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Predictions & Projections
By David M. Dorey
 
The Huddle
WEEK 16
December 17, 2003
Season Ticket
Saturday Sun 1 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 4 PM Sun 8:30 PM
ATL at TB 1 BAL at CLE NYG at DAL ARZ at SEA DEN at IND
KC at MIN 5 CIN at STL NO at JAX SD at PIT Mon 9 PM
NE at NYJ 8:30 DET at CAR TEN at HOU SF at PHI GB at OAK
Times EST MIA at BUF WAS at CHI *updated
   
San Francisco vs Philadelphia Sun, Dec 21; 4 PM on FOX at Osaka Dome
  San Francisco at PHI Rush Catch Pass
QB Jeff Garcia 20 0 240,2
RB Garrison Hearst Q Q Q
RB Kevan Barlow 90,1 30 0
TE Jed Weaver 0 20 0
WR Terrell Owens 0 80,1 0
WR Tai Streets 0 70,1 0
WR Cedrick Wilson 0 20 0
  Philadelphia vs SF Rush Catch Pass
QB Donovan McNabb 30 0 210,2
RB Duce Staley 40 0 0
RB Brian Westbrook 60 40 0
RB Correll Buckhalter 20,1 10 0
TE Chad Lewis 0 30,1 0
WR James Thrash 0 30 0
WR Freddie Mitchell 0 40 0
WR Todd Pinkston 0 60,1 0

Game Prediction: SF 21, PHI 27

Update: L.J. Smith now appears unlikely to play this week and Chad Lewis will take all the tight end receptions. I am awarding him a touchdown but any of the Eagle receivers are as likely to score.

I am also bumping up some numbers for the 49ers on the news that Troy Vincent in expected to miss this game which leaves Sheldon Brown to cover Tai Streets. That should be a benefit to both Garcia and Streets and with a little more concern for the safety with Vincent out, I like Barlow to gain a bit more yardage against a team that has not seen their rush defense improve the last few weeks.

The 49ers come to town sporting a 0-7 road mark but posted 38 points last week in Cincinnati in a losing effort. The Eagles have not scored less than 25 points in the last five games and can exploit a weak 49er defense.

San Francisco Notes

The 49ers fall to 6-8 and are now 0-7 on the road.

Quarterbacks:: Though it was not enough for a win, Jeff Garcia broke out of his road funk last week when he threw for 344 yards and two touchdowns with a third rushed in. Combined with the previous week, Garcia has either thrown or rushed nine touchdowns in the last two games - nice timing there for the fantasy playoffs. Unfortunately, that amount is almost equal to what he has done for the rest of the season.

Running Backs: Kevan Barlow took the start last week and ran 18 times for 85 yards and two touchdowns. He also had 66 yards on six catches. The problem was that he had two costly fumbles in the game and another in the previous week. The 49ers are giving him the start again this week and part of his fumbling problem can be attributed to never having carried the ball 36 times in two weeks.

Garrison Hearst has now missed two games and is considered questionable to play this weekend.

Receivers: Terrell Owens had eight catches for 127 yards and a score, giving him nine on the season and five in the past five weeks. Tai Streets had 89 yards and one touchdown last week, his best game of the season and his second in a row with a touchdown reception.

Jed Weaver had another down game, catching only 27 yards on two catches. Weaver is a product of home field. In his last three home games he has ten catches for 120 yards but his last three road games he only totaled seven catches for 68 yards.

Match against the Defense: The 49ers had been a horrible road team - they are 0-7 in away games for a reason, but finally put together a nice offensive effort last week against at least an average defense. This week they head to Philadelphia where no quarterback has thrown more than one touchdown in the last six homestands. Several quarterbacks along the way have had nice games there like Ramsey, Collins and Brooks but even with yardage none has thrown for more than one score.

The Eagles will give up rushing yards this season. Several runners have topped 100 yards against them and Deuce McAllister ripped them for 184 yards in a losing cause. Last week Ricky Williams had 107 yards. Barlow can get a good game here and possibly very good if the 49ers commit to the run and Hearst does not play.

The last wideout to score on the Eagles as a visitor was Santana Moss back in week eight, but several players have had respectable games against the secondary and most common is the #3 wideout.

Philadelphia Notes

The Eagles rise to 11-3 and are a lock to win the NFC East. They are tied with the Rams for the best record in the NFC.

Quarterbacks:: Donovan McNabb threw 15 of 27 for 236 yards against the Dolphins last week, adding one rushing score and allowing the passing touchdown to be thrown by Freddie Mitchell on a trick play. It was the first time in seven games that McNabb did not have a passing score.

Running Backs: The three-headed monster continues to thrive and over the last five games has produced the most rushing fantasy points of any NFL team. Problem is that there are three of them. Last week Michael Westbrook had 59 yards on eight carries and one touchdown and three catches for 45 yards and another score. Duce Staley only had six carries but gained 58 yards while Correll Buckhalter only gained nine yards on six carries but scored once on a dive over the endzone flag.

This is a complex rushing attack to prepare to stop though Westbrook has clearly emerged as the most dangerous with 11 touchdowns this season and scores in seven of the last ten games.

Receivers: The Eagles came out last Monday with a bomb to Todd Pinkston on the first play for 59 yards but only added one more catch in the game for 19 yards. In true Eagle fashion, no other receiver had more than three catches or more than 48 yards.

Match against the Defense: Some of the success of the Eagles relies on which 49ers team shows up. The road version is bad on defense in every game and has allowed opponent quarterbacks to throw for two scores in each of the last three games though all had less than 189 yards passing.

Any wide receiver can score against the 49ers though the Pinkston side is a bit more successful.

The 49er rush defense has fallen apart on the road as well, allowing huge games to Rudi Johnson, all the Packer runners and even Jamal Lewis had 85 yards and one score and he had no passing game at the time.

The 49ers can give up yards all sorts of ways and on the road again should provide McNabb and company an opportunity to continue with few changes to the normal game plan.

Team Comparisons - Current team rankings (1-32) for FF points scored or allowed by position
Rank (1-32)
QB
RB
WR
TE
PK
DEF
SF Scores
2
6
5
19
10
25
PHI Allows
26
23
13
29
21
2
SF AP
24
17
8
10
11
-23
Rank (1-32)
QB
RB
WR
TE
PK
DEF
PHI Scores
6
1
26
11
2
18
SF Allows
19
18
27
8
26
16
PHI AP
13
17
1
-3
24
-2
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.
SF
PHI
2003 Game Averages
PHI
SF
Gains
Allows
QB's
Gains
Allows
233
221
Pass yards
253
202
1.8
1.0
Pass TDs
1.6
1.8
1.0
1.0
Interceptions
0.4
1.2
16
36
Rush yards
19
9
0.6
0.2
Rush TDs
0.2
0.0
---
---
RB's
---
---
133
142
Rush yards
120
127
0.8
0.8
Rush TDs
1.6
1.0
42
28
Receive yards
81
23
0.2
0.2
Receive TD's
1.2
0.0
---
---
WR's
---
---
155
146
Receive yards
138
160
1.6
0.4
Receive TD's
0.2
1.2
---
---
TE's
---
---
36
47
Receive yards
34
19
0.0
0.4
Receive TD's
0.2
0.2
---
---
PK's
---
---
1.4
1.8
Field Goals
2.4
1.4
3.2
1.6
Extra Points
3.4
3.2
---
---
DEF/ST
---
---
0.6
0.4
Fumbles
0.8
0.8
1.2
0.4
Interceptions
1.0
1.0
0.0
0.0
Touchdowns
0.0
0.4
1.8
1.8
Sacks
2.4
1.2
0.2
0.0
Safeties
0.2
0.0
49ers (6-8)
Score Opp.
49-7 CHI
24-27 @STL
12-13 CLE
7-35 @MIN
24-17 DET
19-20 @SEA
24-7 TB
13-16 @ARZ
30-10 STL
Week 10 BYE
30-14 PIT
10-20 @GB
6-44 @BAL
50-14 ARZ
38-41 @CIN
Week 16 @PHI
Week 17 SEA
Eagles (11-3)
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
34-27 @MIA
Week 16 SF
Week 17 @WAS

* Fantasy point rankings calculated using standard Huddle fantasy points using only the last five games played