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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
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WEEK 14
2012
DEN at OAK (THU) *CHI at MIN MIA at SF SD at PIT
*ARI at SEA *DAL at CIN *NO at NYG *STL at BUF
*ATL at CAR *DET at GB NYJ at JAC *TEN at IND
*Updated BAL at WAS KC at CLE PHI at TB HOU at NE (MON)

Prediction: HOU 31, NE 27 (Line: NE by 4)

Players to Watch: Arian Foster, Tom Brady

Now this is a good Monday Night Football game. The 11-1 Texans have already clinched a playoff berth and are two games ahead of New England, Baltimore and Denver for the #1 seed in the AFC. So far, the Texans are a perfect 6-0 on the road and are on a six game winning streak. The 9-3 Patriots are 4-1 at home and also on a six game winning streak. Here is another wonderful angle - this pits the #1 against the #2 scoring team. And the Texans secondary has been hard hit by injuries to make this even more fun.

Houston Texans
Homefield: Reliant Stadium
Grass
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 MIA 30-10 10 @CHI 13-6
2 @JAC 27-7 11 JAC 43-37
3 @DEN 31-25 12 @DET 34-31
4 TEN 38-14 13 @TEN 24-10
5 @NYJ 23-17 14 @NE -----
6 GB 24-42 15 IND -----
7 BAL 43-13 16 MIN -----
8 BYE ----- 17 @IND -----
9 BUF 21-9 ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
HOU @ NE Rush Catch Pass
QB Brandon Weeden 220,1
PK Nick Novak 2 FG 1 XP

Pregame Notes: This is an all important game for the Texans and could well be the precursor to the AFC Championship game. With two home games to follow against the Colts and Vikings, the Texans could make that season finale' against in Indianapolis a moot point by remaining two games ahead of the AFC pack. While this may be a particularly bad time to be missing a couple of cornerbacks, the Texans have risen up and got the job done before and tend to play up or down to whatever their opponent is like.

If this moves entirely to the air later in the game, Matt Schaub can hang with that having thrown for multiple scores in half his games and scorching the Jaguars for 527 yards and five scores in week 11 followed by 315 yards and a score in Detroit. This will not be a game decided purely by the Texans running offense and Schaub can mix it up when needed.

Arian Foster scored his fifteenth touchdown on the year in Tennessee last Sunday but was limited to only 14 carries partly to rest him up for this week. Foster has shouldered a heavy load this year and even added three to five receptions per week as well. Ben Tate remains the #3 thanks to Justin Forsett's recent three game streak of over 60 yards per game. Those came against weaker defenses to be sure and his role is likely to be scaled back in a tough game like this with such important consequences at play. The Patriots rank well against running backs and yet have not faced many of the top backs. And Foster is the top back.

Owen Daniels already has six touchdowns this year and now will face the weakest secondary against tight ends. He was turning in 60+ yard efforts every week until recently when the opponents became easier to beat. He's sure to play a big role this week and Garrett Graham may be out this week which would call up James Casey into play and further the importance of Daniels.

The Patriots secondary is better but still allows big yardage and scores to primary receivers like Andre Johnson. He's no hidden weapon to be sure but did just post 9-188 and 14-273 in two of the last three games. No doubt he'll come into heavy play again this week. Foster could do better in New England than they expect and if so, that could lower the passing production from both sides.

I like a defensive score in this game.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points HOU 17 1 27 2 4 8
Preventing Fantasy Points NE 30 13 28 32 3 1

  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
QB Brock Osweiler, HOU TEN 10000024010 ***
The Titans have surrendered only two touchdowns to quarterbacks this season, which includes Detroit and Oakland's aerial attacks. Osweiler may struggle mightily and lose opportunities to the ground game.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Lamar Miller, HOU TEN 8014300000 ***
Tennessee's running back defense is the second best in the NFL, but that was against the Raiders and Lions after dominating the line of scrimmage against Adrian Peterson in the opener. Miller should find more room as he is able to create space on his own and is a capable receiver. Start him with modest confidence.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR DeAndre Hopkins, HOU TEN 0071101000 ***
Hopkins faces a defense that has given up just two receiving touchdowns in 2016, but that easily could change this week. He is obviously a must-start player in all leagues.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Will Fuller, HOU TEN 004700000 ***
Fuller's strong start hit a snag last week, but so did the entire offense. Keep the faith and play him as a flex or WR3 against this midrange WR defense.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Nick Novak, HOU TEN 1133 ***
Kickers go as their offenses go, and last week's goose egg is no reason to give upon Novak. Tennessee is the 12th best matchup for kickers.

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 49-19
4 @BUF 52-28 13 @MIA 23-16
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 vs HOU Rush Catch Pass
QB Tom Brady 290,3
WR Danny Amendola
TE Martellus Bennett 5-50,1
PK Stephen Gostkowski 2 FG 3 XP

Pregame Notes: Not unlike the Texans, this is a big game for the Patriots and as soon as this is over, the 49ers show up next week for two games against likely the two toughest defenses they will face this year. The final weeks in Jacksonville and hosting the Fins are sort of "gimmees" but these next two weeks will go far in defining what the Patriots are going to do in the playoffs and where they will fall in the seeding. With a current three-way tie for the #2 seed, any loss is going to be hard to compensate.

Tom Brady comes off his worst game of the year when he only managed 238 pass yards and one score in Miami that included only his fourth interception of the year. He was also sacked a season-high four times. But Brady has been golden almost every week this year with seven efforts over 300 yards and multiple scores in the previous six games. Catching the Texans with a banged up secondary only makes it better.

The Patriots placed Julian Edelman on injured reserve from his broken foot which leaves them thin enough at wideout to call back Donte Stallworth. With Rob Gronkowski still out, the passing game has shrunk to mostly Wes Welker and Aaron Hernandez. Brandon Lloyd has just gone cold despite the need for help and last week comes off a single catch in Miami of his only pass target in the game. Edelman was starting to take hold on a role in the offense but now his workload is likely just absorbed by Welker and Hernandez.

Brandon Bolden has concluded his four-game suspension but the Pats rushing effort has been more than solid and combined ranks #2 in fantasy points. Stevan Ridley is currently on a five game scoring streak and gets help from Shane Vereen and Danny Woodhead already. No real place for Bolden currently. This week they all face the best rushing defense in the league so their stats are bound to take a dip. In the end, this will be mostly about Brady exploiting the banged up Texans secondary and Houston trying to run Foster as much as they can to delay the inevitable aerial war that will break out.


RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points NE 3 2 15 1 2 2
Preventing Fantasy Points HOU 15 1 20 24 7 5

  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
QB Jacoby Brissett, NE BUF 30000016000 ***
The Patriots are preparing Brissett for his second straight start after he injured ligaments in his throwing hand. It is hard to imagine he plays, and media reports say the Patriots are also working on getting Jimmy Garoppolo back on the field. If not, they are actually comfortable with Julian Edelman at quarterback. Anyway, avoid whoever starts at quarterback.

Update: Brissett is questionable as a limited practice participant. Jimmy Garoppolo is, too. Translation: Good luck guessing how this plays out. Smart money says it will be Brissett.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB LeGarrette Blount, NE BUF 1202000000 ****
Maybe with the exception of kicker Stephen Gostkowski, Blount is probably the only playable Patriot this week. The QB situation is untenable and will have a ripple effect. Blount is on a roll and gets the 11th easiest matchup for RBs.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB James White, NE BUF 2002100000 **
Buffalo has done a good job limiting pass-catching backs, holding them to only 80 yards on 13 grabs. White's best utility is when the Pats are playing catchup, and it is doubtful that will happen in this one. Sit him.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Julian Edelman, NE BUF 004300000 ***
His upside is greatly lowered if Jacoby Brissett is the starter. Edelman is an acceptable PPR option against Buffalo's league-worst defense of PPR powerhouses, having given up 53 catches in three games (most in NFL).
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Danny Amendola, NE BUF 003200000 ***
Amendola is a fringe option for rosters and belongs in precisely no fantasy lineups, even against the worst defense of PPR wideouts.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Rob Gronkowski, NE BUF 004500000 *
Total guesswork as to whether he plays meaningful reps, but the guess is likely so ... either way, the matchup is brutal. Buffalo ranks as the strongest unit against the position, having allowed only seven catches through three games. Those numbers are somewhat skewed because of matchups with Arizona and the Jets.

Update: Gronkowski is once again listed as a limited practice participant and is questionable for Week 4. He should play, but it may be another limited outing.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Martellus Bennett, NE BUF 002200000 ***
The quarterback situation matters greatly for this one ... and so does Gronk's health. If he is again limited, Bennett is a reasonable fantasy gamble. Knowing that, coming out of NE, is a shot in the dark, and that is against the best defense of TEs in the NFL.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Stephen Gostkowski, NE BUF 3322 ***
The Bills rank in the middle of the league against kickers -- something that usually comes with game flow. Gostkowski is arguably New England's best weapon given its quarterback woes.

WEEK 14
2012
DEN at OAK (THU) *CHI at MIN MIA at SF SD at PIT
*ARI at SEA *DAL at CIN *NO at NYG *STL at BUF
*ATL at CAR *DET at GB NYJ at JAC *TEN at IND
*Updated BAL at WAS KC at CLE PHI at TB HOU at NE (MON)

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