Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
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Divisional New Orleans at Seattle 4:35 PM San Francisco at Carolina 1:05 PM
*UPDATED  Indianapolis at New England 8:10 PM San Diego at Denver 4:40 PM

Prediction: IND 24, NE 34 (Line: NE by 7)

Update: Aaron Dobson has officially been ruled out, and Kenbrell Thompkins practiced on a limited basis Friday so Austin Collie may have an opportunity against his former team. Also, the weather may be a larger factor than initially expected, especially for a dome team like Indianapolis. Steady rain is expected as well as winds of close to 20 miles per hour, neither of which benefits the passing game.

This is the only game of the weekend that features two teams that never met in the regular season. Like the Chargers-Broncos tilt, this is a game that can easily be considered a win by the homefield Patriots who never lost a game there this season. But the Colts are a tougher team to predict and last week showed that even a 28 point lead on them is not always safe. This should be a Patriots win in a big way but another win by Andrew Luck and he'll considered the new Tom Brady. The Colts are 6-3 in road games this year.

The weather should not be an issue though there is a chance of rain showers.

1 OAK 21-17 10 STL 8-38
2 MIA 20-24 11 @TEN 30-27
3 @SF 27-7 12 @ARI 11-40
4 @JAC 37-3 13 TEN 22-14
5 SEA 34-28 14 @CIN 28-42
6 @SD 9-19 15 HOU 25-3
7 DEN 39-33 16 @KC 23-7
8 BYE WEEK 17 JAC 30-10
9 @HOU 27-24 18 KC 45-44
News | Statistics | Roster
Rush Catch Pass
QB Andrew Luck - - 260,2
RB Donald Brown 60,1 3-25 -
RB Trent Richardson 20 1-10 -
TE Coby Fleener - 5-50,1 -
WR Da'Rick Rogers - 4-50  
WR Griff Whalen - 4-45,1 -
WR T.Y. Hilton - 5-40 -
PK Adam Vinatieri 1 FG 3 XP -

Pregame Notes: Last week was a tale of two games when the Colts fell behind by 28 points and it seemed over before halftime. Andrew Luck had only thrown for 129 yards and one score by the end of the second quarter and the Colts trailed 31-10. Luck would go on to throw two more interceptions but the second half was a historic comeback.

Luck engineered a legendary comeback aided in no small part by the loss of Brandon Flowers from the Chiefs secondary. The comeback was little more than throwing 18 times to T.Y. Hilton who ended with 13 receptions for 224 yards and two scores showing not only how great Flowers is and how bad his replacements were. With Aqib Talib no doubt waiting for Hilton to show up, a repeat is pretty unlikely unless there is an injury to Talib which would be almost paranormal to happen for the Colts two weeks in a row. Not to mention Jamaal Charles getting a concussion on the first series.

Luck passed for 443 yards and four scores in Kansas City but his production waned in most games since Reggie Wayne left and he he eclipsed 300 yards in only one of the final seven games of the regular season.

Donald Brown never rushes for much but he scored in each of the last three games and totals nine touchdowns on the year. Trent Richardson was bad enough after his trade and his first ever playoff game included one run, one lost fumble and then a "sit and rot" for the rest of the Chiefs win. Assumedly Richardson will return this week but the only value that the rushing effort has consists of scoring touchdowns in most games against moderate to low yardage.

Coby Fleener scored in Kansas City but that was his first score since week 12 and only his second in the last ten games.

Darrius Heyward-Bey remains out with a hamstring strain and the Colts signed Deion Branch for a look at the enemy's playbook to offer receiver depth but he cannot be considered any fantasy factor. T.Y. Hilton remains the only notable wideout since Wayne left and most games come down to either Hilton going off for a big game of he's held to sub-50 yard production. Hilton scored twice in Kansas City but never reached the endzone in the previous eight games.

Griff Whalen starts and only managed two catches for 26 yards last week. He scored twice in the regular season but both were in home games and he's only turned in more than 50 yards once this year. Da-Rick Rogers popped up in week 14 with a big game against the Bengals but was a nonfactor in every other game.

The Pats are below average against quarterbacks but the problem here is that the Colts really only have one. And Hilton is a lock to dance with Talib. That should press the other receivers into more use but so far none of them have had a decent game other than Rogers in his first start. The Pats are also good against the run but will allow rushing touchdowns. Another win here by Luck would be huge for his legend but it looks really unlikely on paper and more so than it did against the Chiefs who already lost to the Colts just two weeks previous.

Gaining Fantasy Points IND 10 13 17 25 8 25
Preventing Fantasy Points NE 21 22 13 23 6 10


1 @BUF 23-21 10 BYE WEEK
2 NYJ 13-10 11 @CAR 20-24
3 TB 23-3 12 DEN 34-31
4 @ATL 30-23 13 @HOU 34-31
5 @CIN 6-13 14 CLE 27-26
6 NO 30-27 15 @MIA 20-24
7 @NYJ 27-30 16 @BAL 41-7
8 MIA 27-17 17 BUF 34-20
9 PIT 55-31 ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
Rush Catch Pass
QB Tom Brady - - 230,2
RB Stevan Ridley 50 - -
RB Shane Vereen 10 6-50,1 -
RB LeGarrette Blount 80,2 1-10 -
WR Danny Amendola - 3-30  
WR Julian Edelman - 8-80,1 -
WR Austin Collie - 2-25 -
PK Adam Vinatieri 2 FG 4 XP -

Pregame Notes: The Patriots lost their first game without Rob Gronkowski but it was on the road and the next two games were huge wins over the Ravens and Bills. The Pats have not always won by much, but they have yet to lose at home. The weather for this game should be fine other than a chance for showers.

Tom Brady is not throwing as much in recent weeks and the Patriots are winning big with their running backs instead of tight ends and wideouts. Brady still throws a score in each of the last nine games but his yardage really waned in the final two games of the season when he only tossed one score and under 200 passing yards.

Where the scoring went recently was almost entirely to LeGarrette Blount who is the new Stevan Ridley (to the dismay of the real Ridley who is still there). Blount ran in two scores in both of the last two games of the regular season and he turned 24 runs into 189 yards when the Bills showed up in week 17.

Shane Vereen gets wildly varying work from week to week. He scored on a catch in each of the last two games. He gets minimal work as a runner. But as a receiver he is thrown anywhere between two and 17 passes for one to 12 receptions. Relevant here is his production in home games which usually involves a touchdown and can include decent yardage as a receiver.

Stevan Ridley still gets 15 carries per game in recent weeks but has no scored since week 11 and has no role as a receiver. He's gone from the lead dog to the #3 best fantasy option in this backfield.

The tight ends are of no importance with Gronkowski gone. His production is absorbed mostly by the running backs. Aaron Dobson is not expected to play this week because of his foot and Josh Boyce was placed on injured reserve. Danny Amendola starts but aside from his one freak game in Miami has been stuck at sub-50 yard efforts and scored only twice all year. Julian Edelman remains the primary wideout and the best bet for a big receiving game if any happens. Edelman finished the season with four of his last six games containing at least nine catches each.

The Colts were fortunate to have Jamaal Charles leave the game almost immediately last week but the Pats have three backs they are fine with plugging into the backfield.

The Colts on the road are only average on defense and just won a game that they allowed 44 points. They also gave up seven rushing touchdowns over the last five road games and that included two each for BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Chris Johnson. The best fantasy aspect here is that the Pats won't ever take it easy against an opponent who just came back from a 28 point deficit to win. This should end up as the highest scoring game of the weekend unless both Denver and San Diego have a shoot-out.

Rushing has been the focus in the most recent games for the Pats and it keeps the Colts on defense against one of their weaknesses. Brady, Vereen, Blount and Edelman are all good starts but as with all things Patriot, that could change depending on how the game unfolds.

Gaining Fantasy Points NE 21 2 6 24 1 13
Preventing Fantasy Points IND 17 11 18 6 7 7

Divisional New Orleans at Seattle 4:35 PM San Francisco at Carolina 1:05 PM
*UPDATED  Indianapolis at New England 8:10 PM San Diego at Denver 4:40 PM

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