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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey  

Sortable Player Projections | Game Predictions Summary | Projections by Team

WEEK 5
2011
*ARI at MIN *NO at CAR *SD at DEN CHI at DET (mon)
CIN at JAC *NYJ at NE *SEA at NYG BYE
GB at ATL OAK at HOU *TB at SF BAL, CLE, DAL
*UPDATED KC at IND PHI at BUF *TEN at PIT MIA, STL, WAS

Prediction: TB 16, SF 24

Players to Watch: Preston Parker, Alex Smith

Update: Frank Gore was limited in practices this week but is listed as probable and will start this week against the Buccaneers.

The Buccaneers take their three game winning streak to San Francisco where the 49ers are also 3-1 and were within one field goal by Dallas to being undefeated. Buccaneers are on a short week and traveling across the country. The 49ers are better this year than they were in 2010.

The Buccaneers won 21-0 in San Francisco last season.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Homefield: Raymond James Stadium
Grass
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 DET 20-27 10 HOU -
2 @MIN 24-20 11 @GB -
3 ATL 16-13 12 @TEN -
4 IND 24-17 13 CAR -
5 @SF - 14 @JAC -
6 NO - 15 DAL -
7 CHI - 16 @CAR -
8 Bye - 17 @ATL -
9 @NO -      
Buccaneers Report | Statistics | Roster
TAMPA BAY at SF Rush Catch Pass
QB Josh Freeman - - 240,1
RB LeGarrette Blount 50 - -
TE Kellen Winslow Jr. - 30 -
WR Preston Parker - 60 -
WR Mike Williams - 50,1 -
WR Arrelious Benn - 60 -
PK Conner Barth 3 FG 1 XP -
Pregame Notes: This week will be a good test since the Buccaneers have won three straight but that was with only one road game against the 0-4 Vikings who nearly won. The oddity of the Buccaneers is that their schedule contains only two road games in their first seven weeks. They need to roll up all the wins they can before ending the season with six road trips and only three home venues.

QUARTERBACK: Josh Freeman comes off his season best effort when he posted 287 yards and one touchdown on the Colts last Monday. Freeman only has three passing touchdowns on the season and has been around 250 passing yards in most games. But again - he only has one road show to judge by so far. He passed for 243 yards and one score on the Vikings but who doesn't?

Freeman passed for 136 yards and two scores on the 49ers last year.

The 49ers secondary has been their weak link and allowed seven passing scores so far. The 49ers have been outstanding against the run too which means that Freeman has to throw sooner or later. But expecting more than a moderate game from Freeman just has no bearing based on his year so far. He is mainly a game manager with virtually no deep ball.

RUNNING BACKS: LeGarrette Blount also comes off a season high game with 127 yards and a score on Monday night that included a 35-yard run for the game winning touchdown at Indy. That gives Blount three touchdowns on the season and he has rushed for at least 70 yards in each of the last three games. Unfortunately - he almost no role as a receiver and loses out to Earnest Graham when the Buccaneers are in passing formations. Graham has up to eight catches in a game so far though it varies greatly and he has marginal yardage at best.

Blount gained 82 yards on 26 carries in the 49ers last season.

This year the 49ers defense has been great against the run and not allowed any touchdowns or more than 64 yards rushed against them. That means Blount is likely in line for a down game especially since he does not offer receptions.

WIDE RECEIVERS: Mike Williams was a big surprise last season and in 2011, he is almost equally a disappointment. He has only scored once and that was back in week one. He comes off a season best game of only 66 yards on five catches. This is the main difference between last season and this one. The passing touchdowns are not there. Williams has one score in four weeks and last year he already had three at this point and was enroute to a total of 11. Preston Parker has replaced Sammie Stroughter in the slot and scored the lone receiving touchdown on the Colts along with a team high 70 yards on five catches but he remains inconsistent from week to week. But he also has a 98 yard game and is the only wideout with more than 50 yards other than Williams last week.

Arrelious Benn had one score called back on a penalty on Monday but has no fantasy value from a lack of catches and yards.

Williams scored once on his three catches for 54 yards in San Francisco last year. The 49ers secondary is nothing special and have been hurt by wideouts in almost every game. But the Buccaneers are not successful with theirs so relying on good things to happen is optimistic. I'll credit Mike Williams more as a placeholder though he has a nice chance to finally score in this one.

TIGHT ENDS: Kellen Winslow Jr. has marginal fantasy value and though he claimed to be healthier this season, it looks more like he has lost a step. He has yet to score and has never had more than 44 yards since the season opener. Winslow only gained 34 yards on four catches in San Francisco in 2010. He remains a huge risk to rely on for anything more than marginal yardage.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points TB 14 14 23 19 18 13
Preventing Fantasy Points SF 23 1 29 18 18 11


San Francisco 49ers
Homefield: Monster Park
Grass
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 SEA 33-17 10 NYG -
2 DAL 24-27 11 ARI -
3 @CIN 13-8 12 @BAL -
4 @PHI 24-23 13 STL -
5 TB - 14 @ARI -
6 @DET - 15 PIT -
7 Bye - 16 @SEA -
8 CLE - 17 @STL -
9 @WAS -      
49ers Report | Statistics | Roster
SAN FRANCISCO vs TB Rush Catch Pass
QB Alex Smith - - 230,2
RB Frank Gore 60,1 10 -
RB Kendall Hunter 20 20 -
TE Vernon Davis - 60,1 -
WR Josh Morgan - 50 -
WR Michael Crabtree - 40,1 -
PK David Akers 1 FG 3 XP -

Pregame Notes: The even stranger thing than seeing the 3-1 49ers leading the NFC West by two full games is trying to explain how it happened. It is not like any offensive player is have a good year. They have just managed to have enough of a good week to get the job done. Winning in Philly last week was a big upset but a sign of an improving 49ers that maybe cannot be taken so lightly anymore. The new offense of Jim Harbaugh was finally "opened up" with really nice results. If last week is a sign of what the new 49ers are going to be like, we are not nearly through with surprises.

QUARTERBACK: Alex Smith was chugging along with his normal mediocre results - around 200 yards in most games and two scores in the first three weeks. But after falling behind by 20 points in Philadelphia, HC Jim Harbaugh said he allowed Smith to make the deeper throws and stop playing game manager. It worked. He passed for 291 yards and two scores on a shocked Eagles. The question is - can he do it again? The Eagles had not prepared against that Smith since he had not been allowed to use the full playbook or pass deep. Now that there is a bit of film out there, can he repeat the feat?

The Buccaneers secondary allowed plenty of passing yards to Matt Stafford, Matt Ryan and even Curtis Painter. And this is only the second road game for the Bucs who barely beat the 0-4 Vikes in their only foray outside of Tampa Bay this year. Consider Smith good for more than he had been in the early stages of the season but he still needs to prove last week was not a fluke.

RUNNING BACKS: Frank Gore was limited all last week with a bad ankle and allowed Kendall Hunter to start the Eagles game. Hunter responded nicely with 38 yards on nine runs and 62 yards on two receptions. And Gore came back to life with a season best 127 yards on 15 carries with one score. That doubled his previous high for the year and his 139 total yards were almost double the 78 total yards from the season opener against the Seahawks. Much was due to the Eagles surprisingly soft defense though.

The Buccaneers are solid against the run but their only road game resulted in Adrian Peterson gaining 120 rush yards and two scores. Otherwise they have been great against the run including shutting down Michael Turner. Back at home, figure on Hunter taking a smaller role this week and Gore should take a step back from last week. I like the chance for Gore to score.

WIDE RECEIVERS: Braylon Edwards remains out with his knee surgery but the Eagles game that included facing Nnamdi Asomugha was a surprise. Michael Crabtree ended with 68 yards on five receptions when his previous best was only 24 yards. Josh Morgan not only gained 65 yards on three catches, but he also scored. Morgan's previous best was only 35 yards in a game. Ted Ginn was blanketed by Asomugha and had no catches but how hard was that really?

Crabtree is still nursing a foot injury. The Buccaneers secondary is their weak spot though with plenty damage done to them by the Falcons and Colts wideouts though curiously only Calvin Johnson has scored on them. Still like one passing score to end up here and that has to favor no wideout in particular since as a group they have only scored twice this year.

TIGHT ENDS: These last two weeks have finally seen the offense turn to Vernon Davis and make use of the elite tight end. He rung up 114 yards on eight receptions in Cincinnati and then scored once on his 45 yards on four catches in Philly. The Buccaneers have already allowed two scores to the position so look for at least a decent showing by Davis that could end up as a big game.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points SF 27 18 31 10 9 5
Preventing Fantasy Points TB 17 10 26 17 15 5

WEEK 5
2011
ARI at MIN NO at CAR SD at DEN CHI at DET (mon)
CIN at JAC NYJ at NE SEA at NYG BYE
GB at ATL OAK at HOU TB at SF BAL, CLE, DAL
  KC at IND PHI at BUF TEN at PIT MIA, STL, WAS

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