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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 DET 0000026020 ***
The vaunted Detroit defense has given up multiple passing scores in each of its last two road games and three of four overall. Brady, meanwhile, has multiple scoring strikes in six straight and has no reason to fear the former top-ranked defense.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Shane Vereen, NE DET 3004401000 ***
The Lions play right into Vereen's strengths, ranking in the top five in RB receptions, RB receiving yards, and RB receiving touchdowns. Now let's hope Bill Belichick sees it the same way.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Jonas Gray, NE DET 501000000 **
Tough to see Gray approaching last week's monster game; the Lions have allowed only four RB rushing scores all year, and only one back has topped 60 yards on the season. Dial back the expectations and you'll be just fine.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Brandon LaFell, NE DET 005800000 ***
LaFell is the closest thing the Patriots have to a reliably productive fantasy wideout, and even he is no guarantee. On the bright side, his last two homes games have seen 24 targets, 17 catches, and two TDs so maybe that tilts the field in his favor.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Julian Edelman, NE DET 004500000 ***
Edelman remains a volume guy, with eight targets in seven of the past eight games--though he still hasn't posted a 100-yard game this season and has just one TD in the past two months. So there's some risk with his reward.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Danny Amendola, NE DET 002300000 ***
Amendola's an afterthought in this passing game, having topped 20 yards just once all season with only one score to his credit. You could hope for a return TD, but until that week when Bill Belichick decides it's "Bring Danny Amendola to Work" Day he's a fantasy afterthought.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Rob Gronkowski, NE DET 007801000 ****
At this point you could say that all 11 defenders will build a wall around Gronk and he'd still be one of the best fantasy plays at his position. Since such a strategy is highly unlikely, go with Gronk again this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Timothy Wright, NE DET 001200000 ***
Wright's a contributor, just too inconsistent a contributor to be banked on for fantasy help.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Stephen Gostkowski, NE DET 3333 ***
Gotskowski's run of five straight games with multiple field goals was snapped last week, but six PATs provided a soft landing. He's had at least nine points in every home game this year, so expect him to get back on track this week.

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 Blake Bortles, JAC @IND 0000024011 ***
Bortles' first taste of the NFL came against Indy earlier this year, when he tossed two TDs in relief of Chad Henne. He's been inconsistent and mostly ineffective since, and it'll take garbage time for him to carve out fantasy value against the Colts.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Denard Robinson, JAC @IND 8012100000 ***
Robinson has either scored or topped 100 yards in each of his four games since taking over the regular gig--a job he did not have when these teams met earlier in the season. After watching Jonas Gray gut the Colts for 201 yards and four TDs, you have to think Robinson can at least carve out some fantasy value here.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Cecil Shorts, JAC @IND 006901000 ***
Shorts has had his share of success against Indy, with three TDs in four games--including one in the earlier meeting this year. With Allen Robinson out Shorts should resume his role as the most targeted Jaguar, and in garbage time odds are he can carve out some fantasy value.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Allen Hurns, JAC @IND 006800000 ***
Hurns should see more looks with fellow rookie Allen Robinson out, and he's always a threat for the home run. But Cecil Shorts is the more viable fantasy option in Jacksonville's passing game, and thus far there hasn't usually been enough to feed multiple mouths.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Clay Harbor, JAC @IND 002100000 ***
The Colts have given up four TE TDs in the past three games, but Harbor's role in the Jacksonville offense has declined to the point that even with a favorable matchup on the table you'll want to look elsewhere for fantasy help.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Josh Scobee, JAC @IND 0022 ***
Scobee hasn't hit double-digits yet this year, and the Jags have only managed to crack the 20-point mark twice this season. You have better options at your disposal.

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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