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FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

Predictions & Projections
David Dorey  
DIVISION DEN at NE HOU at BAL NYG at GB NO at SF

Prediction: NO 23, SF 20

Line: NO by 3.5, OU = 47.5

The #2 highest scoring offense faces the #2 lowest scores allowed defense. The Saints have scored 42+ points in their last four games though only one was on the road and that was against the Vikings. The Saints have been a scoring machine in almost every game but much less when away from home. Consider on the road they averaged around 27 points but at home it was 42 points. And again - they have never faced as good a defense as the 49ers.

The 49ers have excelled this year mostly thanks to a dominating defense that has allowed only one team to score more than 20 points as a visitor but you could argue that the 49ers have not faced any offense as good as the Saints. Playing in the NFC West meant six free wins but hard to argue against beating the Steelers 20-3. The closest similarity would be losing to the visiting Cowboys 27-24 but that was in week two and the 49ers have improved as the season progressed.

Be interesting because one team is going to end up much different than nearly all their other games.

New Orleans Saints
Homefield: Superdome
Sportexe Turf
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 @GB 34-42 10 @ATL 26-23
2 CHI 30-13 11 Bye -
3 HOU 40-33 12 NYG 49-24
4 @JAC 23-10 13 DET 31-17
5 @CAR 30-27 14 @TEN 22-17
6 @TB 20-26 15 @MIN 42-20
7 IND 62-7 16 ATL 45-16
8 @STL 21-31 17 CAR 45-17
9 TB 27-16 18 DET 45-28
Saints Report | Statistics | Roster
NEW ORLEANS Rush Catch Pass
QB Drew Brees - - 320,2
RB Pierre Thomas 30 20 -
RB Darren Sproles 30 50 -
TE Jimmy Graham - 60 -
WR Marques Colston - 80,1 -
WR Devery Henderson - 50 -
WR Robert Meachem - 50,1 -
PK John Kasay 3 FG 2 XP -
Pregame Notes: The Saints have been prolific on offense in the last month but those were against weaker defenses and all but the Vikes were at home. The margin of winning in road games has been rather small in most games but the Saints are the experienced team and overall healthy.

QUARTERBACK: Drew Brees has been record setting this season but the reality is that he's not been as good on the road as at home. Not even close. Consider he passed for 29 touchdowns at home during the regular season and only 17 on the road - and that includes five scores in Minnesota. Six of his eight road games only posted one or two scores.

The 49ers have only allowed nine passing scores in San Francisco and never more than two per opponent. But Tony Romo (345), Eli Manning (311) and Ben Roethlisberger (330) had big yards. Brees will post the yards and should have two scores but anything more would be a first.

RUNNING BACKS: This is where the difference between home and away comes into play as well. Darren Sproles has scored 11 touchdowns this year and ten were at home. His receiving score in Minnesota was the only time he he reached the endzone away from New Orleans. With Mark Ingram gone, Chris Ivory has filled in but has only scored once when the Panthers showed up. He never catches the ball and has marginal yardage as a runner.

Pierre Thomas has been more productive but his only road scores were in Carolina and St. Louis which really do not count. He's been most likely to offer just moderate yardage in road games if that.

The 49ers have the #1 rush defense that has only allowed two rushing scores this year and those were in the meaningless two final games on the road. No runner has scored in San Francisco and no one has ran for more than 64 yards. This will be a down game for the Saints backfield.

WIDE RECEIVERS: This is the area where the Saints will either win or lose the game. This is the weakness of the defense that doesn't have much you could consider weak. Only one player has logged 100+ yards as a receiver in San Francisco and only seven wideouts have managed to score in San Francisco. But the Saints also bring in a much more diverse passing attack than the 49ers are used to so expect better stats from this group than most that have visited the 49ers.

TIGHT ENDS: The 49ers have allowed higher yardages to several visiting tight ends but so far none have scored on them. Expect the yardage for Graham but a score is much less likely. Graham has been lighter on yardage in road games anyway.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points NO 2 1 4 2 2 26
Preventing Fantasy Points SF 12 1 18 5 1 1


San Francisco 49ers
Homefield: Monster Park
Grass
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 SEA 33-17 10 NYG 27-20
2 DAL 24-27 11 ARI 23-7
3 @CIN 13-8 12 @BAL 6-16
4 @PHI 24-23 13 STL 26-0
5 TB 48-3 14 @ARI 19-21
6 @DET 25-19 15 PIT 20-3
7 Bye - 16 @SEA 19-17
8 CLE 20-10 17 @STL 34-27
9 @WAS 19-11      
49ers Report | Statistics | Roster
SAN FRANCISCO Rush Catch Pass
QB Alex Smith - - 220,1
RB Frank Gore 90,1 - -
TE Vernon Davis - 50 -
WR Kyle Williams - 30 -
WR Ted Ginn - 20 -
WR Michael Crabtree - 70,1 -
PK David Akers 2 FG 2 XP -

Pregame Notes: The 49ers have already enjoyed their best season in nearly two decades and not only returned to the playoffs but earned a first round bye. The offense has been challenged to score many points this year but the defense has been so great that it normally doesn't matter. And the defense has improved every week. This game turns on how well the 49ers can score on offense with such few weapons. This is not a team that can afford to fall behind and need to catch up.

QUARTERBACK: Alex Smith passed for 17 touchdowns this season along with 3144 passing yards which was very pedestrian against this season's standard. But he's never been more than a game manager which is what the team needs. He threw for more than one score in only five games but the Saints are one of the weaker secondaries when they travel. Still, it is not safe to expect more than moderate yardage and one score from Smith. In his last six games, he only passed for more than 215 yards once and scored in just three of the matchups.

RUNNING BACKS: Frank Gore started the year with a five game streak of 100+ rushing yard efforts but he has been used little as a receiver this year and has been held to fewer than 88 rushing yards in each of his last eight games. He stands a chance for one score in this game but even the Saints have been good against the run. And Gore has been running like he is worn down or still injured for most of the second half of the season.

WIDE RECEIVERS: Sadly there is not a lot to think about here. Kyle Williams has become a starter and yet rarely has more than 30 yards in any game. Ted Ginn Jr. has never scored and only once managed more than 40 yards. Michael Crabtree has been the lone "star" and that is a highly relative term mostly about how bad everyone else has been. Crabtree only has four touchdowns this year and only once gained more than 100 yards in a game. If there is any passing touchdown, it will be to either Crabtree or Vernon Davis and more likely Crabtree. All but one of his scores were in home games and that includes a nice showing of 72 yards and a score against the Steelers.

TIGHT ENDS: Vernon Davis has been a disappointment his season with only six touchdowns and 792 yards but he has been a bigger factor in the passing game than all but Crabtree and this is an offense that is not going to produce much through the air anyway. Davis did have one of his best games of the year in the last home game - 72 yards and a score - against the visiting Steelers but it is not enough to consider reliable and the Saints are one of the best teams against the position.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points SF 27 15 30 6 1 4
Preventing Fantasy Points NO 23 22 25 6 21 2

DIVISION DEN at NE HOU at BAL NYG at GB NO at SF

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