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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
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WEEK 17
2012
ARI at SF CLE at PIT JAC at TEN OAK at SD
BAL at CIN DAL at WAS KC at DEN PHI at NYG
CAR at NO GB at MIN MIA at NE STL at SEA
  CHI at DET HOU at IND NYJ at BUF TB at ATL

Prediction: MIA 13, NE 27 (Line: NE by 10)

Players to Watch: Reggie Bush, Stevan Ridley

The Patriots can win a first round bye with a win here AND a loss by either the Texans (@IND) or the Broncos (vs. KC). The 11-4 Patriots clinched the AFC East several weeks ago and are 5-2 at home. The 7-8 Dolphins are only 2-5 on the road but a win here would give them a .500 season.

This is a replay of week 13 when the Patriots won 23-16 in Miami.

Miami Dolphins
Homefield: Dolphins Stadium
Grass
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 @HOU 10-30 10 TEN 3-37
2 OAK 35-13 11 @BUF 14-19
3 NYJ 20-23 12 SEA 24-21
4 @ARI 21-24 13 NE 16-23
5 @CIN 17-13 14 @SF 13-27
6 STL 17-14 15 JAC 24-3
7 BYE ----- 16 BUF 24-10
8 @NYJ 30-9 17 @NE -----
9 @IND 20-23 ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
MIA @ NE Rush Catch Pass
QB Ryan Tannehill 30 210,1
RB Knowshon Moreno 100,1 5-30
WR Brian Hartline 4-60

Pregame Notes: The season winds down for first-year head coach Joe Philbin and his offensive coordinator Mike Sherman. It has been a minor success at least in the sense that the Dolphins have already bested their 6-10 season of 2011 and the defense has been better than most realize. Almost half of the games had their opponents held under 20 points. Sadly, almost half their games also only saw the Fins with 17 points or less.

The new offense held true to its word - it did not need a true #1 wideout like Brandon Marshall. At least it never had anything even close to Marshall and it would have been hard to imagine pairing him with the rookie Ryan Tannehill anyway. The Fins passing attack was never more than just a game managing attempt to dink and dunk. Tannehill has only 12 passing touchdowns on the year against 12 interceptions and three lost fumbles. Road games never saw more than one passing score if that. The yardage tended to be sub-200 as well outside of that freakish 431 yard game in Arizona.

Tannehill only passed for 186 yards in New England and scored once on a run.

Reggie Bush is now being reviewed by the Fins who are leaning towards resigning him in the offseason and prevent him from hitting free agency. Bosh comes off a three touchdown game against the Bills and he's been getting around 20 touches for the last three weeks with decent results. Bush only gained 64 yards on 15 runs in the previous Pats meeting. Lamar Miller was allowed ten carries in the big win over the Bills last week and he gained 73 yards but that was his first time over 20 yards in a game since week three.

Davone Bess only caught one pass in the last game with the Pats and is likely to miss this game with a back injury that kept him out the last two games. That leaves only Brian Hartline who had 84 yards on five catches and a couple of practice squadders as the primary receivers. Anthony Fasano did score in two of the last three games but has been little used and only caught one pass against the Pats.

The Pats already won in Miami and are in the running at least for a first round bye. Played in New England makes a huge difference here and the only reasonable fantasy play is Reggie Bush for moderate yardage. The Pats may be weak on defense, but not as weak as the offense for the Fins.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points MIA 28 5 30 31 27 25
Preventing Fantasy Points NE 30 13 27 30 11 2

  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
QB Ryan Tannehill, MIA @CHI 20000024011 ***
It's a moderately favorable matchup for Tannehill, as the Bears have allowed at least 250 passing yards in four straight and multiple TD tosses in two of the last three. However, there's a top end to Tannehill as he has yet to top 278 yards on the year.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Lamar Miller, MIA @CHI 6012100000 ****
Miller stands to benefit from an increased workload with Knowshon Moreno done for the year. It's not a tremendously favorable matchup, but the Bears have given up RB TDs in three straight and Miller handles both the rushing and receiving workload so at minimum he'll be solid with a shot at a score.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Mike Wallace, MIA @CHI 005601000 ****
The Bears secondary has been better the past two games, but Wallace has played his way into every-week starter status thanks to touchdowns in four of five this year. His stat line may not be gaudy, but he's reliable.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Jarvis Landry, MIA @CHI 004500000 ***
Landry is emerging as a playmaker for the Dolphins, and in a more favorable matchup we'd be excited about the prospect of him making plays. However, Da Bears put the clamps on both Carolina and Atlanta and if there's a Miami receiver to be banked on for fantasy points Landry falls behind Mike Wallace in the pecking order.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Brian Hartline, MIA @CHI 002200000 ***
Hartline appears to be fading behind Jarvis Landry among Miami's secondary targets, and this matchup doesn't suggest bucking those odds this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Charles Clay, MIA @CHI 003300000 ***
The only TE TDs the Bears have allowed went to Greg Olsen, who is far more WR than TE. Plus, Clay is nowhere near as involved in the offense as he was last season. Look elsewhere for fantasy help.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Caleb Sturgis, MIA @CHI 2222 ****
Sturgis has been a reasonably reliable producer of points, and the Bears have allowed at least seven points to every kicker they've faced.

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 23-16
8 @STL 45-7 17 MIA -----
9 BYE ----- ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
NE vs MIA Rush Catch Pass
QB Tom Brady 280,2
RB Stevan Ridley 80,1
WR Danny Amendola 5-40
WR Brandon LaFell 5-80
PK Stephen Gostkowski 2 FG 3 XP

Pregame Notes: The Patriots are still in the running for a first round bye but need help to get there and that's at least unlikely. But the Patriots have a history of not taking games off for any reason and with the chance for a bye - they'll all be in this game. Perhaps not Rob Gronkowski who has been out since week 11 with a broken forearm. He has been practicing on a limited basis and the Pats we'll never say more than his serial number but he's no better than a game-time decision this week.

Tom Brady actually had his least productive game of the year when he went to Miami and threw only 238 yards and one score. It was his only single touchdown game since week three. Brady has scored in every game this year but has been less productive in recent weeks because the run has worked well. Brady passed for over 300 yards only once in the last four games.

Now that Brandon Bolden is back, Shane Vereen apparently went tumbling back on the depth chart. But throw in Danny Woodhead in with the constant of Steven Ridley and the backfield is always changing from week to week at least in who relieves Ridley and takes third down duty. Ridley was on a six game scoring streak until the 49ers showed up and he bounced back in week 16 with 84 yards on 18 carries in Jacksonville.

Ridley is the only reliable part of the backfield and ran for 71 yards and a score on 19 carries in Miami this year.

Aaron Hernandez had his season best 97 yards on eight catches in the Miami game and more encouraging is that he's scored in both of the most recent home games.

Since Julian Edelman left, Brandon Lloyd has regained fantasy value with at least 60 yards in each game and a score in the home game versus the Texans. Wes Welker caught 12 passes for 103 yards and one score in Miami as he usually does when he faces his old team. The Patriots will take this game with a balanced approach but the Dolphins are likely to struggle on offense and with a lower score of the opponent, Brady and the passing effort won't have to work too hard against a decent secondary.

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 MIA 15 6 13 11 21 18

  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
QB Tom Brady, NE NYJ 0000029030 ****
Since being left for dead in Kansas City Brady has bounced back with 653 yards and six TDs in two games. And now he gets to face the hated Jets and the league's most permissive pass defense? Yes, please.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Shane Vereen, NE NYJ 2005400000 ***
You'd like to think Vereen's fantasy prospects go up after Stevan Ridley went down, but he hasn't had double-digit carries since Week 13 of last year so a big jump in workload is iffy at best. And with his usual share, it's not a favorable enough matchup to move Vereen's fantasy needle off of "the usual".
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Brandon Bolden, NE NYJ 400000000 ***
Can the Jets make it three straight backup backs to take them for 100 yards? If Brandon Bolden truly gets Stevan Ridley's carries, there's no reason he can't follow in the footsteps of Branden Oliver (19-114-1) and Ronnie Hillman (24-100).
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Brandon LaFell, NE NYJ 004601000 ****
Has Brady found a non-Smurf wide receiver to rely upon? In two of the past three games the answer is a resounding "yes", with LaFell being that wideout. With Tom Brady rolling and the Jets' secondary reeling, you could do worse than looking to LaFell for another such outing this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Julian Edelman, NE NYJ 006600000 ****
Double-digit targets has equaled triple-digit yardage against the Jets this year, and if any Patriot is going to see double-digit targets it's Edelman.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Rob Gronkowski, NE NYJ 006802000 ****
In his past three against the Jets Gronk has two 100-yard games and two multi-touchdown efforts. New York has allowed TE TDs in four straight, including two each to Martellus Bennett, Antonio Gates, and Julius Thomas. No reason Gronk can't keep up.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Timothy Wright, NE NYJ 004400000 ***
With Tom Brady putting up bigger numbers there's room for a second tight end to post helpful fantasy digits--plus there's always the chance the Jets overcompensate for Gronk and leave Wright to ring up the big numbers Gang Green has been surrendering to tight ends.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Stephen Gostkowski, NE NYJ 3333 ***
Gostkowski has multiple field goals in five of six and double-digit points in four of his last five. He's the kind of kicker you put in your lineup and don't think twice about.

WEEK 17
2012
ARI at SF CLE at PIT JAC at TEN OAK at SD
BAL at CIN DAL at WAS KC at DEN PHI at NYG
CAR at NO GB at MIN MIA at NE STL at SEA
  CHI at DET HOU at IND NYJ at BUF TB at ATL

a d v e r t i s e m e n t