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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 Matt Schaub, OAK DEN 0000012001 *
Schaub is one of only three quarterbacks to take the Titans for multiple touchdown tosses this season; he turned the trip as part of a 298 & 3 outing back in Week 2. That's also the second-most passing yardage allowed by the Titans this season. However, it's worth noting that Schaub's last multiple touchdown outing came back in Week 4, and that the Titans have allowed three passing scores in Tennessee all season. UPDATE: If Case Keenum's sore thumb won't allow him to go, Schaub will get the start. Whee!
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Maurice Jones-Drew, OAK DEN 4002100000 ***
One more go-around for MJD against a defense he's traditionally killed--though with 23 yards on 13 carries in the earlier meeting, not so much this season. Indy has given up 90-plus combo yards to four straight feature backs, so there's a chance Jones-Drew goes out on top--or at least near it.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR James Jones, OAK DEN 004701000 ***
Jones has been solid since returning from his injury, but having Matt Flynn at quarterback rather than Aaron Rodgers has put a damper on his numbers. It's not a shutdown matchup, but a Flynn-led passing game means Jones is an okay play rather than part of a fantasy juggernaut.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Andre Holmes, OAK DEN 005701000 **
Holmes is emerging as a viable option in the Oakland passing game. Unfortunately, he's competing with Denarius Moore and Rod Streater for looks and the QB mantle just got passed to Terrelle Pryor, who's more of a runner than a thrower.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Mychal Rivera, OAK DEN 003300000 ***
Rivera has scored in two of the last three and three of the last six, but the Raiders have a couple other tight ends swiping targets and the switch to Terrelle Pryor at quarterback could take a bite as well.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Sebastian Janikowski, OAK DEN 2222 ***
Seabass has hit double-digits just once in the past 13 games, a stretch that kicked off with three points in Denver. No reason to bank on anything big from Janikowski here.

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 Matt Prater 2 FG 4 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 @OAK 0000033030 ****
Manning already has the touchdown record, and he'll probably stick around in this one just long enough to throw for 266 yards and break the yardage record as well. The Broncos still need to win to lock down home field advantage, so they can't sit Manning right away, but there's a very good chance he finishes this one in a baseball cap.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Montee Ball, DEN @OAK 300000000 ***
Ball's been lightening the load for Knowshon Moreno, and that plan should continue here with maybe the rookie seeing an uptick while Denver gets the veteran some well-deserved rest. Seeing as Oakland has served up 796 combo yards and 11 RB TDs the past month, there's more than enough to go around.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Demaryius Thomas, DEN @OAK 0051001000 ***
Everybody got fed the last time these squads met--Thomas 94 yards, Eric Decker 133 & 1, Wes Welker 84 & 1--and there's no reason to expect much difference this time around.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Emmanuel Sanders, DEN @OAK 003300000 *
Sanders has scored in four of the last five and is a solid option when Joe Haden has blanket coverage on Antonio Brown. UPDATE: Good news for Sanders, as he is listed as questionable but practiced in full on Friday.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Julius Thomas, DEN @OAK 004401000 ***
However you break it down, Thomas is a good play. He scored against the Raiders in the earlier meeting, he's scored in three of four (and six of eight, and nine of 12), he's scored in every road game, he caught Peyton Manning's record-setting touchdown pass... however you break it down.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Matt Prater, DEN @OAK 1144 ***
Should be points a plenty for Prater, who hit for a baker's dozen in the earlier meeting with Oakland and has the second-most kicker points in the league this year.

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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