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Predictions & Projections
By David M. Dorey
 
The Huddle
WEEK 9
September 3, 2003
Season Ticket
Sun 1 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 4 PM Sun 8:30 PM Bye Week:
CAR at HOU NYG at NYJ CIN at ARZ GB at MIN Buffalo
IND at MIA OAK at DET PIT at SEA Mon 9 PM Cleveland
JAX at BAL SD at CHI PHI at ATL NE at DEN Kansas City
NO at TB WAS at DAL STL at SF *updated Tennessee
   
New England vs Denver Mon, Nov 3; 9 PM on ABC at Invesco Field
  New England Rush Catch Pass
QB Tom Brady 0 0 200,2
RB Kevin Faulk 50 20 0
RB Antowain Smith 10 0 0
TE Christian Fauria 0 10 0
TE Daniel Graham 0 30,1 0
WR Troy Brown 0 0 0
WR Deion Branch 0 40,1 0
WR Bethel Johnson 0 30 0
  Denver Rush Catch Pass
QB Danny Kanell 0 0 180
RB Clinton Portis 90,1 20 0
TE Shannon Sharpe 0 20 0
WR Rod Smith 0 60 0
WR Ed McCaffrey Q Q Q
WR Ashley Lelie 0 50 0

Game Prediction: NE 14, DEN 16

Denver Notes

Update: Christian Fauria is still questionable to play this week and I am lowering his numbers though he should play.

Troy Brown is now considered doubtful to play and I have removed him from the projections. I am also switching the game scores since this is bound to be a good game and I now like the home field advantage of Denver.

The Broncos are 5-3 and fading with no quarterback at the helm.

Quarterbacks: Danny Kanell had his first start in almost three years and looked like he had forgotten to practice in the interim. Kanell completed only 16 of 31 passes for 114 yards and two interceptions. The lack of any passing game was the first domino to fall in the big loss last week. With Jake Plummer still expected to be out, Kanell will likely take the helm again this week unless HC Mike Shanahan thinks Jarious Jackson will be less ineffective. Kanell sprained the index finger on his throwing hand but is still expected to play this week.

Running backs: Clinton Portis gained 86 yards on 22 carries against the Ravens defense that had no worries about the passing game. They stacked the line and much of what Portis was able to do was on second effort. On a good note, he somehow remained healthy.

Wide Receivers: Since Portis was the best receiver with six catches for 29 yards, there is not much here worth noting other than Kanell slightly favored Ashley Lelie over Rod Smith when he was throwing the ball away. Ed McCaffrey did not play last week and unless he can practice on the knee this week, I am assuming he is out again on Sunday.

Tight Ends: To show solidarity with the wideouts, Shannon Sharpe also turned in his worst game of the year last week.

Match against the defense: Problem here. The Patriot defense has only allowed 22 points total in the past three games against MIA, CLE and the NYG. The Patriots have only an average pass defense but with Kanell running the show, playing average is like reaching for the stars for the Denver passing game. The Pats two losses have been on the road but both to teams that were passing very well.

Look for heavy doses of Portis and heavy doses of eight men in the box. This is looking like one of the lowest scoring games in Denver by the Broncos in a long time. The Patriots still have not allowed a 100 yard rusher.

New England Notes

The Patriots are 6-2 and on top of the AFC East. They come off a 9-3 win over Cleveland and are on a four game winning streak.

Quarterbacks: Tom Brady comes off a 259 yard effort over the Browns where he could not get a touchdown but made no mistakes while passing. He has two 280+ yard games on the road this season.

Running backs: Kevin Faulk continues to delight, re-upping his career best game to now 96 rushing yards on 23 carries and causing the other backs - Antowain Smith and Mike Cloud - to become only the occasional resting down. Faulk is not likely to hit the magical 100 this week though in Denver where one of the best rushing defenses awaits.

Wide Receivers: In the complex scheme of the Patriots there is no one reliable receiver. Last week Bethel Johnson led the group with two catches for 51 yards and Troy Brown went from 131 yards against Miami to only 10 yards against the Browns. Deion Branch is the next most common receiver but for fantasy purposes, the inconsistency would be maddening.

Tight Ends: Last week Daniel Graham had seven catches for 110 yards and can provide yardage catches when healthy. Christian Fauria still remains the preferred goal line target. Graham's big day was almost double his previous best.

Match against the defense: As noted, the Broncos have a good rushing defense though the loss of LB John Mobley will not help that effort. Look for Kevin Faulk to return to his more normal output. The crux of this game lies in what turnovers the Pats defense can get and how well Brady can throw.

In Denver, no visiting QB has gone over 182 yards passing but Brady will try to push that number up. Expect him to post lower numbers in a game that should be lower scoring. With the Broncos unable to post a lot of points, the Patriots will have less reason to air it out.

Team Comparisons - Current team rankings (1-32) for FF points scored or allowed by position
Rank (1-32)
QB
RB
WR
TE
PK
DEF
NE Scores
21
13
22
12
16
3
DEN Allows
3
5
6
20
10
17
NE AP
-18
-8
-16
8
-6
14
Rank (1-32)
QB
RB
WR
TE
PK
DEF
DEN Scores
17
6
30
2
5
25
NE Allows
15
11
5
19
24
7
DEN AP
-2
5
-25
17
19
-18
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.
NE
DEN
2003 Game Averages
DEN
NE
Gains
Allows
QB's
Gains
Allows
219
188
Pass yards
189
243
1.0
1.1
Pass TDs
1.4
0.4
0.9
2.0
Interceptions
1.3
1.5
3
3
Rush yards
17
12
0.1
0.0
Rush TDs
0.1
0.3
---
---
RB's
---
---
103
84
Rush yards
115
75
0.5
0.5
Rush TDs
0.8
0.6
45
24
Receive yards
40
50
0.1
0.1
Receive TD's
0.3
0.0
---
---
WR's
---
---
129
125
Receive yards
103
148
0.6
0.8
Receive TD's
0.4
0.3
---
---
TE's
---
---
45
39
Receive yards
46
45
0.3
0.3
Receive TD's
0.8
0.1
---
---
PK's
---
---
1.6
1.5
Field Goals
2.1
2.1
2.0
1.9
Extra Points
2.4
1.4
---
---
DEF/ST
---
---
1.0
0.5
Fumbles
0.4
0.5
1.4
1.3
Interceptions
0.6
0.9
0.5
0.3
Touchdowns
0.1
0.1
3.1
2.0
Sacks
2.6
2.1
0.0
0.0
Safeties
0.0
0.0
Patriots (6-2)
Score Opp.
0-31 @BUF
31-10 @PHI
23-16 NYJ
17-20 @WAS
38-30 TEN
17-6 NYG
19-13 @MIA
9-3 CLE
Week 9 @DEN
Week 10 BYE
Week 11 DAL
Week 12 @HOU
Week 13 @IND
Week 14 MIA
Week 15 JAX
Week 16 @NYJ
Week 17 BUF
Broncos (5-3)
Score Opp.
30-10 @CIN
37-13 @SD
31-10 OAK
20-16 DET
23-24 @KC
17-14 PIT
20-28 @MIN
6-26 @BAL
Week 9 NE
Week 10 BYE
Week 11 SD
Week 12 CHI
Week 13 @OAK
Week 14 KC
Week 15 CLE
Week 16 @IND
Week 17 @GB

* Fantasy point rankings calculated using standard Huddle fantasy points