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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
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WEEK 16
2012
ATL at DET (SAT) CLE at DEN NO at DAL *SF at SEA
BUF at MIA *IND at KC *NYG at BAL STL at TB
CHI at ARI MIN at HOU OAK at CAR *TEN at GB
*Updated CIN at PIT *NE at JAC SD at NYJ WAS at PHI

Prediction: NE 30, JAC 13 (Line: NE by 14.5)

Players Updated: Rob Gronkowski

Players to Watch: Cecil Shorts, Wes Welker

Losing to the 49ers last Sunday night dropped the 10-4 Patriots back into the #3 seed which means no bye and only one home field game. But this week they face the 2-12 Jaguars who have already packed their suitcases and are just watching the clock for for week 17 Sunday to be over. That the highest scoring offense in the NFL now faces a team that has declined to the point they do not score touchdowns could be concerning. The Pats will win of course but won't need 40 points to get the job done.

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 34-41
7 NYJ 29-26 16 @JAC -----
8 @STL 45-7 17 MIA -----
9 BYE ----- ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
NE @ JAC Rush Catch Pass
QB Tom Brady 270,2
RB Stevan Ridley 80,1
WR Danny Amendola 8-100,1
TE Rob Gronkowski
PK Stephen Gostkowski 3 FG 3 XP

Pregame Notes: The loss to the 49ers really shook up the Patriots image coming on the heels of them looking so dominant against the Texans the previous week. The reality too is that both those games came at home where the Pats are always far better and losing that #2 seed may come back to haunt them. The Pats cannot afford any more losses either since they are only one game ahead of the Ravens now who have already beaten them back in week three to own that tie breaker should it be an issue.

The Pats almost never take any game lightly no matter what the situation is and in this case, they have to win and may want to flex some muscles doing it after last week's loss.

Tom Brady on the road has been plenty prolific other than facing inter-divisional foes and the Jaguars are soft in the secondary. But the are even worse against the running backs which could end up with a depressed stat line for Brady who won't need 400 yards to compete here.

The running backs are going to be harder to call than usual - and it has been largely impossible anyway - since both Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen lost fumbles last week and then disappeared from the game plan while Danny Woodhead had a big game holding onto the ball. Ridley's faux pas ended his six game scoring streak but he's fumbled before and not carried the shame into the next week. It will always be tough to accurately predict who does what here but Ridley should end up with his job back.

What is nice too is that Aaron Hernandez is finally showing up as a major weapon for the Patriots only three months after everyone drafted him with big expectations. He's caught at least eight passes in the last two games while scoring a total of three touchdowns.

Both the Texans and 49ers schemed to take Wes Welker away with great success but Brandon Lloyd picked up the slack finally with 89 yards against the Texans and 190 yards versus the 49ers. While he won't be needed nearly so much this week, it is nice to see him finally being in the game plan and producing more than the roughly 50 yards and no score he had going the rest of the season.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points NE 3 2 13 1 1 2
Preventing Fantasy Points JAC 23 32 16 8 32 19

  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
QB Tom Brady, NE OAK 0000021020 ***
Brady has been downright awful for fantasy purposes, and given the success opponents have had running the ball right down the Raiders' throats there's little reason to think Tom will have to dust off the golden days here.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Stevan Ridley, NE OAK 701000000 ***
The Raiders have allowed a whopping 363 RB rushing yards through two games; no reason to think the Patriots haven't taken notice and will run Ridley another 25 times this week. And at the 5.2 yards per carry Oakland is allowing, that will add up quickly.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Shane Vereen, NE OAK 4006300000 ***
Vereen should touch the ball enough to be effective, and there's always the possibility of a Ridley fumble or some other wrinkle that turns Vereen's share of the Patriots' backfield workload into a majority one.
Update: Vereen is listed as questionable and practiced on a limited basis all week... which is what the Patriots say about pretty much everyone on their roster with a nick, cut, or boo-boo. There has been no indication he won't be available to take his usual turn in the New England backfield, but that turn can vary from week to week so the risk is multiplied here.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Julian Edelman, NE OAK 006801000 ****
The closest thing to a sure thing among Patriots receivers, Edelman is consistently targeted and a solid PPR play; he's also the only New England wideout with a touchdown this year.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Danny Amendola, NE OAK 002200000 ***
All non-Edelman Patriots wideouts have accounted for nine catches and 66 yards this season. Total. Amendola's inconsistent share of that paltry sum isn't worth a fantasy play, even against Oakland.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Rob Gronkowski, NE OAK 004401000 ***
Even on a snap count, the prospect of a Gronk TD is too likely to have him sit on your fantasy bench. So long as he's only on the field a little over half the time, however, he's a riskier play in yardage-heavy or non-TE mandatory formats.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Stephen Gostkowski, NE OAK 2244 ***
Gosty's a lock for multiple treys and a handful of PATs; what more could you ask for in your fantasy kicker?

Jacksonville Jaguars
Homefield: J'ville Municipal Stadium
Grass
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 @MIN 23-26 ot 10 IND 10-27
2 HOU 7-27 11 @HOU 37-43
3 @IND 22-17 12 TEN 24-19
4 CIN 10-27 13 @BUF 18-34
5 CHI 3-41 14 NYJ 10-17
6 BYE ----- 15 @MIA 3-24
7 @OAK 23-26 16 NE -----
8 @GB 15-24 17 @TEN -----
9 DET 14-31 ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
JAC vs NE Rush Catch Pass
QB Chad Henne 230,1
WR Cecil Shorts 5-90,1
TE Marcedes Lewis 4-50
PK Josh Scobee 2 FG 1 XP

Pregame Notes: The Jaguars have won only once in the last 11 games and the offensive output that seemed to spike with Chad Henne starting has faded to where they cannot even score a touchdown anymore. This is the final home game of the year but that's hardly a reason to expect any progress.

The only difference this week is that Maurice Jones-Drew has not been ruled out yet and HC Mike Mularkey said he was "questionable" this week but closer to playing than he has been. There is really no reason to bring him back - the season was over long ago and MJD is only risking further injury for nothing. One has to expect a more earnest holdout this coming summer since the worst case just happened this year.

Cecil Shorts returned last week after missing the Jets game with a concussion and he turned in 101 yards on six catches in Miami right back to his high level of performance though it was his first time to not score a touchdown in the last five games played. Justin Blackmon has reeled in six catches in each of the last two games but has not scored since week 12. This is the last home game so it should help both receivers facing one of the weaker secondaries in the NFL.

Aqib Talib has been a great addition for the Patriots and he matches on Justin Blackmon which should depress his stats this week, not that they were that big to start with anyway. This will be the final home game for a team that has made very little progress in Mike Mularkey's first season as head coach. If MJD does play this week, it may have to do with it being the final home game but I'll project for another week of Montel Owens until a decision is made.

Sadly facing the Patriots secondary is not as much fun as it was earlier in the season.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points JAC 26 32 18 29 30 30
Preventing Fantasy Points NE 30 12 26 30 8 2

  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
QB Chad Henne, JAC IND 0000024021 ***
It's easy to say the Colts have been carved up via the air thus far, but in fairness to them they've faced Peyton Manning and Nick Foles. Still, Henne dropped 331 and 1 on them last December, posted a solid 266 and 2 in Philly, and would have fared better statistically against the Redskins had he not spent the afternoon running for his life. Should be a solid outing here, the kind you wouldn't be embarrassed to plug into a lineup that just lost, say, RG3.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Toby Gerhart, JAC IND 5002100000 ***
At two yards a carry it's going to take some work for Gerhart to carve out fantasy value, even against a Jags D still reeling from the one-two punch of LeSean McCoy and Darren Sproles. But hey, who else they got?
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Allen Hurns, JAC IND 003501000 ***
Since sneaking up on Philly in the first half of Week 1, Hurns has exactly two catches for 13 yards. Not quite time to discard him into the one-hit wonder bin, but if you're plugging him into your fantasy lineup you must enjoy playing the lottery.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Cecil Shorts, JAC IND 006700000 ***
Shorts practiced on a limited basis Wednesday, which is a positive step for him. Should he play he's the best (only?) playmaker on the Jaguars' offense and warrants a fantasy start against a defense he's taken for 246 yards and two TDs in three career meetings.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Marqise Lee, JAC IND 00000000 *
With Cecil Shorts sidelined we've been waiting for Lee to emerge as the go-to receiver Blake Bortles will trust... you know, once the Jaguars hand the keys to Bortles. Through two games, we're still waiting. Not that he can't do some damage against the Colts, but he has yet to demonstrate he's worthy of the trust required to crack a fantasy lineup.
Update: Lee has already been ruled out of Sunday's game, so no need to sweat his availability.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Clay Harbor, JAC IND 003301000 *
Hey, Harbor gets the start against an Indy defense that clearly can't cover tight ends! I mean, they've allowed 12-198-3 to... oh, wait, Julius Thomas and Zach Ertz. Never mind; as you were.
Update: Harbor was limited in practice Thursday and Friday, adding a level of risk that dramatically overshadows his potential reward.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Josh Scobee, JAC IND 1122 ***
One more PAT and Scobee will join 27 of his NFL kicking mates in double figures. For the season. Yeah, it's that bad.

WEEK 16
2012
ATL at DET (SAT) CLE at DEN NO at DAL *SF at SEA
BUF at MIA *IND at KC *NYG at BAL STL at TB
CHI at ARI MIN at HOU OAK at CAR *TEN at GB
*Updated CIN at PIT *NE at JAC SD at NYJ WAS at PHI

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