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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
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The Huddle
~ 2008 ~
Season Ticket
Sunday Late
Bye Week
* Updated

Prediction: DEN 17, CLE 27

Here's a nice battle between the Browns who have never matched last year and have changed quarterbacks in that "do something, dammit" sort of way and the Broncos who started the year red hot and while they are still atop the AFC West, they are only 4-4 and have lost four of their last five games. One of these teams nightmares are going to get a little worse and it could be either team.

Denver Broncos (4-4)
Homefield: Invesco Field
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 @OAK 41-14 -3 41.5
2 SD 39-38 +1.5 45.5
3 NO 34-32 -5.5 51.5
4 @KC 19-33 -9.5 46.5
5 TB 16-13 -3 48
6 JAX 17-24 -3.5 48
7 @NE 7-41 +3 46.5
8 BYE - - -
9 MIA 17-26 -3 49
10 @CLE - +3 46
11 @ATL - - -
12 OAK - - -
13 @NYJ - - -
14 KC - - -
15 @CAR - - -
16 BUF - - -
17 @SD - - -
DEN @ CLE Rush Catch Pass
QB Jay Cutler     260,2
RB Selvin Young 20 10  
RB Ryan Torain 50 10  
TE Daniel Graham   20  
WR Eddie Royal   90,1  
WR Brandon Stokley   40,1  
WR Brandon Marshall   70  
PK Matt Prater 1 FG 2 XP  
Pregame Notes: The offense has lost almost all punch now and the rushing game has disintegrated to a level that sends historians deeply into franchise history to find any time that was worse. Short of facing AFC West rivals, there are no games that the Broncos can assume to be competitive in and injuries continue to decimate both sides of the ball. It doesn't get better here, it only gets worse. The loss of Champ Bailey was the final straw for a defense that has just fallen apart. Now opponents can throw anywhere.

Quarterback: Jay Cutler continues to throw a score in every game this year and he managed a 307 yard effort against the Dolphins but he has also thrown six interceptions in the last three weeks and apparently has lost all rushing support. Cutler remains a decent play each week but more so if you do not lose points for interceptions. One word of caution - his last two road games only had one score in each and yet two interceptions.

Running Backs: Moving right along, the Broncos have directed Michael Pittman and Andre Hall to leave stage right for the injured reserve and currently the only healthy running backs left on the roster are Selvin Young who hasn't played since week five and they no longer trust him and Ryan "Free Agent of the Year if Hype Means Anything" Torain who ripped off a cool one net yard on three rushes last week. Before your optimism springs eternal again, realize that last week was at home against the Miami Dolphins. Now assess hitting the road to Cleveland.

Wide Receivers: The one stalwart in this offense was Brandon Marshall who comes off a 27-yard effort last week that was only his second worst game. But Marshall had 77 yards in both the most recent road games which may help. Unfortunately, the Miami defenders were able to get under Marshall's skin last week and rattle him which should generate this more every week. Marshall is constantly double teamed so he can get trash talk in stereo if it is going to bother him. Marshall had a 77-yard touchdown called back when he was flagged for interference on the play. Marshall has not scored since week four.

Eddie Royal remains solid and actually has all three of his best games come on the three road trips. While defenders are busy covering Marshall, Royal has been more productive away from Denver with two touchdowns and both efforts over 100 yards.

Tight Ends: Tony Scheffler was inactive for the third straight game with a groin injury but he may return this week. I will assume that Daniel Graham will take the start again and update if warranted.

Match Against the Defense: The Browns at home have been very kind to visiting runners so there is some reason for optimism for Torain this week going to Cleveland where every visitor leaves with a rushing score or two and usually a 100 yard rusher as well. But placing much faith in Torain is wildly optimistic. I will project based on what these situations usually entail which is usually disappointment. The Browns will be plenty up for this game.

Cutler faces a defense that always allows at least one passing score though rarely two and never more than that. Look for Cutler to notch two touchdowns this week that should definitely favor Eddie Royal and I will credit the other to Stokley since Marshall is in a funk recently.

Gaining Fantasy Points DEN 6 23 4 5 14 24
Preventing Fantasy Points    CLE 12 22 25 6 2 8

Cleveland Browns (3-5)
Homefield: Cleveland Stadium
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 DAL 10-28 +5.5 49
2 PIT 6-10 +6 45
3 @BAL 10-28 +2 38.5
4 @CIN 20-12 -3.5 44
5 BYE - - -
6 NYG 35-14 +8 43
7 @WAS 11-14 +7.5 42.5
8 @JAX 23-17 +6.5 41
9 BAL 27-37 -1.5 36.5
10 DEN - -3 46
11 @BUF - - -
12 HOU - - -
13 IND - - -
14 @TEN - - -
15 @PHI - - -
16 CIN - - -
17 @PIT - - -
CLE vs DEN Rush Catch Pass
QB Brady Quinn     200,2
RB Jamal Lewis 90,1    
TE Kellen Winslow   60,1  
WR Braylon Edwards   80,1  
WR Syndric Steptoe   40  
WR Josh Cribbs   10  
PK Phil Dawson 2 FG 3 XP  

Pregame Notes: The loss to the Ravens was simply one more than Derek Anderson could bear. The Browns are now moving on to the new Quinn era which has a good shot at looking a lot like the Anderson era. The Browns have suffered through a tough schedule this year and have really met expectations if you can forget the CakeWalk-2007. The defense has quietly been better in most games and even Lewis is running better. For the rest of the year this team is no linger playing for the post season - they are playing for next season where ever they may be.

Quarterback: The move to Brady Quinn may take a while to adequately rate but you have to hand it to Quinn on his timing. After the Browns play @WAS, @JAX and BAL, then Quinn takes over to face DEN, @BUF and HOU. Quinn was much heralded in 2007 when he sat forever with is hottie girlfriend at the NFL draft and now finally gets his chance. Unlike Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco this year, Quinn has the advantage of watching for 24 games before playing. We'll see what difference that makes.

Running Backs: Jamal Lewis predictably had a down game against the Ravens last week - they are #1 against the run - but he had strung together four weeks of around 80 rushing yards and scored in three of them. Considering that the schedule is lightening up at least in places, Lewis should have a better second half to the season. He'll be relied on to help with Quinn but the Browns are going to run as much as they can regardless.

Wide Receivers: The big question is what will the change do for Braylon Edwards who only recently stopped playing volleyball and actually hung onto the ball. The entire passing game is just speculation this week with Quinn taking over but hosting the incoming Broncos may be the best it could be. The Denver secondary is banged up and missing key players. And if Quinn could pull one little PR move off, it would be to hit Edwards with a long score.

Donte Stallworth may not play this week again thanks to his quad injury. It is a short week and I will assume he is out,.

Tight Ends: The switch to Quinn probably won't hurt Kellen Winslow and could help since he has not scored since week one and has been held to 55 yards or less in all but one game. New quarterbacks often prefer tight ends.

Match Against the Defense: While this may be highly speculative in projecting, rest assured that the Denver defense is not good right now. Lewis faces an opponent that has allowed two touchdowns and over 130 rushing yards to just one runner in each of the last two road trips. This should be Lewis' best game of the year if Quinn can hold his own.

I like new quarterbacks that have no game film on them. I like then even more when they face a defense that has lost DB Marlon McCree to a high ankle sprain, LB DJ Williams to an MCL, Boss Bailey to IR and most importantly, Champ Bailey to a torn groin. Quinn could not ask for a nicer place to start and on a national Thursday game no less. I would never recommend starting such an unknown quarterback but this situation is very, very tempting.

Gaining Fantasy Points CLE 28 26 29 14 22 18
Preventing Fantasy Points    DEN 22 31 17 23 28 22

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