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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
The Huddle
November 2, 2005
Season Ticket
Sun 1 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 4 PM Sun 8:30 PM
ATL at MIA* DET at MIN* TEN at CLE* PIT at GB* PHI at WAS*
CAR at TB HOU at JAC* Sun 4 PM On Bye: Mon 9 PM
CIN at BAL SD at NYJ SEA at ARI* DAL, STL Updates*

Prediction: Tennessee 13, Cleveland 20

Both these teams are struggling to win games this year and neither have the talent to do a lot about it. The Titans are faced with a complete absence of any veteran wideouts and the Browns are starting to whisper that the Dilfer era may need to end soon. The Titans have only won once on the road and that was in Houston which does not count in official standings this year. The Browns are 1-2 at home this season and continue to search for a spark that could set this offense on fire finally and finally start to Frye some opponents. No movement yet on how that could happen.

Update: Steve McNair has improved and practiced on Thursday. He is expected to play this week with no limitations. Drew Bennett is still out and Brandon Jones has not had a full practice yet and remains questionable to play. He has not been officially ruled out though. I am not adding him in though there is still a chance he could get some playing time. Ben Troupe is also questionable with a high ankle sprain and has been wearing a boot. I am removing him from the projections.

William Green is also doubtful this week and will likely not be getting the two carries.

Tennessee Titans (2-6)
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 23-31 CIN 15 Dec 18 SEA
7 10-20 @ARI 16 Dec 24 @MIA
8 25-34 OAK 17 Jan 1 @JAC
9 Nov 6 @CLE . . SAT
TEN at CLE Rush Catch Pass
QB Steve McNair 0 0 190,1
RB Chris Brown 80 20 0
TE Ben Troupe 0 20 0
TE Erron Kinney 0 50,1 0
WR Roydell Williams 0 50 0
WR Courtney Roby 0 60 0
PK Rob Bironas 2 FG 1 XP -
Pregame Notes: The Titans entered the season knowing that they were relying on Chris Brown to remain healthy and that Drew Bennett and oft-injured Tyrone Calico could be enough in the passing game. Ends up that only Chris Brown has met those hopes so far and he was hardly the favorite in that race. The Titans sent OC Mike Heimerdinger packing last spring because the Titans were not moving the ball well in his shorter passing scheme. Now that OC Norman Chow is there, it ends up that not only have the Titans remained dink and dunk, but now they just use tight ends instead of wideouts.

Quarterback: Steve McNair remains perpetually banged up and on the injury report but he's only missed one game. McNair has been amazingly consistent at around 220 yards and a touchdown each game and he occasionally takes off on the off run but this offense lacks the talent for him to do much more, especially with Drew Bennett out.

Running Backs: Chris Brown has been perhaps the only Titan player who has exceeded expectations this season but that mainly stems from the bar being set so low to begin with. Brown has ran for three scores in the last two games and he had a season high 97 yards on 19 runs in Arizona last week. Travis Henry returned from his four game suspension but only had one carry for two yards. Other than the week two game against the Ravens, the Titans have rarely used Henry in any game this year and are getting decent enough production from Brown to keep Henry on the bench. At least until Brown gets injured.

Wide Receivers: Drew Bennett missed last week with due to thumb surgery and he is expected to miss this week as well. The Titans wanted Tyrone Calico to step up last week with Bennett out but Calico strained his calf and sat out the second half. Courtney Roby replaced him and scored his first NFL touchdown and had seven receptions for 83 yards. Since Brandon Jones was also out, Roydell Williams took his spot and ended with three catches for 25 yards. This wasn't quite the aerial show that most people imagined when they bought season tickets. I assume that Calico and Jones will miss this game as well but will update if needed.

Tight Ends: Erron Kinney is the de facto wideout for the Titans and he has been rock solid with yardage even though he has not yet scored a touchdown. Kinney has 385 yards on 39 catches, comparative to Witten or Shockey though without the scoring aspect. Ben Troupe has declined every week for the past month and only had two catches for nine yards last week. Since week five, he has become almost completely ignored in the passing scheme despite the need for more receivers.

Match Against the Defense: The Browns have only allowed two rushing scores this season but they've allowed nice yardage to most teams. Expect a moderate game here from Brown but he won't likely score like most other runners.

McNair faces a secondary that has only allowed eight passing scores this season though the Browns have mostly faced a lackluster group of quarterbacks lately - Carr, Garcia, Wright and Orton. But the Titans are hardly the top passing team either so look for a standard output by McNair with only one passing score. The Browns have not allowed a wideout to score since week two, so the score will more likely go to Troupe, Kinney or Bo Scaife. Since Kinney so far more common a target, look for him to net his first score of the year in this game.

Cleveland Browns (2-5)
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 10-13 DET 16 Dec 24 PIT
8 16-19 @HOU 17 Jan 1 BAL
9 Nov 6 TEN . . SAT
CLE vs TEN Rush Catch Pass
QB Trent Dilfer 0 0 220,2
RB Reuben Droughns 70 20 0
TE Steve Heiden 0 30 0
WR Antonio Bryant 0 90,1 0
WR Braylon Edwards 0 50,1 0
WR Dennis Northcutt 0 10 0
PK Phil Dawson 1 FG 2 XP -

Pregame Notes: The Browns are on a three game losing skid and the blame doesn't go to the defense that has held the last five opponents to less than 20 points each week. The blame has been pointed directly at the passing game that has evaporated for the last three weeks and already the rookie Charlie Frye's name is being mentioned by Cleveland players. In particular by the rookie Braylon Edwards who publicly said the offense needs a jump start and should give Frye a chance. Evidently Edwards hasn't realized yet that his production is entirely contingent on the current quarterback to throw him the ball, the one he just insulted.

Quarterback: Trent Dilfer started the season well for the first four games and had six scored and only four interceptions. In the last three games, he's only thrown for one touchdown against six interceptions and has varied from 185 down to only 73 yards passing per game. Charlie Frye will be coming off the bench eventually, the question is only when. Dilfer is making that sooner than later.

Running Backs: Reuben Droughns still has not scored this year (not that many team mates have either) but he's been running surprisingly well. Droughns has ran for 100 and 99 yards in the last two weeks with a solid five yards per carry average. Suggs is forever gone and injured and Green now only has spot duty. This rushing attack is all about Droughns and if the passing game could reappear, he'd start to have fantasy value each week beyond 70 or so rushing yards.

Wide Receivers: Antonio Bryant only managed a handful of yards and catches against the Ravens and Lions, but in Houston last week he had four catches for 98 yards - his best of the season. Dennis Northcutt remains a started though he has not had an actual catch in two weeks now and Braylon Edwards is back, but only to the tune of two or three catches for 30 yards a week. After speaking out against Dilfer, he might as well get comfortable at that level of action until Frye starts to play.

Tight Ends: Aaron Shea had his first touchdown of the year when he had one catch for eight yards against the Texans last week. The one catch is far more reflective of Shea's importance to the offense than the touchdown. Steve Heiden had four catches for 43 yards and remains the primary receiving tight end.

Match Against the Defense: The Titans rushing defense has been good this season, allowing only three rushing scores all season and only one in the last six games. That means Droughns chance of scoring is pretty close to zero though he should manage some moderate yardage.

The Titans have always allowed at least one passing score every game and teams with good passing game have ripped them up. This, unfortunately, does not exist in Cleveland yet so while Dilfer should see an uptick in numbers this week, he'll be doing well enough if he can get two scores. If he doesn't, the Frye talk only gets louder. The Titans have been shutting down all tight ends this season so the wideouts will have to make the difference there and there's plenty of chances for them to shine. Expect another good game from Antonio Bryant who should catch at least one score. Since this is one of the easier matchups of the year for the Browns, look for a second scoring pass to happen that could go to Edwards - if Dilfer still is willing.