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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
   
New Orleans vs Tennessee Sun, Sep 21; 1 PM on FOX at The Coliseum
  New Orleans Rush Catch Pass
QB Aaron Brooks 20 0 210,2
RB Deuce McAllister 90,1 20,1 0
TE Ernie Conwell 0 10 0
WR Joe Horn 0 70,1 0
WR Donte Stallworth 0 50 0
WR Jerome Pathon 0 20 0
  Tennessee Rush Catch Pass
QB Steve McNair 10 0 220,1
RB Eddie George 50,1 10 0
TE Erron Kinney 0 30 0
WR Derrick Mason 0 90,1 0
WR Justin McCareins 0 50 0
WR Tyrone Calico 0 20 0
WR Drew Bennett 0 who? 0


Game Prediction: NO 24, TEN 20

Update: Steve McNair seemed to suffer a setback with his finger injury but then yesterday claimed to be much better. He is listed as questionable but is expected to play as he always does. I am not changing any numbers as I assumed that would be the final verdict. Drew Bennett remains the only starting receiver in the league without a single catch for now, but Justin McCareins is more worth keeping an eye on.

Evidently the Saints solution to their problems of the past is to exactly reverse them. They started out with a loss in Seattle where their offense looked punchless. Then in their second game against an inferior opponent, they fell to a 10-7 deficit in the first half. From the third quarter onward, it was a 24-0 blowout. Last season they started out hot and then cooled. In most games they would score big to start and let teams draw close in the end. It's opposite now. What's next? Saints hitting their peak in December?

New Orleans only had 73 yards of offense in the first half last week and 24 of those yards came on the lone scoring run by Deuce McAllister. Aaron Brooks only had 40 yards passing in the first half as the Saints tried to establish the run but threw for 149 yards and two touchdowns in the second half. Joe Horn ended with 111 yards and a score despite playing on a sore knee and Donte' Stallworth only had two catches but one was a 35 yard score.

The defense also contributed five sacks, two interceptions including the one that Derrick Rodgers returned for a touchdown. The good news that the defense looked improved was offset by the hairline fracture that LB Sedrick Hodge suffered that will keep him out six to twelve weeks. CB Dale Carter also sustained a concussion and a fracture to his orbital (eye) bone that will require surgery and keep him out a month.

Tennessee came off their big Monday night win over the Raiders in week one to drop a stinker in Indianapolis by the score of 7-33. The Titans, unlike the Saints, are evidently using the same script from last season when they won their opener against the Eagles and then lost to Dallas, Cleveland and Oakland before turning the team around and winning the rest of their games other than a one point loss to Baltimore.

Steve McNair dislocated the ring finger on his throwing hand and later claimed to have some pain from his knee sprain of week one. It led to the first game of his entire career where he had no rushing attempts. McNair was spelled by Billy Volek who threw an interception that was returned for a touchdown. At this time, it is assumed McNair will play.

The receiving game is still limited to pitch and catch with Derrick Mason who has 20 catches for 197 yards on the season. Drew Bennett is now officially invisible and Justin McCareins is the only other receiver of note other than rookie Tyrone Calico who has two catches for 18 yards both were touchdowns to start his career. Jeff Fisher has said that Drew Bennett will still be considered the starter but it is purely a paper victory. He has not caught pass in 2003 while Justin McCarein's five catches for 62 yards seems astronomic by comparison.

Frank Wycheck is not improving from his concussion and he may be done. After a couple of concussions in a few months and now with an indefinite recovery time, the door is now opened for Erron Kinney (4-24) and Shad Meier (2-29) in an offense that prefers two tight end sets.

Eddie George comes off his standard 15 rushes for 46 yards. After two games, George is averaging 2.5 yards per carry which is even lower than last season.

DT Albert Haynesworth is out for the New Orleans game with an elbow injury and RG Benji Olson has a third degree MCL sprain and will be out for awhile.

The Titans are following their same trend of last year so far and there is limited reason to expect a faster turn around. Eddie George is a year older and slower and Steve McNair is already hurt. When McNair throws, Derrick Mason gets the first read, the second read, and then more often than not, McNair throws the ball away in the vicinity of Mason. Frank Wycheck is out and Kinney and Meier are still developing chemistry with McNair. The defense has played well against the pass but is now giving up rushing yards with injuries to the front line.

Conversely, the Saints have at least the final two quarters of play last week to suggest they are back to a potent offensive form. Look for Deuce McAllister to tote the ball at least 20 times and Aaron Brooks to to have a lower, but efficient throwing game. The most recent trends for the teams bode best for the Saints.

NO
TEN
2003 Averages
TEN
NO
Gains
Allows
QB's
Gains
Allows
232
219
Pass yards
234
175
1.5
1.5
Pass TDs
1.5
1
0.5
0
Interceptions
1
1
3
3
Rush yards
9
13
0
0
Rush TDs
0
0.5
---
---
RB's
---
---
102
78
Rush yards
56
97
0
0.5
Rush TDs
0
0.5
26
64
Receive yards
14
26
0
0.5
Receive TD's
0
0.5
---
---
WR's
---
---
186
101
Receive yards
150
143
1
1
Receive TD's
1.5
0
---
---
TE's
---
---
20
54
Receive yards
71
7
0.5
0
Receive TD's
0
0
---
---
PK's
---
---
1
3
Field Goals
2
2
2.5
2.5
Extra Points
1.5
1.5
---
---
DEF/ST
---
---
0
1
Fumbles
0.5
1.5
1
1
Interceptions
0
0.5
0.5
0.5
Touchdowns
2
1.5
4
3
Sacks
0.5
1
0
0
Safeties
0
0
Saints (1-1)
Score Opp.
10-27 @SEA
31-10 HOU
Week 3 @TEN
Week 4 IND
Week 5 @CAR
Week 6 CHI
Week 7 @ATL
Week 8 CAR
Week 9 @TB
Week 10 BYE
Week 11 ATL
Week 12 @PHI
Week 13 @WAS
Week 14 TB
Week 15 NYG
Week 16 @JAX
Week 17 DAL
Tennessee (1-1)
Score Opp.
25-20 OAK
7-33 @IND
Week 3 NO
Week 4 @PIT
Week 5 @NE
Week 6 HOU
Week 7 @CAR
Week 8 @JAX
Week 9 BYE
Week 10 MIA
Week 11 JAX
Week 12 @ATL
Week 13 @NYJ
Week 14 IND
Week 15 BUF
Week 16 @HOU
Week 17 TB
(Statistics are game averages from current season )