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

Prediction: CIN 17, SD 23

Thursday Night Update: The death of Chris Henry will have some impact on the Bengals this week but perhaps less so since he was not currently with the team since he was on injured reserve and not at team facilities for a while. That could prove a motivating factor to some and a distraction to others. It is always difficult to gauge. In most instances, it is a distraction or at least a nonfactor. I am not changing the projections but it interjects both risk and upside to the Bengals players.

The Bengals dropped to 9-4 with their loss in Minnesota but are still 9-4 with a two game lead over the Ravens. The loss drops them to the #3 seed and that will be hard to improve. The Bengals are 4-2 on the road. The Chargers are on an eight game winning streak and now have assumed that #2 seed from the Bengals and are also two games in the lead of their division. The Chargers are 4-2 at home.

Cincinnati Bengals (9-4)
Homefield: Paul Brown Stadium
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 DEN 7-12 -5 42.5
2 @GB 31-24 +9 42
3 PIT 23-20 +4.5 37
4 @CLE 23-20 -5.5 38
5 @BAL 17-14 +8.5 42
6 HOU 17-28 -5.5 46
7 CHI 45-10 -1 42.5
8 BYE - - -
9 BAL 17-7 +3 43.5
10 @PIT 18-12 +6.5 41
11 @OAK 17-20 -9 36
12 CLE 16-7 -12 39.5
13 DET 23-13 +13.5 42
14 @MIN 10-30 +6 42.5
15 @SD - +7 44
16 KC - - -
17 @NYJ - - -
CIN at SD Rush Catch Pass
QB Carson Palmer     180,1
RB Cedric Benson 80,1 10  
WR Chad Ochocinco   40,1  
WR Laveranues Coles   30  
WR Andre Caldwell   40  
PK Shayne Graham 1 FG 2 XP  
Pregame Notes: The Bengals are not ending nearly as well as they began. The defense has kept he Bengals in games but the offense - particularly passing - has really fallen off and the Bengals have remained below 20 points in most games. The defense had been outstanding until last week and now hits the road again to face an even better offense in San Diego. The Bengals have a two game lead over the Ravens and the tie breaker so only need to win one more game to clinch. that can happen at home against the Chiefs next week.

Quarterback: After hitting his season best game with five scores in week seven, Carson Palmer has only thrown for four touchdowns over the next six weeks and never more than one per game. He has not been better than 220 yards as well. He still has been good with turnovers and the Bengals have won games but not because of Palmer. He has become nothing more than a game manager and incapable of posting big stats when the situation calls for it. Palmer claims to be completely healthy but his stats suggest otherwise.

The Chargers at home have been outstanding against quarterbacks with only one throwing for more than 230 yards. Expect another mediocre showing by Palmer.

Running Backs: Bernard Scott may be back this week but that doesn't mean he'll get any work since Larry Johnson has been just as good. The supposed plan to share carries with Johnson never happened since Cedric Benson had 16 runs for 96 yards in Minnesota and Johnson only accounted for three carries for four yards - about the same as his previous week. Benson is clearly the horse this offense rides and when he doesn't score, the offense suffers. Benson has six touchdowns on the season but none since week nine thanks in part to his two and a half games missed due to injury.

Benson should remain the full time back at least until the Bengals clinch their division.

The Chargers rush defense has been very sound in San Diego where no runner has topped 93 rushing yards though five touchdowns have been scored. Benson won't likely break 100 yards here but he should have moderate to good yardage since he is not sharing and a chance for one rushing score.

Wide Receivers: The depressed passing numbers for the last month or more has seen Laveranues Coles lose every shred of fantasy value with no scores since week six and not more than two catches per game for the last month. He had no catches versus the Vikings. Andre Caldwell has produced even less. Chad Ochocinco is the only productive member of this pass attack and has a score in each of the last two games. His yardage has greatly varied from week to week though, from 137 versus the Lions in week 13 to only 27 yards on three catches in Minnesota last week.

The Chargers have only allowed four passing scores in San Diego to a wide receiver and all but the Eagles were held to no more than 70 yards in the game. I like the chance that Ochocinco eventually scores here but his yardage won't likely be much and the other two wide receivers are untouchable for a fantasy team. Either Ochocinco scores or no receiver likely scores.

Tight Ends: No fantasy value.

Gaining Fantasy Points CIN 18 23 12 30 21 9
Preventing Fantasy Points SD 10 22 13 14 16 2

San Diego Chargers (10-3)
Homefield: Qualcomm Stadium
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 @OAK 24-20 -9.5 43
2 BAL 26-31 -5 40.5
3 MIA 23-13 -6 42
4 @PIT 28-38 +6.5 43
5 BYE - - -
6 DEN 23-34 -3.5 44
7 @KC 37-7 -5.5 44
8 OAK 24-16 -16 41.5
9 @NYG 21-20 +4 47.5
10 PHI 31-23 -1 47
11 @DEN 32-3 -6.5 41.5
12 KC 43-14 -13 44.5
13 @CLE 30-23 -13.5 42.5
14 @DAL 20-17 +3.5 48.5
15 CIN - -7 44
16 @TEN - - -
17 WAS - - -
SD vs CIN Rush Catch Pass
QB Philip Rivers     250,1
RB Ladainian Tomlinson 50,1 10  
TE Antonio Gates   80,1  
WR Malcolm Floyd   50  
WR Vincent Jackson   70  
WR Legedu Naanee   20  
PK Nate Kaeding 3 FG 2 XP  

Pregame Notes: The Chargers are on an eight game winning streak that will see them at least favored in the final three games with very realistic chances of winning them. That means that they will end up with 13-3 record and the AFC West title despite starting the season 2-3. Playing in Tennessee will be a challenge but it will also be their only potential bad weather game in the remaining schedule.

Quarterback: Philip Rivers still has scored in every game this year and in these last three weeks had over 270 passing yards. Rivers seems to get a little better each week while other quarterbacks are suffering normal late season slides (AKA Carson Palmer). Playing at home has meant slightly less productive games because the Chargers were ahead on the score board and the rushing attack was scoring well. On the road, Rivers has been big out of necessity but at home he is only as good as he needs to be.

The Bengals have only allowed six passing touchdowns per road opponent this season and the last four away games have seen their opponent pass for less than 200 yards. Rivers is always going to get you good, the question is if he delivers great. This week the Bengals bring a better defense and should limit him to more moderate yardage and at least one passing score if not two. The Bengals secondary is a step up from what the Chargers have been facing lately.

Running Backs: There is no denying the major step down that LaDainian Tomlinson has incurred in yardage this year with no games over 100 rushing yards and rarely being used for more than one catch if even that. But Tomlinson has scored in each of the last five games and has ten touchdowns on the season. He still commands the lion's share of the workload and left Darren Sproles with usually seven or so runs that even he has not been able to do much with this season.

The Bengals have been very good against the run and allowed only four runners to score this season. Only one runner has topped 100 rushing yards against them and that was a freak game by Jerome Harrison. With Tomlinson-Lite playing, expect the same mediocre rushing yards, maybe one catch and probably one rushing score.

Wide Receivers: After four straight games with no scores and never more than 56 yards, Vincent Jackson finally got back on track against the Cowboys when he turned in seven receptions for 120 yards. Malcolm Floyd has been very consistent but only with around 40 yards in most games and Legedu Naanee went from scoring in two straight games to only having one catch over the last three weeks. Whatever good happens here goes through Jackson first.

The Bengals are one of the best teams against wide receivers. They have only allowed six scores to the position over the entire season and typically low yardage. But the Bengals have also been dominating over fellow AFC North teams and less so away from the division. I like Jackson to still have at least a decent showing here but unlikely that he will have a big game. He is overdue for a touchdown but that is hardly reason to expect it.

Tight Ends: Antonio Gates only has five touchdowns this year but three came over the last three weeks and he recorded two 100+ efforts over that time. Gates should be a safe bet this week since the Bengals have been so good against wideouts and yet much less effective versus tight ends. He has averaged almost 80 yards per game and that's an appropriate mark to expect this week.

Gaining Fantasy Points SD 10 9 19 3 1 8
Preventing Fantasy Points CIN 11 8 4 15 4 9

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