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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 @PIT 0000031030 ****
Does it really matter what the Steelers have or haven't allowed? Luck is en fuego right now, with multiple touchdowns in every game and five straight (and six of seven) with 300-plus yards. Pep Hamilton has seen the light!
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Ahmad Bradshaw, IND @PIT 6014401000 ****
Three backs have rushed for at least 75 yards against the Steelers in the past two games, and two backs have scored receiving touchdowns. Talk about teeing one up right in Bradshaw's wheelhouse...
Update: Trent Richardson hasn't practiced all week and is officially listed as questionable. Whether he's limited or out entirely, it means more touches for Bradshaw. And that's a very good thing, fantasy-wise.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Trent Richardson, IND @PIT 3002100000 **
Richardson continues to get most of the between-the-tackle work, and while he hasn't topped 80 yards yet he's at least found the end zone a couple times in the past month. He's not as safe a fantasy bet as Ahmad Bradshaw, but it's a favorable enough matchup to be a viable fantasy option this week.
Update: While listed as questionable, Richardson did not practice all week. Even if he goes he clearly won't be at 100 percent, so dial back your expectations accordingly.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR T.Y. Hilton, IND @PIT 009900000 ***
Hilton has at least 80 yards in five straight, triple-digit yardage in three of the last four, and stakes first claim to Andrew Luck's copious yardage total.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Donte Moncrief, IND @PIT 004500000 ****
Moncrief has been seeing an uptick in playing time, and the injury to Reggie Wayne should lead to more targets as well. It's a big pie Andrew Luck is creating; you could do worse than banking on Moncrief to carve out a slice this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Hakeem Nicks, IND @PIT 002300000 ***
Nicks remains on the fringe of relevancy, both for the Colts and fantasy wise. So long as Andrew Luck keeps churning out 300-yard games Nicks has a shot at being a fantasy helper. Reggie Wayne's possible absence this week certainly doesn't hurt Nicks' chances.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Dwayne Allen, IND @PIT 003501000 ****
Allen is slightly more targeted and slightly more productive than his running mate at tight end. With Indy scoring at least one TE TD in every game thus far one--or both--need to be in fantasy lineups, and Allen is the slightly safer bet.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Coby Fleener, IND @PIT 002201000 ***
While he's playing second fiddle to Dwayne Allen Fleener is still a fantasy factor in his own right with touchdowns in three of the past five games. Indy has at least one TE TD in every game, so if you're reaching for help at the position you could certainly do worse than Fleener.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Adam Vinatieri, IND @PIT 1144 ***
My Cousin Vinny is averaging better than nine points per game; opposing kickers are averaging better than nine points per game against the Steelers. Pencil Adam in for something north of nine and call it a day.

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 @TEN 0000025011 ****
Fitz hasn't been fabulous, but he gets to face his old team--and a defense that's allowed three TDs to Brian Hoyer, 336 yards to Blake Bortles, and 267 to the Cousins/McCoy combo platter in just the past three weeks. Clearly, stranger things than a Fitz fantasy helper have happened to this defense.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Arian Foster, HOU @TEN 10014200000 ***
Foster has scored in four straight against Tennessee, and with three consecutive 100-yard rushing efforts against better defenses than the Titans there's little reason to doubt him having success again.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Damaris Johnson, HOU @TEN 003401000 **
Johnson hasn't seen more than three targets in a game this season, and while he's contributed the occasional fantasy helper he can't be relied on for such an assist.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR DeAndre Hopkins, HOU @TEN 006800000 ****
Last week was the first time in a month the Titans didn't allow multiple receivers to score and/or top 50 yards against them. The Texans have been consistently putting two receivers on the fantasy board, though from time to time Demaris Johnson bumps Hopkins or Andre Johnson aside. AJ and Hopkins are still the best bets, however, if not for fantasy greatness then at least for goodness you can plug into your lineup and bank on.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Andre Johnson, HOU @TEN 006700000 ****
Would you believe Johnson hasn't scored on the Titans since 2010 or hit the century mark in yardage since 2009? AJ still hasn't hit the century mark this season but he did break his touchdown maiden a couple weeks back and has contributed at least 58 yards each of the past four games. That's not elite, but at least it's solid.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Garrett Graham, HOU @TEN 002200000 *****
The Titans have surrendered four TE TDs in the past four games; if only Graham were seeing enough targets on a consistent basis to warrant a fantasy play, this would be a great opportunity.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Randy Bullock, HOU @TEN 3322 ****
Bullock's been inconsistent, but the Titans have been consistently fantasy-friendly to opposing kickers. Upgrade Randy to a fringe fantasy option 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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