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Predictions & Projections
By David M. Dorey
 
The Huddle
WEEK 5
October 1, 2003
Season Ticket
Sun 1 PM *TEN at NE Sun 4 PM Sun 8:30 PM Bye Week:
*ARZ at DAL *MIN at ATL DET at SF *CLE at PIT Ravens
CIN at BUF *NO at CAR WAS at PHI Mon 9 PM Texans
*DEN at KC OAK at CHI *SD at JAX *IND at TB Jets
MIA at NYG SEA at GB   *updated Rams
   
Indianapolis vs Tampa Bay Mon, Oct 6; 9 PM on ABC at Raymond James Stadium
  Indianapolis Rush Catch Pass
QB Peyton Manning 0 0 180,1
RB Edgerrin James 60,1 20 0
TE Marcus Pollard 0 40,1 0
TE Dallas Clark 0 20 0
WR Marvin Harrison 0 60 0
WR Reggie Wayne 0 30 0
  Tampa Bay Rush Catch Pass
QB Brad Johnson 0 0 190,1
RB Michael Pittman 50 40 0
RB Mike Alstott 30 10 0
TE Ken Dilger 0 20 0
WR Keyshawn Johnson 0 70 0
WR Keenan McCardell 0 40,1 0


Game Prediction: IND 20, TB 16

Update: Edgerrin James is now considered probable to play on Monday and has returned to practice. He had been listed as questionable with his back injury but now is expected to play unless he suffers from unforseen setbacks according to HC Tony Dungy. He will be playing a very tough defense - obviously - and I am downgrading his numbers some on the expectation that he will play but may be somewhat limited still.

It is likely that he will be spelled by Dominic Rhodes or Ricky Williams more often than normal. It is a good sign that he is back to practice and he does have an extra day due to the Monday night game time, but that limits fantasy teams to using the most recent information possible prior to the games starting on Sunday, 36 hours before the Colts play. He appears good to play but temper that with the knowledge of him playing less than 100% at a tough stadium.

In case this game seems like an odd pairing, that is because it has not happened since 1997. The two have met only twice in the past ten years.

The Colts come off one of those magic games against the Saints where Peyton Manning threw six touchdowns to set a team record for the best of all reasons - because he could. While his play has seemed spotty this year, Marvin Harrison (6-158, 3 TDs) has fixed any problems with his per game average.

After spending the night in the hospital, Marcus Pollard (4-63) was able to play and ruin the perception that Dallas Clark (1-11) had taken over. Edgerrin James did not play and was replaced by a three-headed monster of Dominic Rhodes (52 yards, 1 TD), Ricky Williams (74 yards, 1 TD) and James Mungro (30 yards). Nothing like having a fantasy stud that requires a minivan to carry all his backups.

Edgerrin James is still receiving treatment for his back but at this point I am considering that he will play. Updates as warranted.

The Colts are 4-0 now and after struggling in Cleveland in week one, they have improved each week offensively until last Sunday's cruel and unusual punishment of the Saints. This week presents them with their biggest test - on the road against the NFL Champion Buccaneers that are coming off their bye week. While Indianapolis comes off a 55 point showing last week, Tampa Bay has yet to allow more than 12 points in a game this season.

The Buccaneers have settled on Michael Pittman as the featured runner, using him the last two games for 30 carries versus 32 carries split out over Aaron Stecker, Thomas Jones and Mike Alstott. Pittman rushed for 82 yards against the Falcons last and averaged a heady four yards per carry by Tampa Bay standards. He also had 82 yards receiving in the game as well. Pittman has a sprained wrist but is expected to practice on Wednesday and play this weekend.

Brad Johnson has five touchdowns against only two interceptions in the first three games of the season and was able to compensate last week for missing Joe Jurevicius by just throwing the ball seven times to Pittman.

The Tampa Bay offense is hardly explosive but remains much the same formula as last season - good enough to win when paired with a dominating defense that leads the league in preventing points.

This game will be a great one to watch since it features Tony Dungy in his first trip back to Tampa Bay. Indianapolis has made great strides defensively in the two seasons under Dungy and the scheme is not much different than what the Buccaneers still use. Gruden was able to use his knowledge of the Raiders to throttle them in the Superbowl, can Dungy remember back how to beat the Bucs?

If there is anything certain about this game it is that the Colts will not score 55 points again and the Buccaneers cannot win solely with their defense. The Colts have allowed Fred Taylor and Deuce McAllister to have 100 yard games, but Michael Pittman is not in that class quite yet. More telling is that the Colts have not allowed any quarterback to throw for more than 182 yards against them nor more than one passing score per game.

The only notable weakness so far for Tampa Bay's defense is allowing Stephen Davis to run for 142 yards up the middle. They have yet to allow even one passing score. They have only allowed 22 total points in the course of three games. Indianapolis had that by halftime last week.

This will be a fascinating game to watch because it will either make Tampa Bay stumble again in their quest to repeat as champs or it will force the Colts to realize that they are good but not yet great.

One important fact for this game is that the Buccaneers have not yet met a real offense. Philadelphia, Carolina and Atlanta are hardly the highest scoring teams.

While the rested Buccaneers are at home this week, I like the old coach coming back to haunt them. Tampa Bay is 2-1 and yet has not been tested by an offense or defense quite as good as the Colts and Indianapolis has the look of a team hitting their stride. Maybe Tampa Bay will stick their foot out and trip the Colts, but the lack of an offense for Tampa Bay is the biggest weakness for either team.

What a great reason to watch TV on Monday night.

IND
TB
2003 Averages
TB
IND
Gains
Allows
QB's
Gains
Allows
232
124
Pass yards
256
183
2.3
0.0
Pass TDs
1.7
0.8
0.8
2.3
Interceptions
1.0
1.3
-1
20
Rush yards
-2
4
0.0
0.0
Rush TDs
0.0
0.0
----
----
RB's
----
----
93
70
Rush yards
96
101
0.3
0.3
Rush TDs
0.7
0.3
35
30
Receive yards
69
19
0.5
0.0
Receive TD's
0.3
0.0
----
----
WR's
----
----
142
71
Receive yards
157
117
1.5
0.0
Receive TD's
1.0
0.8
----
----
TE's
----
----
55
22
Receive yards
28
47
0.3
0.0
Receive TD's
0.3
0.0
----
----
PK's
----
----
3.0
1.7
Field Goals
1.0
1.5
3.0
0.3
Extra Points
2.3
1.0
----
----
DEF/ST
----
----
0.5
0.3
Fumbles
0.7
0.0
0.8
0.7
Interceptions
2.3
0.8
0.5
0.0
Touchdowns
0.0
0.0
2.0
0.7
Sacks
2.0
0.8
0.0
0.0
Safeties
0.0
0.0
Colts (4-0)
Score Opp.
9-6 @CLE
33-7 TEN
23-13 JAX
55-21 @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
Buccaneers (2-1)
Score Opp.
17-0 @PHI
9-12 CAR
31-10 @ATL
Week 4 BYE
Week 5 IND
Week 6 @WAS
Week 7 @SF
Week 8 DAL
Week 9 NO
Week 10 @CAR
Week 11 GB
Week 12 NYG
Week 13 @JAX
Week 14 @NO
Week 15 HOU
Week 16 ATL
Week 17 @TEN
(Statistics are game averages from current season )