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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
   
Tampa Bay vs New Orleans Sun, Dec 7; 1 PM on FOX at Superdome
  Tampa Bay Rush Catch Pass
QB Brad Johnson 0 0 190,1
RB Michael Pittman 40 30 0
RB Thomas Jones 40,1 10 0
TE Ken Dilger 0 10 0
WR Charles Lee 0 60,1 0
WR Keenan McCardell 0 70 0
  New Orleans Rush Catch Pass
QB Aaron Brooks 20 0 170,1
RB Deuce McAllister 140,2 30 0
TE Boo Williams 0 30 0
WR Joe Horn 0 50,1 0
WR Donte Stallworth Q Q Q
WR Jerome Pathon 0 40 0

Game Prediction: TB 17, NO 24

The Buccaneers are reeling even more than before, now losing Jurevicius and still contending with remaining egos. The Saints have won the last three games in that odd way that two teams happen to match up and this time the Saints are better than they have been while the Buccaneers have never been worse.

Tampa Bay Notes

The Buccaneers fall to 5-7 with their loss to the Jaguars.

Quarterbacks:: Brad Johnson only managed 21 of 38 for 156 yards and one interception last week - his first game this entire season without a passing touchdown. After starting the season with 12 touchdowns in his first five games, he now has only two in the past three weeks.

Running Backs: Michael Pittman gained 60 yards on 10 carries but gave up the short touchdown score to the new goal line guy of Thomas Jones. That gives Jones a short touchdown in each of the past two games while Pittman has not scored on the ground this entire season.

Receivers: Joe Jurevicius has been placed on injured reserve, ending his season. That leaves Keenan McCardell and Charles Lee as the starting wideouts with Reggie Barlow available as the #3. Not exactly a "Super Bowl repeat" looking crew.

McCardell had eight catches for 74 yards against the Jaguars and against the Saints in week nine, he had 75 yards and one score. In that last matchup, Keyshawn Johnson gained 124 yards which bodes better for his replacement by Charles Lee.

The Buccaneers passing game has now contracted via injuries and benchings. What was once a varied attack using wideouts and tight ends now has become Keenan McCardell and Charles Lee with ample dumpoffs to Michael Pittman.

McCardell also strained his left hip last week and will be limited in practice but will play on Sunday.

Match against the Defense: Brad Johnson had a big game in their last meeting, throwing for 333 yards and two touchdowns which seems astronomic compared to what he does lately. As noted, Keyshawn had the big game last meeting and now Lee replaces him. In the three weeks since these teams last met, the Saints have only allowed one passing score.

The effectiveness of the passing relies on how well the Bucs can adjust to ever changing scenarios but the last wideout to catch a touchdown against New Orleans was McCardell four weeks ago. Look for moderate numbers for McCardell who will be doubled and tripled the entire game and for Charles Lee to manage at least decent yardage as the guy now with single coverage.

Tampa Bay could not run against the Saints before and Pittman only had 48 yards on 16 carries. Thomas Jones may see an uptick in his carries this game since the Bucs view him as a faster alternative to Pittman and they will be on the hard carpet in New Orleans. Even last year Pittman only managed 17 yards on eight carries.

New Orleans Notes

The Saints pull up to 6-6 and are still thinking about the playoffs. They trail Carolina by two games.

Quarterbacks:: Aaron Brooks only threw for 121 yards and one touchdown last week, but he scored twice on runs. The last game against the Bucs saw him throw for only 142 yards and one score as McAllister stole that show.

Running Backs: Deuce McAllister now has 1393 yards on the ground - tops in the NFC and has not been below 165 yards rushing in three games. He has nine consecutive games over 100 yards. The last time he played Tampa Bay he gained 124 yards rushing and added 59 yards receiving.

Receivers: Last week there was little for passing to distribute but notable was Boo Williams who actually led all receivers with three catches for 43 yards and the lone passing score. The previous week he had 110 yards and one score and the Saints are not missing Ernie Conwell in the least.

The last time these two teams played, Michael Lewis had the one passing score and Joe Horn was held to only 39 yards on four catches. Donte Stallworth was injured that week the same as last week and almost every week. Stallworth may play this Sunday but do not hold your breath.

Match against the Defense: No reason why McAllister should not maintain his mastery over the Buccaneers nor continue his record 100 yard game pace.

Brooks had 142 yards in their last meeting and in recent history has not throw much at home when facing the Buccaneers. With a banged up receiver crew - Stallworth in and out and Horn apparently perpetually bothered by his knee - Brooks will do well enough to hand it off more.

One sidenote here - CB Tim Wansley suffered a right hamstring strain and will likely miss this week which might bode better for Joe Horn.

Team Comparisons - Current team rankings (1-32) for FF points scored or allowed by position
Rank (1-32)
QB
RB
WR
TE
PK
DEF
TB Scores
7
18
10
13
28
6
NO Allows
10
29
11
10
31
20
TB AP
3
11
1
-3
3
14
Rank (1-32)
QB
RB
WR
TE
PK
DEF
NO Scores
15
8
16
5
11
9
TB Allows
6
15
17
4
5
24
NO AP
-9
-7
1
-1
-6
15
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.
TB
NO
2003 Game Averages
NO
TB
Gains
Allows
QB's
Gains
Allows
238
202
Pass yards
207
201
1.7
1.3
Pass TDs
1.3
1.1
1.2
0.6
Interceptions
1.8
1.5
5
13
Rush yards
14
8
0
0
Rush TDs
0
0
---
---
RB's
---
---
99
132
Rush yards
125
97
0.4
0.9
Rush TDs
0.8
0.6
54
32
Receive yards
34
30
0.2
0.4
Receive TD's
0
0.1
---
---
WR's
---
---
159
135
Receive yards
128
147
1
0.7
Receive TD's
0.9
0.9
---
---
TE's
---
---
26
36
Receive yards
45
24
0.4
0.1
Receive TD's
0.4
0.1
---
---
PK's
---
---
0.9
1.9
Field Goals
1.7
1.3
2.5
2.6
Extra Points
2.3
1.9
---
---
DEF/ST
---
---
0.8
0.8
Fumbles
1.1
0.9
1.5
0.7
Interceptions
0.6
1.2
0.3
0.4
Touchdowns
0.4
0.3
2
2
Sacks
1.3
1.8
0.1
0
Safeties
0.1
0
Buccaneers (5-7)
Score Opp.
17-0 @PHI
9-12 CAR
31-10 @ATL
Week 4 BYE
35-38 IND
35-13 @WAS
7-24 @SF
16-0 DAL
14-17 NO
24-27 @CAR
13-20 GB
19-13 NYG
10-17 @JAX
Week 14 @NO
Week 15 HOU
Week 16 ATL
Week 17 @TEN
Saints (6-6)
Score Opp.
10-27 @SEA
31-10 HOU
12-27 @TEN
21-55 IND
13-19 @CAR
20-13 CHI
45-17 @ATL
20-23 CAR
17-14 @TB
Week 10 BYE
23-20 ATL
20-33 @PHI
24-20 @WAS
Week 14 TB
Week 15 NYG
Week 16 @JAX
Week 17 DAL

* Fantasy point rankings calculated using standard Huddle fantasy points