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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
Player Projections by Team
Game Predictions Summary
The Huddle
September 13, 2006
Season Ticket
Sunday Late
Sunday night
Sunday Late
DET at CHI OAK at BAL STL at SF   updated

Prediction: CLE 13, CIN 23

The Browns dropped their home opener to the Saints and now hit the road to play the team that has beaten every time Carson Palmer played. The Bengals come off a big win in Kansas City that made amends for a loss last year and even knocked Trent Green out. With a road trip to Pittsburgh looming next week, the Bengals might be tempted to look past this match-up but it's a divisional game and each one will end up counting at the end of the year.

The Bengals swept the Browns 27-13 and 23-20 in 2005.

Update: T.J. Houshmandzadeh has been upgraded to probable on the injury report this week but is still not 100% over his heel injury. He has returned to practice but has not gone through a full practice on either Wednesday or Thursday. I am including him in the projections but he has to be considered at least slightly limited this week.

Update 2: T.J. Houshmandzadeh has been downgraded to questionable again and still has yet to fully participate in practice. I am removing Houshmandzadeh from the projections.

Cleveland Browns (0-1)
1 14-19 NO 10 --- @ATL
2 --- @CIN 11 --- PIT
3 --- BAL 12 --- CIN
4 --- @OAK 13 --- KC
5 --- @CAR 14 --- @PIT
6 Open Bye 15 --- @BAL
7 --- DEN 16 --- TB
8 --- NYJ 17 --- @HOU
9 --- @SD - - THU
CLE at CIN Rush Catch Pass
QB Charlie Frye 30 0 150,1
RB Reuben Droughns 40 0 0
TE Kellen Winslow 0 70,1 0
WR Josh Cribbs 0 10 0
WR Braylon Edwards 0 50 0
WR Dennis Northcutt 0 20 0
PK Phil Dawson 2 FG 1 XP -
Pregame Notes: The Browns actually trailed during the entire game, down as much as 9-0 and 16-7 by the fourth quarter but as a rebuilding franchise, they managed to make it look like a much closer game than it was. That will be a rather tall order this week.

Quarterback: Charlie Frye's first game of the year certainly could have gone better. The Saints defense now led by DC Gary Gibbs proved too much to handle and Frye ended with just 132 yards and one score against one lost fumble and two interceptions. Frye salvaged at least his fantasy value by adding 44 yards on six runs and scoring once on the ground as well. It's still a work in progress.

Charlie Frye threw for 138 yards and one score against the Bengals last year.

Running Backs: The Browns rushing attack fell flat against the Saints and Rueben Droughns only managed 27 yards on 11 carries with no receptions. The rookie Jerome Harrison fared better on just two runs for 14 yards but there is no movement away from Droughns despite the lackluster start to the season.

Rueben Droughns ran for 78 and 74 yards against the Bengals in 2005 and never scored.

Wide Receivers: Unfortunately, the Browns are replicating last year by seeing their starting flanker Joe Jurevicius crack a rib and leave the game without a catch. He'll be out for several weeks and was replaced by Josh Cribbs who had no catches. Braylon Edwards may have only had two catches for 23 yards in the game, but on the first play he caught a pass for a 75-yard touchdown that was called back on penalty. That one play could have altered the entire game.

Until Jurevicius returns, look for more Edwards and Northcutt with Cribbs on the field but doing little with his opportunity.

Tight Ends: If there was a bright spot from last week, it was clearly the play of Kellen Winslow who led all receivers with eight catches for 63 yards and a touchdown. Winslow accounted for the only touchdown, half of all receptions and almost half of all passing yardage.

Match Against the Defense: Rueben Droughns could barely get past the line of scrimmage last week at home so expecting much here is unreasonable. The Bengals held Larry Johnson to only 68 yards which ended his nine-game streak of 100 yard games. If Droughns exceeds 50 yards it will be a major victory.

Frye hasn't yet taken the step up to the next level and that will become apparent again this week when he faces a solid defense that will come after him. Gonzalez had a big game against the Bengals last week and that fits neatly into what worked for the Browns in week one. Expect a good game from Winslow again and for him to score once.

Cincinnati Bengals (1-0)
1 23-10 @KC 10 --- SD
2 --- CLE 11 --- @NO
3 --- @PIT 12 --- @CLE
4 --- NE 13 --- BAL
5 Open Bye 14 --- OAK
6 --- @TB 15 --- @IND
7 --- CAR 16 --- @DEN
8 --- ATL 17 --- PIT
9 --- @BAL - MON THU
CIN vs CLE Rush Catch Pass
QB Carson Palmer 0 0 200,1
RB Rudi Johnson 110, 1 20 0
TE Reggie Kelly 0 10 0
WR Chad Johnson 0 70,1 0
WR Houshmandzadeh 0 50 0
WR Tab Perry 0 40 0
WR Chris Henry 0 30 0
PK Shayne Graham 3 FG 2 XP -

Pregame Notes: The Bengals made amends for a bad loss last year when they took down the Chiefs on opening weekend. With the defense playing well and holding both the passing and rushing down, the offense was not needed to provide big performances to take the win. While a disappointment to many fantasy fans, it could happen again this week.

Quarterback: Carson Palmer ended last week with only 13 completions on 19 attempts for 127 yards and one interception, ending hope that he was going to immediately post monster numbers every week in 2006. Forced to play without Houshmandzadeh, Palmer found Johnson with even more coverage and Rudi Johnson was already enough to win the game. That won't fly against the Steelers in week three, but it could happen again at home against the Browns.

Palmer played against the Browns twice last year, throwing for 280 yards and two scores and later only 93 yards and one score.

Running Backs: Rudi Johnson continued his tradition of being Mr. Reliable and posted 96 yards and a score against the Chiefs last week. When he went out for a breather, even Kenny Watson managed to score once during his only two carries in the game. Johnson ran wild against the Browns in 2005, gaining 126 and 169 yards against them with a touchdown in both games.

Wide Receivers: The anemic passing numbers last week meant that Chad Johnson only had five catches for 48 yards to lead the team. Chris Henry stepped in to replace Houshmandzadeh who was out with a heel injury. Henry only managed to catch one pass for a five yard loss. While Houshmandzadeh may play this week, I will withhold projections for him until he is deemed a starter again. Updates as warranted.

Chad Johnson turned in games of 91 and only 22 yards against the Browns and never scored. Houshmandzadeh fared no better with just 75 and 53 yards though he scored once.

Tight Ends: Just worth a catch each week - no fantasy value.

Match Against the Defense: Rudi Johnson has been very successful running against the Browns and the Saints just posted 152 rushing yards against them. Expect the standard 100 yards and a score here that could be even bigger.

Palmer could post some bigger points here but he won't need to and there's no reason to subject him to any more risk than needed with the Steelers coming up in week three. It will help if Houshmandzadeh plays, but until that happens expect only a moderate game at best here with one score that will favor Johnson. The Browns secondary is actually better than most realize but their rushing defense usually makes it a moot point.