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Predictions & Projections
By David M. Dorey
 
The Huddle
WEEK 12
November 19, 2003
Season Ticket
Sun 1 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 4 PM Sun 8:30 PM
CAR at DAL NE at HOU SF at GB CHI at DEN WAS at MIA
DET at MIN NO at PHI Sun 4 PM OAK at KC Mon 9 PM
IND at BUF PIT at CLE CIN at SD TEN at ATL NYG at TB
JAX at NYJ SEA at BAL STL at ARZ *updated Times EST
   
New England vs Houston Sun, Nov 23; 1 PM on CBS at Reliant Stadium
  New England Rush Catch Pass
QB Tom Brady 0 0 230,1
RB Kevin Faulk 40 30 0
RB Antowain Smith 80,1 10 0
TE Christian Fauria 0 20 0
TE Daniel Graham 0 50,1 0
WR Troy Brown Q Q Q
WR David Givens Q Q Q
WR Deion Branch 0 50 0
WR Bethel Johnson 0 50 0
  Houston Rush Catch Pass
QB Tony Banks 10 0 170,1
RB Domanick Davis 70 20,1 0
TE Billy Miller 0 20 0
WR Corey Bradford 0 10 0
WR Andre Johnson 0 60 0
WR Jabar Gaffney 0 50 0

Game Prediction: NE 17, HOU 10

Update: Troy Brown and David Givens have both been held out of practice and both remain quesionable to play. In his press conference on Thursday, HC Bill Belichick was noncommittal about Brown's leg injury and would not confirm that it will get better any time soon. Givens also looks like he will miss this week.

The Patriots have also signed J.J. Stokes and Dedric Ward and either may see a little time but since they are new, I am not including them in the projections. I am leaving Brown and Givens as questionable.

Deion Branch missed practice on Friday due to a ankle sprain and is not questionable. He is still likely to play but the Patriots are more likely to be running even more than they already would have. I have adjusted numbers accordingly.

The Patriots come into the game after a hard fought win over the Cowboys and the Texans are riding high after their win over the Bills. This could be a trap game for the 8-2 Patriots who have only lost on the road this season - the opener and after a big home win over the Jets.

But the Patriot defense is playing very well unlike the Texans and with Banks subbing for Carr, Domanick Davis alone cannot win this game.

New England Notes

The Patriots rise to 8-2 and are on a six game winning streak.

Quarterbacks:: Tom Brady only completed 15 of 34 passes for 212 yards against the Cowboys and was continually harassed by blitzes. It was his lowest game in a month. It was the fifth time this season he has had no touchdowns and the fourth time he followed up a game in which he scored with a scoreless game the next week. He is due for a touchdown on that trend and against the Texans, he is almost guaranteed it.

Running Backs: Antowain Smith scored his second touchdown of the season last week but only gained 55 yards on 17 runs. Smith is remarkably consistent, gaining between 51 and 55 yards rushing in half of his healthy games. Kevin Faulk only gained 11 yards on 8 runs against Dallas and has yielded the lead rusher role back to Smith the past two weeks.

Receivers: Since David Patten was placed on injured reserve and Troy Brown was held out of the game, Brady had to work with Deion Branch (2-69) and David Givens (2-67) who both snagged long passes when Dallas got caught in a blitz.

Givens was forced to leave the game in the second quarter last week with a leg injury and he already is playing with a bruised chest. Troy Brown worked out before the game but was a last minute scratch when he felt he would not be able to play. He had played two weeks prior in Denver when listed doubtful.

At this time, I am assuming Brown and Givens are still out.

Match against the Defense: Tom Brady faces a defense that has allowed every opponent to score via the pass except for last week in Buffalo. This is the same team that gave 421 yards to McNair and 269 yards and three scores to Manning. Most teams would have passed more on Houston but were already successful rushing.

The receivers are in a state of flux for New England with the injuries to Givens and Brown and Brady has been regularly mixing in up to nine different ones each game, so no one position is favored. The Texans have allowed six different 100 yard receivers and oddly enough three of them had exactly 111 yards.

Antowain Smith and Kevin Faulk should combine for 100 yards since all teams do and Houston has allowed monster games to Rudi Johnson (182), Stephen Davis (153) and Travis Henry (149). Smith should be the primary runner since the beefier backs have more success.

The Texans are getting CB Marcus Coleman back in the lineup after missing last week due to one game suspensions by the team which should help but CB Aaron Glenn is still bothered by a groin injury anyway.

Houston Notes

The Texans rise to 4-6 in the AFC South with their win over Buffalo.

Quarterbacks:: David Carr sprained his right shoulder last week and an MRI confirmed it. He will likely be out at least this week and maybe more. Tony Banks will take his second start as a Texan.

Running Backs: Domanick Davis only gained 68 yards on 26 carries but added 33 more with three receptions. That sounds like a low day, but it was better than any that Stacey Mack provided other than the season opener. Davis never shared any carries in the game.

Receivers: Andre Johnson turned in the best game of his career with 122 yards receiving and one score on a 46 yard play when defenders were unable to knock him down near midfield. The game plan was supposed to include getting the ball to him more, but he still only had four catches. He has not had more than six balls thrown to him since week four. Corey Bradford followed up his 73 yard touchdown of week ten with a more normal one catch for seven yards.

This group will have to operate with Banks now, and do so against one of the better defenses in the league.

Match against the Defense: The Patriots secondary can be beaten, but it takes Kerry Collins or Steve McNair to do it. In the last three weeks, there has only been one passing score allowed and no opponent quarterback has gained over 210 yards. Banks will find this defense tough to throw against since the Texans receiving threats are few and, well, he is Tony Banks. In the entire season, no opponent wideout has exceeded 100 yards and only two have ever caught a touchdown.

Domanick Davis also faces a defense that has only allowed Clinton Portis to hit the century mark and on the road no runner has gained over 71 yards rushing against them.

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
17
18
18
7
6
6
HOU Allows
14
21
29
6
17
25
NE AP
-3
3
11
-1
9
-19
Rank (1-32)
QB
RB
WR
TE
PK
DEF
HOU Scores
15
13
16
16
32
31
NE Allows
15
12
5
12
18
6
HOU AP
0
-1
-9
-4
-14
-25
Offensive ranks = #1 gains most points, Defensive ranks = #1 allows least points
AP = Advantage Points, the net difference between a positional rank gained or allowed by the teams.
NE
HOU
2003 Game Averages
HOU
NE
Gains
Allows
QB's
Gains
Allows
238
218
Pass yards
208
234
1.0
1.3
Pass TDs
1.3
0.4
0.5
0.8
Interceptions
0.9
1.6
2
4
Rush yards
11
9
0.1
0.0
Rush TDs
0.1
0.3
---
---
RB's
---
---
100
114
Rush yards
102
77
0.6
0.8
Rush TDs
0.9
0.4
43
31
Receive yards
41
53
0.1
0.0
Receive TD's
0.0
0.1
---
---
WR's
---
---
143
164
Receive yards
136
137
0.8
1.1
Receive TD's
1.0
0.3
---
---
TE's
---
---
52
22
Receive yards
31
44
0.1
0.1
Receive TD's
0.3
0.0
---
---
PK's
---
---
2.1
1.4
Field Goals
0.8
2.0
2.0
2.5
Extra Points
2.3
1.1
---
---
DEF/ST
---
---
0.4
0.6
Fumbles
0.6
0.8
1.5
1.1
Interceptions
0.9
0.5
0.4
0.4
Touchdowns
0.0
0.1
2.1
1.6
Sacks
1.0
1.9
0.0
0.3
Safeties
0.0
0.1
Patriots (8-2)
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
30-26 @DEN
Week 10 BYE
12-0 DAL
Week 12 @HOU
Week 13 @IND
Week 14 MIA
Week 15 JAX
Week 16 @NYJ
Week 17 BUF
Texans (4-6)
Score Opp.
21-20 @MIA
10-31 @NO
14-42 KC
24-20 JAX
Week 5 BYE
17-38 @TEN
14-19 NYJ
21-30 @IND
14-10 CAR
27-34 @CIN
12-10 @BUF
Week 12 NE
Week 13 ATL
Week 14 @JAX
Week 15 @TB
Week 16 TEN
Week 17 IND

* Fantasy point rankings calculated using standard Huddle fantasy points