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David Dorey
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The Huddle
WEEK 6
~ 2009 ~
Season Ticket
Sunday
Sunday
Sunday
Sunday Late
Bye Week
DAL
Monday
MIA
SF
updated*
IND

Prediction: CLE 6, PIT 27

Late Update: Parker had a full day on Friday and will play but Mendenhall remains the primary back. Mendehall was removed from the injury report and is past his "flu-like" symptoms. Jamal Lewis had a full day of practice on Friday and will be playing this week.

Early Update: Willie Parker is back to full practices and has been with the first team while Rashard Mendenhall has been out with the flu. Mendenhall is expected back on Friday but Parker will get at least some playing time. I am changing the projections slightly to reflect Parker being back. Mendenhall is likely to remain the primary back but the exact ratio of sharing will be determined during the game according to OC Bruce Arians.

Jamal Lewis was limited in practice on Wednesday to rest his hamstring but was back for a full day on Thursday. He is expected to play this week.

The Browns come off the most boring win in recent history when they beat the Bills 6-3 to finally get their first win. The Steelers have won their last two games and at 3-2 do not have the luxury of looking past an easy win like this. The Steelers swept the Browns last season, winning 10-6 in Cleveland and later 31-0 in Pittsburgh. What could be more fun for the hometown crowd?

Cleveland Browns (1-4)
Homefield: Cleveland Stadium
Grass
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 MIN 20-34 +3.5 40
2 @DEN 6-27 +3 37
3 @BAL 3-34 +13 38.5
4 CIN 20-23 +5.5 38
5 @BUF 6-3 +6 40
6 @PIT - +14 38
7 GB - - -
8 @CHI - - -
9 BYE - - -
10 BAL - - -
11 @DET - - -
12 @CIN - - -
13 SD - - -
14 PIT - - -
15 @KC - - -
16 OAK - - -
17 JAC - - -
CLE at PIT Rush Catch Pass
QB Derek Anderson     130
RB Jamal Lewis 40    
RB Jerome Harrison 30 20  
WR M. Massaquoi   30  
WR Chansi Stuckey   20  
WR Mike Furrey   20  
PK Billy Cundiff 2 FG    
Pregame Notes: The Browns finally won a game but it was the ugliest win this year to be sure. Getting that victory will help since the next four games are murderous and the rest of the schedule will be tough to compete against other than the Raiders in week 16 if they are still playing games and not just forfeiting. The loss of Braylon Edwards is going to hurt and on Monday night, Edwards looked like a man no longer playing in shackles.

Quarterback: Amazing. It was windy but still to see Derek Anderson complete 2 of 17 passes for 23 yards and one interception is mind boggling. Trent Edwards passed for 152 yards and completed 50% of his passes in that game. But evidently one of the two completions was impressive enough that the Browns have already named Anderson as the starter again this week. How much worse could it be starting in Pittsburgh instead of Buffalo?

Bruce Gradkowski was the quarterback in week 17 when the Browns played in Pittsburgh and he, very honestly, passed for 18 yards that day. So yes, it really could get worse.

Running Backs: Jamal Lewis exploited the Bills injuries to the defensive line and linebackers to rush 31 times for 117 yards and somehow never score a touchdown. Lewis has never scored this year nor has Jerome Harrison though both runners have one decent yardage game and almost nothing else.

Lewis gained 94 yards on 23 carries in Pittsburgh last year but only had 38 yards on 19 runs in the home game earlier in the year.

Expect the Browns rushing game to be stuffed this week and leave Lewis on your bench. There is no pass to defend and the Steelers are at home.

Wide Receivers: With Braylon Edwards shipped off, the Browns obviously had no passing game since they only had 23 yards to show for 17 passes. Mohamed Massaquoi fell back to earth after his big week four when he had six passes thrown to him and only caught one for 16 yards (leading receiver with that catch though). Chansi Stuckey played and had no catches.

None of these wideouts would be attractive to start anyway and in Pittsburgh is even worse. If you went and acquired Massaquoi, you are really going to miss Edwards being there to attract attention.

Tight Ends: Anderson has used his tight ends at least enough to get a score from Steve Heiden in week four but there is no sense hoping for any progress here this week.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points CLE 31 31 30 25 19 19
Preventing Fantasy Points    PIT 21 1 21 26 3 30


Pittsburgh Steelers (3-2)
Homefield: Heinz Field
Grass
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 TEN 13-10 -5 37
2 @CHI 14-17 -3 37.5
3 @CIN 20-23 -4.5 37
4 SD 38-28 -6.5 43
5 @DET 28-20 -10.5 44
6 CLE - -14 38
7 MIN - - -
8 BYE - - -
9 @DEN - - -
10 CIN - - -
11 @KC - - -
12 @BAL - - -
13 OAK - - -
14 @CLE - - -
15 GB - - -
16 BAL - - -
17 @MIA - - -
PIT vs CLE Rush Catch Pass
QB Ben Roethlisberger     250,2
RB R. Mendenhall 90,1 10  
RB Willie Parker 40    
TE Heath Miller   40  
WR Hines Ward   100,1  
WR Santonio Holmes   50  
WR Mike Wallace   40,1  
PK Jeff Reed 2 FG 3 XP  

Pregame Notes: The Steelers enter their biggest mismatch of the year but know on the other side is a string of important and tough games waiting. The Vikings come in week seven and after the bye, the Steelers are on the road where they have lost twice and visit Denver before coming back for their rematch against the Bengals. There are plenty of reasons why the Steelers would overlook the Browns but would it matter anyway>

Quarterback: Ben Roethlisberger continues his solid season with a score in every game and five touchdowns over the last two games. He has never thrown for less than 221 yards and at home has been over 330 yards in both efforts (TEN and SD). The rushing game will work this week but that won't stop Roethlisberger from having some fun.

Roethlisberger only passed for 179 yards and a score at most against the Browns last year.

The Browns had allowed a touchdown pass in each game until last week in Buffalo and the main reason why some teams pass poorly against the Browns is because they are weaker against the run. Look for a solid effort here from Big Ben in a game that could grow big but probably won't/

Running Backs: Willie Parker is likely to miss this week as well because of his turf toe and that is a shame since it will be one of the easier games of the year. Rashard Mendenhall had his big breakout game in week four against the Chargers and had a respectable 77 rush yards and a score in Detroit last week. He should make this the trifecta with the Browns showing up.

Parker gained 105 yards in Cleveland and 116 yards and a score when the Browns came to Pittsburgh in 2008.

Cleveland has already given up eight rushing touchdowns so expect at least one for Mendenhall if not two. The Steelers have a habit of not blowing people out so Mendenhall may get slowed at the end of the game just to kill the clock.

Wide Receivers: Hines Ward remains the possession receiver here and has been over 80 yards in all but one game including two over 100 yards - both at home. Santonio Holmes is stuck at around 50 yards and no score each week while the rookie Mike Wallace has his first NFL touchdown last week and has been at 50 or more yards since week three when his role was expanded.

Ward gained 70 yards on six catches when the Browns visited last year. Holmes only managed 31 yards on three catches.

Ward seems like a lock for a good game and a score in this one though the Browns secondary has only allowed one player to top 100 receiving yards. I love Ward in this game and the other two wideouts should end up sharing a score as well. I will credit Wallace again but the confidence level is lower on him.

Tight Ends: Heath Miller is off to the best start of his career and has scored three times in the last two weeks. He;s bee worth around 50 yards or more in most games and could always be a factor in the endzone. I considered MIller for the other passing score but the Browns have been pretty good against tight ends so far.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points PIT 4 11 7 7 24 27
Preventing Fantasy Points    CLE 9 31 19 8 25 27

The Huddle
WEEK 6
~ 2009 ~
Season Ticket
Sunday
Sunday
Sunday
Sunday Late
Bye Week
DAL
Monday
MIA
SF
IND
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