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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
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WEEK 4
2012
CLE at BAL (THU) *MIN at DET *OAK at DEN *TEN at HOU
CAR at ATL *NE at BUF *SD at KC *WAS at TB
*CIN at JAC *NO at GB *SEA at STL *CHI at DAL (MON)
*Updated *MIA at ARI *NYG at PHI *SF at NYJ Bye: IND, PIT

Prediction: OAK 27, DEN 34 (Line: DEN by 6.5)

Players to Watch: Bronco RB's

Players Updated: Darrius Heyward-Bey, Darren McFadden, Brandon Myers, Willis McGahee,
Rod Streater, Derek Hagan

This is always one of the oddest match-ups in the NFL. Since 2008, the road team has won seven of the last eight meetings with 2010 the exception when the Raiders swept the Broncos. The plus side to these is that this tends to be a high scoring shootout. Three of the last four have produced over 60 total points. Peyton Manning will try to be the first Denver quarterback to win at home since 2007 when Jay Cutler beat Josh McCown.

The Raiders won 23-20 in Denver but lost 38-24 in Oakland last year.

Oakland Raiders
Homefield: McAfee Coliseum
Grass
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 SD 14-22 10 @BAL -----
2 @MIA 13-35 11 NO -----
3 PIT 34-31 12 @CIN -----
4 @DEN ----- 13 CLE -----
5 BYE ----- 14 DEN -----
6 @ATL ----- 15 KC -----
7 JAC ----- 16 @CAR -----
8 @KC ----- 17 @SD -----
9 TB ----- ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
OAK @ DEN Rush Catch Pass
QB Matt Schaub 270,2
RB Maurice Jones-Drew 100,1 5-40,1
RB Darren McFadden 80,1 4-40
RB Marcel Reece 4-20
WR James Jones 2-30
WR Denarius Moore 5-70,1
PK Sebastian Janikowski 2 FG 3 XP

Pregame Notes: Raiders followed the lead of the NFL when they were 0-2 with no sign of much offense and then beat the Steelers and both the run and pass worked better than ever despite clearly facing their toughest defense. It was just one of the many unexplainable endings to week three. The Raiders head to their bye week after this so a win reaches .500 instead of a 1-3 record. History says they win this but they'll have to play more like week three and a lot less like the first two games.

Carson Palmer passed for a season low 209 yards versus the Steelers but threw three touchdowns. The lack of yardage is troubling after throwing for around 300 yards in the initial games but he only scored once in each. This week should be a better view of what to expect with a road game against a secondary that gives up points.

Darrius Heyward-Bey suffered one of those horrible hits where he laid motionless for ten minutes but in the end it was just a concussion and he was released in short order from the hospital. Early speculation has him not playing this wee at the least. It was a savage under-the-chin sort of hit that really rocked his head. Denarius Moore ended with a touchdown though he still has not had a monster game yet as he did a few times in 2011. Rod Streater and Derek Hagen are little more than dressing and rarely contribute more than a couple of catches. Streater did score in week one when he replaced Moore and should see more action if Heyward-Bey is out.

Brandon Myers also received a concussion last week and has been a great outlet for Palmer. Myers has gained at least 55 yards every week though the one touchdown thrown to a tight end this year ended up with Richard Gordon on his only catch. Meyers and Heyward-Bey both may miss this week though Meyers seemed much less severe.

After two very forgettable weeks, Darren McFadden finally broke long runs and ended with 113 yards on 18 carries and one score on the Steelers. He had only gained 54 yards on 26 runs in the first two weeks so this game should help determine if week three was a fluke or that he is finally getting into gear. McFadden ran for 150 yards in Denver last year.

The game takes a different slant this year with the Broncos defense better and Payton Manning at the helm. As in all years, you can throw out past stats and trends and just watch whatever is going to happen. The good thing is that it almost always has a lot of points. Missing Heyward-Bey and maybe Myers is going to hurt though.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points OAK 13 8 23 11 20 31
Preventing Fantasy Points DEN 26 11 24 28 15 18

  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
QB Derek Carr, OAK BUF 0000017002 ***
This is the defense that tamed Peyton Manning and whitewashed Aaron Rodgers; how do you think they'll do with the rookie Carr?
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Latavius Murray, OAK BUF 6012100000 **
The Bills are stout against the run, so even the potential of Latavius Murray here isn't enough to raise eyebrows.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Andre Holmes, OAK BUF 003300000 ***
Holmes has the most upside of any Raiders receiver, but given the way the Bills have put the kibosh on opponents the suggestion is you just pack up and go.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR James Jones, OAK BUF 006300000 ***
Jones has the last two WR TDs for the Raiders, though it took five weeks to raise that total to two. And that's about the extent of Jones' upside this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Mychal Rivera, OAK BUF 003200000 ***
Rivera is an inconsistent producer who can't be banked on for fantasy help at this point in the season.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Sebastian Janikowski, OAK BUF 1111 ****
SeaBass went off script last week with seven points, his first non-six point game in a month. If you're into steady mediocre numbers, Janikowski's your bobo.

Denver Broncos
Homefield: Invesco Field
Grass
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 PIT 31-19 10 @CAR -----
2 @ATL 21-27 11 SD -----
3 HOU 25-31 12 @KC -----
4 OAK ----- 13 TB -----
5 @NE ----- 14 @OAK -----
6 @SD ----- 15 @BAL -----
7 BYE ----- 16 CLE -----
8 NO ----- 17 KC -----
9 @CIN ----- ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
DEN vs OAK Rush Catch Pass
QB Peyton Manning 280,3
WR Demaryius Thomas 4-80,1
WR Wes Welker 7-70,1
TE Jacob Tamme 4-40,1
PK Connor Barth 2 FG 2 XP

Pregame Notes: So far the Manning difference has led to a 1-2 opening but in fairness starting out against the Steelers, Falcons and Texans is hardly all giggles and skipping to the endzone. The Broncos scored at least 21 points each week and finally faces a defense that may not be among the elite in the league. This is Manning's first foray into one of the great rivalries in the league.

There are still questions about Manning's arm strength and perhaps a new slight flutter are on passes, but at least he has scored every week and twice each in the two home games despite facing the Steelers and Texans. Manning has not thrown an interception at home but is getting used to something new - sacks. While Manning was one of the least sacked quarterbacks every year while in Indianapolis, he has been taken down at least two or three times each week. Fortunately the Raiders have only managed three sacks overall on the season.

The big question here is if Willis McGahee can play. He left the game last week with a rib injury and while HC John Fox has been less than clear about his status, it is believed to involve cartilage which would make it rather painful. They have medication for that very thing but his status is still not certain. He needs to play here since McGahee ran for 163 yards and two scores in the one game he started against the Raiders last year. And the only other road game for the Raiders was when Reggie Bush scorched them for 197 yards and two scores. Chances are Lance Ball would be the primary if McGahee could not play though Knowshon Moreno would also figure in. In the fantasy world, we all want McGahee to play the entire game.

Jacob Tamme injured his groin last week but still came back to play. But he has been a lesser factor since that season opener and even Joel Dreessen scored the touchdown last week. Neither are safe starts,

Eric Decker has really come on as the "Welker" of the offense and had a career best eight catches for 136 yards against the Texans. He still has not scored but is taking a possession role over the middle while Brandon Stokley keeps the defense honest with deeper routes and Demaryius Thomas makes them pay with yards after catch. Thomas only had 34 yards against the Texans but was very effective in the first two weeks.

Another Raider game means anything can happen. But the rushing game should be very fruitful if only McGahee can play. if not, then a coin flip between Lance Ball and Knowshon Moreno may decide the workload assignments. This game smacks of some high scoring for the home team.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points DEN 18 19 7 16 25 12
Preventing Fantasy Points OAK 27 26 23 23 22 3

  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
QB Peyton Manning, DEN @CIN 0000025020 ***
Cincy's been solid against the pass all season; Peyton's been ordinary the past couple of weeks. Dial back expectations, though you needn't go so far as to bench Manning here.
Update: Peyton has been limited in practice by the same thigh injury that sent him into the locker room early last week. No indication he'll miss the Monday night game, but if you have a roster spot you may want to stash Brock Osweiler... just in case.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB C.J. Anderson, DEN @CIN 10014301000 ***
The Broncos are going to run Anderson plenty--109 carries over the past four games, resulting in 478 yards and four rushing scores. The Bengals couldn't contain similarly heavy-loaded backs like Stevan Ridley (27-113-1), Terrance West (26-94-1) or Le'Veon Bell (26-185-2), so expect Anderson to work back towards his 100-yard days after a couple weeks under that milestone.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Demaryius Thomas, DEN @CIN 0071001000 ***
Cincy's secondary has been among the best this year at shutting down opposing wide receivers. That said, the last time they say a tandem even close to the talent level of Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders they gave up matching 100-yard games to Antonio Brown and Martavis Bryant. No worries about Demaryius making his appointed rounds this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Emmanuel Sanders, DEN @CIN 004600000 ***
It's not a particularly favorable matchup, and Sanders has taken a back seat to Demaryius Thomas the past couple of weeks against tougher defenses. But the pattern set by the Steelers, with both Antonio Brown and Martavis Bryant topping 100 yards, seems to be the closest fit to what Denver brings to the table this week. Consider Sanders just a half-step behind Thomas at the top end of the Denver passing game.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Julius Thomas, DEN @CIN 003400000 ***
Thomas had one catch in his return to action last week. Now he'll face a Cincy D that was beaten by Rob Gronkowski and Greg Olsen earlier in the year but held Jimmy Graham in check and has allowed only one TE TD in the past two months. He's still a threat, but if you've found a quality backup plan during his absence you'll want to give serious consideration to employing it for at least one more week.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Connor Barth, DEN @CIN 2233 ***
Peyton Manning's struggles are to Barth's benefit, as he's booted five field goals in two of the past three games; prior to that Denver had just two multi-field goal games all year. Cincy's surrendered multiple treys in three straight, so Barth's fun times three should continue this week.

WEEK 4
2012
CLE at BAL (THU) *MIN at DET *OAK at DEN *TEN at HOU
CAR at ATL *NE at BUF *SD at KC *WAS at TB
*CIN at JAC *NO at GB *SEA at STL *CHI at DAL (MON)
*Updated *MIA at ARI *NYG at PHI *SF at NYJ Bye: IND, PIT

 
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