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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
The Huddle
December 21, 2005
Season Ticket
Sat 1 PM Sat 1 PM Sat 1 PM Sat 4 PM Sun 8:30 PM
BUF at CIN NYG at WAS TEN at MIA* IND at SEA* Mon 9 PM
DET at NO* SD at KC* CHI at GB Updated* Times ET

Prediction: Buffalo 13, Cincinnati 31

The Bengals have won their last four games, locked down the AFC North and yet still need to play well to keep up with Denver in the race for the week one bye. The Bills have now lost their last five games and are a perfect 0-6 on the road this season. Have to like those odds for the Bengals to reach 12-3.

Buffalo Bills (4-10)
1 22-7 HOU 10 14-3 KCC
2 3-19 @TBB 11 10-48 @SDC
3 16-24 ATL 12 9-13 CAR
4 7-19 @NOR 13 23-24 @MIA
5 20-14 MIA 14 7-35 NE
6 27-17 NYJ 15 17-28 DEN
7 17-38 @OAK 16 Dec 24 @CIN
8 16-21 @NE 17 Jan 1 @NYJ
9 Open Bye . . SAT
BUF at CIN Rush Catch Pass
QB Kelly Holcomb 0 0 210,1
RB Willis McGahee 60 10 0
TE Mark Campbell 0 10 0
WR Eric Moulds 0 80,1 0
WR Lee Evans 0 40 0
WR Josh Reed 0 40 0
PK Rian Lindell 2 FG 1 XP -
Pregame Notes: The Bills seem to take one step forward for every two going back and their season is coming to a merciful end with two road games. The only games they have won outside their own division were against the Texans and incredibly the Chiefs and one thing stands clear - the road has not been kind to the Bills this season. Eric Moulds is likely playing out his final games for the team and Willis McGahee hasn't been effective in a month and a half.

Quarterback: Kelly Holcomb took the start last week and had two scores but only threw for 172 yards and two interceptions after J.P. Losman missed the game with a sore shoulder. The Bills want Losman to get playing time here at the end of the season, so Losman will go if possible. That won't be certain until he practices this week but I am assuming that Holcomb plays again this week.

Running Backs: Willis McGahee started the season strongly but has been mired in mediocrity for the last six games with only one touchdown in that time - last week in New England when he only managed to gain 36 yards on nine carries when the game got quickly taken away from the Bills. Likely to happen again this week as well.

Wide Receivers: The preference of quarterbacks is likely no less different than in Buffalo where Holcomb makes Moulds a star and Evans a dud. Last week - Eric Moulds had nine catches for 110 yards and Lee Evans only managed two catches for five yards. The previous week with Losman, Moulds had no catches while Evans turned in 83 yards. One wideout will turn in a decent game, it just depends entirely on which quarterback plays as to which wideout shines and which one flops.

Tight Ends: Fortunately there is no question here - neither quarterback knows that they have a tight end. Not one score the entire season.

Match Against the Defense: Willis McGahee has not been effective running lately and there is an excellent chance that the Bills will veer away from the rushing game early this week anyway. Look for only moderate yards and no score here.

Holcomb should manage at least one score here, almost every opponent has in Cincinnati if not up to three touchdowns with decent yardage that often comes in trash time. Look for the hook-ups to work with some success depending on which quarterback plays.

Cincinnati Bengals (11-3)
1 27-13 @CLE 10 Open Bye
2 37-8 MIN 11 37-45 IND
3 24-7 @CHI 12 42-29 BAL
4 16-10 HOU 13 38-31 @PIT
5 20-23 @JAC 14 23-20 CLE
6 31-23 @TEN 15 41-17 @DET
7 13-27 PIT 16 Dec 24 BUF
8 21-14 GBP 17 Jan 1 @KCC
9 21-9 @BAL . . SAT
CIN vs BUF Rush Catch Pass
QB Carson Palmer 0 0 230,2
RB Rudi Johnson 100,2 10 0
TE Matt Schobel 0 10 0
WR Chad Johnson 0 100,1 0
WR Houshmandzadeh 0 80,1 0
WR Kelly Washington 0 20 0
PK Shayne Graham 1 FG 4 XP -

Pregame Notes: The Bengals need a win here with a tough final road game in Kansas City. The only problem that could happen in terms of score is that the Bengals will know that they can win this game and play just well enough to win as they against the visiting Browns two weeks ago. When these Bengals are motivated to try hard, they are posting 35+ points a week. Motivation may be harder to find this week.

Quarterback: Carson Palmer bounced back from his freakishly poor game against the Browns with a 274 yard, three score effort against the Lions last week. Palmer has scored in every game this season and other than the Browns mail-in game, he's had at least two scores in six of the last seven games.

Running Backs: Timing is everything and Rudi Johnson is hitting his stride at the exact right time - at the end of the season. Johnson has ran for great yardage in each of his last six games and scored at least once in each with four of the games producing two scores. With Chris Perry out, Johnson is taking all the action and making it count - big time.

Wide Receivers: Only Harrison and Wayne could challenge the dynamic duo of Chad Johnson and T.J. Houshmandzadeh for the best set of starting wideouts in the league. And even then - the Bengals pair is more productive. Houshmandzadeh has scored in each of the last four games and Chad Johnson has scored in three of the last five.

Houshmandzadeh suffered a sprained ankle last week but is expected to play without limitation this week.

Tight Ends: Marginal production here because the Bengals just do not need them.

Match Against the Defense: The Bills rushing defense has improved in the last few weeks but they still allow opponents to score at least one or two rushing touchdowns. Figure on Johnson gaining nice yardage here with at least one score and likely two when the Bengals settle down to running out the clock in the second half.

The Bills pass defense has been declining in the last few weeks as the season draws to a close and allowed six passing scores over the last two games. Facing the dynamic duo, expect each to score and Palmer's yardage to remain relatively low because he will not need to throw as much this week. The cornerbacks McGee and Clements have been generally good this year but each has given up big games this year to lesser wideouts.