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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
The Huddle
December 14, 2005
Season Ticket
Saturday Sun 1 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 4 PM Sun 8:30 PM
KC at NYG CAR at NO* SD at IND CLE at OAK* Mon 9 PM
  NYJ at MIA SF at JAC* Updated* Times ET

Prediction: Cleveland 17, Oakland 23

This should be a competitive game between two teams that are not that good and yet which appear to be heading in different directions. The Browns are finding out that their quarterback slot is looking good for next year with Charlie Frye while the Raiders have no idea who the quarterback will be in 2006. Or the head coach for that matter.

Update: The Raiders have switched back to Kerry Collins this week and with that I now like the Raiders to pull off a win here. Collins has a lot to prove and not much time to prove it.

Cleveland Browns (4-9)
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 14-20 JAC
5 20-10 CHI 14 20-23 @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 OAK Rush Catch Pass
QB Charlie Frye 20 0 200,1
RB Reuben Droughns 80,1 20 0
TE Steve Heiden 0 30 0
WR Antonio Bryant 0 70,1 0
WR Frisman Jackson 0 30 0
WR Dennis Northcutt 0 50 0
PK Phil Dawson 1 FG 2 XP -
Pregame Notes: Sure, the Browns have lost their last three games but they have not been quitting and almost pulled an upset over the Bengals last week. Charlie Frye has looked very good in his first two starts and considering that the team should have Braylon Edwards and Kellen Winslow next year, this offense could be a surprise in 2006. But not so much this year. The team is improving nicely under new HC Romeo Crennel and getting everything they can from the players that they have.

Quarterback: Considering the lackluster results from Kyle Orton and Alex Smith, Charlie Frye looks like the best of the 2005 rookie quarterbacks so far. Going against the stout Jacksonville defense, Frye completed 13 of 20 for 226 yards and two scores and last week he went 16 of 24 for 138 yards and one score with a second touchdown rushed in. This on a team that has sub-par receivers and only Reuben Droughns as a runner.

Running Backs: Reuben Droughns is a hard runner but he's probably miscast as a starter. Despite getting 20 or more carries in most games, he only has three scores on the season and has not scored since week 11. He's not a difference maker but he has not been a problem for the team either. Droughns is usually good for around 70 or 80 yards a week depending on the quality of the opponent and he has managed to top 100 yards in three match-ups this year.

Wide Receivers: With Charlie Frye as quarterback, Antonio Bryant is turning in around 50 yards per game but the loss of Braylon Edwards hurts. Dennis Northcutt returned to being the starter but only had thee catches for 29 yards last week. Frye is actually spreading the ball around and using backs and tight ends more to the detriment of the wideouts.

Tight Ends: As Charlie Frye starts to spread his NFL wings, he is using the tight ends a bit more than Dilfer had done. Steve Heiden had three catches for 27 yards and one score last week.

Match Against the Defense: There is a nice chance that Droughns scores again this year facing a defense that has allowed almost every team to notch at least one rushing touchdown for the last eight games. Droughns won't likely reach the 100 yard mark but he should manage his standard average game of 70 or so yards.

Frye is still developing and harder to match against a defense but there is no reason why he won't manage one score here since literally all but two teams have scored at least once if not twice against the Raiders. Oakland is in a state of flux with their change at quarterback and that could play into more opportunities for the Browns offense. Bryant is in the most likely spot to snare a touchdown though Heiden could just as easily.

Oakland Raiders (4-9)
1 20-30 @NE 10 17-31 DEN
2 17-23 KCC 11 16-13 @WAS
3 20-23 @PHI 12 21-33 MIA
4 19-13 DAL 13 10-34 @SDC
5 Open Bye 14 10-26 @NYJ
6 14-27 SDC 15 Dec 18 CLE
7 38-17 BUF 16 Dec 24 @DEN
8 34-25 @TEN 17 Dec 31 NYG
9 23-27 @KCC . THU SAT
OAK vs CLE Rush Catch Pass
QB Kerry Collins 0 0 230,1
RB Lamont Jordan 90,1 40 0
TE Courtney Anderson 0 10 0
WR Randy Moss 0 60 0
WR Jerry Porter 0 70,1 0
WR Doug Gabriel 0 30 0
PK S. Janikowski 3 FG 2 XP -

Pregame Notes: The Raiders have lost their last three games and the switch to Marques Tuiasosopo was met with disastrous results. Norv Turner is on the hot seat and the team has simply not progressed on either side of the ball this season. Now the change in quarterback signals the season is over and the 2006 auditions are starting.

Quarterback: In his first start after being in the league for five years, Marques Tuiasosopo could only complete 14 of 26 passes for 124 yards, one score and two interceptions. And two lost fumbles. And now we know why they have been hiding this guy. The less than stellar results of last week have not prompted Norv Turner to give his rookie Andrew Walters a shot and Walters was not even active last week anyway. For the rest of the season, it appears the Raiders will see if they need to go after Reggie Bush or Matt Leinart in the 2006 draft.

Running Backs: Lamont Jordan had a bad game in week 13 when he only had 55 yards on 15 carries against the Chargers and vowed to get back on track last week against his ex-employer of the Jets. He ran for just 49 yards on 14 carries and openly complained after the game about the lack of carries (try doing more than 3.5 yards per run, Lamont). Nice to hear a tailback grousing after his seventh straight game with less than 100 rushing yards. Jordan's complaining is just the tip of the iceberg here with a team that is accepting their cellar status.

Ironic too that the first year that Jordan gets away from the Jets is finally the year that Martin goes down injured.

Wide Receivers: Randy Moss has been almost invisible here since week ten and only had two catches for 18 yards against the Jets. Tuiasosopo threw seven times to Moss with little reward. Jerry Porter had the lone touchdown pass but only turned in four catches for 36 yards. Assumedly Tuiasosopo gets better, but no guarantee there.

Tight Ends: No fantasy value.

Match Against the Defense: The Browns biggest weakness is against the run so if Jordan is going to have a decent game, this is the one. With Denver and the Giants left on the schedule, this is Jordan's final chance at gaining any rushing yardage of note. Even his receiving yardage has been going down lately. Expect a final decent running game here with one score.

Tuiasosopo is still an unknown but the Browns secondary is getting better as the season progresses. No reason to assume more than marginal improvement from last week.