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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
The Huddle
~ 2007 ~
Season Ticket
Sunday night
On Bye

Prediction: BAL 23, CLE 17

The Ravens rise to 2-0 on the season but the offense isn't sizzling and the defense isn't even as dominating this year. The Browns sink to 1-2 with a decent showing in Oakland but the Ravens swept the Browns last year, winning 15-14 on the road and 27-17 at home. This game should be closer than it should, but not close enough for Browns fans.

Update: Kellen Winslow suffered a partial dislocation of his left shoulder and was held out of practice on both Wednesday and Thursday. Winslow still is experiencing soreness in the shoulder which is rather crucial for a receiver catching a pass. He said on Wednesday that he would play and on Thursday said he was "trying to give himself a chance to play". Not a good sign here. I am downgrading him on the projections and realize there is a realistic chance that he may not play at all. Check the Sunday Morning Inactives report since this is one of the first games played on Sunday.

Tim Carter has a sprained knee and also missed both days of practice. He has not been ruled out yet but I have replaced him with Joshua Cribbs and Travis Wilson could end up playing as well. None of them should have much in the way of fantasy points anyway.

Mark Clayton (calf) and Demetrius Williams (heel) were limited in practice this week but are still expected to play.

Baltimore Ravens (2-1)
Homefield: M&T Bank Stadium
Sport Turf
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 @CIN 20-27 +3 40.5
2 NYJ 20-13 -9.5 33
3 ARI 26-23 -7.5 35
4 @CLE   -4.5 38.5
5 @SF   SUN 4:15 PM
6 STL 14-Oct SUN 1:00 PM
7 @BUF 21-Oct SUN 1:00 PM
8 BYE - - -
9 @PIT 5-Nov MON 8:30 PM
10 CIN 11-Nov SUN 4:05 PM
11 CLE 18-Nov SUN 1:00 PM
12 @SD 25-Nov SUN 4:15 PM
13 NE 3-Dec MON 8:30 PM
14 IND 9-Dec SUN 8:15 PM
15 @MIA 16-Dec SUN 1:00 PM
16 @SEA 23-Dec SUN 4:15 PM
17 PIT 30-Dec SUN 1:00 PM
BAL at CLE Rush Catch Pass
QB Steve McNair 10   240,1
RB Willis McGahee 120,1 30  
TE Todd Heap   50  
WR Mark Clayton   40  
WR Demetrius Williams   50  
WR Derrick Mason   60,1  
PK Matt Stover 3 FG 2 XP  
Pregame Notes: The Ravens are still a force to reckon with but the defense has now allowed 21 points per game and that includes homestands against the Jets and Cardinals. Willis McGahee has only been an incremental upgrade at running back and the passing game that was intended to expand and improve looks certainly no better than last year other than the Ravens are finally using Derrick Mason after three years. The schedule is still very light until the week eight bye and the Ravens have time to get the offense and defense back into form.

Quarterback: Steve McNair has started two games this year and has just one touchdown to show for his efforts. He has been nursing a pulled groin and was pulled from last week's game to prevent it from being further aggravated but Kyle Boller has looked oddly sharper than McNair. He threw for 185 yards and two scores in his lone start this year and even in relief against the Cardinals he completed 8 of 10 passes for 83 yards. There is no quarterback controversy here but maybe there should. At least in the second half of the season when the schedule becomes far tougher. I am assuming that a limited McNair returns this week.

Boller threw for 238 yards and two scores when the Browns came to Baltimore in week 15 of last year while McNair had 264 yards and one score in Cleveland in week three.

Running Backs: This should be the week for Willis McGahee to have a good game facing the Browns defense. So far McGahee has stopped just short of 100 rushing yards for two weeks and over the year he has run for 273 yards on 66 carries for a 4.2 yard average but still has yet to score a touchdown.

Jamal Lewis had games of 86 and 109 yards against the Browns last year with one score while at home.

Wide Receivers: Mark Clayton returned to the starting lineup last week after being limited for two weeks with an ankle sprain. He had five catches but only gained 34 yards so he's not fully back to form quite yet. Derrick Mason has been the primary receiver every week this year and has seven or eight catches per game though he's not had more than the 79 yards he turned in last Sunday. He did score once for the first time of the season. Demetrius Williams is stuck around three catches per game though he tends to catch the longer passes.

In Cleveland last year, Derrick Mason caught seven passes for 132 yards while back at home Demetrius Williams had just two catches for 100 yards and a score. Mark Clayton managed eight catches for 74 yards in the game in Cleveland but then only had one catch for 42 yards in the home game.

Tight Ends: Todd Heap suffered a mild concussion during the fourth quarter of the Cardinals game and while he remained on the field, he did not recall parts of the fourth quarter afterwards. He is considered as day to day and I assume he will be able to play this week but will update if they opt to give him a week off to clear his head.

Heap had games of 36 and 58 yards on five catches in each against the Browns with one score in the away game.

Match Against the Defense: The Browns rush defense has already allowed each opponent to have a runner gain over 100 rushing yards and the Ravens need to get McGahee over that hump. Expect him to finally crest the century mark and he could score once here but could lose that to Musa Smith just as easily. With the Browns showing an improved ability to pass, all the more reason for the Ravens to run.

The Browns secondary gave up ten touchdowns in just the first two games but McNair is hardly one to rack up huge yardage and scores. Look for a solid game here from McNair but certainly not worth a fantasy start. Look for at least one passing score that should favor Mason this week. There's plenty more for the taking but the Ravens won't press for it unless the Browns can somehow get an early lead.

Gaining Fantasy Points BAL 21 14 24 8 4 7
Preventing Fantasy Points CLE 32 25 32 28 32 21


Cleveland Browns (1-2)
Homefield: Cleveland Stadium
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 PIT 7-34 +4.5 37
2 CIN 51-45 +7 41.5
3 @OAK 24-26 +3 40.5
4 BAL   +4.5 38.5
5 @NE 7-Oct SUN 1:00 PM
6 MIA 14-Oct SUN 1:00 PM
7 BYE - - -
8 @STL 28-Oct SUN 1:00 PM
9 SEA 4-Nov SUN 4:05 PM
10 @PIT 11-Nov SUN 1:00 PM
11 @BAL 18-Nov SUN 1:00 PM
12 HOU 25-Nov SUN 1:00 PM
13 @ARI 2-Dec SUN 4:05 PM
14 @NYJ 9-Dec SUN 4:15 PM
15 BUF 16-Dec SUN 1:00 PM
16 @CIN 23-Dec SUN 1:00 PM
17 SF 30-Dec SUN 1:00 PM
CLE vs BAL Rush Catch Pass
QB Derek Anderson     210,2
RB Jamal Lewis 50    
TE Kellen Winslow   30  
WR Braylon Edwards   100,1  
WR Joe Jurevicius   50,1  
WR Joshua Cribbs   20  
WR Tim Carter 20
PK Phil Dawson 1 FG 2 XP  

Pregame Notes: The Browns lost to the Raiders but only by two points and only because their second try at the game winning field goal was blocked. The offense runs better with Derek Anderson at the helm but this week we'll get to see what he can do against one of the best defenses in the league. Frye lost his job when he went against the Steelers and facing the Ravens could be a problem for Anderson. The Browns have to face the Patriots the following week so the schedule is not a friend here.

Quarterback: After his triumphant week two showing against the Bengals, Derek Anderson settled down to a much more normal 248 yards and one score against the Raiders last Sunday and he had two interceptions. Facing the Ravens this week will be his biggest test to date and he'll be doing that behind an offensive line that allowed five sacks in week one against the Steelers.

Frye was the starter in week 3 when the Ravens visited and threw for 298 yards and one score while the road game had Anderson as the starter and he turned in 223 passing yards with two passing scores against two interceptions.

Running Backs: Like Anderson, Jamal Lewis came off his unbelievable game against the Bengals to turn in a very believable 56 rushing yards on 15 carries in Oakland. Chances are that Lewis will fondly remember week two because nothing else he does this year will be remotely as good - probably nothing else in the rest of his career for that matter.

No Browns running back had more than 37 yards against the Ravens last year. Now Lewis gets to see what the other side of the field is like.

Wide Receivers: There is no denying that Braylon Edwards has benefited from the change to Anderson - he still managed to score once and gain 83 yards on four receptions in Oakland. Joe Jurevicius had a repeat of his week two game last Sunday only he wasn't standing in the endzone during any of his three catches for 33 yards. The wideouts here are all about Edwards with Jurevicius donating maybe three catches per week and Tim Carter having a catch every other week. For teams that can cover Edwards, the Browns passing game shrinks to just Kellen Winslow. No other wideout besides Edwards has turned in more than 44 yards in any game this year.

Braylon Edwards had good games against the Ravens in 2006. He had five catches for 116 and one score at home and had 68 yards and another score in the away game with five receptions in each. Joe Jurevicius also managed to score in the away game but only had 46 yards.

Tight Ends: No matter whom the opponent is, Kellen Winslow is the constant in the passing game every week. So far he has yet to catch for less than 83 yards in a game and has one score so far. Winslow usually gets more passes than even Edwards in this offense. Winslow sustained a bruised shoulder last week but is not yet expected to be limited this week.

Winslow had games of seven catches for 92 yards and five catches for 61 yards against the Ravens in 2006 without any scores in either.

Match Against the Defense: The Ravens rush defense has been very sound so far this year and no player has a rushing score or has run for more than 67 yards against them. Expect another very moderate game from Lewis without a score.

Anderson faces a secondary that has not lived up to previous seasons so far. Every opposing team has scored on them and twice they allowed two touchdowns. Kellen Clemens had 260 yards and the Cardinals threw for 311 yards against them last Sunday. Anderson could be a minor surprise here but the Browns pass attack is limited to only Edwards and Winslow. Look for Edwards to manage a score in this one with decent yardage - he did last year with a lesser team in both meetings. I like two scores here and while that may favor Jurevicius slightly, I am giving it to Winslow from the sheer volume of passes thrown to him.

Gaining Fantasy Points CLE 5 20 11 5 18 14
Preventing Fantasy Points BAL 21 2 30 5 24 24

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