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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
Player Projections by Team
Game Predictions Summary
The Huddle
September 20, 2006
Season Ticket
Sunday Late
Sunday night
On Bye
GB at DET WAS at HOU STL at ARZ   updated

Prediction: BAL 17, CLE 6

The Ravens have only allowed six points in total by opponents this year while scoring 55. Granted - facing Tampa Bay and Oakland has ended up as not the hardest part of the schedule but heading to 0-2 Cleveland is not where the challenges will start to mount. When Charlie Frye is only five yards short of being the rushing leader for the team, chances are the running game is struggling. And here comes Baltimore.

The home team won their match-up last year with the Browns taking it 20-16 in week 17 and the Ravens winning 16-3 in week six.

Baltimore Ravens (2-0)
1 27-0 @TB 10 --- @TEN
2 28-6 OAK 11 --- ATL
3 --- @CLE 12 --- PIT
4 --- SD 13 --- @CIN
5 --- @DEN 14 --- @KC
6 --- CAR 15 --- CLE
7 Open Bye 16 --- @PIT
8 --- @NO 17 --- BUF
9 --- CIN - THU MON
BAL at CLE Rush Catch Pass
QB Steve McNair 10 0 210,2
RB Jamal Lewis 70 10 0
TE Todd Heap 0 50,1 0
WR Derrick Mason 0 80,1 0
WR Mark Clayton 0 20 0
WR Demetrius Williams 0 30 0
PK Matt Stover 1 FG 2 XP -
Pregame Notes: The Ravens continued their ball hawking ways against last week when the Raiders came to town and were dismantled as expected. So far the running game has been nothing special and the passing game has been rarely used but when the defense limits the average opponent to only three points per game, the rest doesn't much matter. That should be true once again after this game.

Quarterback: Steve McNair has turned in little better than Boller-esque numbers so far this season but the need has been absent while McNair integrates himself into the offense. He's thrown a score in each game but has yet to turn in more than 181 yards and hasn't been running more than a few times per game.

Running Backs: Jamal Lewis had a score and 78 yards in Tampa Bay which seemed impressive but he only managed 70 yards on 19 carries against the visiting Raiders last week. The lone rushing score came from Mike Anderson's only carry in the game when he broke free for 34 yards. Against rather lackluster opponents, Lewis should have more than a four yard average.

Jamal Lewis only ran for 58 yards and 89 yards against the Browns last year and never scored.

Wide Receivers: So far the only wideout with any fantasy value has been Derrick Mason and that has only been with games of 50 and 46 yards. Until the defense is not enough to win games, there won't be the volume of passes to spark any appreciable numbers from these wideouts and even if it does, Mason will take the biggest chunk.

Derrick Mason had games of 85 and 73 yards against the Browns last year.

Tight Ends: Todd Heap still has fantasy significance but just barely with games of 46 yards and 17 yards last week (though with one touchdown). The passing is just not here yet.

Heap had six catches for 79 yards and one score when the Browns visited last year but only had 22 yards as a visitor in Cleveland.

Match Against the Defense: The Browns rushing defense has already allowed around 150 yards per opponent this year so the opportunity is there for Lewis to turn in a nice game - if he can. He's just not shown to be nearly as good as he was in years past so look only for moderate yardage here and hope he finally turns it on.

This is where McNair needs to step up against a defense that can be dinged by the pass. Look for McNair to finally top 200 yards in this game and to throw for two scores - Heap and Mason of course. The rushing game in Baltimore appears to be stuck with being average and McNair on the road here will need to make the difference.

Cleveland Browns (0-2)
1 14-19 NO 10 --- @ATL
2 17-34 @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 vs BAL Rush Catch Pass
QB Charlie Frye 30 0 160
RB Reuben Droughns 20 0 0
TE Kellen Winslow 0 50 0
WR Josh Cribbs 0 10 0
WR Braylon Edwards 0 60 0
WR Dennis Northcutt 0 30 0
PK Phil Dawson 2 FG 0 XP -

Pregame Notes: The Browns are off to an 0-2 start and there's been a total absence of any credible rushing game to take the pressure off Charlie Frye (who needs no more pressure). Back at home the team should fare far better than they did in Cincinnati but against the Ravens defense is hardly the time to expect the offense to suddenly kick into gear. And with the Ravens not scoring much themselves, it means there won't even be much trash time against the prevent to produce some stats.

Quarterback: Charlie Frye opened with a bad game against the Saints but he looked better against the Bengals last week when he threw for 244 yards. Problem is that in both games this year he has thrown two interceptions and lost a fumble. His fantasy value has been greatly aided by running in a score each week but that is mostly a sign of how bad the rushing game has been. Faced with the onslaught of the Raven blitz this week, his passing numbers are likely to return closer to the 132 yards that he had in week one.

Frye was the starter in week 17 last year when the Ravens came to town and he threw for 199 yards and one score but had two interceptions.

Running Backs: Reuben Droughns is begging to be replaced but since there is no one ready to step up, it will continue to be his slow show. Droughns only has a total of 59 yards on 25 carries over the first two weeks for an average of 2.4 yards per carry though he did actually score a rushing touchdown last week. That only puts him one score behind Frye who mainly runs out of fear. Jerome Harrison had two carries for 14 yards in week one but was never used in the rushing game against the Bengals. If Droughns continues to plod along - and he should this week for sure - eventually Harrison has to get a shot if only for the coaching staff to appear like they are trying to fix things.

Droughns had very little success against the Ravens last year, gaining only 55 and 40 rushing yards in the two meetings.

Wide Receivers: Braylon Edwards had a 75 yard scoring catch called back in week one and ended with just 23 yards on two catches but he ended with 110 yards on just four catches against the Bengals last week. With Joe Jurevicius still out, there has been almost no help from the other wideouts so the fortunes of the Browns has relied on whether Edwards can snag a long pass or not.

Tight Ends: After a big opening week with eight catches for 63 yards and a score, Kellen Winslow only had four catches for 42 yards last week which led to him publicly calling out the coaches for not playing him more. Winslow was removed on third down most of the day because OC Maurice Carthon wanted to use three wide receivers and two running backs. With such minimal results, expect Winslow to return to a heavier workload unless he angers the coaching staff with his complaining.

Match Against the Defense: Yeah, this is just not pretty. The best any runner has done against the Ravens so far is 35 yards and since that is actually higher than what Droughns has done this year, here's one player to avoid this week.

Frye goes against a secondary that has already recorded six interceptions and three recovered fumbles from quarterbacks this year. They also knocked Aaron Brooks out of the game last week. Expect minimal yardage here with the glaring lack of a running game turning this match-up into a quest to sack Charlie Frye.