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Predictions & Projections
By David M. Dorey
 
The Huddle
WEEK 4
September 24, 2003
Season Ticket
Sun 1 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 4 PM Sun 8:30 PM Bye Week:
ARZ at STL KC at BAL ATL at CAR *IND at NO Miami
TEN at PIT *NE at WAS DAL at NYJ Mon 9 PM NY Giants
CIN at CLE *PHI at BUF *DET at DEN *GB at CHI Seattle
JAX at HOU *SF at MIN *SD at OAK *updated Tampa Bay
   
Indianapolis vs New Orleans Sun, Sep 28; 8:30 PM on ESPN at Superdome
  Indianapolis Rush Catch Pass
QB Peyton Manning 0 0 230,2
RB Edgerrin James 70,1 10 0
TE Marcus Pollard 0 20 0
TE Dallas Clark 0 30 0
WR Marvin Harrison 0 80,1 0
WR Reggie Wayne 0 90,1 0
  New Orleans Rush Catch Pass
QB Aaron Brooks 10 0 180,1
RB Deuce McAllister 60,1 20 0
TE Ernie Conwell 0 30 0
WR Joe Horn 0 50,1 0
WR Donte Stallworth 0 40 0
WR Jerome Pathon 0 30 0


Game Prediction: IND 27, NO 17

Update: Marcus Pollard has been hospitalized after falling ill and though the team has not specified what his illness is, all I know is that I would not start a player that was in the hospital only a day or two before the game.

Edgerrin James has also missed practice with a bad back. If he can practice Friday and Saturday, then he will likely play. If not, HC Tony Dungy has no reservations about using Dominic Rhodes and James Mungro to fill in for James. Dungy said that it would likely come down to a gametime decision so if you need to start Edgerrin, make sure that he is indeed playing on Sunday. For my projections, I am assuming that he can play but am lowering his numbers. If he does not start, Rhodes is the most likely replacement but Mungro could get time as well.

The Colts have risen to 3-0 on the season, a full game ahead of the Titans in the AFC South and are looking as if the offensive motor is finally turning over and running again.

Edgerrin James rushed 27 times for 76 yards against Jacksonville, but after the big 17 point third quarter effort by Indianapolis, HC Tony Dungy was mostly playing the clock out and the Jaguars knew it. He should get back on track this weekend against a softer defense in New Orleans.

Peyton Manning finally had a game up to the standards we expect. Throwing for 216 yards and two scores, Manning completed 21 of 33 passes for a 64% completion rate. His target of the day was not Marvin Harrison who ended with only 31 yards on four catches but instead Reggie Wayne had his first big game of 2003. Wayne caught ten of the 13 passes thrown to him, gaining 141 yards and both passing touchdowns in the game.

Wayne is needed to help break the offense open and finally he delivered when Manning made Jacksonville pay for focusing on Harrison so much. If Wayne can continue to be a part of the passing scheme even if only in respect by the defense, it opens up both the passing game to Harrison and the rushing game as well.

In a similar vein, Dallas Clark had four catches for 16 yards while Marcus Pollard did not even have a pass to him. If Wayne and Clark can become of concern to the defense, the entire field opens up for Manning and the linebackers have too much to worry about to just watch Pollard over the middle and Edgerrin James out of the backfield.

Brandon Stokley's hamstring may keep him out of this game as well and I am no longer going to mention him until he plays a full game and is off the injury report. He is a non-factor this season and Troy Walters as his replacement is inconsequential as the Colts prefer two tight end sets anyway.

With the promise of the offense getting back to form, Indianapolis is still relying on their defense which is second only to Tampa Bay in points allowed. Imagine - a great offense with a defense that is playing very solid. This is why Dungy was hired in the first place.

The Saints come off their second road loss, losing 10-27 to the Titans in a game oddly similar to the season opener that went 12-27 in favor of the Seahawks. On the plus side, the Saints are on a trend to be .500 this season winning their home stands while withering on the road. On the negative side, that trend probably ends this week.

Against the Titans, Aaron Brooks completed 15 of 23 for 185 yards and one score but those numbers were minimal considering that there was no rushing game for the Saints. Deuce McAllister was stuffed on his eleven carries and gained only a scant eight yards rushing and had three catches for 23 yards.

It was a bad road loss for the entire offense and the Titans were able to contain Joe Horn (1-5) and Donte Stallworth (2-20) the entire game. Only Jerome Pathon (4-89, 1 TD) made any difference and that was late in the game when the score was already out of hand.

The Saints were missing five starters on their defense and it clearly showed, allowing the Titans to reel off 70 plays against only 38 for the Saints. Unfortunately, those five players are likely to all be out this week as well.

This week pits the team that beat the Titans 33-7 against the team that lost to the Titans 12-27. While that does not often mean adding the numbers up shows the winner, in this case it probably does.

The Saints were unable to mount any running game last week against the Titans and the Colts rush defense is almost as good. More importantly, the Colts are designed for a ball control offense that will keep the ball away much as Tennessee did last week by using two tight ends and then rushing and using tight passes to keep the chains moving and now with both Harrison and Wayne to scare the secondary from cheating up.

Saints back at home will not fall as flat as last week and one more loss will unravel their plans for the season. Aaron Brooks is being questioned again as to his leadership and "fire". Traveling to Carolina the next week will mean this game cannot afford to be lost.

Still, in the end you need the personnel to do anything about it and with the problems on the Saints defense now glaring, it adds up to the offense being taken out of their gameplan too early. CB Dale Carter is still out with his eye bone injury and he would have been tasked with covering Reggie Wayne. His absence last week allowed Drew Bennett to suddenly go from invisible dud to NFL stud in only one week.

IND
NO
2003 Averages
NO
IND
Gains
Allows
QB's
Gains
Allows
200
201
Pass yards
216
168
1.0
1.3
Pass TDs
1.3
0.7
1.0
0.7
Interceptions
0.3
1.0
-1
11
Rush yards
7
2
0.0
0.3
Rush TDs
0.0
0.0
----
----
RB's
----
----
90
97
Rush yards
70
99
0.3
0.7
Rush TDs
0.0
0.0
28
18
Receive yards
25
15
0.0
0.3
Receive TD's
0.0
0.0
----
----
WR's
----
----
124
151
Receive yards
162
119
1.0
0.7
Receive TD's
1.0
0.7
----
----
TE's
----
----
48
32
Receive yards
29
33
0.0
0.0
Receive TD's
0.3
0.0
----
----
PK's
----
----
3.3
1.7
Field Goals
1.0
1.3
1.7
2.0
Extra Points
2.0
0.7
----
----
DEF/ST
----
----
0.7
1.7
Fumbles
0.3
0.0
1.0
0.3
Interceptions
0.7
1.0
0.3
1.0
Touchdowns
1.0
0.0
2.3
1.7
Sacks
2.7
0.7
0.0
0.0
Safeties
0.3
0.0
Colts (3-0)
Score Opp.
9-6 @CLE
33-7 TEN
23-13 JAX
Week 4 @NO
Week 5 @TB
Week 6 CAR
Week 7 BYE
Week 8 HOU
Week 9 @MIA
Week 10 @JAX
Week 11 NYJ
Week 12 @BUF
Week 13 NE
Week 14 @TEN
Week 15 ATL
Week 16 DEN
Week 17 @HOU
Saints (1-2)
Score Opp.
10-27 @SEA
31-10 HOU
12-27 @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
(Statistics are game averages from current season )