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Predictions & Projections
By David M. Dorey
 
The Huddle
WEEK 7
October 15, 2003
Season Ticket
Sun 1 PM TEN at CAR Sun 4 PM Mon 9 PM Bye Week:
*BAL at CIN *NE at MIA *WAS at BUF KC at OAK Arizona
DAL at DET *NO at ATL *CHI at SEA   Indianapolis
*DEN at MIN *PHI at NYG NYJ at HOU Times EST Jacksonville
GB at STL *SD at CLE *TB at SF *updated Pittsburgh
   
Tampa Bay vs San Francisco Sun, Oct 19; 4 PM on FOX at San Francisco Stadium
  Tampa Bay Rush Catch Pass
QB Brad Johnson 0 0 230,2
RB Michael Pittman 50,1 20 0
RB Thomas Jones 20 10 0
TE Todd Yoder 0 20,1 0
WR Keyshawn Johnson 0 70 0
WR Keenan McCardell 0 90,1 0
  San Francisco Rush Catch Pass
QB Jeff Garcia 20 0 190,1
RB Garrison Hearst 50 10 0
RB Kevan Barlow 30 10 0
TE Jed Weaver 0 10 0
WR Terrell Owens 0 50 0
WR Tai Streets 0 70,1 0
WR Cedrick Wilson 0 30 0

Game Prediction: TB 24, SF 10

Tampa Bay Notes

Update: With LT Derrick Deese and LG Eric Heitmann likely out, I am lowering the rushing numbers. I am also lowering the receiving numbers for Terrell Owens who only had 35 receiving yards against the Bucs in the playoff game last year. CB Brian Kelly is listed as questionable to play due to a pectoral strain but even if he does not play, the Bucs intend on shifting CB Ronde Barber to cover him.

Quarterbacks: Having a 140 QB rating in a game means you win - just ask Brad Johnson who completed 22 of 30 passes for 268 yards and four touchdowns against the Redskins. Johnson now has 12 touchdowns on the season and now is getting the job done throwing to players that have not caught a pass all season.

Running backs: Michael Pittman comes off a 62 yard effort last week on 17 carries but also added 33 yards on three catches. With Mike Alstott out, Thomas Jones saw increased play and gained 33 yards on only five runs. Fullback Jameel Cook also helped fill the Alstott void and had 29 yards on three catches. Coupled with the fine play of Brad Johnson, the running game is not great but good enough.

Wide Receivers: Though he was a late decision to start, Keyshawn Johnson played with his quadricep contusion and gained 80 yards and one score on only four catches. Keenan McCardell cooled slightly after his big game against the Colts and still managed 77 yards on five catches. Karl Williams was expected to play but aggravated his hamstring strain before the game and was a scratch.

Tight Ends: Last week Ken Dilger missed out on his expected big game by tearing the plantar fascia in his right foot which will probably keep him out this week too. In his place previously little known Todd Yoder had four catches for 28 yards and two touchdowns and completely unknown Will Heller had his first NFL catch for a four yard score as well. That's five catches between two tight ends for three scores. The funny part is that all three scores came on the same play - a quarterback play action bootleg to the right twice (Yoder) and the left once (Heller).

Match against the defense: San Francisco has been tough against the run this season and back at home that should not change. Michael Pittman is hardly a top flight runner and in San Francisco he likely will not even be an average one.

Where the Buccaneers can succeed will by with the pass against a team that has allowed big games to receivers ranging from Randy Moss to Kevin Johnson but by the same token they have been tough against some great receivers as well. Their inconsistency only mirrors that of the entire team. Brad Johnson has proven good enough to spread the ball to open receiver regardless who that is and should find success with both the wideouts and those tight ends again.

San Francisco has not allowed more than 17 points at home this season but the Buccaneers have not dipped below 30 in the last three games. Gruden brings a complicated enough attack to town to expose the secondary's inability to cover multiple targets, particularly when they are not primary targets. This is why they have been beaten by the likes of Andre Davis, Dane Looker and Nate Burleson.

The 49ers have also allowed tight ends to score three times this year by SEA, DET and CHI - the only offenses that they have faced that make much use of the position.

San Francisco Notes

Quarterbacks: While getting battered constantly, Jeff Garcia threw for 168 yards against the Seahawks with no interceptions and one touchdown he finally just ran in himself. His best game all year was week one when he had 229 yards and in the past four games he has not exceeded 200 yards. Besides his receivers dropping the ball, Garcia is getting clobbered by teams that are not even known to be big pass rushers. He has shaved his head this season so that no one realizes all his hair has turned white from fright.

Running backs: The duo of Garrison Hearst and Kevan Barlow has combined for around 100 yards or better rushing in five of the six games this season but neither has eclipsed the mark individually. While many on the team cry for sticking to one runner, HC Dennis Erickson continues the 2:1 formula left behind by Mariucci.

Hearst also had an uncharacteristic fumble late in the game that prevented a final drive to win the game.

Wide Receivers: Surprisingly quiet this week, Terrell Owens comes off one of his worst games as a 49er when he only managed to catch four passes for 36 yards and dropped three balls - any of which that could have made a big difference. One was a 55 yard pass. He posted almost identical numbers as Cedric Wilson.

Tai Streets caught five passes for 77 yards to take up some of the slack but when the best receiver on the team decides to tank a game, Streets is not enough to compensate. The almost freakishly low passing numbers for the 49ers have directly affected the wideout position and the plans to throw the ball longer this year haven't caught on any better than the 55 yard pass to Owens last week.

Tight Ends: His name is Jed Weaver and he really does not matter much.

Match against the defense: This is going to be interesting.

The 49ers will run Hearst and Barlow the standard 25-30 times a game and they should produce around the standard 100 yard combined unless the Buccaneers get a big lead early. Losing LT Derrick Deese to a sprained ankle may lower it slightly.

Where the difference should play in is that the Buccaneers could be getting CB Brian Kelly back this week and LB Shelton Quarles may also return. Tampa Bay will be coming after Garcia with the intention of knocking him into the bay. San Francisco faces a defense that is currently in the top ten against all positions and the easiest route to a win is right over Garcia.

Look for yet another sub-200 yard effort from Garcia and yet a better performance from Owens if only due to his volume of passes.

Game Prediction: Amazingly, the Buccaneers are the reigning world champions and seven weeks into the season they are still searching for their first back-to-back win. The complex offense cooked up by Gruden has compensated for the continual loss of players to injury and the 49er secondary has not proven able to handle that level of complexity that features several targets, particularly tight ends. With the problems that Garcia has staying upright on passing plays, TB could gain a defensive score here as well.

Team Comparisons - Current team rankings (1-32) by position for FF points scored or allowed by position
Rank (1-32) QB RB WR TE PK DEF
TB Scores
4
9
7
3
30
6
SF Allows
15
9
25
25
2
13
TB AP 11 0 18 22 -28 7
Rank (1-32) QB RB WR TE PK DEF
SF Scores
6
16
11
22
6
8
TB Allows
4
8
6
7
10
1
SF AP -2 -8 -5 -15 4 -7
Offensive ranks - lower = gains more points, Defensive Ranks lower = allows less points
AP = Advantage Points, the net difference between a positional rank gained or allowed by the teams.
TB SF 2003 Game Averages SF TB
Gains Allows QB's Gains Allows
271
205
Pass yards
211
194
2.4
1.8
Pass TDs
1.2
0.6
0.8
1.2
Interceptions
1.2
1.8
1
6
Rush yards
24
12
0.0
0.0
Rush TDs
0.5
0.0
----
----
RB's
----
----
105
76
Rush yards
104
71
0.4
0.7
Rush TDs
0.5
0.8
70
37
Receive yards
34
31
0.2
0.0
Receive TD's
0.2
0.0
----
----
WR's
----
----
162
140
Receive yards
156
131
1.4
1.3
Receive TD's
1.0
0.6
----
----
TE's
----
----
37
28
Receive yards
21
31
0.8
0.5
Receive TD's
0.2
0.0
----
----
PK's
----
----
0.6
0.8
Field Goals
2.2
1.6
3.4
2.5
Extra Points
2.3
1.4
----
----
DEF/ST
----
----
0.8
0.3
Fumbles
1.2
0.2
2.0
1.2
Interceptions
1.2
0.6
0.2
0.2
Touchdowns
0.2
0.0
2.6
2.0
Sacks
3.2
0.4
0.0
0.0
Safeties
0.0
0.0
Buccaneers (3-2)
Score Opp.
17-0 @PHI
9-12 CAR
31-10 @ATL
Week 4 BYE
35-38 IND
35-13 @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
49ers (2-4)
Score Opp.
49-7 CHI
24-27 @STL
12-13 CLE
7-35 @MIN
24-17 DET
19-20 @SEA
Week 7 TB
Week 8 @ARZ
Week 9 STL
Week 10 BYE
Week 11 PIT
Week 12 @GB
Week 13 @BAL
Week 14 ARZ
Week 15 @CIN
Week 16 @PHI
Week 17 SEA

* Fantasy point rankings calculated using standard Huddle fantasy points