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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
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WEEK 15
2012
CIN at PHI (THU) *GB at CHI *MIN at STL *SF at NE
CAR at SD IND at HOU *NYG at ATL TB at NO
DEN at BAL *JAC at MIA *PIT at DAL *WAS at CLE
*Updated *DET at ARI KC at OAK *SEA at BUF *NYJ at TEN (MON)

Prediction: IND 20, HOU 27 (Line: HOU by 9)

Players to Watch: Andrew Luck, Arian Foster

The Texans come off an embarrassing trashing by the Patriots that pretty much screamed "you are not there yet". But at 11-2 they still remain the best record in the AFC and one game ahead of those pesky Patriots. The 9-4 Colts have won their last three games but are only 3-3 on the road. This is one of those odd situations where these teams play this week and then again in the season finale' in week 17.

Indianapolis Colts
Homefield: Lucas Oil Stadium
FieldTurf
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 @CHI 21-41 10 @JAC 27-10
2 MIN 23-20 11 @NE 24-59
3 JAC 17-22 12 BUF 20-13
4 BYE ----- 13 @DET 35-33
5 GB 30-27 14 TEN 27-23
6 @NYJ 9-35 15 @HOU -----
7 CLE 17-13 16 @KC -----
8 @TEN 19-13 17 HOU -----
9 MIA 23-20 ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
IND @ HOU Rush Catch Pass
QB Andrew Luck 270,2
RB Vick Ballard 80 4-20
RB Ahmad Bradshaw
RB Trent Richardson 80,1 5-30
WR T.Y. Hilton 2-30
WR Hakeem Nicks 5-60,1
WR Reggie Wayne 6-100,1
TE Dwayne Allen 2-20
TE Coby Fleener 2-20
PK Adam Vinatieri 2 FG 2 XP

Pregame Notes: The Colts are just one win away from locking down a playoff spot and if nothing else, week 16 in Kansas City should get that done. This will be the toughest game left on the schedule since it is played in Houston and the Texans won't be in a jovial mood after Monday night's disaster. This week gets to see just how much better the Colts have become

Andrew Luck comes off one of his worst efforts with only 196 yards and one score on the Titans and the record setting rookie is showing a few chinks in his armor. He's thrown nine interceptions over the last four games and only once all year threw more than two touchdown passes. He still has an NFL best six 300 yard games as a rookie but he best games recently have been on the road and not at home.

Donald Brown was placed on injured reserve because of his ankle and Delone Carter is not certain to play this week either because of his own ankle injury. The Colts resigned both Deji Karim and Mewelde Moore for depth but they are getting comfortable with Vick Ballard as the starter. He responded well with 19 runs for 94 yards in the Titans game. Delone Carter was given the short score though and Ballard has only one rushing touchdown on the year. But he has done well enough to likely keep the Colts out of the running back line early in the 2013 NFL draft.

This week will be key in several ways. It not only has playoff implications for both teams but this is the first of likely many future meetings between the new Colts and the Texans. For years the Texans have wished for a different Colts team to face twice every season.

Be careful what you wish for. the Texans new difficulty in stopping the pass goes to the heart of the Colts offensive success this season. Vick Ballard is due for a down game against the #1 rushing defense though.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points IND 3 28 3 18 19 27
Preventing Fantasy Points HOU 17 1 24 25 4 3

  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
QB Andrew Luck, IND TEN 20000020020 ***
Has Pep Hamilton taken off the restrictor plates? Nearly 40 attempts per game, two 370-yard efforts, and multiple TD tosses in all three outings suggest he has. This will be a true test, as Luck barely mustered 200 yards in both ends of last season's series with the Titans and failed to throw a touchdown against them. Different season; dial back expectations a bit but Luck is still imminently startable.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Ahmad Bradshaw, IND TEN 7005201000 ****
Bradshaw has been more productive with fewer touches than Trent Richardson, and he should remain at least the former against a Titans defense that's giving up almost 120 RB rushing yards and more than one RB TD per game.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Trent Richardson, IND TEN 8011100000 ****
Richardson continues to pace the Colts' backfield in touches, though his productivity has been largely pedestrian. He'll get the volume again, and against the Titans that should be enough for him to be fantasy relevant in a six-team bye week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Reggie Wayne, IND TEN 004501000 ****
History has not been kind to Wayne in this matchup; he's hit the century mark just three times in 22 career meetings, most recently in 2010. Wayne did score the last time he faced the Titans, but he's in a muddled mix in Indy so he can't be banked on with any degree of certainty.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR T.Y. Hilton, IND TEN 006700000 ****
Hilton leads Indy wideouts in targets, but he's not definitively the WR1 and that's who has found success against the Titans--wideouts who garner the vast majority of their team's looks. He's still a home run hitter, but right now TY is in a bit of a slump.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Hakeem Nicks, IND TEN 003300000 ***
Nicks is the least targeted, least productive of Indy's receiving trio; he's also scored both of their WR TDs this year. Tough to bank on another one here against a Tennessee secondary that's allowed only one all season, and without a touchdown Nicks' fantasy value is limited.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Dwayne Allen, IND TEN 004300000 ***
The Titans aren't giving up enough to the position to be considered a favorable matchup, and with Allen having to share looks with Coby Fleener he's a longshot at best for fantasy relevancy.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Coby Fleener, IND TEN 003200000 ***
Fleener dropped an 8-catch, 107-yard outing on the Titans last season but things have changed: Indy has a viable third receiver, and Dwayne Allen is healthy to usurp looks. Proceed with caution.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Adam Vinatieri, IND TEN 4433 ***
Tennessee is giving up more than eight points per game to kickers; Vinatieri is averaging better than nine. That'll work.

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 14-42
6 GB 24-42 15 IND -----
7 BAL 43-13 16 MIN -----
8 BYE ----- 17 @IND -----
9 BUF 21-9 ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
HOU vs IND Rush Catch Pass
QB Ryan Fitzpatrick 220,1
RB Arian Foster 100,1 3-20
WR Andre Johnson 6-80,1

Pregame Notes: The debacle on last Monday night was a beat down from the start and the Texans never got into the game. It was clear enough that is was just not going to happen and by the end of the game, even the most diehard fans needed a game program to figure out who was who. No matter though - the Texans are still one game in the lead for the #1 seed and just lost their margin of error since the #2 team of the Patriots just picked up an important tie breaker of head to head.

Fortunately, that means the Texans have to win out and they get two home games and then end in Indianapolis. Winning this week is not only important, but sets the stage for the final game of the year that too must be a win.

Breaking down last week is meaningless since it was just one of those games and the Texans threw in the towel eventually. Matt Schaub has been solid to spectacular in home games this year and returns to Houston for the first time since week 11 when he jacked up the Jaguars with 527 pass yards and five touchdowns. This week is finally a home game to regroup and get back on track against one of the weaker secondaries in the league.

Arian Foster also needs to get back on track. He's scored a touchdown in all but one game this year but for the last two weeks he's been held under 50 rushing yards in both games. He's also been limited to 15 or less carries in those games instead of the 20+ he normally receives. At least Ben Tate looked good against the Patriots when he rushed for 46 yards on eight carries though in fairness, he did that once the Texans were already hopelessly behind and letting Tate run was the least of the Patriots concerns. Tate offers more than Justin Forsett but has struggled to stay healthy this year.

Andre Johnson should see a decent game here since his home venues have always been better including the 273 yards he posted on the visiting Jags in the most recent home stand. Johnson remains good for at least 70 yards whenever they play at home. Lestar Jean offers marginal help and Kevin Walter doesn't even catch passes in every game anymore.

The Texans need a game to get back on track and this should provide just that though not without the Colts making a game of it.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points HOU 16 1 26 2 5 4
Preventing Fantasy Points IND 15 24 28 9 19 23

  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, HOU BUF 0000025010 ***
Buffalo hasn't been a creampuff but they have allowed fantasy helpers to Jay Cutler and Philip Rivers. Fitz hasn't been anything special but his attempts climbed last week sans Arian Foster and he could be without his ground game again this week. It's an opportunity, one you may need to reach for with six teams on the bye this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Alfred Blue, HOU BUF 7011100000 ***
Blue is in line for another week of feature back touches with Arian Foster nursing a hamstring injury. He was a'ight last week in New York, and while the Bills don't necessarily offer an overly favorable matchup he might wind up being a decent enough volume play.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Arian Foster, HOU BUF 00000000 *
Update: Foster will be a game-time decision due to his hamstring issues. Even if he goes, the plan is to give Alfred Blue at least a share of the workload. Probably best served on your bench unless you see him doing sprints during pregame.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR DeAndre Hopkins, HOU BUF 007901000 ***
Despite fewer targets than Andre Johnson in every game this season, Hopkins owns the only 100-yard game among Texans wideouts and two of the unit's three TDs. Buffalo let WR1s handle them in Weeks 1 and 2 before ceding scores to secondary targets last week. Either way, Hopkins is the more productive fantasy option.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Andre Johnson, HOU BUF 006700000 ***
Johnson has been the more targeted Texan, but DeAndre Hopkins has led Houston WRs in fantasy scoring each game this year. Expect more of the same against a Buffalo secondary that's no pushover but has allowed at least one WR TD every game this year.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Garrett Graham, HOU BUF 002200000 ***
Graham is healthy and his targets on the upswing, but let's let him do something fantasy-wise before trusting him with a fantasy start.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Randy Bullock, HOU BUF 3322 ****
Bullock sandwiched a 12-point game between a couple of five-point efforts, while the Bills were doing the same with fours and an eight. Odds are you won't get shut out, and there's certainly upside to Bullock's fantasy opportunity this week.

WEEK 15
2012
CIN at PHI (THU) *GB at CHI *MIN at STL *SF at NE
CAR at SD IND at HOU *NYG at ATL TB at NO
DEN at BAL *JAC at MIA *PIT at DAL *WAS at CLE
*Updated *DET at ARI KC at OAK *SEA at BUF *NYJ at TEN (MON)

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