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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
   
Philadelphia vs Washington Sat, Dec 27; 8:30 PM on ESPN at FedEx Field
  Philadelphia at WAS Rush Catch Pass
QB Donovan McNabb 30 0 180,2
RB Duce Staley 20 10 0
RB Correll Buckhalter 20,1 0 0
RB Brian Westbrook 80,1 40,1 0
TE Lewis/Smith 0 40,1 0
WR James Thrash 0 30 0
WR Freddie Mitchell 0 50 0
WR Todd Pinkston 0 20 0
  Washington vs PHI Rush Catch Pass
QB Tim Hasselbeck 0 0 230,1
RB Rock Cartwright 70,1 10 0
TE Z. Flemister 0 0 0
WR Lavernues Coles 0 80,1 0
WR Rod Gardner 0 50 0
WR Darnerian McCants 0 40 0

Game Prediction: PHI 31, WAS 20

Update: Zeron Flemister was late to a meeting and could be inactive for this game per team rules. L.J. Smith now seems likely to play and could be a big part of the passing game along with Chad Lewis against a team that has good cornerbacks and lesser safeties.

Philadelphia Notes

The Eagles fall to 11-4 and now must face the great likelihood that they will be on the road for the NFC Championship game in St. Louis. They may have been caught looking past the 49ers since they were winless on the road but it could not have been this game they were looking at.

Donovan McNabb winds up his year far better than he started it, though he never had more than one score in all but three games this season and ends with 13 passing scores and only two rushing touchdowns. He had one 300 yard game but most were around 200. Against the Redskins in week five, he only had 157 yards and one score.

Correll Buckhalter was made inactive last week after missing a team meeting but is expected to be more punctual and play on Saturday. Brian Westbrook had almost six yards a carry last week but was only allowed five runs and five receptions. He scored on a punt return but even that was not enough against the visiting 49ers.

Duce Staley had two touchdowns last week and 53 yards, but that was mostly due to the absence of Buckhalter who had scored in seven games this year as the goal line back.

After fifteen weeks, Todd Pinkston turned in the first 100+ yard game by a wideout last week against the rookie corner for the 49ers who was replacing Ahmed Plummer. None of them had over 39 yards in the last meeting against the Redskins.

Match against the Defense: Clean those cleats, it's running time.

The Redskins have gone from being merely bad against the run to being almost catastrophically bad. The trio of runners should combine for over 150 yards since even bad teams have been and Westbrook is the most likely scorer though Buckhalter should get another short one in this week.

There will be little need to pass this week and the Redskins have decent corners if nothing else. Look for McNabb to dip back below 200 yards passing again for the first time in four weeks.

Washington Notes

The Redskins fall to 5-10 on the season and the biggest question by the media is if Spurrier will remain in Washington even though Danny Snyder said he would and Spurrier has reiterated that he wants to remain. "Are you sure? Really, really sure?" - just a bad sign really. Some rumors have him going to Miami to replace Wannstedt in the hopes that his brand of football only needs the Florida sun.

Tim Hasselbeck comes off his best effort in five games of starting when he threw for 209 yards and two scores last week in Chicago. He is already anointed as the backup quarterback next season so he does not have to prove anything here even if he can.

The running game is in a shambles, thanks to injuries and the fact that opponents normally have the ball. As long as opponents see him coming, Rock Cartwright has proven to be easy to stop and has never had a 100 yard game this season. He was more effective as the short yardage back he was earlier in the season. Chad Morton is rarely used anymore, having only seven touches in the last two games when he was needed most.

Lavernues Coles revealed that he had a bad foot all season and then turned around and managed his first two touchdown game of the year last week. He only had 60 yards last time against the Eagles and that was with Ramsey throwing against an injured secondary.

Match against the Defense: The Eagles will be missing LC Carlos Emmons which would hurt against a team that ran well. Such is not really the case here. Since Troy Vincent is gone this week, look for Coles to have a shot at another good game.

The Eagles problems at stopping the run will give cause to running Cartwright more and while he will have more success, this is a game the Eagles need to win and cannot afford to lose. The Redskins do not have a solid rushing game to rely on and that dooms their chances.

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
6
1
21
15
2
14
WAS Allows
13
29
10
2
17
10
PHI AP
7
28
-11
-13
15
-4
Rank (1-32)
QB
RB
WR
TE
PK
DEF
WAS Scores
28
26
16
32
18
12
PHI Allows
23
26
12
29
26
5
WAS AP
-5
0
-4
-3
8
-7
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
WAS
2003 Game Averages
WAS
PHI
Gains
Allows
QB's
Gains
Allows
250
189
Pass yards
160
222
1.5
0.8
Pass TDs
1.3
1.2
0.7
2.8
Interceptions
1.2
0.8
17
5
Rush yards
5
34
0.2
0.3
Rush TDs
0.0
0.2
---
---
RB's
---
---
114
151
Rush yards
100
150
1.7
1.0
Rush TDs
0.3
0.8
75
42
Receive yards
33
29
1.0
0.2
Receive TD's
0.0
0.3
---
---
WR's
---
---
145
131
Receive yards
113
144
0.3
0.5
Receive TD's
1.3
0.5
---
---
TE's
---
---
30
16
Receive yards
14
49
0.2
0.2
Receive TD's
0.0
0.3
---
---
PK's
---
---
2.0
1.3
Field Goals
1.5
2.0
3.5
2.5
Extra Points
1.8
1.8
---
---
DEF/ST
---
---
0.8
1.0
Fumbles
1.2
0.5
0.8
1.2
Interceptions
1.0
0.7
0.2
0.0
Touchdowns
0.2
0.0
2.5
1.5
Sacks
2.2
2.3
0.2
0.0
Safeties
0.0
0.0
Eagles (10-4)
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
28-31 SF
Week 17 @WAS
Redskins (5-10)
Score Opp.
16-13 NYJ
33-31 @ATL
21-24 NYG
20-17 NE
25-27 @PHI
13-35 TB
7-24 @BUF
Week 8 BYE
14-21 @DAL
27-20 SEA
17-20 @CAR
23-24 @MIA
20-24 NO
20-7 @NYG
0-27 DAL
24-27 @CHI
Week 17 PHI

* Fantasy point rankings calculated using standard Huddle fantasy points