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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 CHI 0000030031 ***
Since his career was left for dead in Kansas City all Brady has done is averaged 304 yards and three TDs in the three subsequent games. Da Bears have given up multiple touchdowns in three of the last four and at least 255 yards in five straight, so they don't seem like the road bump to slow Brady's fantasy resurgence.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Shane Vereen, NE CHI 4005601000 ***
The Bears haven't allowed an opposing back to rush for more than 63 yards against them this year. However, this iteration of the Patriots doesn't look like it minds throwing the ball all over, an approach that certainly fits Vereen's skill set. He'll get the combo yards as well as most of the key carries in the Patriots backfield, a combo platter that lends itself to fantasy productivity.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Brandon LaFell, NE CHI 004601000 ****
It's been the bigger and faster receivers who have found success against Chicago. LaFell is at least the former, and while his numbers dipped last week he's still blipping brightly on Tom Brady's radar and has definite fantasy upside here.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Julian Edelman, NE CHI 006700000 ****
Edelman is the volume guy in New England, but undersized receivers haven't been the ones having success against Chicago. Pencil him in for his usual PPR help but don't be surprised if the touchdowns go elsewhere.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Rob Gronkowski, NE CHI 006801000 ****
Gronk healthy enough for 10 targets per game. Gronk turning those targets into 90 yards per game. Bears allow three TE TDs in past three games. Gronk likely return to end zone this week. Gronk spike ball. Hard.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Stephen Gostkowski, NE CHI 3333 ****
Every kicker to face the Bears has scored seven points or better; that's a number Gostkowski has matched or bettered in six of seven this season. No worries here until at least the Week 10 bye.

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 Geno Smith, NYJ BUF 10000022010 ***
It's been more than a month since Geno's last fantasy-relevant outing. In that same time frame only Tom Brady has put up a fantasy helper on the Bills. It's a confluence that doesn't yield much in the way of fantasy assistance.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Chris Ivory, NYJ BUF 5002100000 ****
The Bills still haven't allowed an RB TD this year, but they did let Jerick McKinnon take them for 103 yards last week. Ivory rushed for 98 and a touch the last time he saw Buffalo, and he's handling the majority of the Jets workload so don't write him off here; just don't expect a touchdown.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Chris Johnson, NYJ BUF 3002100000 ****
The last three times Johnson saw the Bills he rushed for 195, 153, and 132 yards with multiple touchdowns in each game. Sadly, those games all came as a Titan and are all at least two years in the rear view mirror. He's not getting the touches needed to be a reliable fantasy contributor, so you'd have to be banking on him turning one of his reduced number of carries into a home run to be a fantasy helper this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Eric Decker, NYJ BUF 006601000 ***
The Bills have allowed 10 WR TDs and just as many games of 60-plus yards to opposing receivers. With Decker as the top target--yes, even with Percy Harvin in town--he has a solid chance of ringing at least one and maybe both of those benchmark bells this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Percy Harvin, NYJ BUF 003500000 *
Will the Jets find ways to get Harvin the ball and keep him happy? They haven't exactly been creative in their use of Michael Vick or Chris Johnson so don't hold your breath. That said, before Harvin has worn down his teammates with his personality maybe he'll squeeze in one fantasy helper.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Jeremy Kerley, NYJ BUF 003400000 ***
Kerley has been a decent fantasy wingman to Eric Decker, but Percy Harvin's arrival takes a few looks off his already sparse plate and makes him even less likely to be a fantasy contributor.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Jace Amaro, NYJ BUF 004300000 ***
With Amaro still having to share looks with Jeff Cumberland, he can't be banked on for fantasy help--especially against a Bills defense that's allowed just two TE TDs all year.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Nick Folk, NYJ BUF 3311 ****
The Bills have allowed multiple field goals in two straight and four of five, which bodes well for the inconsistent Folk's fantasy line.

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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