fantasy football     JOIN THE HUDDLE    


Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
The Huddle
November 16, 2005
Season Ticket
Sun 1 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 4 PM Sun 8:30 PM
DET at DAL NO at NE Sun 4 PM PIT at BAL* MIN at GB*
IND at CIN OAK at WAS SEA at SF* Updated* Times ET

Prediction: Indianapolis 27, Cincinnati 20

If you only watch one game this weekend, here is the one to catch. The 9-0 Colts likely have one of their toughest match-ups of the season this week when they visit the 7-2 Bengals. Indy can afford a loss here since they have a two game lead over the entire league while the Bengals are tied with the Steelers in the AFC North. But the Colts are just playing so well and the Bengals already lost to the visiting Steelers who have as good a defense and not nearly the offense of Indianapolis.

Indianapolis Colts (9-0)
1 24-7 @BAL 10 31-17 HOU
2 10-3 JAC 11 Nov 20 @CIN
3 13-6 CLE 12 Nov 28 PIT
4 31-10 @TEN 13 Dec 4 TEN
5 28-3 @SFO 14 Dec 11 @JAC
6 45-28 STL 15 Dec 18 SDC
7 38-20 @HOU 16 Dec 24 @SEA
8 Open Bye 17 Jan 1 ARI
9 40-21 @NE . MON SAT
IND at CIN Rush Catch Pass
QB Peyton Manning 0 0 260,2
RB Edgerrin James 100,1 20 0
TE Dallas Clark 0 30 0
WR Marvin Harrison 0 80,1 0
WR Reggie Wayne 0 70,1 0
WR Brandon Stokley 0 40 0
PK Mike Vanderjagt 2 FG 3 XP -
Pregame Notes: After nine games, the question is not if the Colts are legit, will make the playoffs or if they will get home field throughout the playoffs. It is if anyone can beat them. After starting the year with low scoring wins, the Colts have not failed to reach at least 28 points in any of the last six games.

Quarterback: Peyton Manning's slow start to the season is now a distant memory. He's had multiple scores in five of the last six games and come up the biggest in the biggest games. Even more critical - all his best efforts have been on the road until last week's demolition of the Texans.

Running Backs: Edgerrin James may not be as good as Alexander or Tomlinson, but he's better than anything that 29 other teams have been putting out each week. James has scored in each of his last seven games and has never done worse than 88 rushing yards in any game. He is on a string of five straight 100+ rushing yard efforts and scored in each at least once if not three times.

Wide Receivers: While Marvin Harrison started slowly this year, he has been making up for lost time with scores in each of the last four games and two 100+ yard efforts in each of the last two match-ups. Reggie Wayne remains consistent at around 70 yards or so per game and is scoring about every other week. Even Brandon Stokley woke up with 73 yards and one touchdown last week. The rushing game was established this year and remains the strong part of the offense. But now the passing game is just being added to the mix and allowing the Colts to blow out opponents for the last month.

Tight Ends: Dallas Clark has had a quiet year in a very disappointing way thanks to the blocking needs the rushing game has brought about. He only has two scores on the year and both went against the Texans.

Match Against the Defense: The Bengals have been generally good against the run this year but have enjoyed a rather light schedule so far. Look for James to continue his standard game again this week with 100 and a score - if not more.

Manning goes against a secondary that has allowed some decent yardage games but only seven passing scores on the year. Expect Manning to contribute two scores as has been done twice already this year but for his yardage to remain more moderate than the recent games. Clark gets a decent matchup this week that has allowed scores to tight ends in both the most recent games but the Colts rarely throw to him anymore. Expect more Harrison and Wayne again this week as the Bengals face a clearly superior passing attack than any they have seen this year.

Cincinnati Bengals (7-2)
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 31-23 @TEN 15 Dec 18 @DET
7 13-27 PIT 16 Dec 24 BUF
8 21-14 GBP 17 Jan 1 @KCC
9 21-9 @BAL . . SAT
CIN vs IND Rush Catch Pass
QB Carson Palmer 0 0 270,2
RB Rudi Johnson 60 0 0
RB Chris Perry 20 40,1 0
TE Matt Schobel 0 10 0
WR Chad Johnson 0 90 0
WR Houshmandzadeh 0 70,1 0
WR Chris Henry 0 40 0
PK Shayne Graham 2 FG 2 XP -

Pregame Notes: The Bengals come off their bye week and get to find out if they really are worthy of that 7-2 record this season. The only two losses have come when playing the Jaguars and Steelers while the wins have come against CLE, MIN, HOU, CHI, TEN and GB. Only the Bears have a winning record and yet lost to the Bengals. The loss to the Steelers while in Cincinnati already took the Bengals down a notch but a win over the Colts would prop the Bengals up in the eyes of the NFL. So far, no one has done anything other than drop their head and look at the ground after playing against Indy this year.

Quarterback: This week Carson Palmer gets a big test. Palmer has been tremendous this season, throwing for multiple scores in seven games and he has 19 touchdowns on the year already. But his worst game by far has been the loss to the visiting Steelers when he only had 227 yards and two interceptions with no scores for the only time this season. The Colts secondary is not as good as the Steelers, but they're pretty close. Palmer has spent the last two weeks focused on beating Indy.

Running Backs: Rudi Johnson is so consistent that the fortunes of the Bengals reside on Palmer because Johnson is always turning in about 80 to 90 rushing yards every week and he only has three touchdowns on the season. While he has remain solid in yardage every game, he hasn't eclipsed 100 rushing yards since week one. Chris Perry has enjoyed sporadic good games but against the two best defenses so far he's done little - CHI (22 yards) and PIT (44 yards). His only scores have come against the Packers and Titans.

Wide Receivers: Chad Johnson hasn't scored in the last three games but has six scores on the year and has managed to remain above 90 yards in three of the last four games. Johnson's production has been unaffected by playing good defenses and if anything he actually gets better. He scored twice against the Bears and had 94 yards against the Steelers. T.J. Houshmandzadeh isn't much for scoring - he only has two touchdowns this year - but he's been averaging about 70 yards per week. Chris Henry had all but disappeared during the last month but came up with a touchdown against the Ravens in week nine while only gaining 17 yards on three catches.

Tight Ends: No fantasy impact here and only one score for the entire season.

Match Against the Defense: Rudi Johnson has been consistently average this year and while there is a chance he could score, he likely won't against a team that has only allowed three rushing touchdowns all year. Expect the same moderate game as usual.

Palmer will have to come up big in this game and he has been preparing for two weeks. Only Brady has thrown for more than one score against the Colts this year but Palmer is as good and has the tools. Look for a higher yardage game with those two scores that will favor Houshmandzadeh to score the most but Chad Johnson has to come up big here and should see enough passes to turn in a good fantasy game. The Colts have allowed half of their opponents to score with tight ends, but that position is very rarely used by the Bengals. That should turn into a short pass to Chris Perry for a score.