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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
The Huddle
~ 2007 ~
Season Ticket
Sunday Late

Prediction: HOU 27, CLE 30

Thinking back 11 weeks ago, who would have thought that this would be a much anticipated air war with plenty of points? The Texans are 5-5 and only 2-3 on the road. But - they have Andre Johnson back and now readily admit they have no real rushing game. The Browns are 6-4 with the #3 scoring offense in the NFL and are 4-1 at home. For two much-maligned teams over the year, it appears the corner has been turned for both.

The Texans won 14-6 when they hosted the Browns last year.

Houston Texans (5-5)
Homefield: Reliant Stadium
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 KC 20-3 +3 38
2 @CAR 34-21 +6.5 39
3 IND 24-30 + 6 47.5
4 @ATL 16-26 -2.5 39.5
5 MIA 22-19 -5.5 43
6 @JAC 17-37 +7 37
7 TEN 38-36 OFF OFF
8 @SD 10-35 +11 45
9 @OAK 24-17 +3 41.5
10 BYE - - -
11 NO 23-10 +1 47
12 @CLE   +3.5 51
13 @TEN 2-Dec SUN 1:00 PM
14 TB 9-Dec SUN 1:00 PM
15 DEN 13-Dec THU 8:15 PM
16 @IND 23-Dec SUN 1:00 PM
17 JAC 30-Dec SUN 1:00 PM
HOU at CLE Rush Catch Pass
QB Matt Schaub     300,3
RB Ron Dayne 50 10  
TE Owen Daniels   70,1  
WR Andre Johnson   130,2  
WR Andre Davis   30  
WR Kevin Walter   50  
PK Kris Brown 2 FG 3 XP  
Pregame Notes: At 5-5, the Texans season already is a success with an actual passing game for the first time in franchise history and promise for future seasons if they stop relying on 30+ year old fragile running backs. The rest of the season is hardly a cakewalk though and in each game the Texans will likely be the underdog. That only helps Schaub need to throw which is where the fantasy points are here anyway. If the Texans win another game, it will be an upset.

Quarterback: It didn't take long for Matt Schaub to welcome back Andre Johnson with a 73-yard touchdown strike. Schaub is healthy now and has a full complement of receivers for the first time this season. His 293 passing yards against the Saints came with two scores and no turnovers. His only other game with two scores was the last one that Johnson played prior to injury. And now the Texans receivers have much more experience with Schaub including the discovered gem in Andre Davis.

Running Backs: Ahman Green is likely to miss this week and there is even talk about just shutting him down for the year because of his knee. That leaves Ron Dayne as the starter and he's been effective the last two weeks against the softer defenses of Oakland and New Orleans. To the extent that Andre Johnson's return helps the passing game, he helps Dayne from facing too much attention by the defense.

Wide Receivers: In Andre Johnson's final game before injury, he had 120 yards and one score. His first game back - 120 yards and one score. Now that is consistency. In only three games played this year, Johnson has never had less than those 120 yards and a score. What he did last week though was to draw off production from other receivers though like Jacoby Jones (no catches), Kevin Walter (3-31) and Andre Davis (2-30). That won't continue since the Texans will not often have a sizable lead over their opponent.

The return of Johnson obviously helps his stats, but eventually should help free up other wideouts since defenses are going to have to focus on him first and foremost.

Tight Ends: Owen Daniels broke his nose on the first series last week but returned and finished with five catches for 74 yards. While he has not scored this year, Daniels has been rock solid in yardage and is on a pace for over 850 receiving yards this year.

Match Against the Defense: What's not to like about facing the defense that ranks #32 against quarterbacks and wideouts? This game should end up as a shoot out and Schaub faces a secondary that hasn't given up less than 250 passing yards in the last seven games. There are few absolutes in the world but starting elements of the passing game against the Browns in one of them. They are even #31 against tight ends. It just does not get any better than this.

Gaining Fantasy Points HOU 11 21 11 10 5 12
Preventing Fantasy Points CLE 32 16 32 31 32 14


Cleveland Browns (6-4)
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 27-13 +4 40
5 @NE 17-34 +15.5 48
6 MIA 41-31 -4 45
7 BYE - - -
8 @STL 27-20 -3 43.5
9 SEA 33-30 -1 47
10 @PIT 28-31 +9.5 47.5
11 @BAL 33-30 -2.5 43.5
12 HOU   -3.5 51
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 HOU Rush Catch Pass
QB Derek Anderson     280,2
RB Jamal Lewis 50,1    
TE Kellen Winslow   100,1  
WR Braylon Edwards   90,1  
WR Joe Jurevicius   70  
WR Josh Cribbs   10  
PK Phil Dawson 3 FG 3 XP  

Pregame Notes: What a delightful mixture the Browns have proven to be. They rank #3 in the NFL with 288 points scored and yet #32 in points allowed with 294. The Browns are the 2007 version of the 2006 Saints. Like the old St. Louis teams under Mike Martz. And what is more remarkable than their 6-4 record is that they could potentially win out or come very close. After this week and then the Cardinals, they wind up the season against BUF, CIN and SF. The fun is not ending yet.

Quarterback: Derek Anderson's multiple touchdowns have tapered off in the last three games but he still had 364 yards against the Seahawks and in Baltimore rushed in a score along with 274 yards. If the Browns are the new Saints, then Anderson is the new Brees. He has three rushing touchdowns and 20 passing scores in ten games and the tough part of his schedule is now over.

Running Backs: Jamal Lewis comes off a satisfying win over his old Ravens team and had a nine game high of 92 rushing yards on 22 carries and one score. If the Browns get to the goal line - typically because Kellen Winslow is tackled just short - then Lewis is the man. Otherwise, he's still an overrated back that still has not topped 100 yards since week one and that usually has less than 50 each week.

Wide Receivers: Braylon Edwards only has one score in the last three games thanks to playing three of the best secondaries in the league but he still has 10 touchdowns on the season and three games over the 100 yard mark. He draws enough attention that even Joe Jurevicius often has 60+ yard games because the defense is so focused on Edwards and Winslow.

Edwards only caught four passes for 46 yards and no score against the Texans last year.

Tight Ends: Without a doubt, considering where he was drafted, Kellen Winslow was the greatest tight end value in fantasy drafts this year. He has a frustrating ability to get tackled at the one yard line or he would surpass even Antonio Gates in fantasy points.

Winslow caught 11 passes for 93 yards in Houston last year.

Match Against the Defense: The Texans usually struggle against the run when on road games but Lewis is unlikely to rack up major yardage here. Look for solid rushing numbers though and one score because yet again Winslow will draw up just short.

Anderson faces what seems to be an average secondary but the Texans has enjoyed playing against some less than prolific passing attacks like KC, MIA, TEN and OAK. Expect Anderson to have at least two scores here and potentially three depending on what scraps Lewis is given. This is the team that gave Gates 92 yards and two scores -expect healthy numbers from Winslow.

Gaining Fantasy Points CLE 3 14 10 5 9 20
Preventing Fantasy Points HOU 14 27 11 20 30 22

The Huddle
~ 2007 ~
Season Ticket
Sunday Late

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