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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
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WEEK 12
2012
HOU at DET (THU) *BAL at SD *MIN at CHI *SF at NO
NE at NYJ (THU) BUF at IND *OAK at CIN *STL at ARI
WAS at DAL (THU) DEN at KC PIT at CLE TEN at JAC
*UPDATED *ATL at TB GB at NYG SEA at MIA *CAR at PHI (MON)

Prediction: NE 27, NYJ 17 (Line: NE by 6)

Players to Watch: Aaron Hernandez

This is the late game on Thanksgiving. The 7-3 Patriots head to New York where the 4-6 Jets are 2-3 and have already lost to the Patriots 26-29 just four weeks ago. Apparently that close call inspired the Patriots since they have scored at least 37 points in each of the last three games and are currently the #1 scoring team in the NFL by over 50 points.

New England Patriots
Homefield: Gillette Stadium
FieldTurf
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 @TEN 34-13 10 BUF 37-31
2 ARI 18-20 11 IND 59-24
3 @BAL 30-31 12 @NYJ -----
4 @BUF 52-28 13 @MIA -----
5 DEN 31-21 14 HOU -----
6 @SEA 23-24 15 SF -----
7 NYJ 29-26 16 @JAC -----
8 @STL 45-7 17 MIA -----
9 BYE ----- ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
NE @ NYJ Rush Catch Pass
QB Tom Brady 250,2
RB Stevan Ridley 80,1
RB Shane Vereen 30 3-20
WR Danny Amendola
WR Julian Edelman 3-30
WR Brandon LaFell 5-60
PK Stephen Gostkowski 2 FG 3 XP

Pregame Notes: The Pats are back to their "roll up the points" mode but that may take a step back now that Rob Gronkowski is out for at least four weeks and potentially longer. The talented tight end has been the central man in the passing scheme for two seasons now and his limitation in the Superbowl may have been part of the four point loss. That and the whole "Curse of Eli" thing.

Fortunately, Aaron Hernandez is expected to return from his ankle injury that has basically robbed him of his season since week two. He returned in week six and seven but then missed the last four games. Some reports have him still limited and since this is the Patriot way, we cannot really know until we know. He's been limited in practice for a few weeks. The same was true in week six when he came back and scored once on his six catches for 30 yards.

Vishanthe Shiancoe should see an increase in snaps but not necessarily receptions. Neither he nor Michael Hoomanawanui are a true replacement and whatever Hernandez does not inherit will go to Julian Edelman, Wes Welker or even running backs.

Tom Brady passed for 259 yards and two scores when the Jets visited a month ago. The Jets played a very good game defensively that week and held the Pats to no rushing scores. Stevan Ridley gained 65 yards on 17 carries with no receptions while Shane Vereen went for 49 yards on eight runs. Danny Woodhead has six runs and four receptions for a total of 46 yards in that game but was never given a touch last week in the blow out win.

This is a prime time game on national TV. Both teams know each other very well but the absence of Gronk could make a difference. But this is the exact sort of game that Brady and company loves to really put on a show. This is a pivotal week too since the Pats need to show that losing Gronk is not going to make a big difference.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points NE 5 3 11 1 2 3
Preventing Fantasy Points NYJ 7 21 4 24 19 17

  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
QB Tom Brady, NE DET 0000026020 ***
The vaunted Detroit defense has given up multiple passing scores in each of its last two road games and three of four overall. Brady, meanwhile, has multiple scoring strikes in six straight and has no reason to fear the former top-ranked defense.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Shane Vereen, NE DET 3004401000 ***
The Lions play right into Vereen's strengths, ranking in the top five in RB receptions, RB receiving yards, and RB receiving touchdowns. Now let's hope Bill Belichick sees it the same way.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Jonas Gray, NE DET 501000000 **
Tough to see Gray approaching last week's monster game; the Lions have allowed only four RB rushing scores all year, and only one back has topped 60 yards on the season. Dial back the expectations and you'll be just fine.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Brandon LaFell, NE DET 005800000 ***
LaFell is the closest thing the Patriots have to a reliably productive fantasy wideout, and even he is no guarantee. On the bright side, his last two homes games have seen 24 targets, 17 catches, and two TDs so maybe that tilts the field in his favor.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Julian Edelman, NE DET 004500000 ***
Edelman remains a volume guy, with eight targets in seven of the past eight games--though he still hasn't posted a 100-yard game this season and has just one TD in the past two months. So there's some risk with his reward.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Danny Amendola, NE DET 002300000 ***
Amendola's an afterthought in this passing game, having topped 20 yards just once all season with only one score to his credit. You could hope for a return TD, but until that week when Bill Belichick decides it's "Bring Danny Amendola to Work" Day he's a fantasy afterthought.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Rob Gronkowski, NE DET 007801000 ****
At this point you could say that all 11 defenders will build a wall around Gronk and he'd still be one of the best fantasy plays at his position. Since such a strategy is highly unlikely, go with Gronk again this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Timothy Wright, NE DET 001200000 ***
Wright's a contributor, just too inconsistent a contributor to be banked on for fantasy help.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Stephen Gostkowski, NE DET 3333 ***
Gotskowski's run of five straight games with multiple field goals was snapped last week, but six PATs provided a soft landing. He's had at least nine points in every home game this year, so expect him to get back on track this week.

New York Jets
Homefield: Meadowlands Stadium
FieldTurf
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 BUF 48-28 10 @SEA 7-28
2 @PIT 10-27 11 @STL 27-13
3 @MIA 23-20 12 NE -----
4 SF 0-34 13 ARI -----
5 HOU 17-23 14 @JAC -----
6 IND 35-9 15 @TEN -----
7 @NE 26-29 16 SD -----
8 MIA 9-30 17 @BUF -----
9 BYE ----- ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
NYJ vs NE Rush Catch Pass
QB Michael Vick
RB Chris Ivory 30
RB Chris Johnson 100,1 4-20
RB Bilal Powell 30,1 3-20
WR Eric Decker 7-70,2
WR Percy Harvin 10 2-20
WR Jeremy Kerley 4-70,1
PK Nick Folk 1 FG 2 XP
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
QB Michael Vick, NYJ @BUF 50000019011 ***
The Bills shut out Vick a month ago and have allowed just two TD passes in two games since. Vick is getting more comfortable in the offense but he's still a fringe fantasy option at best.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Chris Ivory, NYJ @BUF 400000000 ***
The Jets broke Buffalo's maiden with three RB TDs when they met back in Week 8; that total accounts for 75 percent of all the RB TDs the Bills have allowed this season. Can lightning strike twice? Risky to bet a fantasy start on that happening here.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Chris Johnson, NYJ @BUF 2002200000 ***
Johnson is hanging around as the Jets' change of pace back, but he was ineffective when last these teams met and isn't likely to see enough touches to warrant fantasy consideration here.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Percy Harvin, NYJ @BUF 2006601000 **
Harvin is getting his touches, but that doesn't necessarily mean he's a viable fantasy play. Between the Jets' struggling pass defense and a stout Buffalo run D you likely have a more reliable fantasy option at your disposal.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Eric Decker, NYJ @BUF 005500000 ***
Decker is now essentially splitting the targets with Percy Harvin, and while that still puts him atop the Jets' passing game pecking order often times there simply isn't enough productivity to go around. It wasn't enough the last time these teams met, and this week's rematch is shaping up much the same way.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Jace Amaro, NYJ @BUF 003200000 ***
Buffalo has allowed only two TE TDs all year, but Amaro did have 51 yards in the previous meeting and scored last week so he's a fringe fantasy option here.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Nick Folk, NYJ @BUF 3311 ****
Folk scored five points when the Jets hosted the Bills a month ago; he's done nothing this year to suggest a big uptick on that number when he heads to Buffalo this week.

Pregame Notes: Winning big in St. Louis was a surprise last week since the Jets were on a three game losing streak that started against these Patriots and the next two losses were blowouts by 21 points each. If nothing else, it made the Jets look good for one week and quelled the withering fire they take from the NY media after every loss.

Mark Sanchez threw for a season best 328 yards in the last meeting with the Patriots though only one touchdown and he's scored multiple touchdowns in only two games all year. At 11 touchdowns on the year, he's been only marginally effective in any game. The Patriots have shored up their secondary in the interim as well with the addition of CB Aqib Talib who instantly became their #1 cover corner. He also returned an interception for a touchdown in his first game with the Patriots. Sanchez is less likely to see as much success passing.

Shonn Greene still slogs along with around 60 rush yards in most games and aside from his week six freak show against the Colts when he scored three times, he's been the picture of mediocrity this year. Now the Jets are taking a committee approach to the backfield and including Bilal Powell who scored his first two NFL touchdowns last week on his 11 runs for 42 yards in St. Louis. Greene rushed for 64 yards on 18 carries in that game as well. In week seven, Greene ran for 54 yards and a score on 16 runs in New England. A committee is a good thing if it finally dissuades you from giving Greene a fantasy start.

Dustin Keller caught seven passes for 93 yards and a score in New England this year but that was his only touchdown and he's settled down to much lower production. Against the Rams he caught two passes for 16 yards.

Jeremy Kerley was the best receiver in the last meeting when he gained 120 yards on seven receptions. He's failed to turn in more than 60 yards in any game since and has not scored since back in week three. None of the Jets wideouts have any reliability or fantasy value now.

This is a late game and prime time so both teams will bring their "A" games. So far that heavily favors the Patriots.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points NYJ 30 24 24 24 28 9
Preventing Fantasy Points NE 31 16 27 31 6 1

INSERT THE PLAYER TABLE #2 HERE

WEEK 12
2012
HOU at DET (THU) *BAL at SD *MIN at CHI *SF at NO
NE at NYJ (THU) BUF at IND *OAK at CIN *STL at ARI
WAS at DAL (THU) DEN at KC PIT at CLE TEN at JAC
*UPDATED *ATL at TB GB at NYG SEA at MIA *CAR at PHI (MON)

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