fantasy football     JOIN THE HUDDLE    


Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
The Huddle
November 30,, 2005
Season Ticket
Sun 1 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 4 PM Sun 8:30 PM
BUF at MIA* HOU at BAL TEN at IND* DEN at KC Mon 9 PM
CIN at PIT JAC at CLE* Sun 4 PM NYJ at NE SEA at PHI
DAL at NYG MIN at DET* ARI at SF* Updated* Times ET

Prediction: Jacksonville 20, Cleveland 17

The Jaguars lost Leftwich last week but their win gives them the front-runner status for a wild card thanks to playing in the same division as the Colts. Cleveland comes off a thumping in Minnesota but had a shutout the previous week. At 4-7 on the year, the writing on the wall says to think about next year for the Browns and that should play into this game against a good defense.

Update: Fred Taylor has been back at practice but HC Jack Del Rio has still not decided if Taylor will play this week. He said he will make the decision on Friday or Saturday and not at game time to "remove the emotion from the decision". I am not changing the projection but realize there is still risk.

Update #2 - Taylor has been counted out for this week and Greg Jones will start.

Jacksonville Jaguars (8-3)
1 26-14 SEA 10 30-3 BAL
2 3-10 @IND 11 31-28 @TEN
3 26-20 @NYJ 12 24-17 @ARI
4 7-20 DEN 13 Dec 4 @CLE
5 23-20 CIN 14 Dec 11 IND
6 23-17 @PIT 15 Dec 18 SFO
7 Open Bye 16 Dec 24 @HOU
8 21-24 @STL 17 Jan 1 TEN
9 21-14 HOU . . SAT
JAX at CLE Rush Catch Pass
QB David Garrard 50,1 0 180,1
RB Greg Jones 70 10 0
TE Kyle Brady 0 10 0
WR Jimmy Smith 0 70,1 0
WR Reggie Williams 0 10 0
WR Ernest Wilford 0 40 0
WR Matt Jones 0 20 0
PK Josh Scobee 2 FG 2 XP -
Pregame Notes: The Jaguars are on the third leg of their road tour and fortunately those away games have only been against the Titans, Cardinals and now the Browns. After this week the only team of note will be hosting the Colts in week 14 but otherwise, there's no reason why the Jaguars cannot run the table on the remaining schedule.

Quarterback: Since Byron Leftwich broke a bone in his ankle, the new starter is David Garrard who came in and completed only 12 of 26 for 115 yards against the Cardinals but also added 61 yards on six runs with a touchdown scored. Garrard has been highly touted and the Jaguars are very pleased now to have kept him on the roster. Garrard draws parallels to Vick - runs very well and his passing could use some work.

Running Backs: Fred Taylor was given a mini-vacation last week when the Jaguars opted to make him inactive though he had no injury that would have directly caused it. He was given rest to get in better health for the stretch run and realistically - they only faced the Cardinals last week. Assumedly Taylor returns to play here but it draws a scary conclusion. Knowing that the Jaguars are likely to get a wildcard this year, will Taylor be rested more with some very lightweight opponents on tap - CLE, SF, HOU and TEN?

Greg Jones ran for 78 yards and a score last week and he is generally almost as good as Taylor, but there'll be some question each week as to whether Taylor will play a full game if the Jags are way ahead or have already locked up a wildcard with nothing else left to win thanks to the Colts.

Wide Receivers: The young wideouts were really coming on well in the recent weeks but now with Leftwich sidelined and Garrard in, that no longer seems as likely to improve. Going against the Cardinals, Jimmy Smith had 70 yards on seven receptions but the others did little. Matt Jones had one catch for seven yards and Ernest Wilford only had two catches for 28 yards. With Leftwich out, it appears the Jaguars are back to just using Jimmy Smith.

Tight Ends: Garrard managed to connect for one catch by Kyle Brady for one yard. Forget this crew.

Match Against the Defense: The Cleveland rushing defense is about average in most games which is a major upgrade from last year. They caught Miami napping two weeks ago and shut them down entirely but have been far kinder to most teams. Look for a moderate game here by Taylor that will not likely have a rushing score.

Garrard is still a relative unknown but the Browns have not faced a running quarterback this season. Until Garrard shows more than he did last week, figure him for one of the sub-200 guys that will make a difference running the ball ALA Vick and to lock in on one player as his favorite - that seems to be Jimmy Smith.

Cleveland Browns (4-7)
1 13-27 CIN 10 21-34 @PIT
2 26-24 @GBP 11 22-0 MIA
3 6-13 @IND 12 12-24 @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 vs JAX Rush Catch Pass
QB Trent Dilfer 0 0 200,1
RB Reuben Droughns 70,1 40 0
TE Steve Heiden 0 20 0
WR Antonio Bryant 0 70,1 0
WR Braylon Edwards 0 50 0
WR Dennis Northcutt 0 20 0
PK Phil Dawson 1 FG 2 XP -

Pregame Notes: The Browns have been pretty good this season as long as they do not leave Cleveland. But their play has been inconsistent at best and only their defense has kept them in most games. They have won each of their last four home games including a recent shutout against the Dolphins. The change in quarterbacks for the Jaguars may open a door for them but the struggles on offense never match up well when faced with a better than average defense.

Quarterback: Trent Dilfer had to leave the game last week because of a knee sprain but he had 214 yards and one score by the fourth quarter against the Vikings. Problem was that he also had lost two fumbles and thrown two interceptions. Dilfer has thrown for a score in most of his games but his penchant for turning the ball over has been no help. Neither has the team wanting to see what Charlie Frye will be like next year.

I am assuming that Dilfer plays this week but either his knee or a coaching whim could change that.

Running Backs: Reuben Droughns did not fare so well last week when he only gained 79 yards on 19 carries but he has been on a roll the last month with gaining either 100 yards or scoring. He did turn in five catches for 46 yards against the Vikes as well, so his fantasy stock remains solid because when the Browns face a solid defense, they often opt to hit him on short passes coming out of the backfield.

Wide Receivers: The wideouts here have been very lackluster all season, outside of Antonio Bryant who only has three scores on the year but had been managing to gain around 70 yards in most games until last week when he only had two catches for 16 yards. Braylon Edwards is the rising star of the offense and even he only had 42 yards in Minnesota. The Browns mix in four receivers into the scheme but none of them have been that impressive outside of the consistency of Bryant and the potential of Edwards.

Tight Ends: The Browns have been using Steve Heiden more the last two weeks when he collected a total of nine passes for 86 yards. Heiden had a 104 yard game with two scores at the start of the season but has been rather quiet until the last two weeks.

Match Against the Defense: Droughns could have a decent enough game here against a defense that is better against the pass than the run. The Jaguars have allowed decent games against similar opponents and Droughns role in the passing game should keep him above 100 total yards with a slightly favorable chance to score.

Dilfer is always the variable since he can look very sharp on one series and then terrible on the next one. When the Jaguars face similar passing attacks, they usually allow about 200 or so yards and that fits into what Dilfer generally does. If he can get two scores, the Browns have a good chance to win this game but his errant play as of late won't fit too well against a defense that has already had five games with multiple interceptions. The passing score could go almost anywhere but since Heiden just scored, figure on either Bryant or Edwards as the most likely candidate.