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

Prediction: CLE 24, CIN 20

Update: Chris Henry was held out on Wednesday with a sore ankle but was back on Thursday and is expected to play. The big concern here is Rudi Johnson who had his hamstring "flare up" early this week and has not practiced. His status is not yet certain but I am lowering his projections and realize that there is a chance that he does not play this week. Make sure you check the inactives before kickoff on Sunday if you need him. If Johnson is unable to play or ends up limited, it would be a nice chance for Kenny Watson to have a nice game. I am changing this projections but the situation may not be clear until game time.

Here is the much anticipated rematch of the best fantasy game of the year. The Browns won 51-45 when these teams met in week two in Cleveland which was nearly legendary. Little did we know that the second meeting would have the Browns at 9-5 and challenging for the division title or a wild card and the Bengals would be 5-9 coming off a loss to the 49ers. The Browns are 6-1 at home but only 3-4 on the road. Then again, the Bengals are only 4-3 at home and just lost to the 49ers.

Cleveland Browns (9-5)
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 27-17 -3.5 51
13 @ARI 21-27 +1 51.5
14 @NYJ 24-18 -3.5 47.5
15 BUF 8-0 -5.5 45
16 @CIN   +3 46.5
17 SF 30-Dec SUN 1:00 PM
CLE at CIN Rush Catch Pass
QB Derek Anderson     240,2
RB Jamal Lewis 90,1 20  
TE Kellen Winslow   40  
WR Braylon Edwards   100,1  
WR Joe Jurevicius   50,1  
WR Josh Cribbs   20  
PK Phil Dawson 1 FG 3 XP  
Pregame Notes: The Browns come off a win in the driving snow and are tied with the Steelers at 9-5. Since the Browns were swept by them this year, they need to keep winning and have either the Rams or Ravens beat the Steers which is rather unlikely. But the Ravens are in a very nice spot to take a wildcard along with the Jaguars as long as they continue to win. In the interest of fantasy fans everywhere, let's hope that this game is not a weather issue though it will be cold regardless.

Quarterback: Derek Anderson has cooled down from his hot start but still throws for around two scores in most games and he passed for 328 yards and five touchdowns against the visiting Bengals in week two during his breakout game this year. Oddly enough, he has three games without a passing score when facing good secondaries (not an issue this week) but otherwise always turns in two or more scores in all other games.

Running Backs: Jamal Lewis has been on quite a roll for the last five games and comes off a 163 yard effort last week in the snow against the Bills. He rushed for a season high 216 yards on 27 carries and scored once against the visiting Bengals this season for his best effort. What comes into play this week, at least potentially, is that he has been much less effective in road games where he only has two rushing scores this season and only one game over 100 rushing yards (NYJ). But he has been better as the year progresses and this is against the worst defense he faced all season.

Wide Receivers: What is there that Braylon Edwards cannot do? He only had four catches for 64 yards last week but that was in horrible weather and yet he still made amazing catches in the worst of all conditions. Edwards caught eight passes for 146 yards and two scores versus the Bengals this year.

Joe Jurevicius had four receptions for 44 yards and two touchdowns as well in the previous meeting with the Bengals but has only scored once since then and not at all since week four. Jurevicius offers a solid possession role of around 50 or so yards in most games but the scoring all belongs to Edwards. And the defenses still struggle to slow him down.

Tight Ends: Kellen Winslow has really tailed off over these last three weeks with never more than 35 yards in any game and no scores. What is more troubling is that he has consistently played worse on the road. Discounting the snow game last week, Winslow had over 90 yards in his last five homes games. His last five road games have never had more than 64 yards and he hasn't scored in the last three trips away from Cleveland.

Winslow turned in six catches for 100 yards and a score against the Bengals this year.

Match Against the Defense: At this early juncture, it appears that this will not be a bad weather game other than the cold but that could obviously change by Sunday. The biggest question here is if the Bengals come off their loss to the 49ers with any fight still left in them in a season gone very badly. The Bengals at home play better on defense, at least against the run and have only given up four rushing scores to visiting runners this year. But this is a cold weather game that will call on Lewis to show up big and he will get his volume of carries enough to warrant a nice fantasy game here. This week should be a nice indicator on the road about just how improved Lewis has become during the season.

Anderson faces a secondary that was horrible though the first half of the season when it gave up 19 passing scores but since week ten, the Bengals have only allowed five passing touchdowns. In fairness, the Bengals faced some bad offenses along the way and the Steelers and Cards had two passing scores each against them. Expect decent passing yards here but nothing like the fair weather explosion back in week two. Anderson should have decent passing yards but only a couple of scores here.

Gaining Fantasy Points CLE 6 9 12 5 6 21
Preventing Fantasy Points CIN 27 16 29 21 24 14


Cincinnati Bengals (5-9)
Homefield: Paul Brown Stadium
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 BAL 27-20 +3 40.5
2 @CLE 45-51 -7 41.5
3 @SEA 21-24 +3 50
4 NE 13-34 +7.5 54
5 BYE - - -
6 @KC 20-27 -3 42
7 NYJ 38-31 -5.5 46.5
8 PIT 13-24 +3.5 48.5
9 @BUF 21-33 -1 43.5
10 @BAL 21-7 +4.5 44.5
11 ARI 27-35 -3 48.5
12 TEN 35-6 +1.5 42
13 @PIT 10-24 +7 46
14 STL 19-10 -7 47
15 @SF 13-20 -8.5 43
16 CLE   -3 46.5
17 @MIA 30-Dec SUN 1:00 PM
CIN vs CLE Rush Catch Pass
QB Carson Palmer     250,2
RB Rudi Johnson 40 10  
RB Kenny Watson 60 20  
TE Reggie Kelly   10  
WR Chad Johnson   90,1  
WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh   60,1  
WR Chris Henry   50  
PK Shayne Graham 2 FG 2 XP  

Pregame Notes: The loss to the 49ers may prove to be the final nail in the coffin for several coaches and players on this team. The loss ensures that the Bengals have a losing season and sends them back home this week to face the Browns who have far more offense than the 49ers had. The Bengals were just playing flat and got caught in San Francisco and could not manufacture enough offense to stay in the game. Worse yet, the defense made it appear that the 49ers have a decent offense for the first time this season. They could have figured the 49ers would be a push over and were looking ahead to this week for their big rematch, but the team is going nowhere in the post season and is just playing out another disappointing season.

Quarterback: On the plus side, Carson Palmer finally threw a touchdown last week after not scoring since week 12. Then again, he only had one score in San Francisco and could not move the offense against one of the worst defenses in the league. He ended with 251 yards but 52 yards and the score came on one pass to Chris Henry. The Bengals have taken a nosedive in the last three weeks and Palmer is helping to lead the way with an offense that has just hit a funk and receivers who are struggling against teams they would have tore up in the past.

Palmer passed for 401 yards and six touchdowns in the first meeting with the Browns. It was a highpoint to his season and as many touchdowns as he has scored over the last six weeks.

Running Backs: After scoring in each of the last three games and gaining 92 yards against the Rams in week 14, Rudi Johnson only gained 16 yards on seven carries in San Francisco and saw Kenny Watson run better when he gained 33 yards on eight runs. But the Bengals rushing game was poor in San Francisco no matter which back carried the ball and even DeDe Dorsey had two carries as well. This is a committee backfield now and there isn't any consistency on which back becomes the primary. One caveat here - the Bengals have always rushed far better at home than on the road and Watson is used more in passing formations.

Johnson gained 118 yards on 23 carries in Cleveland this season.

Wide Receivers: Chad Johnson rarely scores - he has touchdowns in just three games this year - but he has remained fairly consistent lately with around 80 yards each week. His failure to catch that final pass in San Francisco was the difference in the game and was a surprise since T.J. Houshmandzadeh wasn't used near the endzone in a critical situation despite scoring eleven times this year. But even Houshmandzadeh has been on a downturn with only one score in the last six games and none in the last four. Houshmandzadeh now settles for a possession role of around 60 yards per week and has seen his fantasy value really drop since he stopped being a guaranteed score each week.

Chris Henry had the lone score in San Francisco but it came on his only catch in the game which covered 52 yards. That was his first score in four weeks and with only one catch, he's hardly a reliable fantasy option this year.

Johnson caught 11 passes for 209 yards and two scores in Cleveland while Houshmandzadeh had eight catches for 69 yards and two touchdowns as well. Even Glenn Holt had 52 yards and a score.

Tight Ends: Almost never more than one catch per game. No fantasy value.

Match Against the Defense: The Browns rushing defense remains soft and the only question is how far ahead are they to force opponents to stop rushing and start throwing. This could be a decent game for Johnson but it depends on what the split will be since three runners now take turns. Expect only moderate yardage here since any of the trio could have some nice gains.

Palmer has been very unproductive for the last three weeks but should manage at least one passing score here and likely two in what should be the chance for the team to make up for last week. Both Johnson and Houshmandzadeh are nice plays this week and that's if all they do is half what they had in week two.

Gaining Fantasy Points CIN 11 20 3 32 5 17
Preventing Fantasy Points CLE 32 11 30 31 31 9

The Huddle
~ 2007 ~
Season Ticket
Sunday Late

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