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Predictions & Projections
By David M. Dorey
 
The Huddle
WEEK 8
October 22, 2003
Season Ticket
Sun 1 PM *DET at CHI Sun 4 PM Sun 8:30 PM Bye Week:
CAR at NO NYG at MIN HOU at IND BUF at KC Atlanta
*CLE at NE SEA at CIN *NYJ at PHI Mon 9 PM Green Bay
DAL at TB *STL at PIT *SF at ARZ *MIA at SD Oakland
*DEN at BAL TEN at JAX   *updated Washington
   
Dallas vs Tampa Bay Sun, Oct 26; 1 PM on FOX at Raymond James Stadium
  Dallas Rush Catch Pass
QB Quincy Carter 20 0 210,1
RB Richie Anderson 20 20 0
RB Troy Hambrick 60,1 10 0
TE Dan Campbell 0 10 0
WR Joey Galloway 0 70,1 0
WR Terry Glenn 0 50 0
WR Antonio Bryant 0 60 0
  Tampa Bay Rush Catch Pass
QB Brad Johnson 0 0 230,2
RB Michael Pittman 50 40 0
TE Ken Dilger 0 20 0
TE Heller / Yoder 0 30,1 0
WR Keyshawn Johnson 0 40 0
WR Keenan McCardell 0 60,1 0


Game Prediction: DAL 17, TB 20

This is a nearly impossible game to call. It pits the world champions that are injured and looking terrible lately against a team that has been the surprise of the NFL so far this season (at least a good surprise). Parcells has the team firing on all cylinders and believing in themselves and even a 1963 Dodge Dart can win a race if the other car breaks down or takes time off.

The Bucs are facing a must win game really and are back at home. This is a matchup of almost completely contrasting teams. The bad team is playing great and the great team is playing bad. Hard to imagine Tampa Bay overlooking the Cowboys but they certainly fell flat against the 49ers. This game hinges on the Bucs since Dallas merely is what they are - a team that is becoming good but has so far made few mistakes and come together as a team as well as they possibly could. Tampa Bay has a lot of better pieces to put together, but with injuries and the weekly Warren Sapp silliness, coming together as a team has been a big challenge.

If Dallas wins, Parcells may have his name in the Ring of Honor by early November. The Buccaneers have played well after each loss this year and this game is actually a big one for both franchises. A loss means the Bucs may not be able to recover this season and yet if Dallas loses big it will undo the confidence that Parcells has been able to build in Dallas.

Dallas Notes

The Cowboys have risen to 5-1 and have a full two game edge on the NFC East and have won their last five games. Parcells is proving to be the best investment that Jerry Jones has ever made, assuming that Jerry Jones is still around since you never see him anymore.

Quarterbacks: Quincy Carter comes off his best game of his career, at least in terms of effectiveness. He completed 11 of his first 12 passes and ended with 18 of 25 for 190 yards and three touchdowns. Carter and the Cowboys were so good, that Carter was pulled at the end of the game so that Chad Hutchinson could get some reps. When was the last time the Cowboys had that luxury?

Running Backs: Troy Hambrick had 74 yards and a score against the Lions last week but Parcells is using other backs as well. Aveion Cason had six runs for no gain and two catches for 20 yards while Richie Anderson ran seven times for 52 yards and added three catches as well. The Cowboys were looking to involve Cason more but he was not as effective as Hambrick or Anderson. Hambrick's been getting about two carries to every one split out between Anderson and Cason.

Wide Receivers: The Big 3 receivers had a big day, but that was almost entirely for Terry Glenn who caught three touchdowns in the first half but only ended with 75 yards on six receptions. Joey Galloway had only two passes and was unable to catch either for the rare shutout. Antonio Bryant (4-57) was mixed in as well but last week the game was already won in the second quarter and none of them were needed in the second half. The oddity here is that Glenn is turning in big games every other week but neither of the other two are consistent. Glenn has replaced Bryant at the split end position on most plays though all three are used often.

Tight Ends: The only notable about tight ends for Dallas is that they mainly block and Jason Witten played with a broken jaw because he "did not want to let Parcells down". That is pretty scary. Imagine Terrell Owens saying something like that.

Match against the defense: The Buccaneers are banged up right now and losing so badly in San Francisco may prove to be a motivator or a deflator. S John Lynch is doubtful this week as is CB Brian Kelly. SS John Howell had a concussion last week but should play but problems with the secondary are not good when facing a Cowboys passing attack that features three receivers that have little in the way of consistency that makes them easier to cover. Quincy Carter will not likely replicate Manning's success in Tampa Bay, but will be looking to minimize his mistakes and against an injury racked defense should find at least moderate success.

The Buccaneers have become an average rushing defense when opponents have the bigger players to run up the gut. Last week they let Garrison Hearst and Kevan Barlow carve them up for 192 rushing yards and a score. Stephen Davis gained 142 against them. The question is more if a team will have the luxury of running the ball and not having to play catch up through the air against the Bucs. Troy Hambrick will be able to run as well as he has been and Parcells knows that will be a key to controlling the game and not making mistakes. Missing John Lynch actually makes the Bucs hurt more on rushing defense than passing.

Tampa Bay Notes

The Buccaneers fall to 3-3 and are still two games behind the Panthers in the NFC South. They still have not beaten a team with a winning record and have been slammed with injuries and distractions.

Quarterbacks: After looking all-world against the Redskins, Brad Johnson threw three interceptions against only one touchdown in San Francisco and ended with 241 yards in a game that begged for passing the entire second half. Johnson did not have the time to throw well last week and was sacked twice and hurried more often than not by a defense that only used four rushers against him. Johnson is a leader for QB stats this season but now faces a defense that has been tougher against the pass than any he has faced this season.

Running Backs: Last week the Buccaneers abandoned the running game in the ambush. They rushed only 11 plays the entire game. Michael Pittman was valuable catching the ball though, logging ten receptions for 60 yards. Thomas Jones and Aaron Stecker still offer spot duty but Pittman gets at least 2:1 over the rest.

Wide Receivers: The Bucs were definitely off their game last week and it showed with the receiving numbers. Take away the one 75 yard pass to Keenan McCardell and all wideouts only combined for 67 yards and four catches. Keyshawn Johnson only had one catch for four yards. He only had three passes thrown to him. The pressure on Johnson prevented him having the time to look downfield

Tight Ends: After the previous week had used new tight ends with success, the Bucs have continued to use their trio almost equally. Ken Dilger (1-5), Will Heller (1-11) and Todd Yoder (1-12) all shared evenly in the meager game last week.

Match against the defense: This is a hard match to make - which version of the Bucs will show up? The Cowboys have a top 5 defense in most categories but have been fortuitous in their schedule so far.

CB's Mario Edwards and the rookie Terence Newman have been adequate at the least and downright good on occasion. Dallas has feasted on bad offenses in the past weeks - DET, PHI, ARZ and NYJ. The only good passing team that Dallas has gone against are the Giants and Amani Toomer (126) and Ike Hilliard (86) both had good games. Will Dallas go after Brad Johnson? Of course they will - it is the shortest route to stopping the passing game and it has worked against the Bucs this season. Johnson stands a better chance this week to return to more respectable numbers against a team that has not faced even an average passing attack in the last month.

Michael Pittman's numbers will reflect how well the game goes for TB. Unlike great runners, he does as well as the team does. Look for Dallas to hold this average back to average numbers.

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
DAL Scores
11
13
11
30
13
6
TB Allows
8
15
17
4
9
2
DAL AP -3 2 6 -26 -4 -4
Rank (1-32) QB RB WR TE PK DEF
TB Scores
4
10
6
5
32
9
DAL Allows
3
6
3
16
3
12
TB AP -1 -4 -3 11 -28 3
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.

DAL TB 2003 Game Averages TB DAL
Gains Allows QB's Gains Allows
228
204
Pass yards
271
173
1.2
0.8
Pass TDs
2.2
1.2
0.8
1.7
Interceptions
1.2
1.3
13
13
Rush yards
4
4
0.2
0.0
Rush TDs
0.0
0.2
---
---
RB's
---
---
114
91
Rush yards
95
68
0.7
0.8
Rush TDs
0.3
0.3
38
32
Receive yards
73
36
0.0
0.0
Receive TD's
0.2
0.3
---
---
WR's
---
---
167
142
Receive yards
161
111
1.0
0.8
Receive TD's
1.3
0.5
---
---
TE's
---
---
23
29
Receive yards
36
26
0.0
0.0
Receive TD's
0.7
0.3
---
---
PK's
---
---
1.5
1.5
Field Goals
0.5
1.3
3.2
1.7
Extra Points
3.0
1.5
---
---
DEF/ST
---
---
0.8
0.3
Fumbles
0.8
0.7
1.3
1.0
Interceptions
1.8
0.5
0.5
0.0
Touchdowns
0.2
0.3
1.8
0.7
Sacks
2.3
2.0
0.3
0.0
Safeties
0.0
0.0
Cowboys (5-1)
Score Opp.
13-27 ATL
35-32 @NYG
Week 3 BYE
17-6 @NYJ
24-7 ARZ
23-21 PHI
38-7 @DET
Week 8 @TB
Week 9 WAS
Week 10 BUF
Week 11 @NE
Week 12 CAR
Week 13 MIA
Week 14 @PHI
Week 15 @WAS
Week 16 NYG
Week 17 @NO
Buccaneers (3-3)
Score Opp.
17-0 @PHI
9-12 CAR
31-10 @ATL
Week 4 BYE
35-38 IND
35-13 @WAS
7-24 @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

* Fantasy point rankings calculated using standard Huddle fantasy points