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Predictions & Projections
By David M. Dorey
 
The Huddle
WEEK 15
December 10 2003
Season Ticket
Sun 1 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 4 PM Sun 8:30 PM
ATL at IND HOU at TB SF at CIN CLE at DEN NYG at NO
BUF at TEN JAX at NE SEA at STL CAR at ARZ Mon 9 PM
DAL at WAS MIN at CHI Sun 4 PM GB at SD PHI at MIA
DET at KC PIT at NYJ BAL at OAK *updated Times EST
   
Houston vs Tampa Bay Sun, Dec 14; 1 PM on CBS at Raymond James Stadium
  Houston Rush Catch Pass
QB David Carr 0 0 190
RB Domanick Davis 80,1 40 0
TE Billy Miller 0 30 0
WR Corey Bradford 0 40 0
WR Andre Johnson 0 40 0
WR Jabar Gaffney 0 20 0
  Tampa Bay Rush Catch Pass
QB Brad Johnson 0 0 210,1
RB Michael Pittman 40 20 0
RB Thomas Jones 100,1 10 0
TE Ken Dilger 0 20 0
WR Charles Lee 0 60 0
WR Keenan McCardell 0 90,1 0

Game Prediction: HOU 13, TB 20

Update: Domanick Davis has returned to practice and is expected to play. David Carr has participated in some drills in practice and seems to be improving. He is considered to be a gametime decision so the risk is there that Ragone will take the start again. Since he is improving, I am changing the projections to reflect that Carr may play though his shoulder will not be 100%.

The Texans without Carr and Davis lost 27-0 on the road last week and now face the Bucs in Tampa Bay. Davis may be back and could allow the Texans to actually affect their own side of the scoreboard but the Bucs ability to run over Houston alone is enough to win. Throw in Brad Johnson and McCardell and it only gets easier.

Houston Notes

The Texans fall to 5-8 and discover Ragone and Hollings are not the same as Carr and Davis.

Quarterbacks:: Dave Ragone only managed to throw for 71 yards last week and lost both a fumble and an interception without ever scoring. It was a far cry from the last meeting against the Jaguars that ended with Carr's dramatic last second dive for the winning score. Ragone suffered a bruised bicep at the end of the game but it is not expected to prevent him from working on his 71 yard average.

David Carr has been bothered by a sprained shoulder and then caught the flu last week which briefly had him hospitalized. His status will be evaluated as the week goes on but for now I am assuming he will be out. This is not a good thing for the Texans chances this week.

Running Backs: Domanick Davis missed last week with a thigh bruise but is expected to practice on Wednesday. I assume he will return and become the immediate focus of the entire Bucs defense. Last week Tony Hollings only managed 19 yards on 18 carries in Jacksonville.

Receivers: With only 71 yards of passing, there wasn't any receiver worth noting last week. With Carr out, Andre Johnson only had one catch in either of the last two games and yet he has still been the best receiver.

Match against the Defense: The Texans offense took a huge hit with Carr and Davis out last week and will again be challenged on the road this week. Assuming Davis can return and play up to form, he visits a defense that has been fairly tough against the run at home. Ahman Green did have 109 yards there but Brett Favre is more worrisome than Dave Ragone. Deuce McAllister has burned the Bucs before but even he was held largely in check last week in New Orleans.

Davis should get plenty of carries in the game unless the score dictates the pass. Davis can catch the ball but no running back has had over 40 yards receiving and that includes Tiki Barber. Against reasonably good defenses, Davis has remained around 70 yards rushing (BUF, NE and CAR).

The passing game appears to be a lost cause unless Carr makes a turnaround in his health.

Tampa Bay Notes

Tampa Bay rises to 6-7 and are not officially out of the playoffs yet.

Quarterbacks:: After stumbling in Jacksonville, Brad Johnson got back on track last week against the Saints, throwing for 213 yards and two scores. Other than the Jacksonville game, he has thrown at least once score every week.

Running Backs: The Thomas Jones transition continues. Against the Saints, Jones carried the ball 20 times for 89 yards versus only six carries for Michael Pittman. Both are used in the passing scheme though Pittman had seven throws last week against only three for Jones. Last week was the first time that Jones received the ball more than Pittman this season, and he did so by a large margin.

Jones is showing a better element of speed but Pittman continues a role on passing downs as the better versed blocker and passing outlet.

Receivers: Keenan McCardell led all receivers last week with six catches for 85 yards and Charles Lee chipped in five catches for 52 yards. Ken Dilger scored once with the first tight end touchdown since week six.

Keenan McCardell now has 995 yards on the season with seven touchdowns. His role has not changed since Keyshawn left and the worst game he has had was in week three when he had only 41 yards with no scores. Otherwise McCardell has been a nice surprise this season, logging three 100 yard efforts and scoring in six different games.

Charles Lee has yet to have a game with less than five receptions.

Match against the Defense: The improved running game of the Bucs lately should continue with Houston coming to town. Their last four road trips have produced four straight 100 yard runners for the opponents and five rushing touchdowns. This is the team that Rudi Johnson burned for 182 yards and two scores while Fred Taylor peeled off 163 yards and a score last week before letting Toefield have his own 54 yards and a score.

The passing game should produce at least one touchdown and more often than not, it allows two or more on the road for Houston. Since CB Aaron Glenn has been ruled out for Sunday's game there is no doubt that his replacement will get to know Keenan McCardell if only from the name on his jersey as he runs away.

This game should shape to see good rushing by the Buccaneers and a bit of passing because they can, not because they need to in order to win. The Texans offense without Carr or Banks has been very bad and is on the road again where they lost 27-0 last week.

Team Comparisons - Current team rankings (1-32) for FF points scored or allowed by position
Rank (1-32)
QB
RB
WR
TE
PK
DEF
HOU Scores
26
19
22
14
32
32
TB Allows
6
11
18
6
1
19
HOU AP
-20
-8
-4
-8
-31
-13
Rank (1-32)
QB
RB
WR
TE
PK
DEF
TB Scores
8
17
12
8
28
6
HOU Allows
12
21
27
5
22
21
TB AP
4
4
15
-3
-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.
HOU
TB
2003 Game Averages
TB
HOU
Gains
Allows
QB's
Gains
Allows
177
205
Pass yards
236
225
1.1
1.1
Pass TDs
1.7
1.2
0.9
1.5
Interceptions
1.2
0.8
16
8
Rush yards
5
6
0.1
0.0
Rush TDs
0.0
0.0
---
---
RB's
---
---
93
96
Rush yards
99
117
0.8
0.5
Rush TDs
0.4
0.8
33
29
Receive yards
53
40
0.0
0.1
Receive TD's
0.2
0.0
---
---
WR's
---
---
114
148
Receive yards
157
159
0.8
0.8
Receive TD's
0.9
1.0
---
---
TE's
---
---
31
27
Receive yards
27
27
0.3
0.2
Receive TD's
0.5
0.2
---
---
PK's
---
---
0.8
1.2
Field Goals
0.8
1.6
2.0
1.8
Extra Points
2.5
2.4
---
---
DEF/ST
---
---
0.5
0.8
Fumbles
0.7
0.7
0.9
1.2
Interceptions
1.7
1.1
0.0
0.3
Touchdowns
0.3
0.3
1.3
1.7
Sacks
2.5
2.1
0.0
0.0
Safeties
0.1
0.2
Texans (5-8)
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
20-23 NE
17-13 ATL
0-27 @JAX
Week 15 @TB
Week 16 TEN
Week 17 IND
Buccaneers (6-7)
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
14-7 @NO
Week 15 HOU
Week 16 ATL
Week 17 @TEN

* Fantasy point rankings calculated using standard Huddle fantasy points