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Predictions & Projections
By David M. Dorey
 
The Huddle
WEEK 14
December 3, 2003
Season Ticket
Sun 1 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 4 PM Sun 8:30 PM
CHI at GB IND at TEN TB at NO KC at DEN CAR at ATL
CIN at BAL OAK at PIT WAS at NYG MIA at NE Mon 9 PM
DAL at PHI SD at DET Sun 4 PM NYJ at BUF STL at CLE
HOU at JAX SEA at MIN ARZ at SF *updated Times EST
   
Miami vs New England Sun, Dec 7; 4 PM on CBS at Gillette Stadium
  Miami Rush Catch Pass
QB Jay Fiedler 0 0 200,1
RB Ricky Williams 90 20 0
TE Randy McMichael 0 40,1 0
WR Chris Chambers 0 50 0
WR Derrius Thompson 0 30 0
WR James McKnight 0 40 0
  New England Rush Catch Pass
QB Tom Brady 0 0 260,2
RB Kevin Faulk 50 40 0
RB Mike Cloud 10 0 0
TE Fauria/Graham 0 30 0
WR Troy Brown 0 40 0
WR David Givens 0 50,1 0
WR Deion Branch 0 60,1 0
WR Bethel Johnson 0 50 0

Game Prediction: MIA 13, NE 17

Update: Troy Brown remains questionable to play this week and had given up most of his numbers to Branch anyway. I am removing Brown from the projections though there is still an outside chance he will play. I am bumping up Bethel Johnson's numbers since he would replace Brown.

Also be aware that the forecast is for possible snow and certain cold weather which will favor the Patriots though it could depress some of the numbers on both side.

These two teams already played in week seven when the Patriots won 19-13 in overtime with Troy Brown's long score. The Dolphins are looking like they are back on track, sporting a three game winning streak and enjoying ten days off after their big win in Dallas. The Patriots had to squeak out a win in Indianapolis after a furious comeback by Manning.

One of the factors in this game is that the Dolphins faced tough defenses in NE, TEN and BAL and only managed no more than 13 points in any of those games. The Patriots, not unlike the Chiefs, continually win games by small margins whether they are big points (38-34 @IND) or small ones (9-3 CLE). The fact is that they are playing solid defense and putting up as much offense as they need to stay ahead on the scoreboard.

This is a big game for NE and a huge one for MIA. The Fins needs to prove they will not fold up in yet another December run and yet the Patriots have no gimmee for an out schedule. Must see TV.

Miami Notes

The Dolphins rise to 8-4 on the season and have won their last three games.

Quarterbacks:: Jay Fiedler took the start last week and made a big difference in the passing game. It was his first full game back since week seven and he ended with a very effective 16 of 20 passes for 239 yards and three touchdowns. Fiedler also ran one score in as well. As the only difference to the offense from the past several weeks, Fiedler was quite a spark.

Fiedler had 230 yards and one score in their last meeting with the Patriots.

Running Backs: Ricky Williams is back. He now has his third consecutive game with over 100 yards rushing after spending six previous games failing to hit the mark. Williams gained 104 yards on 31 carries and added 41 more on four catches.

Williams gained 94 yards rushing on 27 carries back in week seven.

Receivers: Chris Chambers waited for the entire country to be watching before turning in his career best game - a three touchdown effort that resulted from his five catches for 96 yards. Chambers openly questioned how good the Cowboys secondary really was and then went ahead and showed the nation - not that good when a hot receiver has a quarterback with time to throw. The big game hoisted Chambers to nine touchdowns on the season and his first scores since week nine.

Chambers only had three catches for 30 yards in the last meeting with the Patriots but scored once. The main receiver that week was Randy McMichael who had eight catches for 102 yards.

Match against the Defense: Jay Fiedler had 230 yards and one score against two interceptions in their last meeting and that has about been the average once you take Peyton Manning from the factors. Chambers had a career day last week but only managed 30 yards against NE when Ty Law covered him.

Ricky Williams is on a three game streak of 100+ yard games and he had 94 in their last meeting but it is less likely that he will score. Volume of carries could get him up around the 100 mark but he should not repeat last season when he tallied 185 yards and two scores in the snow of week 17 in New England. These Patriots are better now.

New England Notes

The Patriots rise to 10-2 and have won their last eight games. They lead the Dolphins by two games in the AFC East. A win here cements a first round bye and the AFC East crown.

Quarterbacks:: Tom Brady comes off a big win over the Colts when he threw for 236 yards and two touchdowns with two interceptions. Brady had 283 yards and two scores in the last game against the Dolphins, though the long score to Brown in overtime pumped up those numbers.

Running Backs: Kevin Faulk only gained 42 yards rushing last week on 15 carries and Mike Cloud came in to score twice on short yardage. Could leads the club with five rushing scores in spite of only 29 carries on the season. Antowain Smith was not active for the game last week in order to use more players for blocking but could see action this week.

In week seven, Kevin Faulk only managed 38 yards on 18 carries while Antowain Smith did not play that game either.

Receivers: Brady hit eight different receivers in the game but Deion Branch was favored with six catches for 64 yards and one score. Dedric Ward also scored. The passing scheme uses all receivers almost equally, with Branch as the most likely target only slightly.

Daniel Graham had no catches in the game nor even any throws. The gameplan called for Christian Fauria to take the receiving role and he only had two catches for nine yards.

In week seven against the Dolphins, Branch had 62 yards on six catches and would have led receivers until the long score by Troy Brown that pushed him up to 131 yards and one touchdown.

Match against the Defense: Brady had the unusually high 283 yards in week seven of this season, and last year he had 221 yards and one score while at home versus the Fins and 240 yards and two scores while in Miami in 2003. The Dolphins have held six opponents to no scores this season and oddly enough four times it was when Miami was the visitor.

Miami comes off allowing Dallas 288 yards and two scores, but much of that was later during trash time.

Brady should see some success passing and he will need it in order to win since the Dolphins rush defense should prove formidable to the meager running of Kevin Faulk. Miami has outstanding corners but the Patriots use more than just two wideouts when they throw.

Team Comparisons - Current team rankings (1-32) for FF points scored or allowed by position
Rank (1-32)
QB
RB
WR
TE
PK
DEF
MIA Scores
28
23
24
16
16
3
NE Allows
16
4
7
26
23
10
MIA AP
-12
-19
-17
10
7
7
Rank (1-32)
QB
RB
WR
TE
PK
DEF
NE Scores
9
15
13
7
4
7
MIA Allows
9
9
10
7
6
19
NE AP
0
-6
-3
0
2
12
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.
MIA
NE
2003 Game Averages
NE
MIA
Gains
Allows
QB's
Gains
Allows
186
225
Pass yards
251
215
1.1
0.9
Pass TDs
1.2
0.8
1.1
1.5
Interceptions
0.8
1.8
5
8
Rush yards
3
13
0.1
0.2
Rush TDs
0.1
0.1
---
---
RB's
---
---
93
78
Rush yards
97
77
0.6
0.3
Rush TDs
0.7
0.6
37
48
Receive yards
51
42
0
0.1
Receive TD's
0.1
0.1
---
---
WR's
---
---
107
134
Receive yards
149
133
1
0.6
Receive TD's
0.9
0.7
---
---
TE's
---
---
42
42
Receive yards
51
40
0.1
0.3
Receive TD's
0.2
0
---
---
PK's
---
---
1.5
2
Field Goals
2.1
1.4
2.2
1.5
Extra Points
2.3
1.7
---
---
DEF/ST
---
---
1
0.8
Fumbles
0.5
1.1
1.9
0.8
Interceptions
1.4
1
0.2
0.1
Touchdowns
0.4
0.2
3
2.1
Sacks
2.2
1.8
0.1
0.1
Safeties
0
0
Patriots (10-2)
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
23-20 @HOU
38-34 @IND
Week 14 MIA
Week 15 JAX
Week 16 @NYJ
Week 17 BUF
Dolphins (8-4)
Score Opp.
20-21 HOU
21-10 @NYJ
17-7 BUF
Week 4 BYE
23-10 @NYG
24-10 @JAX
13-19 NE
26-10 @SD
17-23 IND
7-31 @TEN
9-6 BAL
24-23 WAS
41-20 @DAL
Week 14 @NE
Week 15 PHI
Week 16 @BUF
Week 17 NYJ

* Fantasy point rankings calculated using standard Huddle fantasy points