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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
   
Jacksonville vs New England Sun, Dec 14; 1 PM on CBS at Gillette Stadium
  Jacksonville Rush Catch Pass
QB Byron Leftwich 0 0 190
RB Fred Taylor 70 10 0
TE Kyle Brady 0 20 0
WR Jimmy Smith 0 50 0
WR Kevin Johnson 0 30 0
WR Cortex Hankton 0 30 0
  New England Rush Catch Pass
QB Tom Brady 0 0 210,1
RB Kevin Faulk 30 20 0
RB Antowain Smith 30 10 0
TE Daniel Graham 0 30,1 0
WR David Givens 0 40 0
WR Deion Branch 0 60 0
WR Bethel Johnson 0 30 0

Game Prediction: JAX 6, NE 16

This should be a near replay of the defensive battle last week in New England with the Dolphins. It will be cold again though without the fans needing to remove snow in order to sit down. Jacksonville has a defense that is coming together well in the final weeks of the season and the Patriots have no big rusher to rely on. But at home, the Pats defense is enough to handle Leftwich who only thinks he is getting over his turnover problem.

Jacksonville Notes

The Jaguars rise to 4-9 on the season with their win over the Texans.

Quarterbacks:: Byron Leftwich threw 18 of 29 for 194 yards and one score against the Texans last week, a near replay of his first game against them with the exception that he did now throw an interception in their second game. Oh yes, and he won this time. Leftwich continues to hover around 180 to 200 yards a game lately, with normally one score a week.

Running Backs: Fred Taylor comes off his best game of the season last week when he ripped the Texans for 163 yards and one touchdown on 24 carries. It was his third consecutive 100 yard game and his fifth for the season. The running was so good last week that even Labrandon Toefield had his career best 54 yards on ten carries and scored his first NFL touchdown.

Receivers: Kevin Johnson started out with a nice 77 yard game three weeks ago but has only posted 20 and 29 yard games since that introduction to the team. Jimmy Smith led receivers last week with 58 yards and a touchdown. The coaching staff is particularly pleased with the progress of Cortez Hankton who had four catches for 49 yards against the Texans. Hankton is an undrafted rookie that has quietly had catches in eight games this year.

Match against the Defense: It will be a tall order for Taylor to go to New England and continue his 100 yard streak. No visiting runner in New England has had over 71 yards on the ground and the only running back to score there was Tiki Barber and that was on a pass, not a run. Look for Taylor to do well enough to reach the 70 mark where Barber and Ricky Williams maxed out.

If Leftwich wants to see bleak, consider that the Patriots have not allowed a passing score at home since week three and that was just one by Testaverde. The last three quarterbacks there have topped out at 210 yards passing and in those three games the quarterbacks had seven turnovers.

New England Notes

The Patriots rise to 11-2 and clinched a playoff berth with the best record in the NFL of 11-2 shared with KC.

Quarterbacks:: Last week against the Dolphins was a bitterly cold, defensive war won by the Patriots defense - not by the offense. Tom Brady only had 163 yards passing last week but had no turnovers, unlike his opponent. As a sign of how great the defense for New England has been, consider that Brady has not actually thrown a touchdown at home since week five. In the four road games during that time, he had nine touchdowns and never less than two scores. Odd, eh?

Evidently Brady knows he does not have to score when he is at home because the defense takes care of the game. So far, he has been 100% correct.

Running Backs: The bad weather last week put cold weather specialist Antowain Smith to work, carrying the ball 27 times for 60 yards while Kevin Faulk only had five runs for 20 yards in the frigid game. It was the most meaningful work for Smith this season though he had scored twice this season.

Receivers: Even in the bad weather and lower passing yardage, Deion Branch continues to provide Brady with a primary passing target. Branch had six catches for 93 yards while no other wide out had more than two catches or 17 yards. Daniel Graham also provided a nice big outlet with six catches for 24 yards.

Troy Brown has not played in four weeks but is reported to be close to returning from a hamstring injury.

Match against the Defense: The Jaguars have been death to running backs this season and the Patriots do not really have one anyway. Look for a low numbers game from the runners, with a mixture of Faulk and Smith.

Brady should manage at least one score in this game since every quarterback that hosted Jacksonville has had at least one. The Jaguars secondary has consistently improved this season and no team has thrown for over 234 yards against the visiting Jags.

This game is shaping up to be yet another defensive war not unlike last week in New England.

Team Comparisons - Current team rankings (1-32) for FF points scored or allowed by position
Rank (1-32)
QB
RB
WR
TE
PK
DEF
JAX Scores
23
7
19
21
23
26
NE Allows
11
1
6
24
17
8
JAX AP
-12
-6
-13
3
-6
-18
Rank (1-32)
QB
RB
WR
TE
PK
DEF
NE Scores
11
16
14
7
5
5
JAX Allows
10
2
14
18
18
14
NE AP
-1
-14
0
11
13
9
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.
JAX
NE
2003 Game Averages
NE
JAX
Gains
Allows
QB's
Gains
Allows
211
214
Pass yards
243
201
1.0
0.8
Pass TDs
1.1
1.1
1.2
1.5
Interceptions
0.7
1.1
5
7
Rush yards
3
10
0.2
0.2
Rush TDs
0.1
0.1
---
---
RB's
---
---
126
77
Rush yards
95
72
0.6
0.3
Rush TDs
0.6
0.5
39
44
Receive yards
48
39
0.3
0.1
Receive TD's
0.1
0.0
---
---
WR's
---
---
145
132
Receive yards
146
123
0.5
0.5
Receive TD's
0.8
0.9
---
---
TE's
---
---
27
38
Receive yards
49
40
0.2
0.3
Receive TD's
0.2
0.2
---
---
PK's
---
---
1.3
1.8
Field Goals
2.0
1.6
1.9
1.4
Extra Points
2.2
1.9
---
---
DEF/ST
---
---
0.9
0.8
Fumbles
0.5
1.0
1.1
0.7
Interceptions
1.5
1.3
0.0
0.1
Touchdowns
0.5
0.1
1.4
2.2
Sacks
2.5
1.5
0.0
0.1
Safeties
0.1
0.0
Jaguars (4-9)
Score Opp.
23-24 @CAR
17-38 BUF
13-23 @IND
20-24 @HOU
27-21 SD
10-24 MIA
Week 7 BYE
17-30 TEN
17-24 @BAL
28-23 IND
3-10 @TEN
10-13 @NYJ
17-10 TB
27-0 HOU
Week 15 @NE
Week 16 NO
Week 17 @ATL
Patriots (11-2)
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
12-0 MIA
Week 15 JAX
Week 16 @NYJ
Week 17 BUF

* Fantasy point rankings calculated using standard Huddle fantasy points