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Predictions & Projections
By David M. Dorey
 
The Huddle
WEEK 17
December 24, 2003
Season Ticket
Sat 1:30 PM Sat 8:30 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 4 PM
BUF at NE PHI at WAS CHI at KC JAX at ATL CAR at NYG
Sat 5 PM Sun 8:30 PM CLE at CIN NYJ at MIA MIN at ARZ
SEA at SF PIT at BAL DAL at NO STL at DET DEN at GB
  IND at HOU TB at TEN OAK at SD
   
Dallas vs New Orleans Sun, Dec 28; 1 PM on FOX at Superdome
  Dallas at NO Rush Catch Pass
QB Quincy Carter 20,1 0 190,1
RB Richie Anderson 30 20,1 0
RB Troy Hambrick 70 10 0
TE Jason Witten 0 30 0
WR Joey Galloway 0 30 0
WR Terry Glenn 0 40 0
WR Antonio Bryant 0 40 0
  New Orleans vs DAL Rush Catch Pass
QB Aaron Brooks 0 0 210,1
RB Deuce McAllister 70 50 0
TE Boo Williams 0 50,1 0
WR Joe Horn D D D
WR Donte Stallworth 0 70 0
WR Jerome Pathon 0 20 0

Game Prediction: DAL 19, NO 16

Update: As expected, Joe Horn is not slated to play this week and Deuce McAllister is nursing a sprained knee and has missed a couple of days of practice but still expects to play. I am not changing the projections but be aware that McAllister could turn in lower numbers if his knee bothers him or gets worse during the game.

This would be a coin flip game since the Cowboys are not nearly as good on the road but the loss of Horn hurts the Saints passing game while McAllister is a little banged up.

Dallas Notes

The Cowboys rise to an astonishing 10-5 on the season and have made the playoffs for the first time since 1999. If the Eagles were to lose to the Redskins and the Cowboys win here, they could even have the NFC East title. It is unlikely of course, but then again so is being 10-5.

Quincy Carter threw for 240 yards and one score against the Giants last week but the performance was not as good as the numbers sound. Carter threw a 64 yard completion on the first play of the game to help his numbers. Carter has thrown for a touchdown in in each of the past five weeks but has struggled some with turning toe ball over. He has 16 touchdowns against 17 interceptions and three lost fumbles.

Troy Hambrick only gained 36 yards on 12 carries against the Giants which makes his 189 yard effort against the Redskins all the more impressive. Hambrick will play out this season but is unlikely to return as the starter for 2004 since he often runs out of gas just prior to reaching the line of scrimmage. Hambrick only needs 54 more yards to become only the fifth Cowboy to crack 1000 rushing yards in a season.

Joey Galloway had the big catch last week but no others in the game and it was his first catch in three weeks. With his paycheck, Galloway is another not likely to return next year without a restructuring of his contract. The Cowboys were most intent on getting the ball to Antonio Bryant who ended with only 41 yards on four catches. Bryant let a trick pass from Richie Anderson skip through his hands near the goalline.

Jason Witten had one catch for a 36 yard touchdown - the first of his career.

Match against the Defense: The Cowboys are not going to win games based on their offense because it is adequate on a good day. The Saints secondary has allowed only four passing scores in the last five games at home and have held all visiting quarterbacks to less than 213 yards except, of course, Peyton Manning.

Look for a likely sub-200 day from Carter and the chance for one score but likely not more. The Saints secondary has been quite good against wideouts in the last six weeks so the better bet is for Jason Witten or even Dan Campbell to score.

The Saints rushing defense has not been as good with the loss of some defensive starters this season and was ripped by Fred Taylor last week. The Cowboys should turn in well over 100 yards rushing, but that may be from a combination of Hambrick, Anderson and Carter.

New Orleans Notes

The Saints fall to 7-8 with their loss to Jacksonville and after missing the extra point, they may wish they had never made that thrilling, whoop-whoop-whoop touchdown that gave them hope.

Aaron Brooks ended with 296 yards for the second week in a row but needed the 75 yards from the final score to make his stats appear much better than they were. Brooks managed to not turn the ball over last week, his second such game in the last four weeks after a torrid ball-losing stretch the previous month that almost had him benched. Brooks has been consistent around 220 yards passing this season but has only ran in a score once in week 13. He has never had more than 37 yards rushing in any game this year and normally does not gain more than around ten.

Deuce McAllister had 113 total yards last week but only 50 on the ground. After his record nine consecutive games, he has not eclipsed the century mark on the ground in the past three games and now will face the Cowboys. Deuce injured his knee last week and may miss a few days of practice but is expected to play on Sunday. It will not help that Pro Bowl RG LeCharles Bentley has a partial tear to his ACL and will not play.

The Saints will be further challenged this week with Joe Horn having a separated shoulder and due to miss his first game since joining the Saints three years ago. Jerome Pathon and Donte Stallworth will pick up the slack for as long as Stallworth is not injured.

Match against the Defense: The Cowboys defense is good but not as great as their stats suggest. The problem here is that Horn is out and with him the core of the receiving game.

Dallas has allowed only three runners to top 100 yards this year and even then, the best was 115 yards. Dallas should manage to keep this game lower scoring unless Brooks can find success throwing to Stallworth against CB Mario Edwards. Since Chris Chambers torched the Cowboys on Thanksgiving, every quarterback has attacked Edwards and the speed of Stallworth could allow a nice long pass or two.

McAllister's production has been lower lately with offensive line injuries and now he has a slightly tweaked knee. Look for him to be used as much in the passing game as any receiver and with that manage to exceed 100 total yards.

Team Comparisons - Current team rankings (1-32) for FF points scored or allowed by position
Rank (1-32)
QB
RB
WR
TE
PK
DEF
DAL Scores
7
17
30
8
22
24
NO Allows
4
31
1
21
23
27
DAL AP
-3
14
-29
13
1
3
Rank (1-32)
QB
RB
WR
TE
PK
DEF
NO Scores
11
10
15
3
12
18
DAL Allows
12
15
5
7
16
21
NO AP
1
5
-10
4
4
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.
DAL
NO
2003 Game Averages
NO
DAL
Gains
Allows
QB's
Gains
Allows
199
176
Pass yards
248
187
1.2
0.8
Pass TDs
1.7
1.2
1.5
1.0
Interceptions
2.3
0.8
46
18
Rush yards
11
5
0.2
0.0
Rush TDs
0.0
0.2
---
---
RB's
---
---
98
146
Rush yards
131
89
0.5
0.8
Rush TDs
0.7
0.5
53
52
Receive yards
53
47
0.3
0.3
Receive TD's
0.0
0.5
---
---
WR's
---
---
116
105
Receive yards
143
121
0.3
0.0
Receive TD's
1.0
0.5
---
---
TE's
---
---
30
18
Receive yards
52
18
0.5
0.5
Receive TD's
0.7
0.2
---
---
PK's
---
---
1.3
1.7
Field Goals
1.5
1.5
1.8
2.0
Extra Points
2.7
2.0
---
---
DEF/ST
---
---
0.8
1.2
Fumbles
0.8
0.5
0.8
1.0
Interceptions
1.0
1.5
0.0
0.3
Touchdowns
0.3
0.2
2.0
3.0
Sacks
1.3
2.7
0.0
0.0
Safeties
0.0
0.2
Cowboys (10-5)
Score Opp.
13-27 ATL
35-32 @NYG
Week 3 BYE
17-6 @NYJ
24-7 ARZ
23-21 PHI
38-7 @DET
0-16 @TB
21-14 WAS
10-6 BUF
0-12 @NE
24-20 CAR
21-40 MIA
10-36 @PHI
27-0 @WAS
19-3 NYG
Week 17 @NO
Saints (7-8)
Score Opp.
10-27 @SEA
31-10 HOU
12-27 @TEN
21-55 IND
13-19 @CAR
20-13 CHI
45-17 @ATL
20-23 CAR
17-14 @TB
Week 10 BYE
23-20 ATL
20-33 @PHI
24-20 @WAS
7-14 TB
45-7 NYG
19-20 @JAX
Week 17 DAL

* Fantasy point rankings calculated using standard Huddle fantasy points