86-yard catch and run by Marcus Pollard. Harrington was sacked six times. Roy Williams has been out injured, Charles Rogers is out stupid and Mike Williams is banged up. It's like a graveyard for first round wideouts.

Running Backs: Kevin Jones injured his shoulder and left the game temporarily last week but returned to play. He ended with a whooping 21 yards on 12 carries which is even lower than the sub-3-yard average of the rushing game this year. Jones saving grace has been the ability to get the short touchdowns which accounts for all three this season, but he is not getting the offense there nor is the passing game.

Wide Receivers: There is nothing short of an amazement how the Lions can take what are touted as great wideouts and render them useless through injury or inaccurate passes. Roy Williams missed last week and Kevin Johnson only managed four catches for 23 yards in his place. Mike Williams only had 23 yards on two catches and lost a fumble. Scott Vines had a catch and Glenn Martinez missed all three of his passes. So, just to reiterate, the big trio of Roy, Charles and Mike are now mostly Kevin, Scott and Glenn. Amazing. And not much light at the end of the tunnel until Garcia shows up.

Tight Ends: Marcus Pollard turned one catch into an 86-yard chase down the field but otherwise, he had19 yards as expected. The 19 yards is far more indicative of what Pollard produces.

Match Against the Defense: The Browns defense has given up three 100 yard games already and can be beaten but Kevin Jones was not running well before he banged up his shoulder. Expect only a moderate game here though Jones could rush in one score if his shoulder holds up.

Harrington goes against a secondary that can give up yards, he he doesn't have the ability to do it nor the receivers to catch it. There is simply too big a chance of a goose egg to start any of the Detroit receivers. The Browns defense has been improved this year and going against a team that relies on its defense to do all the scoring, the Browns may look like a defensive powerhouse this week.

Cleveland Browns (2-3)
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 3-16 @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 vs DET Rush Catch Pass
QB Trent Dilfer 0 0 230,2
RB Reuben Droughns 60 30 0
RB William Green 10 10 0
TE Steve Heiden 0 30,1 0
WR Antonio Bryant 0 60 0
WR Dennis Northcutt 0 50 0
WR Frisman Jackson 0 20,1 0
PK Phil Dawson 0 FG 2 XP -

Pregame Notes: The Browns dropped their game in Baltimore last week when the Ravens defense finally got tired of losing but the last win was the most recent home game against the Bears that could be a model for this matchup, less Thomas Jones. The Browns are still trying to find a rhythm on offense but the defense has been good enough to hold the last three opponents to only 16 points or less each week which includes two road games. Cleveland won't become a force this year from a general lack of offensive playmakers but they're already good enough to stay in most games.

Quarterback: Trent Dilfer has only been as good as Antonio Bryant can be since Braylon Edwards got hurt and he only managed to throw for 147 yards last week with two lost fumbles and an interception. That game was uncharacteristic though and Dilfer had been able to remain over 200 passing yards in every game until last week. He only has six scores on the season but he's not being asked to do much and he doesn't have much to work with either.

Running Backs: With Lee Suggs again injured and William Green a bit player, Reuben Droughns continues to be the primary back here but he hasn't scored this season and has yet to exceed 78 rushing yards in a game. He is just a consistent source for around 60 or 70 yards per week with about 20 more on receptions. It doesn't even matter what the game situation is or where it is being played.

Wide Receivers: Antonio Bryant only had 34 yards on four catches last week after having turned in two scores and 83 yards against the Bears. With Braylon Edwards gone, the passing game is one dimensional and that dimension is Bryant. Frisman Jackson has been promoted up to the #3 with Edwards gone and has now gone two games without a catch. Dennis Northcutt had his best game of the year when he caught four passes for 60 yards against the Ravens, but he has only managed a high of 39 yards prior to last Sunday.

Tight Ends: Steve Heiden had four catches for 38 yards last week and it was his first activity of note in three weeks since his monster 104 yard, two touchdown game against the Packers. His last two games only produced 23 total yards.

Match Against the Defense: The Detroit defense has been very good this year and has been the only saving grace for them. Droughns slogs along at about 60 or 70 yards a game, expect that to continue with virtually no chance of a score here.

The Lions secondary has been giving up at least one or two scores each week for the last five games and usually more than 230 yards. Dre Bly has been a shutdown corner but he's been getting beaten lately because he is taking more chances at an interception. He has been getting the interceptions but also has allowed a few long gainers that have hurt the Lions. Look for Dilfer to get moderate numbers from Bryant but for the others - Northcutt and even Jackson - to need to chip in here. Heiden has a good chance at higher than normal numbers as well since he does better against tougher matchups.