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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: SF 27, NO 24 (Line: SF by 2.5)

Players Updated: Colin Kaepernick

Players to Watch: Colin Kaepernick

The 7-2-1 49ers (which is admittedly awkward just to write) hit the road where they are 3-1 to face the 5-5 Saints who are on a three game winning streak and finally able to score more than their defense hands out. The 49ers won 36-32 in the Divisional Round of the playoffs last year held in San Francisco. This is a benchmark game for the Saints and a way to show that the Falcons win was not a fluke. the 49ers come off a Monday night game and maybe have never looked better at least in this millennium.

San Francisco 49ers
Homefield: Monster Park
Grass
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 @GB 30-22 10 STL 24-24
2 DET 27-19 11 CHI 32-7
3 @MIN 13-24 12 @NO -----
4 @NYJ 34-0 13 @STL -----
5 BUF 45-3 14 MIA -----
6 NYG 3-26 15 @NE -----
7 SEA 13-6 16 @SEA -----
8 @ARI 24-3 17 ARI -----
9 BYE ----- ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
SF @ NO Rush Catch Pass
QB Colin Kaepernick 20,1 240,2
RB Frank Gore 100,1 3-20
RB Kendall Hunter 30 3-20
WR Jonathan Baldwin 2-30
WR Anquan Boldin 5-60
WR Michael Crabtree 5-70,1
WR Brandon Lloyd 3-40
TE Vernon Davis 5-60,1
PK Phil Dawson 2 FG 2 XP

Pregame Notes: The very same team that could not beat the Rams and ended in the first tie in five years was shifted into high gear last week and added a rocket pack as well named Colin Kaepernick. They brought down the Bears in short order and looked absolutely dominating in every facet of the game. Now instead of playing perhaps the best defense, they get to go face one of the worst.

This could end up messy. Alex Smith is out with a concussion but Colin Kaepernick was so impressive that he's the starter this week and according to HC Jim Harbaugh, he'll continue to be the starter if he has "the hot hand". He certainly did against the Bears throwing for 243 yards and two scores, extending plays with his legs and looking rather Steve Young-ish for one game anyway. This week he draws the Saints secondary which can only make him look better.

Frank Gore ran well and has been in good shape in recent weeks. But he only scored once in the last five weeks and Kendall Hunter is horning in on the action as well with a short rushing score on the Bears Monday night. Gore remains the primary back and takes a big chunk of the workload. LaMichael James and Brandon Jacobs are apparently still playing dominoes in the cafeteria. Gore rushed for 89 yards on 13 runs and caught seven passes for 38 yards in the playoff meeting with the Saints last year.

Vernon Davis hadn't scored in six weeks and was on a steak of sub-40 yard games. Then one Kaepernick later, he turns in a season best six catches for 83 yards and one score. This is not the week to be Alex Smith. Davis had a monster game with Smith in the playoffs when he posted 180 yards and two scores against the Saints.

Michael Crabtree caught four passes for 25 yards and one score versus the Saints last year and on Monday, he ended with 31 yards on three receptions with his third straight game where he scored. Kaepernick had it all working on Monday against a very good defense. He's definitely one to watch this week versus a far less formidable secondary in New Orleans though this time - the defense knows what he looks like.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points SF 12 16 22 12 15 24
Preventing Fantasy Points NO 32 30 31 27 23 3

  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
QB Colin Kaepernick, SF @ARI 20000020021 ****
From a fantasy perspective Kaepernick has largely disappointed since his 412 & 3 back in Week 1. He did throw for 252 & 2 against Arizona earlier this year, but he has just one game with multiple touchdown passes in the past month and hasn't topped 275 passing yards since Week 1 so he's no lock for fantasy success here.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Frank Gore, SF @ARI 500000000 ***
The Cardinals have allowed just two RB TDs in Arizona and just five running back scores on the season. Gore owns the only 100-yard effort the Cards have given up, but Kendall Hunter swiped the TD when these clubs met back in Week 6. Frank hasn't scored on the road since Week 8 in Jacksonville, but if he sees the same 20-plus carries he's received each of the past two games he's a decent bet for fantasy productivity even given the tough matchup.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Anquan Boldin, SF @ARI 005601000 ***
Boldin scored last week, and he continues to be just as targeted as Michael Crabtree. Between a stout Arizona secondary that hasn't allowed a WR TD since Week 10 and a run-first 49ers offense there's not a ton of upside here, but both wideouts are still solid bets to be at minimum fantasy helpers.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Michael Crabtree, SF @ARI 003400000 ***
Arizona hasn't allowed a WR TD since Week 10; then again, they haven't had to face Crabtree yet, and he scored four times in the two-game series last year. Coming off a 102-yard outing, Crabtree is a solid bet to pace the San Francisco passing game.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Vernon Davis, SF @ARI 006801000 *****
The last time Davis saw the Cardinals he torched them for 8-180-2. Last week he broke hearts by pitching a shutout on Monday night, but this matchup with the most TE-friendly defense in the league should help him regain at least some of his street cred.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Phil Dawson, SF @ARI 2222 ***
Dawson had a dozen in the earlier meeting with Arizona and has double-digit points in four straight. No reason he won't get his kick on once again this week.

New Orleans Saints
Homefield: Superdome
Sportexe Turf
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 WAS 32-40 10 ATL 31-27
2 @CAR 27-35 11 @OAK 38-17
3 KC 24-27 12 SF -----
4 @GB 27-28 13 @ATL -----
5 SD 31-24 14 @NYG -----
6 BYE ----- 15 TB -----
7 @TB 35-28 16 @DAL -----
8 @DEN 14-34 17 CAR -----
9 PHI 28-13 ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
NO vs SF Rush Catch Pass
QB Drew Brees 270,3
RB Mark Ingram 30
RB Pierre Thomas 10
WR Marques Colston 5-70,1
TE Jimmy Graham 6-60,1
TE Benjamin Watson 4-40
PK Shayne Graham 1 FG 3 XP

Pregame Notes: Three straight wins have the Saints at .500 and at least the win over the Falcons says it wasn't just an easy stretch of the schedule. The Saints have a chance to redeem themselves for the loss in the playoffs last year when the 49ers took them down. What is encouraging is that the defense is doing at least incrementally better in recent weeks and the offense is starting to hit a higher gear and even adding in more rushing than before. That may take a downward turn against the 49ers defense this week.

Drew Brees hasn't thrown for less than two scores since week two and threw for three or more seven times already. He hasn't broken 300 yards in the last four games though in part because the rushing effort has been stronger. Brees passed for 462 yards and four scores in San Francisco last January.

Darren Sproles was inactive last week because of his hand and that makes three games he's been out. He is tentatively expected to be back for this game but in his absence, the rushing actually improved. Pierre Thomas is getting an ever-shrinking portion of the work now while Chris Ivory is running 8 to 10 times per game and scored twice in the last three weeks. Mark Ingram has back-to-back games with exactly 67 rushing yards and he scored on a 27-yard run in Oakland. Ingram looks like he is running with more speed and power for some reason. It all mixes in and helped the Saints on their three game winning streak.

No changes here to the trio of receivers with Marques Colston, Lance Moore and Jimmy Graham accounting for nearly all the passing yardage and scores. Graham scored in each of the last four games and totals nine touchdowns on the year. He caught five passes for 103 yards and two scores in the last meeting with the 49ers.

The 49ers are bringing one of the NFL's best defenses to town this week but they had just as good last January when the Saints were able to post 462 pass yards. This should be a downturn for the rushers and the return of Sproles means that four guys will be in play in the backfield. No matter the defense, the Saints passing game remains a must play set of players.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points NO 1 4 9 4 30 20
Preventing Fantasy Points SF 2 1 11 4 2 10

  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
QB Drew Brees, NO TB 0000029030 ****
Ah, home sweet dome. It's been almost three full seasons since the last time Brees didn't throw for either 300-plus yards or multiple touchdowns at home. In fact, he has multiple TDs in 23 of his last 24 at home and 300-plus yards in nine straight and 18 of 24 at home. With the Saints needing a win to make the postseason, expect Brees to be firing on all cylinders.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Pierre Thomas, NO TB 4004300000 ***
The Saints haven't scored a running back touchdown in five games, with Thomas and Mark Ingram taking turns being the primary ball-carrier. Expect a little more than the 75 yards three New Orleans backs combined for in the earlier meeting between these teams, but it will be so fractured that a legit fantasy helper is unlikely.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Mark Ingram, NO TB 300000000 ***
The Saints haven't scored a running back touchdown in five games, with Ingram and Pierre Thomas taking turns being the primary ball-carrier. Expect a little more than the 75 yards three New Orleans backs combined for in the earlier meeting between these teams, but it will be so fractured that a legit fantasy helper is unlikely.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Marques Colston, NO TB 004500000 ***
Colston paced Saints receivers in the earlier meeting, but that was pre-Darrelle Revis. This time around Colston might find the going tougher against a healthy Revis, but he's been an inconsistent fantasy play anyway. Weigh the home uptick the Saints' offense gets with the possibility of Revis blanking Colston and he's pretty much right back where he started--a good play but hardly a sure thing.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Kenny Stills, NO TB 002400000 ***
Stills is the last non-Colston Saints wideout to score... and that was back in Week 10. This passing game runs through the tight end, with an assist from the running backs; even at home, where the Saints' numbers tend to climb, Stills is too far down the pecking order to be banked on for fantasy help.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Jimmy Graham, NO TB 0091102000 ***
The last time Graham saw the Bucs he went for 10-179-1--and that was on the road. If you only count his home games, Graham would still rank third among tight ends with nine touchdowns. So, yeah, he's a good play... again.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Shayne Graham, NO TB 2233 ***
Graham tallied seven points in his Saints debut, more than half his team's points. Should be a significantly easier row to hoe this week--not to mention a home date in the SuperDome--so expect Graham to have ample opportunity to get his kicks this week.

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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