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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
   
Philadelphia vs Miami Mon, Dec 15; 9 PM on ABC at Pro Player Stadium
  Philadelphia Rush Catch Pass
QB Donovan McNabb 30 0 220,1
RB Brian Westbrook 50,1 40 0
RB Duce Staley 20 20,1 0
RB Correll Buckhalter 40 20 0
TE Chad Lewis 0 10 0
WR James Thrash 0 20 0
WR Freddie Mitchell 0 40 0
WR Todd Pinkston 0 20 0
  Miami Rush Catch Pass
QB Jay Fiedler 10 0 190,1
RB Ricky Williams 90 20 0
TE Randy McMichael 0 50,1 0
WR Chris Chambers 0 40 0
WR Derrius Thompson 0 20 0
WR James McKnight 0 30 0

Game Prediction: PHI 20, MIA 13

Update: Fiedler has returned to practice and participated in some drills. He is confident that he will play on Monday though HC Dave Wannstedt has stopped short of naming him as the starter yet since he keeps wanting to see "after the next practice". Chances are best that Fiedler will be playing on Monday so I am leaving the projection as is.

The Dolphins are trying to avoid another late season slide but getting skunked by New England was not a good start. Eagles are overdue for a loss to be sure - they have won their last eight - but this may be the final game that they stand a decent chance of losing and there is still homefield to fight for if not a first week bye.

Look for Williams to run reasonably well early but for the complicated Eagles offense to defuse the strength of the Miami defense - shutdown corners. There is no one runner to concentrate on and even if they manage to hold down all three running backs, McNabb could just take off himself. If they Dolphins end up needing to use Griese, the score is even more likely in favor of Philly. The Eagles have lost only one road game in Dallas and just demolished them last week. The Dolphins are 3-3 at home.

Philadelphia Notes

The Eagles step up to 10-3 and clinch a playoff spot after winning their last eight games.

Quarterbacks:: Donovan McNabb comes off an impressive game against Dallas when he threw for 248 yards and had three touchdowns. To demonstrate how much better the Eagles have become, consider that he only had 126 yards and one score with one interception eight weeks prior against the same Dallas team. McNabb has scored in each of the last seven games.

Running Backs: In normal three-headed fashion, the Eagles exploited the Cowboys for 146 rushing yards and 99 receiving yards mixing Brian Westbrook, Duce Staley and Correll Buckhalter. Each of the three scored a touchdown and Buckhalter led in yardage thanks to his 60 yard run.

Over the last four games, the trio has posted 473 rushing yards, 357 receiving yards and ten touchdowns. In that same time frame, the wideouts have had only one touchdown.

Receivers: As noted, the receivers do very little for the Eagles beyond draw the secondary away from the runningbacks who get most the passes, yards and scores. Freddie Mitchell's 58 yards last week was the most by any wideout in the past four games.

The rookie L.J. Smith recorded his first NFL touchdown last week on his only catch in the game.

Match against the Defense: Miami at home has been tough against quarterbacks though it has been hardly a parade of the NFL's finest this season. The best performance was by Tom Brady (283, 2 TDs) but that was aided by the long bomb on overtime to Troy Brown. Both Manning and Carr had 266 yards and one score there. With a complicated attack such as Philly has, the chances are much better for a good passing game since Pinkston and Thrash can match against Madison and Surtain and who cares? It's not like the Eagles are going to throw to them anyway.

The Dolphins have not allowed any rusher to exceed 100 yards in Miami and yet Philly rarely ever has one of the trio do it alone (though Buckhalter did last week). What is notable is that the runners that have scored against them have been more like the Westbrook variety - Canidate, Barber, Anderson, Faulk. Philly will not likely roll up big rush yards but in combination, the trio should remain effective. Just flip a coin to see which one scores any given week.

Miami Notes

Miami falls to 8-5 with the loss to the Patriots and now is realistically fighting for a wildcard.

Quarterbacks:: It was an ugly shut out in chilly Boston last week and Jay Fiedler only completed 13 of 31 passes for 111 yards and two interceptions. He also lost a fumble. Fielder was battered in the game and had his old knee injury reaggravated and he will be looked at this week. Until further word is given, I am assuming that he plays but will update as warranted.

Running Backs: Ricky Williams gained 68 yards on 25 carries last week and found the running lanes much smaller than last season in his previous snow game. After three consecutive 100 yard games, Williams returns to his sub-par outings though he had played BAL and DAL during his string. Williams has ran better at home, exceeding 94 yards in three of his last four games there, the one clunker being against the Colts.

Receivers: After such a big game on Thanksgiving, the weather and blitzing defense prevented the wideouts from making any difference. Chris Chambers left his three touchdown game in Dallas to only manage 32 yards on four catches with no scores last week. Oronde Gadsden was the lead receiver and he only had 34 yards.

Match against the Defense: The Eagles have allowed one passing score in each of their last five games, and only Delhomme threw for two. Miami should see one passing score but anything more than that would be unusual and even then it might only come in trash time if Philly gets a lead and plays back.

While both Steve Smith and Muhammad scored in week 13 on Philly, that was rare. The Eagles had gone four games with never allowing a passing touchdown to a wideout and the corners will match up well against Chambers and Thompson. It has actually been more likely that a tight end scores against the Eagles and McMichael could end up as the better receiver.

On the road, Philly has bee most hurt by big backs like Williams with Ahman Green (192 yards, 2 TDs) and Steven Davis (115 yards) the most productive. Those games were recent and even Dallas had some success running Hambrick (17-75) last week until they had to start throwing to catch up. Ricky Williams will be used heavily without a doubt and should have a decent game if only by volume unless the Dolphins fall behind and have to pass.

Team Comparisons - Current team rankings (1-32) for FF points scored or allowed by position
Rank (1-32)
QB
RB
WR
TE
PK
DEF
PHI Scores
15
2
31
18
6
10
MIA Allows
8
6
9
7
7
27
PHI AP
-7
4
-22
-11
1
-17
Rank (1-32)
QB
RB
WR
TE
PK
DEF
MIA Scores
27
26
23
17
21
3
PHI Allows
18
20
10
10
14
4
MIA AP
-9
-6
-13
-7
-7
1
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.
PHI
MIA
2003 Game Averages
MIA
PHI
Gains
Allows
QB's
Gains
Allows
198
210
Pass yards
179
208
1.1
0.7
Pass TDs
1.0
0.9
0.5
1.6
Interceptions
1.2
0.8
20
12
Rush yards
4
22
0.1
0.1
Rush TDs
0.1
0.2
---
---
RB's
---
---
117
77
Rush yards
91
122
1.4
0.5
Rush TDs
0.5
0.5
58
40
Receive yards
34
38
0.7
0.1
Receive TD's
0.0
0.2
---
---
WR's
---
---
103
132
Receive yards
107
143
0.3
0.6
Receive TD's
0.9
0.5
---
---
TE's
---
---
38
38
Receive yards
38
26
0.1
0.0
Receive TD's
0.1
0.3
---
---
PK's
---
---
1.8
1.4
Field Goals
1.4
1.7
2.7
1.6
Extra Points
2.0
1.5
---
---
DEF/ST
---
---
1.1
1.1
Fumbles
1.0
0.5
0.7
1.1
Interceptions
1.7
0.5
0.2
0.3
Touchdowns
0.2
0.1
2.5
2.1
Sacks
3.0
2.5
0.1
0.1
Safeties
0.1
0.0
Eagles (10-3)
Score Opp.
0-17 TB
10-31 NE
Week 3 BYE
23-13 @BUF
27-25 WAS
21-23 @DAL
14-10 @NYG
24-17 NYJ
23-16 @ATL
17-14 @GB
28-10 NYG
33-20 NO
25-16 @CAR
36-10 DAL
Week 15 @MIA
Week 16 SF
Week 17 @WAS
Dolphins (8-5)
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
0-12 @NE
Week 15 PHI
Week 16 @BUF
Week 17 NYJ

* Fantasy point rankings calculated using standard Huddle fantasy points