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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
Player Projections by Team
Game Predictions Summary
The Huddle
November 8, 2006
Season Ticket
Sunday Late
Sunday night
GB at MIN NYJ at NE     Updated

Prediction: SD 27, CIN 24

San Diego ranks #1 in the NFL with 248 points scored and they'll need to continue that high production this week heading into Cincinnati. The Chargers are tied with Denver at 6-2 and have that road game looming next week - hard not to want to look past this week but the Bengals are better than their 4-4 record suggests and are hitting the "circle the wagons" point of their season now that they have fallen two games behind the Ravens and lost their last two games. This is a coin toss game to be sure and relies entirely on which Bengals show up this week. The Chargers are a given.

Update: Rudi Johnson was added to the injury report as probable with a thigh injury but was held out of practice on Thursday. I am not changing his projections but Johnson owners should be aware that his thigh is at least somewhat an issue currently.

San Diego Chargers (6-2)
1 27-0 @OAK 10 --- @CIN
2 40-7 TEN 11 --- @DEN
3 Open Bye 12 --- OAK
4 13-16 @BAL 13 --- @BUF
5 23-13 PIT 14 --- DEN
6 48-19 @SF 15 --- KC
7 27-30 @KC 16 --- @SEA
8 38-24 STL 17 --- ARZ
9 32-25 CLE - - MON
SDC at CIN Rush Catch Pass
QB Philip Rivers 0 0 240,2
RB L. Tomlinson 90,1 40 0
TE Antonio Gates 0 60,2 0
WR Keenan McCardell 0 50 0
WR Eric Parker 0 60 0
WR Vincent Jackson 0 20 0
PK Nate Kaeding 3 FG 2 XP -
Pregame Notes: For the want of a field goal in Baltimore and Kansas City, the Chargers could be 8-0 right now and have the #1 scoring team in the NFL with 248 points so far this season. They have been averaging about 35 points per game for the last month though their defense has become a bit less stout as the season wears on and the trash time grows even bigger in every game. The swap to Rivers has not changed a thing and Tomlinson is running better than ever.

Quarterback: For the first time this season, Philip Rivers failed to throw a touchdown in the win over the Browns though he still had 211 yards and the Chargers scored 32 points anyway. Rivers has been above 200 passing yards in the last six games and can light it up when the need arises. His last two road games were both gems when he faced KC (266 yds, 2 TD) and SF (334, 2 TD) and those scores happened when Tomlinson was racking up obscene totals as well. It is the sign of a good team and a good quarterback - he does better on the road because the need is greater and at home, the wins come without a big passing effort.

Running Backs: Forget the little lull that LaDainian Tomlinson had a few weeks ago, he has been unstoppable for a month now and has racked up 11 touchdowns in just the last four games. But Tomlinson away from San Diego is usually much less than when he is at home and the last two road trips only had rushing yardage of 71 and 66 yards. In those cases, Tomlinson just turns up the receiving numbers and he has not failed to score at least once in any road game this year.

Wide Receivers: For such a high scoring team, it sure doesn't trickle down to the wideouts. Neither Eric Parker nor Keenan McCardell has a touchdown this season and neither has turned in more than 88 yards in any game. Parker has taken the lead for this crew with more consistency and higher games, but that still only amounts to marginal fantasy value since no touchdowns are ever included. McCardell is winding down a long career but at least Parker is starting his off - albeit slowly.

Tight Ends: Oops. Antonio Gates threw in a clunker with a season low 22 yards on two catches last week because everyone mostly watched Tomlinson take over the game. The good news is that three of his four touchdowns have been on the road as well as his best yardage games.

Match Against the Defense: The Bengals at home have been pretty good against the run but by no means great. They also have not faced many decent rushing attacks there and have been dinged by the Patriots in week four to the tune of 192 rushing yards and three touchdowns. Expect at least one score from Tomlinson here with enough yardage for a good game.

Rivers faces a very odd sort of secondary. They are currently the best against wideouts and yet almost the worst against tight ends who have already scored five times against them. Mr. Gates, kick the dirt from your cleats and get ready to rumble this week. The Bengals also have benched CB Tory James last week but he may be back. Doesn't really matter though since the Chargers are going to rely on Tomlinson and Gates the most anyway - their biggest weaknesses.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM    QB   RB   WR   TE   PK  DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points SD 17 1 25 4 2 4
Preventing Fantasy Points CIN 23 21 1 29 15 15


Cincinnati Bengals (4-4)
1 23-10 @KC 10 --- SD
2 34-17 CLE 11 --- @NO
3 28-20 @PIT 12 --- @CLE
4 13-38 NE 13 --- BAL
5 Open Bye 14 --- OAK
6 13-14 @TB 15 --- @IND
7 17-14 CAR 16 --- @DEN
8 27-29 ATL 17 --- PIT
9 20-26 @BAL - MON THU
CIN vs SD Rush Catch Pass
QB Carson Palmer 0 0 240,2
RB Rudi Johnson 60,1 0 0
TE Reggie Kelly 0 10 0
WR Chad Johnson 0 60 0
WR Houshmandzadeh 0 80,1 0
WR Chris Henry 0 70,1 0
PK Shayne Graham 1 FG 3 XP -

Pregame Notes: The Bengals fall to 4-4 and have lost their last two games. Now they are fighting internal turmoil with Chad Johnson livid and Carson Palmer wondering where his pass blocking has gone from last year. Rudi Johnson is not longer the automaton rushing the ball and the defense seems to continually be just not quite good enough. More frustrating than anything is that the three last losses came by less than a touchdown difference each time and that too plays heavily into the psyche here. Couple in Palmer playing more like an average quarterback and the team is struggling to regain their swagger.

Quarterback: While Carson Palmer has thrown for at least one score in six of the last seven games, he has only been above two scores once this season and has only one game over 266 passing yards. The connection with Chad Johnson has been severed for reasons unknown and no other receivers seem to matter outside of T.J. Houshmandzadeh and Chris Henry (when he is not talking with his lawyers). Even the tight ends have disappeared from this offense and Chris Perry is back and yet never used as a receiver.

Running Backs: Rudi Johnson is back to scoring again with touchdowns in each of the last two weeks but his rushing yardage rarely amounts to much and he has almost no role in the passing game. Chris Perry is back now but unlike last season, he had only five catches in the three games played for a total of just 38 yards. He had no catches last week. Problem too is that the Bengals are not sticking with the run either since Johnson has only once had at least 20 carries over the last six games played. It isn't that the defenses are scheming to stop the run first, it is that it just is not working or getting enough focus to get on track. The absence of Perry in the passing game is even more curious.

Wide Receivers: Chad Johnson has gone from ranking third in yardage last year (1432) to currently coming in 6th with just 483 yards (between Lee Evans and Keyshawn Johnson). He not only has not topped 100 yards yet this year, he has only two scores on the season and comes off a 32 yard effort against the Ravens which wasn't even his worst of the year. Johnson is seething now. He is still continually blanketed by the secondary and Palmer is not willing to force a pass into him.

T.J. Houshmandzadeh already has five touchdowns this season and three in the last four games. He is far more consistently used than Johnson and even he has not been above 70 yards in the last three games. Chris Henry has actually been the best Bengals wideout lately with three scores and at least 70 yards in the last three games. Sort of like the roles have all reversed here.

Tight Ends: While Palmer could use more targets, he just never looks this way more than once or twice per game.

Match Against the Defense: Against rushing attacks such as this, the Chargers have been very good this year even on the road. There is a chance that Johnson could score once but no running back has turned in more than 84 rushing yards to the visiting Chargers this year other than Larry Johnson. Expect another ho-hum effort from Johnson with marginal fantasy value unless he scores.

Palmer goes against a good but not great secondary but the problem is that the Chargers have been weaker against tight ends and the Bengals just do not use theirs. They have been softer against running backs as receivers as well but the Bengals have not used them that way as well. Expect a couple of scores here though since the Bengals have to give it 100% this week or risk crushing their playoff hopes.

CB Quentin Jammer takes Houshmandzadeh which has been the side more exploited and Chris Henry has a nice shot at scoring yet again this week. We've all been waiting for Chad Johnson to catch fire and he probably will this week because his match-up looks as tough as it has been in a while. The Bengals are a little tougher to nail down for forecasts because they are going to start trying new things in order to get back to winning.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM    QB   RB   WR   TE   PK  DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points CIN 16 23 6 27 6 26
Preventing Fantasy Points SD 9 10 6 25 8 1