Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
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* CHI at GB (THU) * DAL at SEA * MIN at IND * TB at NYG
ARI at NE * DET at SF * NO at CAR * TEN at SD
* BAL at PHI * HOU at JAC * NYJ at PIT * WAS at STL
* Updated CLE at CIN KC at BUF * OAK at MIA DEN at ATL (MON)

Prediction: ARI 13, NE 37 (Line: NE by 14)

Players to watch: Andre Roberts, Wes Welker, Brandon Lloyd

The Cardinals come off their close win over the visiting Seahawks and hit the road where they were only 2-6 last season. The Patriots drummed the Titans in Tennessee last week and back at home they almost never lose. The only question here is how big the win will be and how many points they allow the Cardinals.

Arizona Cardinals
Homefield: University of Phoenix Stadium
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 SEA 20-16 10 BYE -----
2 @NE ----- 11 @ATL -----
3 PHI ----- 12 STL -----
4 MIA ----- 13 @NYJ -----
5 @STL ----- 14 @SEA -----
6 BUF ----- 15 DET -----
7 @MIN ----- 16 CHI -----
8 SF ----- 17 @SF -----
9 @GB ----- ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
ARI @ NE Rush Catch Pass
QB Carson Palmer 270,2
RB Chris Johnson 40 7-50
WR Larry Fitzgerald 6-90,1
TE Jermaine Gresham 6-60,1

Pregame Notes: Nothing like having a quarterback competition and after deciding the winner between two quarterbacks that you already knew, that one gets hurt in the first game. John Skelton has an ankle sprain that is not believed to be of the "high" variety. He's hoped to only need a few weeks but regardless the start goes over to Kevin Kolb for this game. There is a decent chance that the Cardinals play musical quarterbacks for the rest of the season anyway.

Facing the Seahawks great rushing defense really put the clamps on the running backs so we don't really know what to expect this year. Beanie Wells ran seven times for only 14 yards and Ryan Williams first playing time only produced nine yards on eight carries. There was an even split between the two main backs and then LaRod Stephens-Howling actually ran in the touchdown just to make it all even worse. Ongoing this will remain the Wells and Williams show, with their split determined by game time success. The problem this week is that they face another great rushing defense what equally shut down Chris Johnson only this week the game is played in New England. Not a good thing and hold judgment about the backfield at least until home games against the Eagles and Dolphins. It is a tough schedule for the Cardinals and the impact is not something you can ignore.

Larry Fitzgerald was targeted a team high 11 times with four receptions for 63 yards but Andre Roberts is one to watch since he had nine passes directed towards him and ended with 54 yards and one score on five receptions. Early Doucet (3-37) played the #3 with the rookie Michael Floyd only thrown one pass that he failed to catch.

As with most every year, the use of the tight end is always suggested and yet rarely happens. Todd Heap only accounted for three catches and 32 yards which may be a high side for him.

The Cards face the Patriots defense that is going to shut down the run - make no mistake. How well they can defend the pass is the question and last season they were always among the worse. In Tennessee, they held the Titans to a combined 272 passing yards and one score. That bodes a bit better for the receivers..

Gaining Fantasy Points ARI 26 26 16 21 17 15
Preventing Fantasy Points NE 14 12 13 14 15 3

QB Carson Palmer, ARI @SF 0000030030 ***
Really, the only thing standing between Palmer and a big game is the possibility that the Cards will get up a ton early and turn to the ground game or the backups. Then again, he threw for 311 and 2 when they beat the Niners by 40 earlier this year, so...
RB David Johnson, ARI @SF 1003201000 *
The designated scorer should come into play in a matchup that saw Arizona put 47 points on the board in the earlier meeting.
RB Chris Johnson, ARI @SF 800000000 ***
The Niners have let four straight feature backs score, three of them topping 120 rushing yards in the process and Thomas Rawls gouging them for 255 combo yards and two scores last week. Oh yeah, and CJ rolled them for 22-110-2 plus 40 receiving yards in the earlier meeting.
RB Andre Ellington, ARI @SF 2003200000 ***
Chris Johnson is still hogging the touches, but this one has all the makings of a blowout and it would be wise for the Cardinals to get Ellington some run--both to ease the burden on CJ and shake the rust off of Andre.
WR Larry Fitzgerald, ARI @SF 0061001000 ***
Fitzgerald's numbers in his last three against San Francisco with Carson Palmer at quarterback: 9-134-2, 6-113, 6-117-1. So... yeah.
WR Michael Floyd, ARI @SF 005701000 **
If Floyd's hamstring issues allow him to play this week there's no matchup-related reason you wouldn't want him in your fantasy lineup.

Update: Floyd practiced on a limited basis all week and is officially listed as questionable for this tilt. Per the Arizona media he's expected to play, but he may wind up as the Cardinals' WR3 this week behind Larry Fitzgerald and John Brown.
WR J.J. Nelson, ARI @SF 003500000 ***
You'd like to think Nelson's 4-142-1 against the Bengals last week warrant more playing time, but if Michael Floyd returns from his hamstring issue he'll be a tough fantasy start as Arizona's WR4.
WR John Brown, ARI @SF 003500000 *
Brown looked healthy enough last week, and considering the Niners have let secondary targets score or top 60 yards in six of the last nine games--including Brown's 3-62 as a wingman in the earlier meeting--he's a safe bet to inflict further damage this week.
TE Jermaine Gresham, ARI @SF 002200000 ***
Gresham still splits time with Darren Fells, and this isn't a particularly favorable matchup for tight ends anyway. Look for fantasy help elsewhere.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Chandler Catanzaro, ARI @SF 2233 ***
Every kicker to visit San Francisco has had multiple field goal attempts; Catanzaro has multiple treys in five consecutive games and double-digit points in three straight. He rode six PATs to nine points in the earlier matchup; lots of ways he could improve on that solid total here.

New England Patriots
Homefield: Gillette Stadium
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 @TEN 34-13 10 BUF -----
2 ARI ----- 11 IND -----
3 @BAL ----- 12 @NYJ -----
4 @BUF ----- 13 @MIA -----
5 DEN ----- 14 HOU -----
6 @SEA ----- 15 SF -----
7 NYJ ----- 16 @JAC -----
8 @STL ----- 17 MIA -----
9 BYE ----- ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
NE vs ARI Rush Catch Pass
QB Tom Brady 330,3
WR Danny Amendola 6-70,1
WR Brandon Gibson 3-40
WR Brandon LaFell 3-50
TE Scott Chandler 4-40
TE Rob Gronkowski 6-80,1
PK Stephen Gostkowski 3 FG 4 XP

Pregame Notes: The Patriots come off a big opening win and now return home for what should be another year filled with victories for the home town stands. There's only been one game so but several interesting developments hint this could be a year of same great results only they'll get there in a different manner.

Aaron Hernandez (6-59-1) and Rob Gronkowski (6-60-1) start the year as apparent bookends so no change to the team with the most productive tight ends in the history of the NFL. These weapons are not going anywhere and there is no reason to change. But the addition of Brandon Lloyd (5-69) has made a difference in the sense he was the most targeted player with eight passes thrown his way. Wes Welker only caught three of his five throws and ended with a paltry 14 yards. For a guy who has four seasons of 110+ catches, Welker was suddenly just another receiver and not even one who had many looks. He's in his final year of his contract with the Pats and if week one means much, he's truly in his final season there. It is only one game and yes, it seems reasonable to sound an alarm. It just looked different with Lloyd there.

Another change is Stevan Ridley who gashed the Titans for 125 yards and one score on 21 carries and added two receptions for 27 yards. Brandon Bolden and Danny Woodhead combined for 11 carries but only gained 31 yards. This looked very much like the Ridley show. He'll always carry at least a little risk because of the history of the Pats backfield but he undeniably looks like an answer for them that they need not change. Ridley was effective enough that Tom Brady only passed for 236 yards and two scores.

This week should be fascinating because the Patriots generally rush better at home and Brady has lesser games because they win handily. No defense is going to load up against Ridley with Brady under center. And yet that may actually mean those 5000 yards from 2011 have little chance of repeating. The offseason was a hype machine of the Pats passing and how Brandon Lloyd might become a stud there. So far the reality is that the Pats remain a tight end machine with a really nice rushing attack.

Gaining Fantasy Points NE 14 10 30 1 14 7
Preventing Fantasy Points ARI 5 8 7 7 21 15

QB Tom Brady, NE @DEN 0000024011 ***
Buffalo provided a blueprint for at least slowing Brady down, hitting him at every opportunity last weekend and limiting him to 277 yards and his first one-TD game of the season. Denver has the defense to turn a similar trick so temper expectations accordingly--though it's worth noting that Brady has a rushing score in three of his last six against the Broncos.
RB LeGarrette Blount, NE @DEN 7014200000 ***
Blount has seen steady between-the-tackles work and has three TDs in three road games since taking over the New England backfield. It's not a particularly favorable matchup, but that hasn't stopped him before so pencil him in for the usual once again.
RB James White, NE @DEN 3006501000 **
White doubled his touches in his second game as Dion Lewis' stand-in, though going from two to four is hardly a big jump. White did manage to find the end zone on half his touches, however, and a bigger role could be in the offing this week as a checkdown guy in the face of Denver's pass rush
WR Chris Harper, NE @DEN 003400000 ***
No writeup available
WR Brandon LaFell, NE @DEN 003400000 ***
With all the injuries to New England receivers, LaFell looks to be the best of what's left--and that means he'll likely spend the evening wearing Aqib Talib. That's going to make it difficult to put up helpful fantasy numbers.
TE Rob Gronkowski, NE @DEN 006700000 ***
It's far from a favorable matchup, but Gronk is far from a normal tight end. With Julian Edelman, Danny Amendola and Dion Lewis all out of the picture it would stand to reason that Gronk is looking at double-digit targets. And double-digit targets have led to 100-yard games with a touchdown both times he's seen that many throws this season.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Stephen Gostkowski, NE @DEN 3222 ***
The Broncos have allowed 10 field goals in the past three games, so even if Tom Brady's depleted arsenal is thwarted in the red zone there's still plenty of opportunity for Gostkowski here.

* CHI at GB (THU) * DAL at SEA * MIN at IND * TB at NYG
ARI at NE * DET at SF * NO at CAR * TEN at SD
* BAL at PHI * HOU at JAC * NYJ at PIT * WAS at STL
* Updated CLE at CIN KC at BUF * OAK at MIA DEN at ATL (MON)

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