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Predictions & Projections
By David M. Dorey
 
The Huddle
WEEK 1
September 3, 2003
Season Ticket
Thu 9 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 4 PM Sun 8:30 PM
NYJ at WAS DEN at CIN MIN at GB ATL at DAL OAK at TEN
Sun 1 PM HOU at MIA NE at BUF CHI at SF Mon 9 PM
ARZ at DET IND at CLE SD at KC NO at SEA TB at PHI
BAL at PIT JAX at CAR STL at NYG Times EST no byes
   
Houston vs Miami Sun, Sep 7; 1 PM on CBS at Pro Player Stadium
  Houston Rush Catch Pass
QB David Carr 10 0 200,1
RB Stacey Mack 50 0 0
TE Billy Miller 0 40,1 0
WR Corey Bradford 0 40 0
WR Andre Johnson 0 60 0
WR Jabar Gaffney 0 30 0
  Miami Rush Catch Pass
QB Jay Fielder 0 0 180,1
RB Ricky Williams 120,2 20 0
TE Randy McMichael 0 30 0
WR Chris Chambers 0 40 0
WR Derrius Thompson 0 60 0
WR James McKnight 0 20 0

Game Prediction: HOU 10, MIA 27

David Carr returns for his second season with the very high hopes that he does not set yet another new record for most times sacked in a season. Houston has retooled the line and added more offensive weapons this year and while the Texans defense was decent last year, the plan is now to get incremental improvements to the offense. While the defense returns 10 of the 11 starters from last season, the offense only has five players coming back again.

The running game has been upgraded with Stacey Mack who excels at short yardage carries. The backfield may rotate players this year depending on Mack's success. The Texans acquired Tony Hollings in the supplemental draft though he is still not 100% from his ACL injury last year in college. They drafted Domanick Davis and return Jonathan Wells. In fantasy terms, it is unlikely that any of them will have much relevance this season outside of Mack who is assured of the goal line carries. None of them have yet proven to be an everydown player. Davis did break his hand this summer as well.

The Texans also added Andre Johnson with the third overall pick in the draft this year and with him the passing game should take on an all new look. Johnson is already NFL-caliber and has already justified his high draft selection during training camp. He takes over for Jabar Gaffney who moves to the slot position where he should have more success against the nickel corners while Johnson provides great possession ability. Last season the Texans ended up with Billy Miller as their best receiver and while they drafted Bennie Joppru as another receiving tight end, Miller will continue to be the starting tight end. Joppru was hampered by a sore groin all summer and was never able to make strides towards getting playing time.

The Dolphins return after yet another December crash and burn last year. Jay Fiedler never received any real competition from free agent Brian Griese even though he has the name for the job. This season will definitely be a year for HC Dave Wannstedt to get the team over the hump and deep into the playoffs. "Close" doesn't continue to sell season tickets for long. By this point, it does not even assure employment.

Ricky Williams rewarded the Dolphins well for obtaining him from New Orleans by leading the NFL last year with 1853 rushing yards. Unlike his frustrating years with the Saints, Williams not only stayed healthy, he actually looked stronger and more powerful as the season wore on. Thanks to Ricky, the Dolphins will continue to be an "old school" team that relies on rushing and sound defense to win games.

While Chris Chambers failed to repeat his exciting rookie season, he returns this season still battling inconsistency. The general consensus is that he may well be out paced by new hire Derrius Thompson this season as the lead receiver for the Dolphins. Thompson went from being a practice squad player to a starter in the topsy-turvy world in Washington last year and since landing in Miami has been the brightest spot for receivers in camp.

Randy McMichael comes back to his second season, ready to replicate his early 2002 season when he continually exceeded expectations. He faltered down the stretch largely due to mental mistakes that led the offense away from using him but is scheduled to return to his more prominent role in the passing game.

This game goes to the home Dolphins who will post plenty enough defense to keep the Texans at bay while Ricky rolls up some big yards to start the season.

 

 

Comparative Stats
Starting Week Two

 

Texans (0-0)
Score Opp.
Week 1 @MIA
Week 2 @NO
Week 3 KC
Week 4 JAX
Week 5 BYE
Week 6 @TEN
Week 7 NYJ
Week 8 @IND
Week 9 CAR
Week 10 @CIN
Week 11 @BUF
Week 12 NE
Week 13 ATL
Week 14 @JAX
Week 15 @TB
Week 16 TEN
Week 17 IND
Dolphins (0-0)
Score Opp.
Week 1 @GB
Week 2 CHI
Week 3 @DET
Week 4 SF
Week 5 @ATL
Week 6 BYE
Week 7 DEN
Week 8 NYG
Week 9 GB
Week 10 @SD
Week 11 @OAK
Week 12 DET
Week 13 @STL
Week 14 SEA
Week 15 @CHI
Week 16 KC
Week 17 @ARZ
(Statistics are game averages from current season )