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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
   
Tennessee vs Houston Sun, Dec 21; 1 PM on CBS at Reliant Stadium
  Tennessee at HOU Rush Catch Pass
QB Steve McNair 0 0 230,2
RB Eddie George 80,1 10 0
TE Frank Wycheck 0 30 0
WR Derrick Mason 0 80,1 0
WR Justin McCareins 0 70,1 0
WR Tyrone Calico 0 20 0
  Houston vs TEN Rush Catch Pass
QB David Carr 0 0 250,1
RB Domanick Davis 50 40 0
TE Billy Miller 0 30,1 0
WR Corey Bradford 0 60 0
WR Andre Johnson 0 50 0
WR Jabar Gaffney 0 30 0

Game Prediction: TEN 24, HOU 13

Update: It is still unknown if McNair will be able to play - Fisher already said that he could not have if the game was on Thursday. But if he does not play the Titans will be forced to use Neil O'Donnell who drove to the Titans training facilities so recently that his engine is still warm. I am downgrading McNair's numbers but as we all know, all bets are off when it is injured McNair.

David Carr is expected to play this week and could make the game interesting.

Houston need Carr to return in order for the offense to click and he should be back this week. The Titans lost Volek for the season and hope to get McNair back on the field this week. These teams had a major shoot-out back in week six but the Titan defense should hold them back better this go around now knowing about Davis in advance.

Tennessee Notes

The Titans rise to 10-4 with a probable lock on the top wildcard and still only one game behind the Colts in the AFC South.

Quarterbacks:: Billy Volek will miss the rest of the season with a lacerated spleen. The injury was revealed in tests on Monday and was suffered last week during the Bills game. The Titans now need to sign a quick veteran quarterback and Neil O'Donnell is considered the front runner. Rookie Jason Gesser is the only other QB on the roster.

Until further word, I am assuming that Steve McNair improves enough to play. McNair threw for 421 yards and three scores against the Texans in their last meeting in week six. He needs to play this week if only to satisfy thousands of fantasy owners.

Running Backs: Eddie George only had 67 yards on 23 carries last week and only gained 60 yards on 19 carries in his previous game against the Texans.

Receivers: Volek found Derrick Mason nine times for 137 yards last week and scored on passes to Justin McCareins (4-37) and Erron Kinney (4-44). Mason was again the star back in week six when he had 177 yards and three touchdowns against the Texans while Tyrone Calico had 92 yards on four catches in that game.

Match against the Defense: The Titans had their best passing effort of the season in the last meeting against the Texans and the Texans have allowed a passing score in every home game this season except against the Falcons. Tom Brady had 368 yards and two scores there in week 12.

The Texans rush defense has been dinged by several runners this season but only when they commit to 25+ carries which is more than George typically has. George could turn in a nice game if the Titans elect to run the ball and give him a large volume in order to protect McNair which is a distinct possibility.

If McNair does not play, then it is a given that George will get a heavy load. If he does play and has reasonable protection, McNair can pick apart the Texans as he did the last time.

Houston Notes

The Texans fall to 5-9 with their loss in Jacksonville.

Quarterbacks:: Dave Ragone has only 135 yards passing and three turnovers in the past two games. David Carr expects to start Sunday against Tennessee so I am projecting for him and will update if needed. Carr had his best game of his career the last time against the Titans, throwing for 371 yards and two scores.

Running Backs: Domanick Davis returned to the field last week but only gained 56 yards on 16 carries against the Buccaneers. So far his best games have been against lesser defenses - IND, NYJ, CIN and ATL. When he has faced a tougher group - TB, NE and even BUF, he has only managed less than 70 yards and not scored. Carr returning will be a big help to the running game.

Davis had 129 total yards against the Titans in week six, gaining most of that on passes as the third down back.

Receivers: The ridiculously low passing of Ragone has made this group meaningless but back when Carr faced Tennessee the first time, Corey Bradford had 127 yards and one score on five catches and Domanick Davis turned in his first good game when he had 70 yards on seven receptions to pair with his 59 yard rushing. Andre Johnson was held to only 49 yards on two catches in that game.

Match against the Defense: The Texans should be able to provide a good showing here if Carr returns and is healthy. The Titan cornerbacks shut down Gaffney and Johnson in week six but Bradford and Davis supplied plenty of yards.

The Titans on the road have varied from between 160 yards to 362 yards passing allowed but Carr should manage at least 200 here with the chance for more, particularly if the Titans get a lead and allow trash time gains. Samari Rolle and Kevin Dyson can cover Gaffney and Johnson which will force Carr to find either Bradford, Miller or Davis more often than not.

Davis faces a defense that has been pretty tough against the run this season when they knew the runner was coming with the exception of Edgerrin James. Davis was successful last time as the third down back but will be challenged to turn in big numbers from a defense that will now be focused primarily on stopping him. No runner has had more than 80 yards against the Titans on the road this season in the last six games though most backs manage around 30 yards receiving as well and Dunn had 129 yards on nine catches in week 12 thanks to one long score.

Team Comparisons - Current team rankings (1-32) for FF points scored or allowed by position
Rank (1-32)
QB
RB
WR
TE
PK
DEF
TEN Scores
5
30
7
3
15
21
HOU Allows
9
26
15
14
30
17
TEN AP
4
-4
8
11
15
-4
Rank (1-32)
QB
RB
WR
TE
PK
DEF
HOU Scores
32
31
31
21
29
29
TEN Allows
12
11
18
16
29
26
HOU AP
-20
-20
-13
-5
0
-3
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.
TEN
HOU
2003 Game Averages
HOU
TEN
Gains
Allows
QB's
Gains
Allows
236
232
Pass yards
114
211
2.0
0.6
Pass TDs
0.6
1.2
0.8
0.6
Interceptions
0.8
1.2
11
6
Rush yards
17
8
0.4
0.0
Rush TDs
0.0
0.0
---
---
RB's
---
---
89
140
Rush yards
67
80
0.2
0.8
Rush TDs
0.4
0.8
16
53
Receive yards
15
47
0.2
0.0
Receive TD's
0.0
0.0
---
---
WR's
---
---
168
152
Receive yards
79
133
1.2
0.4
Receive TD's
0.4
0.8
---
---
TE's
---
---
52
27
Receive yards
21
31
0.6
0.2
Receive TD's
0.2
0.2
---
---
PK's
---
---
1.4
2.4
Field Goals
1.2
2.0
2.8
1.4
Extra Points
1.0
2.4
---
---
DEF/ST
---
---
0.4
0.6
Fumbles
0.4
1.6
1.0
0.8
Interceptions
0.6
0.6
0.2
0.0
Touchdowns
0.0
0.4
2.2
3.8
Sacks
2.0
2.2
0.0
0.4
Safeties
0.0
0.0
Tennessee (10-4)
Score Opp.
25-20 OAK
7-33 @IND
27-12 NO
30-13 @PIT
30-38 @NE
38-17 HOU
37-17 @CAR
31-7 @JAX
Week 9 BYE
30-17 MIA
10-3 JAX
38-31 @ATL
17-24 @NYJ
27-29 IND
28-26 BUF
Week 16 @HOU
Week 17 TB
Texans (5-9)
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
3-16 @TB
Week 16 TEN
Week 17 IND

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