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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
The Huddle
December 28, , 2005
Season Ticket
Sat 4:30 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 1 PM SEA at GB*
DEN at SD* ARI at IND CHI at MIN* NO at TB WAS at PHI*
Sat 8 PM BAL at CLE CIN at KC Sun 4 PM Sun 8:30 PM
Updated* CAR at ATL MIA at NE TEN at JAC* Times ET

Prediction: Baltimore 16, Cleveland 13

The Ravens won 16-3 when the Browns came to Baltimore in week six and this game has no great meaning to either team other than securing jobs for next year and hoping to end a bad year on a high note. The Ravens are playing much better as of late while the Browns come off a 41-0 drubbing by the Steelers. While anything could happen here, the Ravens are featuring a good defense again with Ed Reed back and Kyle Boller has been rather surprising in the last two games. Here's one little stat that could come into play - the Ravens are one of only three teams that have never won a road game this year. They played one of those two other teams when they hosted the Texans in week 13 and barely won 16-15.

Baltimore Ravens (6-9)
1 7-24 IND 10 3-30 @JAC
2 10-25 @TEN 11 16-13 PIT
3 Open Bye 12 29-42 @CIN
4 13-3 NYJ 13 16-15 HOU
5 17-35 @DET 14 10-12 @DEN
6 16-3 CLE 15 48-3 GBP
7 6-10 @CHI 16 30-23 MIN
8 19-20 @PIT 17 Jan 1 @CLE
9 9-21 CIN . . MON
BAL at CLE Rush Catch Pass
QB Kyle Boller 0 0 240,1
RB Jamal Lewis 70 10 0
TE Todd Heap 0 60 0
WR Derrick Mason 0 80,1 0
WR Mark Clayton 0 60 0
WR Randy Hymes 0 20 0
PK Matt Stover 3 FG 2 XP -
Pregame Notes: The Ravens conclude the year with two big home wins over the Packers and Vikings that featured an actual passing game by Boller but that road record is troubling. There are rumors that Brian Billick's job may not be 100% guarantee to be there next year and other than beating up on two visitors from the NFC North, this has been a very disappointing season.

Quarterback: Kyle Boller comes off two games with over 250 yards and three scores in each as his way to vie for the starting job next year. But even HC Brian Billick has said that the two games alone are not enough and this week will matter as well. Boller has been better though, he had three scores in the game in Cincinnati just five games ago.

Wright was still the quarterback in week six when the Ravens hosted the Browns and he had 213 yards and one touchdown.

Running Backs: Jamal Lewis seemed to be finally hitting his stride with 100 yard games in weeks 12 and 14 but he only managed 74 yards on 24 carries last week against the Vikings. And those two 100 yard games were his only ones of the season. Lewis ran for just 59 yards on 24 carries but Taylor gained 92 yards on just eight runs in week six.

Wide Receivers: Mark Clayton has been the most improved player for the Ravens over the past month and he has scored in each of the last three games. He even had 105 yards in Denver just three weeks ago. The offense is trying to get the ball to Clayton as often as they can which includes using him on at least one run per game. Derrick Mason had taken a step back with Boller back but over the last two weeks has 200 yards and one score. Those were at home and were against the Packers and Vikings but at least Boller has shown that Mason's role as the possession receiver is safe with him. Mason has already set the single season record for the Ravens with 83 catches.

Mason had eight catches for 85 yards in the previous meeting with the Browns.

Tight Ends: Todd Heap caught six passes for 79 yards and one touchdown in the last meeting with the Browns. He has caught scores in each of the last two games though his 30 yards last week was one of his worst games of the year.

Match Against the Defense: This a replay game that is harder to gauge since both teams are featuring different quarterbacks and the Ravens on the road have been so different than the home version. Until the Steelers showed up last week, the Browns at home had only allowed two rushing touchdowns this season and the Ravens are not rushing that well even at home. Look for Lewis to continue to get the bulk of work and to still struggle to turn in more than moderate yardage.

Boller goes against a secondary that rarely allows a visitor to throw for more than one score or more than 220 yards. This is a good test for Boller who will need to outperform the 213 yards that Wright already logged against the Browns earlier this year. He should manage at least one passing score that heavily favors Derrick Mason though Heap and Clayton are almost as likely targets.

Cleveland Browns (5-10)
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 9-7 @OAK
7 10-13 DET 16 0-41 PIT
8 16-19 @HOU 17 Jan 1 BAL
9 20-14 TEN . . SAT
CLE vs BAL Rush Catch Pass
QB Charlie Frye 0 0 160,1
RB Reuben Droughns 50 10 0
TE Aaron Shea 0 10 0
WR Antonio Bryant 0 70,1 0
WR Frisman Jackson 0 20 0
WR Dennis Northcutt 0 40 0
PK Phil Dawson 2 FG 2 XP -

Pregame Notes: The Browns come off a painful reminder that they are still in a rebuilding year and have a good ways to go before considering themselves as peers to the elite teams in the NFL. The Browns have been up and down this season as shown by both getting and given a shut out this year. Charlie Frye has been generally impressive but the running game has been in decline for the last month and Frye does not have the weapons to make the passing game compensate.

Quarterback: Charlie Frye has done nothing spectacular in his four starts this season but has been better than most rookie quarterbacks start out. He only had 183 yards last week and has only one score in the last three games, but he is slowly learning the game and heading in the right direction for next year.

Dilfer threw for just 147 yards and no scores in the last meeting with the Ravens.

Running Backs: Rueben Droughns has been in major decline for the last five games and bottomed out last week with only ten carries for 36 yards. He has not score since week 11 when Dilfer was still there and has seen his carries and production wane every game with Frye around.

Droughns ran for only 55 yards on 15 carries in the previous meeting with the Ravens.

Wide Receivers: The only scores to wideouts that Frye has thrown were two in one game to Braylon Edwards who is now on injured reserve. Antonio Bryant remains the possession receiver with around 50 yards or so every week but no other wideout is doing more than 40 or so yards each week with Frye.

Northcutt led all wideouts with 60 yards on four catches in the last game against the Ravens. Bryant only had 34 yards.

Tight Ends: Frye finally noticed Aaron Shea last week and completed five passes for 27 yards to him. Steve Heiden had two catches for 13 yards and the duo had an unusually high amount of targets last week. More common is that neither tight end has more than one catch in a game with Frye there.

Steve Heiden had 38 yards on four catches in the previous meeting with Baltimore but was just placed on injured reserve due to a bad ankle.

Match Against the Defense: Look for the rushing yards to continue their decline with the Ravens showing up this week. Ed Reed is back and Droughns has not been running well against lesser defenses in the last several weeks.

Frye faces a secondary that could be beaten by many quarterbacks but the rookie is not doing much more than playing a moderately effective role that focuses more on shorter throws now that Edwards is gone. Expect one score here but no more and only moderate yardage.