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Predictions & Projections
By David M. Dorey
 
The Huddle
WEEK 13
November 26, 2003
Season Ticket
Thu 12:30 Sun 1 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 4 PM Sun 8:30 PM
GB at DET ARZ at CHI MIN at STL CLE at SEA TB at JAX
Thu 4:05 ATL at HOU NE at IND NO at WAS Mon 9 PM
MIA at DAL BUF at NYG PHI at CAR DEN at OAK TEN at NYJ
*updated CIN at PIT SF at BAL KC at SD Times EST
   
Tennessee vs NY Jets Mon, Dec 1; 9 PM on ABC at Giants Stadium
  Tennessee Rush Catch Pass
QB Billy Volek 0 0 210,1
QB Steve McNair Q Q Q
RB Eddie George 100,2 20 0
TE Frank Wycheck 0 20 0
WR Derrick Mason 0 60 0
WR Justin McCareins 0 50 0
WR Tyrone Calico 0 40,1 0
  New York Jets Rush Catch Pass
QB Chad Pennington 0 0 260,2
RB Curtis Martin 70 40 0
RB Lamont Jordan 10 0 0
TE Anthony Becht 0 20,1 0
WR Curtis Conway 0 50 0
WR Santana Moss 0 100,1 0

Game Prediction: TEN 24, NYJ 20

Update: McNair has not practiced and has worn a boot or limped around. The decision on him starting will possibly not be made until right before the Monday night kickoff. I am projecting for Billy Volek since he is healthy and has taken all the first team snaps so far. While McNair is legendary for playing injured, it will come down to what McNair thinks himself at game time in terms of his mobility in the pocket along with medical opinion on whether he could sustain further damage to his calf. One factor that scoots it slightly towards Volek is that unlike last season, McNair cannot take a pain injection this time since it is a muscle injury (it was sore ribs last year). Another factor is that the Titans play the Colts the following week and need McNair healthy there. But then again - it is McNair.

Either way could be completely right or wrong so the safest start for a fantasy team is a different quarterback if available. I will update this if warranted, but realize that it is unlikely to change in status until Monday. In either case, it is safe to expect more rushing this week from the Titans. There is even a chance that both McNair and Volek play.

Will he play or not? The annual McNair question hits week 13 and it is hard to bet against him. The Titans cannot afford a loss but also need him good to go the following week against the Colts. Regardless of who starts for the Titans, Eddie George will love the 30th ranked rush defense while the Jets will be airing it out to stay in the game.

Tennessee Notes

The Titans rise to 9-2 with their defeat of the Falcons and they are on a six game winning streak.

Quarterbacks:: The Titans playoff hopes took a blow when Steve McNair went down, untouched, holding his calf. After examination, he has suffered some minor damage to the muscle but he is walking and the muscle is still responsive. He will not practice this week but has not been ruled out for Sunday. McNair is almost legendary for playing hurt and in many instances, seemingly playing even better. An MRI confirmed there was no tear and only minor damage.

Billy Volek will take all the first team snaps in practice and be ready if McNair cannot play but this will likely be a gametime decision. This is the same injury - though more mild - that has kept Drew Bennett on the shelf for weeks.

It is all a guess right now and McNair is perhaps the single best player at sucking it up and turning in a good performance but given the fact that he was carted to the lockerroom and his muscle is damaged, I am projecting for Volek to play. One other factor that may play into the decision to play him or allow him to rest is that the following week is at home against the Colts. The Titans can likely beat the Jets without McNair. They may not be able to beat the Colts with Volek if McNair is hobbled or risks further injury.

Unfortunately, the end decision may not be known until the players trot out onto the field.

Running Backs: Eddie George comes off his second 100 yard game this season with a 115 yard effort against the Falcons. George also scored one touchdown and now has five on the season. With the injury to McNair and facing a weak run defense, expect George to be used even more this week.

Receivers: Justin McCareins has three catches for 25 yards and scored once last week while Derrick Mason was held to four catches for 47 yards and Tyrone Calico had his first no catch game since week four. The star of the game was Frank Wycheck who caught five passes for 39 yards and two scores - his first of the season.

McNair is hurt, Wycheck catches the scores and George broke 100 yards - is this some "full circle" thing to a few years ago?

Match against the Defense: With McNair hurt, the Titans will be running regardless of which player is the starting quarterback. Against the Jets, that was likely the game plan anyway since they rank so low against the run it would be easier to discuss who has not run well on them than who has turned in big games.

George should be a lock for a 100 yard game and could manage multiple scores since three others already have this season.

The pass works against the Jets and the most likely player to score is the #3 receiver since Walters, Porter, Bryant and McCants have all notched six points this season.

NY Jets Notes

The Jets rise to 4-7 in the AFC East with their win over the Jaguars.

Quarterbacks:: Chad Pennington finally had a cool-down game last week in Jacksonville, throwing for 236 yards and scoring only once on a late, game-winning throw to Santana Moss. He has ten touchdowns now in the last four games.

Running Backs: Facing a good run defense in Jacksonville, Curtis Martin only managed 56 yards on 20 carries but added 52 yards on seven receptions. This is notable since his best two receiving games were against the two toughest defenses (JAX - 52 yards) and (DAL - 51 yards). He will need to mirror that production against the defense of Tennessee.

Receivers: Pennington was unable to connect with his wideouts last week and one had more than three catches for 26 yards. Santana Moss was nearly blanked but managed the last score. That touchdown now extends his streak to seven straight games and he is tied for the lead in the NFL with 10 touchdowns.

Match against the Defense: Pennington faces a defense that normally holds opponents to lesser games unless the Titans get into a shoot-out. The Titans can be beaten with the pass by a good offense and Chad will have to throw the ball in order to win the game. Carr, Delhomme, Gannon and even Doug Johnson have all scored multiple touchdowns against the Titans.

In Santana Moss favor is that the Titans two worst games to an individual receiver were to Corey Bradford (127, 1 TD) and Steve Smith (151, 1 TD) who both provide speed games like Moss does.

As noted, Martin will be fortunate to gain more than 70 yards rushing since the Titans have been very tough against the run this season. Since this game may slow down with ample Titan rushing, the yardage may be lower.

Team Comparisons - Current team rankings (1-32) for FF points scored or allowed by position
Rank (1-32)
QB
RB
WR
TE
PK
DEF
TEN Scores
4
28
3
8
4
1
NYJ Allows
5
30
9
10
9
7
TEN AP
1
2
6
2
5
6
Rank (1-32)
QB
RB
WR
TE
PK
DEF
NYJ Scores
9
19
6
19
12
26
TEN Allows
20
14
20
17
3
10
NYJ AP
11
-5
14
-2
-9
-16
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.
TEN
NYJ
2003 Game Averages
NYJ
TEN
Gains
Allows
QB's
Gains
Allows
245
215
Pass yards
230
258
1.9
0.7
Pass TDs
1.8
1.2
0.3
0.6
Interceptions
0.6
1.2
11
3
Rush yards
2
3
0.3
0.1
Rush TDs
0.0
0.0
---
---
RB's
---
---
90
138
Rush yards
102
68
0.7
1.2
Rush TDs
0.3
0.6
20
41
Receive yards
53
58
0.0
0.1
Receive TD's
0.1
0.1
---
---
WR's
---
---
189
131
Receive yards
150
155
1.6
0.6
Receive TD's
1.4
0.9
---
---
TE's
---
---
36
43
Receive yards
27
44
0.3
0.0
Receive TD's
0.2
0.1
---
---
PK's
---
---
1.8
1.2
Field Goals
1.8
1.0
3.4
2.3
Extra Points
2.2
2.0
---
---
DEF/ST
---
---
1.0
0.7
Fumbles
0.7
0.6
1.4
0.4
Interceptions
0.6
0.3
0.6
0.2
Touchdowns
0.0
0.4
2.4
2.1
Sacks
2.7
1.1
0.1
0.0
Safeties
0.0
0.1
Tennessee (9-2)
Score Opp.
25-20 OAK
7-33 @IND
27-12 NO
30-13 @PIT
30-38 @NE
38-17 HOU
37-17 @CAR
31-7 @JAX
Week 9 BYE
30-17 MIA
10-3 JAX
38-31 @ATL
Week 13 @NYJ
Week 14 IND
Week 15 BUF
Week 16 @HOU
Week 17 TB
Jets (4-7)
Score Opp.
13-16 @WAS
10-21 MIA
16-23 @NE
6-17 DAL
Week 5 BYE
30-3 BUF
19-14 @HOU
17-24 @PHI
28-31 NYG
27-24 @OAK
31-38 @IND
13-10 JAX
Week 13 TEN
Week 14 @BUF
Week 15 PIT
Week 16 NE
Week 17 @MIA

* Fantasy point rankings calculated using standard Huddle fantasy points