fantasy football     JOIN THE HUDDLE    


Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
The Huddle
November 9, 2005
Season Ticket
Sun 1 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 4 PM Sun 8:30 PM Mon 9 PM
BAL at JAC NE at MIA NYJ at CAR On Bye:  
HOU at IND* SF at CHI GB at ATL CIN, SD Updated *
KC at BUF WAS at TB* STL at SEA TEN. NO Times ET

Prediction: Cleveland 6, Pittsburgh 24

The Browns are only 1-3 on the road this season but their losses have always been by smaller margins. The Steelers have only managed to lose at home but this match-up can't be too big of a problem even with Charlie Batch still the starting quarterback in Pittsburgh. The Steelers swept the Browns last year, winning 23-34 and 10-24.

Cleveland Browns (3-5)
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 20-14 TEN . . SAT
CLE at PIT Rush Catch Pass
QB Trent Dilfer 0 0 200
RB Reuben Droughns 60 20 0
TE Aaron Shea 0 20 0
TE Steve Heiden 0 30 0
WR Antonio Bryant 0 60 0
WR Braylon Edwards 0 30 0
WR Dennis Northcutt 0 20 0
PK Phil Dawson 2 FG 0 XP -
Pregame Notes: The Browns made some amends for being the only team to lose to the Texans this season by outlasting the visiting Titans last week. That ended a three game losing skid but it only produced 20 points which is a high mark for this team outside of the one odd win in Green Bay this season. The rushing game is looking better with Droughns running well but the passing game continues to slide. At Pittsburgh this week, likely both facets of the offense take a dive.

Quarterback: In his best matchup of the season, Trent Dilfer threw for 272 yards and one score against the Titans but also threw an interception and lost a fumble. It was easily his best game in the last month and likely just enough to quiet the calls for Charlie Frye for at least a week. Wait until Dilfer faces one of the top secondaries in the NFL this week and the whispering will start again.

Running Backs: Reuben Droughns has turned in solid efforts for the last three weeks, rushing for at least 99 yards in each match-up and averaging a little over five yards per carry. He still has not scored this season but he also had 79 yards on four receptions against the Titans - his first significant receiving yardage in the last three games. Droughns is running very well even if the Browns never end up near the goal line and he's been the lone consistently good aspect to this offense.

Wide Receivers: Dennis Northcutt had three catches for 80 yards and a touchdown against the Titans last week and he also added a 31 yard run as well but that was his first actual production of any kind in the last three games. He's just one of the rotation receivers that had "one of those weeks" and not the start of something new. Antonio Bryant remains the primary receiver here and had 79 yards last week and 98 the previous game. He still only has one game in which he had a touchdown but when the Browns throw, he is the first read for Dilfer.

Braylon Edwards has been back for three weeks now but has never had more than 32 yards in a game. He was just starting to catch on in week three when he had the arm infection and hasn't been a contributor since.

Tight Ends: Steve Heiden and Aaron Shea are around for about one catch per game but either could do much more if they had more passes. They just rarely ever get more than three passes each in a game.

Match Against the Defense: Look for moderate yardage from Droughns in this game that should see him recede from his 100 yards per game pace lately. The Lions, Texans and Titans are a good bit easier to run on than the Steelers in Pittsburgh.

Dilfer faces a secondary that has only allowed five passing scores in eight games this year so he'll be blanked most likely and end up around the 200 yard mark purely from needing to throw more. There has been only one wideout that has ever scored on the Steelers this season, so consider the numbers depressed for the wideouts and likely a bit more use of Shea and Heiden in this game.

Pittsburgh Steelers (6-2)
1 34-7 TEN 10 Nov 13 CLE
2 27-7 @HOU 11 Nov 20 @BAL
3 20-23 NE 12 Nov 28 @IND
4 Open Bye 13 Dec 4 CIN
5 24-22 @SDC 14 Dec 11 CHI
6 17-23 JAC 15 Dec 18 @MIN
7 27-13 @CIN 16 Dec 24 @CLE
8 20-19 BAL 17 Jan 1 DET
9 20-10 @GBP . MON SAT
PIT vs CLE Rush Catch Pass
QB Charlie Batch 20 0 110,1
RB Jerome Bettis 30,1 0 0
RB Duce Staley 90,1 10 0
TE Heath Miller 0 30,1 0
WR Hines Ward 0 40 0
WR Cedrick Wilson 0 10 0
WR Antwaan Randle El 0 10 0
PK Jeff Reed 1 FG 3 XP -

Pregame Notes: The Steelers have continued to win despite losing Roethlisberger again but there's been much less offense with him out. Charlie Batch starts again this week but the Steelers will just be running and waiting for the next Dilfer turnover to win this game. The next big game is in two weeks in Indianapolis but three of these next four games go against their divisional rivals and the Steelers need to be healthy again for the next month before the schedule softens up a good bit for the final three games.

Quarterback: The Steelers have named Charlie Batch as the starter again this week even though his game against the Packers - the Green Bay Packers that everyone kills - produced only 93 passing yards. Batch only threw 14 passes with nine completions but did manage two scores, a win and a second start. That's more than Maddox could do.

Roethlisberger threw for 231 yards and one score last year when the Browns visited.

Running Backs: Willie Parker left the game against the Packers in the third quarter with a sprained ankle and only had five carries for 13 yards. Duce Staley had his first playing time of the year and turned in 76 yards on 15 carries with one touchdown. Jerome Bettis was held out of the game to rest his bruised thigh but should be available for this week. Pending reports on Parkers ankle, I am assuming it will be Staley and Bettis this week. Updates as warranted.

Duce Staley had 117 yards and one score against the Browns last year and later Bettis had 103 yards and two scores when the Browns came to Pittsburgh.

Wide Receivers: When Batch only throws for 93 yards, it is a safe bet that the wideouts took it in the shorts last week. Hines Ward only had one catch for 13 yards which was three yards more than any other wideout. The only safe bet here this week is that Ward must catch three passes to become the all-time leading receiver for the Steelers. There are two road games up next so it has to happen here. It may only be a total of 10 yards, but there must be three catches this week. This would be a nice week to forget about any Steeler wideout with Batch taking the start unless you get reception points and can live with Ward having three catches.

Burress was the star receiver for the Steelers when they played the Browns in 2004 and Hines Ward only had 61 yards as his best game against them. He never scored in either match-up.

Tight Ends: Heath Miller had caught six touchdowns in his first six games played and had scored in each of the four games previous to last week. Enter Charlie Batch, the Miller Killer. Heath ended with only two catches for 11 yards which actually was pretty high for the game.

Match Against the Defense: The Steelers like to run and with Batch there, that is almost the only plays that they call. The Browns rushing defense has been far better than last year but still will give up over 100 yards in this match-up. Look for Staley to take most of the carries and yards but Bettis is healthy again and could come in to take a short touchdown - just like last year.

Batch? He could easily manage one score here but it would most likely go to a back or tight end since the Browns have decent cornerbacks and have only allowed one passing score to a wideout since week two - and that was to Jerome Mathis last week on his only catch. Have to like Miller the most here to score, but there may not be any.