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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: SF 17, NE 27 (Line: NE by 3)

Players Updated: Mario Manningham

Players to Watch: Colin Kaepernick, Brandon Lloyd

This is the Sunday night game and should be a very good one. The 9-3-1 49ers come in with a 4-2 road record and face the 10-3 Patriots who are 5-1 at home having lost to the Cardinals there which is more shocking with every passing week. The Patriots are tied with the Broncos for the #2 seed and just beat the #1 seed Texans. They need this win to qualify for homefield and a first round bye. The 49ers have a half game lead on the Packers for the #2 seed in the NFC with a road game in Seattle left to play. The loser here will probably drop to a #3 seed which is a huge difference. It helps the Patriots significantly to be playing at home with the 49ers forced to travel across the country and play in far colder weather than they are used to. Just like the Texans last Monday night.

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 31-21
4 @NYJ 34-0 13 @STL 13-16
5 BUF 45-3 14 MIA 27-13
6 NYG 3-26 15 @NE -----
7 SEA 13-6 16 @SEA -----
8 @ARI 24-3 17 ARI -----
9 BYE ----- ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
SF @ NE Rush Catch Pass
QB Colin Kaepernick 40 240,1
RB Frank Gore 70,1 3-20
WR Anquan Boldin 4-50
WR Michael Crabtree 6-80,1
WR Steve Johnson 6-80,1
WR Brandon Lloyd 5-60
TE Vernon Davis 2-30
PK Phil Dawson 2 FG 2 XP

Pregame Notes: The 49ers redeemed themselves after losing to the Rams in week 13 by taking down the Dolphins with relative ease but that was at home and this week will be just the third time the 49ers have needed to travel to the northeast. The Seattle game following this is every bit as big and maybe more important, especially if the 49ers lose this week.

Colin Kaepernick has declined as a passer during his four starts and while that partially relates to the quality of opponents, it is somewhat troubling that defenses are catching onto him more now. Against the Dolphins he only passed for 185 yards but scored as a runner for the fifth time this year. So far Kaepernick threw for only three touchdowns. He's making an equally big impact as a runner. This week pits him against a very weak secondary but it is a road game and the Pats are better now. It is a great test to see just where Kaepernick is as a starter. In New Orleans, he only passed for 231 yards and one score but added a second one as a runner for comparison.

Frank Gore is not taking over any games and has been over 20 carries only three times this year. But he scored in each of the last three games which helps his 60 yard or so game he seems stuck at lately. Now that the Brandon Jacobs experiment is very much over, LaMichael James was given his first action of the year and gained 30 yards on eight runs while playing in a role just like Kendall Hunter would have. He is one to watch in this offense that could use a spark.

Mario Manningham was scratched last week because of his shoulder but may return. A.J. Jenkins was active for the first time but the rookie wideout never saw a pass. This week has Michael Crabtree as the standout receiver but he could be shadowed by Aqib Talib who is tentatively expected to play this week after suffering a hip pointer in the Texans matchup. Talib has made a huge difference to the secondary and no doubt will be tasked with Crabtree if possible. This is also the reunion of Randy Moss with his more recent employer. While that often prompts a bigger effort, Moss still likes the Patriots and has been little more than a minor player each week anyway.

The production in this game is dependent on how well the 49ers can slow down the Patriots pass attack. If they cannot, then the run goes away and Kaepernick is forced into a must-throw mode that should be more successful for him than the last several games.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points SF 13 12 24 9 11 17
Preventing Fantasy Points NE 29 12 27 31 8 1

  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
QB Colin Kaepernick, SF SD 40000023020 ***
Kaepernick's last fantasy game of note came in Week 6; in eight subsequent games he's failed to throw multiple touchdowns, topped 240 passing yards only twice (topping out at 263) and rushed for more than 26 yards once. Nothing in that stat line suggests he warrants fantasy consideration here
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Frank Gore, SF SD 6004300000 ***
Update: Gore practiced on a limited basis Thursday and Friday as he works his way back from a concussion, but the Niners expect him to go on Sunday. He hasn't exactly been lighting the world on fire anyway, so unless someone planted a hypnotic suggestion that he's Eric Dickerson you'll be better served finding fantasy help elsewhere.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Bruce Miller, SF SD 1002200000 *
With Frank Gore and Carlos Hyde both iffy at best this week the backfield load falls on Miller and Alfonso Smith--who combined for 10 yards on six carries last week. At least Miller produced a little something as a receiver with four catches for 56 yards, so if you're in a PPR league and desperate for backfield help he's your guy.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Anquan Boldin, SF SD 006801000 **
It's been a month since a 49ers wideout produced a fantasy helper, and the way Colin Kaepernick is playing further fantasy help is far from imminent from the San Francisco passing attack. If you must start one Boldin has the most recent touchdown and 100 yard game, but even he would be a stretch at this juncture.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Michael Crabtree, SF SD 004501000 **
The Niners haven't produced a fantasy helper in quite some time, and the Chargers have been allowing only one fantasy helper per game. If that's the case, Crabtree falls behind Anquan Boldin in the passing game pecking order, though neither has a tremendous shot at a productive fantasy outing.
Update: Crabtree is listed as questionable with a knee injury. He practiced only on a limited basis this week, and there's not enough upside to offset this risk.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Steve Johnson, SF SD 003300000 ***
A Colin Kaepernick-led passing game barely goes two-deep; three deep seems like a wish upon a star.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Vernon Davis, SF SD 002200000 *****
Remember when Vernon Davis used to be good? And... fantasy relevant? It's all a bit hazy at this point.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Phil Dawson, SF SD 1122 ***
The Bolts have given up double-digit kicker points in three straight, four of six, and five of the last eight games. So we're sayin' there's a chance... likely torpedoed by Colin Kaepernick's quarterback play.

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 42-14
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 SF Rush Catch Pass
QB Tom Brady 280,2
RB Stevan Ridley 70,1 2-10
RB Shane Vereen 20
WR Danny Amendola 7-80,1
PK Stephen Gostkowski 2 FG 3 XP

Pregame Notes: The Patriots were so thoroughly dominant over the visiting Texans that it makes it hard not to just assume they'll manhandle the 49ers just as bad. The schedule makers were incredibly kind when they opted to give the Pats home venues for the matchups against the Houston and San Francisco defenses. After this week, all that is left is to smack down the Jaguars and then take down the visiting Dolphins who are somewhat spry when they play but always beatable.

Tom Brady had not problems with the Houston secondary as he shredded it for 296 yards and four touchdowns before finally leaving later in the game to go make some more commercials. He scores every week and at home has been less productive in most games because the rushing effort usually takes care of the win as well.

The Patriots are back to a full complement in the backfield with Brandon Bolden back and mixing in with Danny Woodhead, Shane Vereen and of course Stevan Ridley. The only consistency here is Ridley who has scored in six straight games and almost always gets 18+ carries in the game. The other three have been active and get some work, but this remains primarily Ridley's backfield and he is the preferred goal line back as well.

Donte Stallworth showed up on Monday night, caught one pass for 63 yards and a score and then suffered a high ankle sprain. He is now on inured reserve with a 63 yard average for the Patriots this year. Deion Branch was re-signed to take his place which was to replace Julian Edelman. What was forgotten was that Brandon Lloyd is still the starter and he finally showed up with seven receptions for 89 yards on the Texans last week. The defense took away Wes Welker (3-52) for most of the game and Lloyd was able to get involved.

This will be even more interesting than the Houston win because the Texans already had experienced problems in their secondary while the 49ers are a top unit across all positions. It does help to play at night on the other side of the country from what the 49ers are used to but this will be equally a good test for the Patriots and a scary thing if they in any way manhandle this defense as they did the Texans.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points NE 4 2 17 1 2 2
Preventing Fantasy Points SF 2 2 2 2 1 10

  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
QB Tom Brady, NE @NYJ 0000025020 ***
The Jets have fallen off the record-setting pace for allowing touchdown passes they were on, but it's still essentially the same defense Brady took for 261 and 3 back in Week 7. Brady's been plenty hot himself, with multiple scoring strikes in 10 straight; no reason to doubt him here.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Jonas Gray, NE @NYJ 401000000 ***
Gray was back as the Patriots' leading rusher last week, though he was the only Patriots back who carried the ball who failed to score. He simply can't be trusted with a fantasy start here; if/when he scores, you'll know you've been Belichicked.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Shane Vereen, NE @NYJ 1003200000 ***
Vereen has a couple of solid pass-catching outings against the Patriots, 2-91-1 back in 2012 and 5-71-2 earlier this season. Vereen missed any games in between, and he's far from a sure thing, but all signs point towards him seeing enough action to be a solid PPR fantasy helper this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Brandon LaFell, NE @NYJ 007801000 ***
LaFell has given Tom Brady a bigger target down the field, one whom Brady mixes and matches with diminutive Julian Edelman to full effect. Both are viable fantasy options this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Danny Amendola, NE @NYJ 004400000 ***
No writeup available
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Julian Edelman, NE @NYJ 00000000 ***
Patriots wideouts did little against the Jets in the earlier meeting, a bit surprising since over the past month the Jets have allowed five 100-yard receivers. Edelman and Brandon LaFell remain the most targeted Patriots wideouts, and with a favorable matchup they can both be counted on for fantasy contributions this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Rob Gronkowski, NE @NYJ 005801000 ***
Shocking, really, that Gronk isn't among the dozen tight ends who have scored on the Jets this year; expect that to change this week. Gronkowski has topped the 100-yard mark in each of his last two trips to New York, so he should augment that score with copious yardage as well.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Stephen Gostkowski, NE @NYJ 2233 ***
The Jets are the only team to hold Gostkowski under double-digit points at home and since he's a less than 50/50 proposition to hit 10 or more on the road (three of seven games this year), don't let your expectations run wild here.

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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