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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
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WEEK 11 IND at TEN (THU) CLE at CIN MIN at SEA SF at NO
ATL at TB DET at PIT OAK at HOU WAS at PHI
BAL at CHI GB at NYG NYJ at BUF NE at CAR (MON)
*UPDATED ARI at JAC KC at DEN SD at MIA On Bye: DAL, STL

Prediction: SF 17, NO 27 (Line: NO by 3)

Update: Vernon Davis has been limited in all practices and still is not cleared from the concussion he suffered in the loss to the Panthers. He can still pass the tests and play but it may go up to game time to determine his status. Mario Manningham also was limited in all practices but is expected to play no differently than last week. Davis remains a game time issue so far.

Now this is an even more interesting game. The 6-3 49ers come off a home loss to the Panthers where they had almost no offense and now trail the Seahawks by three games. The 7-2 Saints just demolished the Cowboys with an NFL record number of first downs and an offense that worked really well no matter what they tried. Played in New Orleans only makes this even more in the Saints favor.

1 GB 34-28 10 CAR 9-10
2 @SEA 3-29 11 @NO -
3 IND 7-27 12 @WAS -
4 @STL 35-11 13 STL -
5 HOU 34-3 14 SEA -
6 ARI 32-20 15 @TB -
7 @TEN 31-17 16 ATL -
8 @JAC 42-10 17 @ARI -
9 BYE WEEK ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
SF @ NO Rush Catch Pass
QB Colin Kaepernick 60,1 150
RB Frank Gore 70,1 2-20
WR Anquan Boldin 5-50
WR Steve Johnson
TE Vernon Davis 4-40
PK Phil Dawson 1 FG 2 XP

Pregame Notes: The 49ers were on a nice five game winning streak facing weaker defenses every week until the Panthers showed up and took away Vernon Davis. That one receiver was apparently on the bottom of the house of cards because Colin Kaepernick could not pass and that will be a factor this week as well facing a team that not only sports a great offense but a much improved defense. Behind by three games from the Seahawks means the division is just not likely to happen but a wild card still can and the 49ers should be favored in almost all the remaining games after this week.

QUARTERBACKS: Colin Kaepernick never looked worse than last week when he only passed for 91 yards, ran for just 16 and was sacked six times. He's only thrown nine touchdown passes all year but ran in scores against the Titans and Jaguars. The loss of Michael Crabtree was never replaced and taking Vernon Davis from the equation leaves Kaepernick with virtually no weapons. Fortunately there are not a lot of great defenses left on the schedule but there will be if the 49ers manage to reach the playoffs.

RUNNING BACKS: Frank Gore did not score in the loss to the Panthers but he ran for 82 yards and added 21 more as a receiver. Gore's been consistently good all year without ever being really great thanks in part to his lack of use as a receiver in most games. He scored seven times already including each of the last three road games but he tends to turn in his lowest yardage when he is away from San Francisco.

WIDE RECEIVERS: There is just no fantasy value here. Michael Crabtree returned to practice last week but wasn't able to run at full speed and was unable to make more than routine catches. He's still a ways off from returning. Mario Manningham returned but made no impact with three catches for 30 yards. Anquan Boldin hasn't scored in six weeks and rarely ends up with more than 60 yards in any game. There is just nothing happening here all year and it is not improving. Boldin has the only two touchdowns thrown to a wideout this year.

TIGHT ENDS: Vernon Davis left the loss to the Panthers with a concussion and will need to pass the tests this week to play on Sunday. I will assume he does and update later if needed. Garrett Celek injured his hamstring and left the 49ers with only Vance McDonald who had no catches in the game. Davis is the only part of the passing game that works and owns seven of the nine passing touchdowns this year.

MATCH TO THE DEFENSE: This is not the same Saints from last year. At home over five games they have only allowed a total of five touchdowns and marginal yardage in most. Given the poor passing of the 49ers there is no reason to consider any 49ers for a start other than potentially Vernon Davis who has to face a defense which has prevented any tight end from scoring on them over the last seven weeks. Frank Gore is a must start against the weaker part of the defense that allowed seven scores to the position and decent yardage for most.

WHAT TO WATCH: The 49ers have to bounce back from a a tough loss at home but on the road the best they can hope for is that the Saints are still tired from all that scoring last week.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points SF 22 9 32 10 21 9
Preventing Fantasy Points NO 4 13 10 4 4 3

 

1 ATL 23-17 10 DAL 49-17
2 @TB 16-14 11 SF -
3 ARI 31-7 12 @ATL -
4 MIA 38-17 13 @SEA -
5 @CHI 26-18 14 CAR -
6 @NE 27-30 15 @STL -
7 BYE WEEK 16 @CAR -
8 BUF 35-17 17 TB -
9 @NYJ 20-26 ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
NO vs SF Rush Catch Pass
QB Drew Brees 320,2
RB Mark Ingram 40
RB Pierre Thomas 60 3-20
WR Marques Colston 4-50
WR Kenny Stills 3-60
TE Jimmy Graham 6-70,1

Pregame Notes: The crushing of the Cowboys made up for losing recent road games to the Jets and Patriots. It was one of those games where everything went right and for one week the Saints looked super again. But they remain just one game ahead of the Panthers with both meetings left to play along with this week and the trip to Seattle to offer a far bigger challenge. It will likely come down to what happens in the games against the Panthers but with road troubles so far, the Saints need to pick up all the home games.

QUARTERBACKS: Drew Brees continues his homefield magic with the 392 yards and five scores on the Cowboys last week. Brees has not thrown for fewer than two scores in every home game for a few years now and already passed for 19 in just the five games in New Orleans already.

RUNNING BACKS: The Saints rushing attack was phenomenal last week when they produced three of the top four fantasy running backs for week 10. But that had more than a little to do with playing at home and being to run 36 times against a defense that lost two of their linebackers in the game including Sean Lee. Darren Sproles came back from the dead when he scored twice and caught seven passes for 76 yards for his first decent game in five weeks.

Pierre Thomas also had one of his best games of the year when he totaled 111 yards and scored twice. But even Mark Ingram had his first legitimate big game after three years in the league. Ingram ran for 145 yards and scored once for his first trip ever past the 100 yard mark. This means that Ingram will again be involved after spending most the year injured and watering down what Thomas has been producing.

WIDE RECEIVERS: The even more surprising part of the night was that Marques Colston caught seven passes for 107 yards and scored his first touchdown since the season opener. Colston had lost all fantasy value with three straight games of sub-20 yard performances. Kenny Stills scored for the fourth time in four weeks but he's all about the long pass and only turns in three receptions per game. This is still a very inconsistent group lately other than Stills who isn't above having a bad game away from home.

TIGHT ENDS: Jimmy Graham only managed five catches for 56 yards without any scores last week but that wasn't due to his foot. He just wasn't needed when everything else was working so well. The Cowboys tried to take him away and was mostly successful but at the expense of getting crushed in all other areas. Graham is not healthy but hauled in nine catches for 116 yards and two scores the previous week.

MATCH TO THE DEFENSE: The 49ers secondary has only allowed five passing touchdowns over their four road games though Brees is bringing a much better offense to the party than anyone that the 49ers have yet faced. He's a lock for high yardage and two scores anyway since it is a home game. The secondary has been very good against wideouts which only recently did anything for the Saints this year. This won't be nearly so much fun as the Cowboys were and you have to worry about the 49ers being motivated after their loss and the Saints still giddy about setting the NFL record for first downs. Brees, Graham and Thomas are always safe plays and Sproles is back to form and should factor in. But any of the wide receivers are more risky this week.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points NO 2 1 26 1 6 21
Preventing Fantasy Points SF 5 20 8 3 1 7

WEEK 11 IND at TEN (THU) CLE at CIN MIN at SEA SF at NO
ATL at TB DET at PIT OAK at HOU WAS at PHI
BAL at CHI GB at NYG NYJ at BUF NE at CAR (MON)
*UPDATED ARI at JAC KC at DEN SD at MIA On Bye: DAL, STL


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