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

Prediction: CLE 6, DEN 13

Saturday Update: Jamal Lewis had a full day of practice on Friday and is ready to start. Davis remains questionable and may be held out, especially since Harrison is slated to get playing time this week. Moreno is listed as probable on the injury report but he's had full workouts this week and says he feels completely healthy. He is a safe play and needs to start wresting away playing time from Correll Buckhalter starting now.

Friday Update: Jamal Lewis has been limited in practice because of a sprained neck but is still expected to play. James Davis was held out on Wednesday and then was limited on Thursday because of his shoulder sprain but still may play. Jerome Harrison finally had two straight full practices and may be ready to play this week. No need to change any projections yet.

Knowshon Moreno will probably appear on the injury report tomorrow but had full practices this week.

Here is a messy game to call since the Browns actually played decent last week all except for that whole Adrian Peterson thing while the Broncos played very poorly and then receiver a gift from the heavens to pull off the win. Both teams sport new offenses and defenses and coaches. This is actually a replay game with the visiting Broncos winning 34-30 in Cleveland last season. This is now a coin flip and likely to have some ugly playing.

Cleveland Browns (0-1)
Homefield: Cleveland Stadium
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 MIN 20-34 +3.5 40
2 @DEN - +3 37
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 at DEN Rush Catch Pass
QB Brady Quinn     180
RB Jamal Lewis 50 30  
TE Robert Royal   50  
TE Steve Heiden   20  
WR Braylon Edwards   30  
WR Josh Cribs   30  
WR Mike Furrey   50  
PK Phil Dawson 2 FG    
Pregame Notes: Another year, another brutal schedule. This week will be easier than most but between a lack of decent pass targets and an offensive line that just gave up five sacks, the Browns are not in a good position to play catch-up in games. The problem is that they will almost always have to do exactly that and if the rush defense does not improve, it will be a very long season.

Quarterback: The season opened with Brady Quinn as the starter and his 205 yard, one touchdown effort was average at best. He also lost a fumble and threw an interception. The biggest problem with the passing game is now Braylon Edwards is all alone and the defenses will be accosting him on a regular basis - why would they worry about anyone else? The loss of Kellen Winslow was met with a shrug of the shoulders and that's going to prove costly for this passing game.

Quinn was the starter in week ten when the Broncos visited last season and passed for 239 yards and two scores. Problem this time is that Winslow had ten catches for 111 yards and both touchdowns in that game. A little math says this won't be nearly so productive.

Running Backs: A mild surprise was Jamal Lewis gaining 57 yards on 11 carries and catching three passes for 47 yards. But really what was the defense going to worry about? Lewis scorching a trail to the endzone? James Davis played briefly with four carries covering only five yards but left with a shoulder sprain. The offensive line did perform better than expected in the rushing game but Lewis is hardly one to rely on for a fantasy start.

Lewis gained 60 yards on 19 carries and scored once against the visiting Broncos last season.

Wide Receivers: Braylon Edwards had five passes thrown his way but only caught one of them for 12 measly yards. It appears the worst case is true - without Winslow there, the defenses will load up against Edwards who is the only true weapon on the team. Mike Furrey actually led the wideout with only four catches for 28 yards.

The best wideout against the Broncos last year was Donte Stallworth who had just 48 yards on four receptions. Edwards only managed one catch for 15 yards. Expect a low game here from Edwards since the Broncos are certain to use Champ Bailey on the only player they have to worry about. That could mean more for the other wideouts but then again - it didn't last week.

Tight Ends: Robert Royal was the replacement for WInslow and he did lead the team with four catches for 60 yards and one score which was the first offensive touchdowns for the Browns since November 17th of last year. It came with only 26 seconds left to play just to show how meaningless it was. Steve Heiden had two catches as well since the wideouts were usually well covered last week.

Winslow had a monster game against the Broncos in 2008 when he had two scores and 111 yards on ten catches. This time around expect another score to a tight end and mediocre yardage as well.

Gaining Fantasy Points CLE 19 24 28 5 11 5
Preventing Fantasy Points    DEN 6 20 16 5 3 6

Denver Broncos (1-0)
Homefield: Invesco Field
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 @CIN 12-7 +5 42.5
2 CLE - -3 38
3 @OAK - - -
4 DAL - - -
5 NE - - -
6 @SD - - -
7 BYE - - -
8 @BAL - - -
9 PIT - - -
10 @WAS - - -
11 SD - - -
12 NYG - - -
13 @KC - - -
14 @IND - - -
15 OAK - - -
16 @PHI - - -
17 KC - - -
DEN vs CLE Rush Catch Pass
QB Kyle Orton     170
RB Knowshon Moreno 60    
RB Correll Buckhalter 80,1 20  
TE Tony Scheffler   30  
WR Brandon Marshall   50  
WR Eddie Royal   30  
WR Brandon Stokley   30  
PK Matt Prater 2 FG 1 XP  

Pregame Notes: Well. It was a win. It was exciting for Denver fans who were still watching. It was why we watch every game until the final whistle. The 87-yard touchdown from the batted ball made a huge difference in the ball game and really cloaked some inadequacies that need to be addressed sooner than later. Still it was a salve to a franchise that had been the recipient of mostly negative attention this summer. With Cleveland and Oakland up next, there is a chance that this team could open 3-0. Yeah - wow is right.

Quarterback: The debut of Kyle Orton in Denver was shocking but not so much for the improbable touchdown that saved the game, but because of the announcer who said "Orton's play is not pretty but he wins games". Wow. Thanks Dad.

Up until that final pass that had as much to do with a hotdog vendor as Orton, the Broncos had passed for 156 yards on 16 completions. And three sacks. Just like in Chicago - 'gasp!' - Orton had problems connecting with his wideouts though in fairness this is a new scheme being installed and that affected the whole offense. Up until the final pass, Orton had completed nine passes to his wideouts for 60 yards or 6.7 yards per catch.

Here is where the Broncos may miss Jay Cutler who went to Cleveland last year and reeled off 447 yards and three touchdowns. Expect Orton to end up a bit short of that mark. Like maybe half as much with some luck on his side.

Running Backs: The first running back drafted this year got his turn last week but Knowshon Moreno only managed to gain 19 yards on eight carries against the Bengals. He was outplayed by Correll Buckhalter who also had eight runs but gained 46 yards. Just for good measure, Lamont Jordan (2-5) and Peyton Hillis (1-2) also had a little work. This is a true committee backfield that has over-the-hill Buckhalter and Moreno as the main runners.

Moreno was hampered by his knee sprain and was not nearly as sharp as he was before the injury. He'll get better each week and this one could be the break out if he is healthy enough to take advantage. The Browns gave up 180 yards and three scores to Adrian Peterson - even a drop back from that level leaves plenty of fantasy points to gain. Unfortunately, the Broncos are going to share carries in all cases but both Buckhalter and Moreno are good starts this week. The Browns on the road are going to be soft against the run and the Broncos passing attack so far is not going to close the deal.

The Broncos had 92 rushing yards and one score in Cleveland last season.

Wide Receivers: It's a new world. The routes are far shorter and the ball has much less zip on it. Brandon Marshall has suffered some from being suspended and not gaining chemistry with Orton. He had four catches for 27 yards against the Bengals - that's more like a tight end. Eddie Royal was no better with two receptions for 18 yards. The entire wideout crew had minimal numbers to open the season other than Brandon Stokley who caught the batted ball and nearly doubled the passing stats. WInning the game is a great thing but underneath that has to be concern about how slowly the passing game is coming together. Unless the Bengals have a world class secondary (did you smirk too?), there's plenty of work left to do here.

Marshall gained 89 yards on six receptions with one score against the Browns last year but Royal led the team with six catches for 164 yards and a touchdown. That's seems astronomic for now. Expect more pedestrian numbers this week.

Tight Ends: The tight ends were expected to play a bigger role given Orton's penchant for Greg Olsen last year and Daniel Graham's 40 yards on three catches were tops until the Stokley catch. Tony Scheffler had a 29 yard catch for longest on the day until Stokley.

The tight ends had a big game against the Browns last season with three of them combining for 10 catches for 178 yards and a score. Probably not going to happen that way again but figure the tight ends for at least mediocre production.

Gaining Fantasy Points DEN 18 28 12 16 22 12
Preventing Fantasy Points    CLE 4 31 11 8 31 25

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