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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
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The Huddle
~ 2009 ~
Season Ticket
Sunday Late
*updated Sat

Prediction: MIN 24, CLE 6

Saturday Update:No change for Berrian who is questionable to play and was limited in all practices. I am lowering his production and he may not play at all. Safest move is to find another wideout to start this week.

Friday Update: Bernard Berrian has been limited in both practices this week because of his sore hamstring but he hasn't been counted out and appears likely to play. I'll update tomorrow if warranted but so far he looks safe to play though not at full strength. Barring a full practice tomorrow, I will likely lower his projections.

The Vikings won the NFC North with a 10-6 record and have reloaded a couple of spots so that the offense will be better. The Browns secured the AFC North cellar with a 4-12 record that sent the coaches packing and yet did not do much to change the personnel other than getting rid of Kellen Winslow since he was the only productive receiver last year. The Vikings are no great road team but the Browns were only 3-5 at home last year.

Minnesota Vikings (0-0)
Homefield: Metrodome
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 @CLE - - -
2 @DET - - -
3 SF - - -
4 GB - - -
5 @STL - - -
6 BAL - - -
7 @PIT - - -
8 @GB - - -
9 BYE - - -
10 DET - - -
11 SEA - - -
12 CHI - - -
13 @ARI - - -
14 CIN - - -
15 @CAR - - -
16 @CHI - - -
17 NYG - - -
MIN @ CLE Rush Catch Pass
QB Brett Favre     220,1
RB Adrian Peterson 120,2    
TE Vishante Shiancoe   30  
WR Bernard Berrian   40  
WR Sidney Rice   40,1  
WR Percy Harvin   50  
PK Ryan Longwell 1 FG 3 XP  

Pregame Notes: So he's playing. Thanks Minnesota, thanks for keeping the soap opera around Brett Favre alive and well. It wasn't enough to have the premier running back in Adrian Peterson. Now the Vikings have traded away tomorrow for a shot at a crown today. A plan that would be heartily endorsed by 31 other teams (though most would not include Favre as a part of the solution).

The move to Favre could be the final part of the puzzle The defense is good and occasionally really good. The rushing game is outstanding. There are nice weapons for receivers if only a quarterback could get them the ball. Maybe Favre is the answer. Besides, in three more weeks we get to see Favre play against the Packers. And then in week eight - he plays in Lambeau.

I'm already sick of the announcers.

Quarterback: Brett Favre may have one more year in the tank or at least compared to Tarvaris Jackson, he'll seem like he does. Perhaps it is a deep need to make his old team look bad by going to a divisional rival. Maybe he just loves the game. Maybe he just wants to bury his records more so that pesky Manning kid will eventually give up.

In the end, it only matters that Favre will be the best quarterback in Minnesota since before the Love Boat set sail. Opening the season against the visiting Browns will make it look like all is now right in the world of the Vikings.

Running Backs: Adrian Peterson carried the ball 363 times and added 21 catches for a total of 384 touches - more than any other running back in the league. His 1769 rush yards were also tops for the league. Pertinent here is that he gained over 100 rushing yards in half of his road games and against softer defenses like the Browns he mostly had monster games.

Expect no less this week opening the season up against a rebuilding team and a soft defense. I'm not going to project for Taylor, but there could be some slop left for him to have a decent game as well.

Wide Receivers: With a quarterback like Favre (or Rosenfels I would contend), this unit could make some noise this year. Bernard Berrian had almost 1000 yards and seven scores last year and should do no less with #4 around. Sidney Rice has promise that Favre may bring out if somehow there are enough passes to go around on a team with Adrian Peterson. And lastly, Percy Harvin has the look of a rookie that can make a difference if only in an inconsistent and yet wildly exciting on occasion sort of way.

None of that will really matter that much this week since the Browns won't pressure them to throw much. But Berrian in particular should still have a decent game here if only to get some reps with Favre.

Tight Ends: Vishante Shiancoe was really only a decent tight end for last year but when he turned in seven catches for 136 yards and two scores in week 16, he won more than a few championships for his owners. Never mind that he never had even half that in any other game.

This week, Shiancoe won't need to be a big part. Expect minimal numbers here.

Gaining Fantasy Points MIN 20 10 22 9 10 8
Preventing Fantasy Points CLE 11 26 21 5 7 25

Cleveland Browns (0-0)
Homefield: Cleveland Stadium
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 MIN - - -
2 @DEN - - -
3 @BAL - - -
4 CIN - - -
5 @BUF - - -
6 @PIT - - -
7 GB - - -
8 @CHI - - -
9 BYE - - -
10 BAL - - -
11 @DET - - -
12 @CIN - - -
13 SD - - -
14 PIT - - -
15 @KC - - -
16 OAK - - -
17 JAC - - -
CLE vs MIN Rush Catch Pass
QB Brady Quinn     180
RB Jamal Lewis 60 10  
TE Robert Royal   10  
WR Braylon Edwards   70  
WR Josh Cribs   40  
WR Mike Furrey   30  
PK Phil Dawson 2 FG    

Pregame Notes: Eric Mangini comes over from the Jets to take over and he's tabbed Brian Daboll as the offensive coordinator. Daboll served as the quarterbacks coach for the Jets and was a Patriots receivers coach before that. This offense won't be much different than what we saw with the Jets last year and even that is not a big change from what the Browns already were.

Getting an offensive punch is paramount in Cleveland where the Browns ranked in the bottom two for completions (238), passing yards (2380) and passing touchdowns (11) in 2008. Problem is, they did not get anyone new to accomplish a turnaround. In face, they allowed their best receiver in Kellen Winslow to leave without being replaced.

Quarterback: While as of this writing no starting quarterback has been officially named, if it was anyone besides Brady Quinn it would be a shock. Derek Anderson has never outplayed Quinn and doesn't fit nearly as well into the new offense anyway. This could be another long year though so Quinn may not be doing his career any major favors but the secrecy that HC Eric Mangini likes to wrap himself up in is just pointless on this one.

That all said, the visiting Vikings secondary is not nearly as good away from home so Quinn could have a decent game if he can figure out who to use with Winslow gone and Braylon Edwards rather all alone now. Expect a lesser effort this week to be safe.

Running Backs: Jamal Lewis remains the starter here despite rampant rumors that he was going to be cut at the 53 man roster purge. He made the cut but his fantasy value has never been lower. He managed to barely eclipse the 1000 yard mark last year but only averaged 3.6 yards per carry and scored just four times. He's another big back (5'11", 245) who hits the 30 year wall face first.

The Browns drafted little known James Davis out of Clemson with their sixth round pick and appear to have found gold. Davis has been electric in camp and impressive in preseason games. The only question left to answer is when will Davis take over for Lewis? Jerome Harrison has already lost the #2 job and old man Lewis is all that is in the way of a starting gig for Davis.

This week, stay away from the Browns if you can and certainly Lewis holds little promise against one of the better rushing defenses in the league.

Wide Receivers: This has not been pretty since Braylon Edwards showed up. Edwards enjoyed a big year in 2007 when he had 80 catches for 1289 yards and 16 touchdowns in the magic year for Cleveland when they had a wonderfully easy schedule. But he fell back to only 873 yards in 2008 and without Winslow or anyone else to concern defenses, Edwards will be a marked man all season long. There is a chance that he and Quinn and mesh well enough to still produce good stats, but until anyone else can help out, Edwards is going to have a tough time being the all-everything in the passing game.

Josh Cribbs is the starting flanker though he is having a contract dispute and has threatened not to play. He will if only because he has only had 16 catches in his four year career and scored only once. He was used 29 times on end arounds last year so he does have a role but playing as a true receiver will be all new.

Mike Furrey will also figure in at least for now, The two rookies drafted in April - Brian Robiskie and Mohamed Massaquoi - remain down the depth chart for now.

Overall a pretty green group other than Edwards who is the only player worth starting among these receivers. He'll turn in some moderate numbers this week thanks to a volume of passes but it will be interesting to see how well he and Quinn mesh. This is a very good test but realistically a new offense that is being installed. It is bound to be sloppy.

Tight Ends: The Browns allowed Kellen Winslow to leave and take 43 catches for 428 yards with him. Winslow missed several games last year but had over 80 catches in each of the previous two seasons. The Browns have done nothing to replace his role and instead tabbed Robert Royal to play an ordinary tight end.

Gaining Fantasy Points CLE 32 29 32 14 22 19
Preventing Fantasy Points MIN 8 4 9 16 16 31

The Huddle
~ 2009 ~
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