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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
Player Projections by Team
Game Predictions Summary
The Huddle
December 6, 2006
Season Ticket
Sunday Late
Sunday Nite
BAL at KC NYG at CAR   SEA at ARZ *updated

Prediction: CLE 13, PIT 20

The Browns made amends for being shutout by the Bengals when they beat the Chiefs last week but at 4-5 they are mostly enjoying teams failing to give a full effort when they play. The Steelers made amends for their shut out by the Ravens by beating the lowly Buccaneers and now host the team that gave them problems just three weeks ago. For being a national game on Thursday, this could be a snoozer.

The Steelers clipped the Browns 24-20 in Cleveland just three weeks ago.

Cleveland Browns (4-5)
1 14-19 NO 10 17-13 @ATL
2 17-34 @CIN 11 20-24 PIT
3 14-15 BAL 12 0-30 CIN
4 24-21 @OAK 13 31-28 KC
5 12-20 @CAR 14 --- @PIT
6 Open Bye 15 --- @BAL
7 7-17 DEN 16 --- TB
8 20-13 NYJ 17 --- @HOU
9 25-32 @SD - - THU
CLE at PIT Rush Catch Pass
QB Derek Anderson 0 0 180,1
RB Reuben Droughns 40 20 0
TE Kellen Winslow 0 40 0
WR Joe Jurevicius 0 50,1 0
WR Braylon Edwards 0 50 0
WR Dennis Northcutt 0 20 0
PK Phil Dawson 2 FG 1 XP -
Pregame Notes: Maybe Jay Cutler struggled in his debut last week but Derek Anderson sent the Browns fans to thumbing through their game program to see who this wunderkind was. The Browns managed a 14 point comeback to win in overtime on the arm - and legs - of Anderson in what was easily the most entertaining game for the Browns of the season. Anderson came in during the second quarter Sunday but he may not be leaving quite yet.

Quarterback: Perhaps Derek Anderson should retire now. It may never be better for his entire career than it was when he engineered a comeback last week to beat the Chiefs. Anderson threw for 171 yards and two scores in less than three quarters of play and ran for 44 yards on two scampers that included setting up the game winning field goal in overtime. Charlie Frye injured his wrist and while x-rays did not show anything broken, he was due for more MRI's to determine the severity of the injury. I am assuming that Anderson plays this week - what do the Browns have to lose?

Frye threw for 224 yards and one interception against the Steelers in week 11.

Running Backs: Reuben Droughns comes off one of his best games of the year when he ran for 70 yards on 14 carries and scored once, and also had five catches for 48 yards. Droughns had only one catch in the last three games combined. Even Jason Wright only gained 25 yards on 11 carries but had 70 yards on two receptions. That passing to the backs really paid dividends last week. But Droughns and Wright together have rarely added up to much in most games when facing all but the weakest rush defenses. Wright ran for 84 yards on 17 carries in the last meeting with the Steelers when Droughns did not play.

Wide Receivers: Braylon Edwards only had three receptions for 36 yards on Sunday but caught a touchdown for the fourth time this year. Joe Jurevicius showed up as the favored target for Anderson with six catches for 75 yards mostly because he offered a big target over the middle. Frye had been relying heavily on Winslow but Anderson preferred Jurevicius.

Edwards caught seven passes for 134 yards against the Steelers this year, no other wideout had more than just one catch for 16 yards.

Tight Ends: After being the star receiver for the Browns, the change to Anderson last week was not a positive for Kellen Winslow who only had one catch in the game for 25 yards and that came in overtime. Winslow only had two passes even thrown his way.

Winslow only had four catches for 36 yards against the Steelers this season.

Match Against the Defense: The Browns put up a nice fight when the Steelers came to Cleveland but on the road in Pittsburgh won't be nearly as productive unless Anderson plays and still has some magic left in his bag. Regardless, Droughns has not been a factor on the road and in Pittsburgh even less so.

Anderson goes against a secondary that certainly can be beaten but it's optimistic to believe that his unforeseen comeback last week will carry over into much this time. The Steelers at home are still hungry for a win - any win - and they've already handled the Browns on their turf this year. Look for one passing score here to favor Jurevicius but with such little to go on with Anderson, there is no true favorable match-up here to consider. What will be most interesting to see is if the Browns can continue to throw to their backs. They benefited last week when the Chiefs dropped back to cover the pass when they had a lead to protect.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM    QB   RB   WR   TE   PK  DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points CLE 14 32 30 3 20 21
Preventing Fantasy Points PIT 13 9 26 18 22 31


Pittsburgh Steelers (5-7)
1 28-17 MIA 10 38-31 NO
2 0-9 @JAX 11 24-20 @CLE
3 20-28 CIN 12 0-27 @BAL
4 Open Bye 13 20-3 TB
5 13-23 @SD 14 --- CLE
6 45-7 KC 15 --- @CAR
7 38-41 @ATL 16 --- BAL
8 13-20 @OAK 17 --- @CIN
9 20-31 DEN - MON THU
PIT vs CLE Rush Catch Pass
QB Ben Roethlisberger 0 0 200,1
RB Willie Parker 90,1 10 0
TE Heath Miller 0 40 0
WR Santonio Holmes 0 30 0
WR Cedrick Wilson 0 50 0
WR Nate Washington 0 70,1 0
PK Jeff Reed 2 FG 2 XP -

Pregame Notes: The Steelers took down the punch-less Bucs last week and did it without Hines Ward but even then there was a surprising lack of a rushing game and 20 points against Tampa Bay is like a starting point for most teams. With the Panthers, Ravens and Bengals waiting in the wings, this will be the last game that should be a certain win for the Steelers - they cannot let this one get past.

Quarterback: Ben Roethlisberger has now broken the elusive 20 interception mark which puts him on a pace to end with 29 interceptions like Favre had last year. With games left to play against CAR, BAL, CIN and even CLE, Big Ben has a shot at the 30 interception mark. At least Roethlisberger always plays better at home where the last three games have seen him throw a total of seven scores and even as high as 433 yards.

Roethlisberger threw for 272 yards and two touchdowns in Cleveland this year and had three interceptions.

Running Backs: Perhaps the biggest surprise last week was that Willie Parker only gained 61 yards on 22 carries when he had been golden in almost every home game this year. Parker tends to stumble in road games but four times he has topped 100 rushing yards in home stands and seven of his nine rushing scores were in Pittsburgh. For the last three weeks - two of them on the road and one in Cleveland - Parker has not run for more than 61 yards.

Parker ran for only 46 yards on 16 carries against the Browns this year but scored once on the ground and again on a pass. He had four receptions for 17 yards in that game.

Wide Receivers: Hines Ward was out last week after getting surgery on his left knee and while the Steelers would not commit to him missing more time, I am assuming he is out until formally cleared to play. Nate Washington took his place and turned in a season high 78 yards on three receptions while no other wideout had more than 26 yards. The absence of Ward removes the biggest threat in the passing game. The Steelers tried to involve Santonio Holmes more with six passes but he only caught one for 14 yards.

Ward caught seven passes for 81 yards in Cleveland this year and Santonio Holmes turned in 75 yards on five catches with the other Steeler passing touchdown.

Tight Ends: Heath Miller had a touchdown catch last week and has three on the season but the absence of Ward did not lead to more work for the tight end. Miller had two catches for 27 yards - about average for him.

Miller only caught two passes for 32 yards in Cleveland.

Match Against the Defense: The Browns rush defense on the road has been a problem and already four runners have topped 100 rushing yards against them. But Parker has been in a funk the last three games. This is a set-up for a big game for Parker but I will project just a good showing because he has not been running nearly so well for three weeks now.

Roethlisberger faces the same secondary that already picked him off three times earlier this year and he'll likely be without Hines Ward. Expect only moderate passing numbers here and one passing score that will favor Washington slightly. The Steelers can win this game without heroics by Roethlisberger and there is no need to roll up any more interceptions than he needs to in order to win this game.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM    QB   RB   WR   TE   PK  DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points PIT 9 12 8 17 25 11
Preventing Fantasy Points CLE 17 18 23 20 23 30