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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
Player Projections by Team
Game Predictions Summary
The Huddle
October 11, 2006
Season Ticket
Sunday Late
Sunday night
On Bye
HOU at DAL TEN at WAS     updated

Prediction: CIN 27, TB 20

The Bengals were skipping through the season until week five when they were ambushed - at home - by the Patriots and now have spent two weeks stewing about that and preparing for the Buccaneers. While Tampa Bay is 0-4 on the season now, they have managed to lose two by three points or less. There's a good chance that a loss this week won't be nearly as frustratingly close.

Cincinnati Bengals (3-1)
1 23-10 @KC 10 --- SD
2 34-17 CLE 11 --- @NO
3 28-20 @PIT 12 --- @CLE
4 13-38 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 at TB Rush Catch Pass
QB Carson Palmer 0 0 240,2
RB Rudi Johnson 80,1 20 0
TE Reggie Kelly 0 10 0
WR Chad Johnson 0 80,1 0
WR Houshmandzadeh 0 70,1 0
WR Kelley Washington 0 40 0
PK Shayne Graham 2 FG 3 XP -
Pregame Notes: The Bengals were plowing along nicely for the first three weeks of the season before hosting the Patriots in week four. They were dominated throughout that game by a team that was considered to be weak in the secondary and a wonderful chance to show just how good this year's Bengals really are. Instead, the thrashing sent the Bengals off to their bye week thinking maybe they are not "all that" even though Palmer himself suggested that they had not taken the Pats seriously enough. At the least it was an early season wake-up call that said the Bengals had to show up every week prepared or incur the loss. At worse - maybe they are not all that.

Quarterback: Carson Palmer scared fantasy owners with just 127 yards against the Chiefs but they really never needed to throw in that game. He responded with two scores against the Browns and then four touchdowns in Pittsburgh that suggested Palmer was every bit as good as 2005. Then in week four, Palmer only came up with 245 yards and two lost fumbles. He needs a good game this week if only to regain the swagger.

Running Backs: While the passing game struggled against the Patriots, Rudi Johnson still had 65 yards on 14 carries and scored once. That makes four touchdowns on the year with only a road game in Pittsburgh as a down week. Perhaps troublesome too is that while Johnson had 28 carries in week one, he has declined each week. He too needs a nice bounce back game this week.

Wide Receivers: T.J Houshmandzadeh has only played in two games this season and had two scores and around 95 yards in each - no problem with him stepping right into a productive role. Chris Henry had two scores against the Steelers and then was deactivated in week four but had 113 yards in the week three effort against the Browns - no problem with him delivering when they let him play. Chad Johnson? There is a problem. At least in a fantasy sense since the loquacious wideout had played in four games this year and had a total of just 201 yards on 18 catches and only one touchdown. He remains one of the biggest fantasy disappointments this season and for no evident reason beyond being heavily covered (like last year) and Palmer electing to throw elsewhere. If anyone on this team needs a big game it is Chad Johnson because it would be his first.

Chris Henry has been suspended for two games and will not play here. He will be eligible again in week eight.

Tight Ends: No real fantasy value here

Match Against the Defense: The biggest failing of the Tampa Bay defense this year has been an inability to stop opposing rushers. They have already given up two games over 100 yards though only two rushing scores. Look for a good game here from Rudi Johnson against a softer run defense. He could reach 100 yards but likely will end up just short.

Palmer goes against a secondary that has given up one passing score to every opponent - but no more. But the Bucs really have not faced any good passing teams other than Carolina who had 272 yards against them. This is played in Tampa Bay and they are desperate for a win here but expect Palmer to have decent passing yards and to connect twice on scores. Chad Johnson needs to shake out of his slump and this will be a challenge, but Steve Smith had 112 yards against them. Look for the Bengals to make a point of involving Johnson.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-4)
1 0-27 BAL 10 --- @CAR
2 3-14 @ATL 11 --- WAS
3 24-26 CAR 12 --- @DAL
4 Open Bye 13 --- @PIT
5 21-24 @NO 14 --- ATL
6 --- CIN 15 --- @CHI
7 --- PHI 16 --- @CLE
8 --- @NYG 17 --- SEA
9 --- NO - MON THU
TBB vs CIN Rush Catch Pass
QB Bruce Gradkowski 0 0 190,1
RB Cadillac Williams 80,1 10 0
RB Michael Pittman 20 20 0
TE Alex Smith 0 20,1 0
WR Joey Galloway 0 60 0
WR Michael Clayton 0 30 0
WR Ike Hilliard 0 40 0
PK Matt Bryant 2 FG 2 XP -

Pregame Notes: The Bucs drop to 0-4 on the season now but have to be pleased with the showing of rookie Bruce Gradkowski last week. Galloway came to life and so did Carnell Williams. That could have been a single game event with an unseen quarterback at the helm and they did lose the game, but Gradkowski showed enough that writing off the season quite yet would be premature. With games against CIN, PHI and then @NYG, week nine will be when you can write off the season officially as all mathematical probability will be exhausted.

Quarterback: For being just the 25th pick in the sixth round last April, Bruce Gradkowski debuted to a rather impressive performance when he threw 20 of 31 for 225 yards and two scores against the Saints last week. That was the first game all season where the Buccaneers did not throw an interception though he did lose one fumble. In just one game, Gradkowski doubled the previous season passing scores for the Bucs. He's still learning and now there is a bit of game film on him, but it was as good a start as the Buccaneers could have hoped for.

Running Backs: After three weeks which were almost the exact opposite of what he did to open 2005, Carnell Williams ran 20 times for 111 yards against the Saints and suddenly looked like a real running back again. Prior to last week, his season high had only been 48 rushing yards. Of course Mike Alstott came in to steal the short touchdown but at least Williams has one good game to hang his hat on this year.

Wide Receivers: The secret is evidently road games. In two home stands this year, Joey Galloway has a total of one catch for eight yards. In two road games, he has 13 catches for 171 yards. Michael Clayton is also consistent but only in the sense he is never any good. His high game of the year is just 62 yards and the other three efforts all weighed in less than 40 yards, his worth being last week with Gradkowski when he only had one catch for seven yards. Ike Hilliard remains worthless in fantasy terms but was slightly more preferred by the rookie quarterback when he had four catches for 34 yards. Gradkowski threw more passes to Galloway (8) than all other wideouts combined (7).

Tight Ends: The second-year player Alex Smith is starting to show up more with four catches for 72 yards in week three and then five catches for 16 yards and one score last week. Smith was the second leading receiver behind Galloway last week.

Match Against the Defense: The Bengals rush defense had been solid until the Patriots game but counting on that as an aberration, they have only allowed opposing runners to top 100 yards once and that came on 31 carries for Parker. Look for at least a moderate game from Carnell Williams here but it could turn into a nice one if last week was more than a one game blip.

Gradkowski was impressive last week and now goes against a tough secondary that has allowed only one score to road opponents this year. With only three scores allowed in total - two against the Patriots - it's too early to expect that Gradkowski can repeat last week or that the Bengals have taken more than a one week downward slide. Expect only moderate numbers here but this will be a good test to see where both teams are at. So far - cover Galloway and the Bucs cannot throw and that cannot be lost on the Bengals preparing for two weeks. I'll credit Gradkowski with one score but I would suspect that would be a trash time affair. The Bucs are desperate for a win, but these Bengals are better than average and downright great when they prepare.