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Predictions & Projections
By David M. Dorey
 
The Huddle
WEEK 3
September 17, 2003
Season Ticket
Sun 1 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 4 PM Sun 4 PM Mon 9 PM
JAX at IND NYJ at NE *NYG at WAS *GB at ARZ *OAK at DEN
*KC at HOU PIT at CIN STL at SEA Sun 8:30 PM Bye Week:
*MIN at DET *TB at ATL *BAL at SD BUF at MIA CAR, CHI
*NO at TEN Times EST CLE at SF *updated DAL, PHI
   
Buffalo vs Miami Sun, Sep 21; 8:30 PM on ESPN at Pro Player Stadium
  Buffalo Rush Catch Pass
QB Drew Bledsoe 0 0 260,2
RB Travis Henry 70,1 10 0
TE M. Campbell 0 10 0
WR Eric Moulds 0 100,1 0
WR Josh Reed 0 60 0
WR Bobby Shaw 0 60,1 0
  Miami Rush Catch Pass
QB Jay Fielder 20 0 170,1
RB Ricky Williams 120,1 20 0
TE Randy McMichael 0 30 0
WR Chris Chambers 0 60,1 0
WR Derrius Thompson 0 30 0
WR James McKnight 0 40 0

Game Prediction: BUF 27, MIA 20

The Bills are using the gameplan from last year - start out looking like an offensive powerhouse. Whether they can sustain it or not will be answered in part by this game. Since 1999, whichever team wins the first matchup always wins the second one. Last season it was Buffalo. The two years before that it was Miami and in 1999 it was Buffalo again.

Buffalo set out this season to get away from the passing attack that sputtered towards the end of 2002 and run the ball more. The good news is that Travis Henry already has five touchdowns this season. The bad news is that he has rushed 49 times for only 112 yards - a 2.3 yard average. If Bledsoe cannot continue to get the Bills close to the endzone, Henry will not be quite the fantasy stud he currently seems. On the plus side he only has lost one fumble this season in two games.

Drew Bledsoe has been able to keep the offense clicking. While Eric Moulds has been getting the double teams that were expected, Bledsoe is using his other receivers of Josh Reed (5-71) and Bobby Shaw (3-81, 1 TD) well enough that the secondary cannot clamp down on Moulds the entire game. In turn, Moulds ( 7-133, 1 TD) is killing teams in the second half. The Jaguars committed to stopping the run and Eric Moulds and fell behind 35-10 by the fourth quarter trying that idea.

The Dolphins took a 21-3 lead over the Jets by halftime last week and coasted the rest of the way. Ricky Williams had 34 rushes for 125 yards with one touchdown while Jay Fiedler was efficient in passing (14-19, 190 yards, 1 TD) and even scored one a nine yard run himself.

Chris Chambers is enjoying a return to his 2001 season instead of mirroring his disappointing 2002 campaign. Against the Jets he had four catches for 91 yards after his big 7-118 game the previous week. Lost within that is Derrius Thompson who was a star in training camp and so far as only one catch for 24 yards on the season. The Dolphins are going to strictly follow a running scheme and in the event they pass, Chambers once again is the go-to guy for Fiedler.

The downfall for the Dolphins thus far has been the pass defense that ranks #31 in the league for yards passing allowed (640). It has been only two games, but it also has been a home game against the Texans (266) and an away game against Vinny Testaverde (373). The biggest downfall there is allowing the big play and missing tackles downfield.

This is actually a pivotal game. If the Bills win in Miami, they take a nice lead in the AFC East after only three games while the Pats have to beat the Jets in order to stay a game behind. The Dolphins would fall to 1-2 which is a hole they do not want to dig, not with a home loss to a divisional rival and that killer December waiting for them in a few months.

These games are almost always won by more than a touchdown and last year the Bills had 13 and 17 point wins over the Dolphins. Buffalo has not given up a rushing touchdown yet and held Fred Taylor to only 71 yards in week one. Then again, Williams did rush for 228 yards in Buffalo last year during the snow game.

Look for Williams to get heavy use again to keep the Bills offense off the field. While Buffalo has done well statistically against the run, they still have allowed RBs to gain over five yards a carry this year. They just have rolled up the scores and taken the running game away from their opponents so far.

Bledsoe has had both great and moderate outings against Miami, but the Dolphin secondary has not yet proven to be elite yet. Travis Henry gained 132 yards in Miami last year to cause concern by the defense.

This should be an excellent game that provides some good yardage and points. Miami needs to make a stand at home and get back into the race and a win here would tie them for first in the division. A loss throws them into questioning what they are doing offensively and gets Wannstedt on a hot seat early. The Bills will make a game of this thanks to a Miami secondary that can be beaten and already must worry about Travis Henry. Ricky Williams will get his big day but in the end, the Bills will pull out a maddening loss for the Dolphins on this end of the day ESPN broadcast.

BUF
MIA
2003 Averages
MIA
BUF
Gains
Allows
QB's
Gains
Allows
272
320
Pass yards
209
184
1.5
1
Pass TDs
2
0.5
0.5
0.5
Interceptions
1
2
0
1
Rush yards
19
7
0
0
Rush TDs
0.5
0.5
---
---
RB's
---
---
75
79
Rush yards
112
91
2.5
0
Rush TDs
0.5
0
34
38
Receive yards
65
53
0
0
Receive TD's
0.5
0
---
---
WR's
---
---
204
263
Receive yards
125
106
1
1
Receive TD's
1
0.5
---
---
TE's
---
---
35
19
Receive yards
19
22
0.5
0
Receive TD's
0.5
0
---
---
PK's
---
---
1
3
Field Goals
0
0.5
4.5
1
Extra Points
3
1
---
---
DEF/ST
---
---
0
1
Fumbles
0
0.5
2
1
Interceptions
0.5
0.5
0.5
0
Touchdowns
0
0
2.5
1.5
Sacks
0.5
1
0
0
Safeties
0
0
Bills (2-0)
Score Opp.
31-0 NE
38-17 @JAX
Week 3 @MIA
Week 4 PHI
Week 5 CIN
Week 6 @NYJ
Week 7 WAS
Week 8 @KC
Week 9 BYE
Week 10 @DAL
Week 11 HOU
Week 12 IND
Week 13 @NYG
Week 14 NYJ
Week 15 @TEN
Week 16 MIA
Week 17 @NE
Dolphins (1-1)
Score Opp.
20-21 HOU
21-10 @NYJ
Week 3 BUF
Week 4 BYE
Week 5 @NYG
Week 6 @JAX
Week 7 NE
Week 8 @SD
Week 9 IND
Week 10 @TEN
Week 11 BAL
Week 12 WAS
Week 13 @DAL
Week 14 @NE
Week 15 PHI
Week 16 @BUF
Week 17 NYJ
(Statistics are game averages from current season )