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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
Player Projections by Team
Game Predictions Summary
The Huddle
November 15, 2006
Season Ticket
Sunday Late
Sunday night
CIN at NO PIT at CLE     updated

Prediction: PIT 20, CLE 13

Ah yes, the battle for the AFC North cellar. The Steelers come off a close win over the Saints to reverse a three game losing skid while the Browns come off a surprising road win over the Falcons. The Steelers are 0-4 in road games this year while the Browns are just 1-3 at home. The Browns actually won in Atlanta unlike the Steelers but this game should go handily to Pittsburgh if they can only avoid turnovers.

The Steelers swept the Browns last year, winning 34-21 at home and later 41-0 in Cleveland.

Update: Reuben Droughns remains questionable with an ankle injury and he did not practice on Wednesday or Thursday. There is a very real chance he may not play this week or at least be very limited. I am removing him from the projections because of the sprain and inserting Jason Wright. Jerome Harrison could get some playing time regardless but with the Steelers coming to town, the rushing game for the Browns in unattractive this week no matter who plays.

Pittsburgh Steelers (3-6)
1 28-17 MIA 10 38-31 NO
2 0-9 @JAX 11 --- @CLE
3 20-28 CIN 12 --- @BAL
4 Open Bye 13 --- TB
5 13-23 @SD 14 --- CLE
6 45-7 KC 15 --- @CAR
7 38-41 @ATL 16 --- BAL
8 13-20 @OAK 17 --- @CIN
9 20-31 DEN - MON THU
PIT at CLE Rush Catch Pass
QB Ben Roethlisberger 0 0 210,1
RB Willie Parker 100,1 10 0
TE Heath Miller 0 20 0
WR Hines Ward 0 80,1 0
WR Cedrick Wilson 0 40 0
WR Santonio Holmes 0 50 0
PK Jeff Reed 2 FG 2 XP -
Pregame Notes: The Steelers finally come off a clean win where Roethlisberger was not only good, he never threw an interception and Willie Parker ran wild. But the defense has been far less effective this year and the Saints still made it into an all too close game. Over the last four weeks, the Steelers have given up over 30 points a game and that too often has placed Roethlisberger into a pass happy mode that has hurt the team with turnovers. The Steelers had few problems beating the Browns last year but this will be a much different game than we saw in 2005.

Quarterback: Finally, Ben Roethlisberger had a great game, throwing for 264 yards and three scores with nary an fumble or interception. This came on the heels of two efforts with seven interceptions thanks to the Raiders and Broncos. But Big Ben is not out of the woods after just one good game. Not only has he lost all four of his road games this year, he had eight interceptions against only four touchdowns - and three scores came in the losing effort in Atlanta. To add onto that pile, consider the Browns sport the #2 defense against quarterbacks and Roethlisberger has to ensure that he doesn't replicate the Oakland game.

Roethlisberger only played the Browns once last year and had 226 yards and one score in Cleveland.

Running Backs: Willie Parker comes off a career game when he ran for 213 yards and two scores against the Saints. So far Parker has been consistently and wildly productive this year - long as he is playing at home. In those five match-ups, Parker has run for 640 yards on 117 carries for an impressive 5.5 yards per carry, He has scored seven rushing touchdowns and one receiving score at home. Problem is that he plays on the road this week.

On the road, Parker has only had 67 carries for 207 yards this year - an average of 3.1 yards per carry. He has ran in just one score in those away games. Parker played well no matter where last year but so far, he's been very consistent in this Jekyll and Hyde role depending on the game venue.

Parker ran for 130 yards and one score in Cleveland last season.

Wide Receivers: Hines Ward comes off his four game with a score when he snared five catches for 86 yards and one touchdown last week and he's currently had six scores on the season thanks to the monster three score game in Atlanta. Over the last four games, Ward has never fallen below 80 yards in a game and twice topped 100 yards. Cedrick Wilson finally had his first score of the year last Sunday but he's remained mired at less than 60 yards in almost every game while Santonio Holmes has seen an increased role over the last month. The biggest loser here has been Nate Washington who scored in week six and seven but since has been stick with around 30 yards a week. Big Ben is throwing more and all the wideouts are contributing, if only marginally each week.

Hines Ward had seven receptions for 105 yards and one touchdown in Cleveland last year.

Tight Ends: Heath Miller caught his third score of the year last week but he's still only used for a couple of catches per week.

Miller never had more than one catch for 21 yards against the Browns last year.

Match Against the Defense: This should be interesting. The Steelers have yet to run well away from Pittsburgh but the Browns have consistently allowed nice rushing efforts this year and some season best games for Lamont Jordan, Tatum Bell and Rudi Johnson. Figuring that Parker has to break out of his road funk eventually, this should be the week he finally has a good game with a score away from home.

Roethlisberger should be plenty concerned about facing a secondary that has only allowed eight touchdowns this season and only one more than one to an opponent (Palmer). Plus the Browns have collected ten interceptions this season. Expect a lower scoring game here because the Steelers just want to win. Big Ben should top 200 yards but likely have only one score unless he wants to press his luck. On the road this year - his luck has not been that good.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM    QB   RB   WR   TE   PK  DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points PIT 7 6 3 20 20 11
Preventing Fantasy Points CLE 2 18 11 12 25 32


Cleveland Browns (3-6)
1 14-19 NO 10 17-13 @ATL
2 17-34 @CIN 11 --- PIT
3 14-15 BAL 12 --- CIN
4 24-21 @OAK 13 --- KC
5 12-20 @CAR 14 --- @PIT
6 Open Bye 15 --- @BAL
7 7-17 DEN 16 --- TB
8 20-13 NYJ 17 --- @HOU
9 25-32 @SD - - THU
CLE vs PIT Rush Catch Pass
QB Charlie Frye 0 0 190,1
RB Reuben Droughns 40 0 0
RB Jason Wright 40 0 0
TE Kellen Winslow 0 80,1 0
WR Joe Jurevicius 0 50 0
WR Braylon Edwards 0 50 0
WR Dennis Northcutt 0 10 0
PK Phil Dawson 2 FG 1 XP -

Pregame Notes: The Browns come off their third win of the season with a close squeaker in Atlanta. The defense came to the rescue by turning Vick back into the fumbling, interception prone quarterback that he has long been and the offense was able to convert just enough to take the victory. Now the Browns start a three week stretch of home games against teams that are all desperate for a win. The schedule has not been kind to the Browns and it is not getting any better.

Quarterback: Charlie Frye has been consistent this season, he's had one score in each of the last four games and he has yet to make it through a week without losing the ball at least once. Five of the last six efforts have weighed in under 200 passing yards and if Winslow's numbers were removed - they wouldn't crest the century mark most weeks.

Frye threw for 183 yards and no score against the visiting Steelers last season.

Running Backs: Reuben Droughns managed to score once last week because the Browns finally found themselves on the one-yard line but Droughns only had 21 carries for 54 yards in Atlanta. It typically takes a lot of carries to get him over the 100 yard mark though he has done that in each of the three wins - and no other games. Droughns has held off the rookie Jerome Harrison so far but his performance this year has to lead to either a free agent acquisition in 2007 or at least a high draft pick used on a tailback.

Droughns only gained 36 yards on ten carries against the Steelers last year.

Wide Receivers: While Braylon Edwards has scored in each of the last two games, his yardage has been on the wane since week three and even in Atlanta he only had three catches for 31 yards. Joe Jurevicius seemed to be taking a bigger role with a 76 yard effort in San Diego but then fell back to just two catches for four yards last week. The marginal passing of the Browns always favors Kellen Winslow first but has on occasion given scores to both Edwards and Jurevicius.

No Browns wideout had more than 60 yards or scored against the Steelers last year.

Tight Ends: No doubting the role that Kellen Winslow plays here. With 56 catches, he is tied with Donald Driver for the most receptions in the NFL - regardless of position. Winslow has averaged almost eight catches per game for the last three weeks and remained above 75 yards each week.

Match Against the Defense: Troy Polamalu had a concussion last week and it's not yet certain if he will play. If he doesn't. consider that an early Christmas present for the Browns. The Steelers rushing defense has been outstanding this year and should stuff Droughns without too much trouble. Look for only minimal yardage and no scores from him.

The Steelers waiver from being great in the secondary to being terrible, and typically that is because great quarterbacks have done well and average quarterbacks have done poorly. Considering Frye as an average quarterback is a compliment so expect just one passing score here and yet another game with less than 200 passing yards. The Steelers have only faced two of the top tight ends and both Gates and Crumpler scored with nice yardage. No reason to bench Winslow this week.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM    QB   RB   WR   TE   PK  DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points CLE 17 32 31 2 15 29
Preventing Fantasy Points PIT 22 13 29 20 21 29