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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
   
St. Louis vs Detroit Sun, Dec 28; 1 PM on FOX at Ford Field
  St. Louis at DET Rush Catch Pass
QB Marc Bulger ?? 0 0 260,2
RB Marshall Faulk ?? 100,2 20 0
TE B. Manumaleuna 0 40 0
WR Isaac Bruce Q Q Q
WR Torry Holt 0 130,2 0
WR Dane Looker 0 40 0
  Detroit vs STL Rush Catch Pass
QB Joey Harrington 0 0 140,1
QB Mike McMahon 0 0 100
RB Artose Pinner 40 20 0
TE Mikhael Ricks 0 30 0
WR Bill Schroeder 0 60 0
WR Az-Zahir Hakim 0 80,1 0
WR David Kircus 0 30 0

Game Prediction: STL 34, DET 16

Update: Bit of reality interjected into this matchup is that HC Mike Martz may rest some of the players during the game if the win appears in hand and the Eagles who play on Saturday evening lost their game. If Philly loses to Washington, which is more of an "any given Sunday" thing, then the Rams have already secured the #1 seed in the NFC and have nothing to win in the game.

Artose Pinner is expected to take the start but will share with Shaun Bryson in the bad rushing game.

Isaac Bruce continues to be a big question and seems most likely to not play so I am not projecting for him. Marshall Faulk may get a rest in the game as he has in previous similar situations as well as Bulger handing the reins off to Warner sometime during the game if the Eagles lose or the Rams are safely in the lead. I am not changing any of the projections which are based on one scenario, but be aware that at least Bulger and Faulk have a significant risk of not finishing the game if the situation warrants getting them rest before the playoffs begin.

There is a probability that Mike McMahon gets snaps in the game too as Mariucci conducts his experiment to see if McMahon is worth keeping next season. I am including numbers for both since it could happen but that is up to Mariucci's whim during the game.

St. Louis Notes

The Rams rise to 12-3 and thanks to the Eagles loss, now have the best record in the NFC. For a team that dominates at home (7-0) and yet struggles on the road (4-3), this falls under the heading of a "good development".

Marc Bulger comes off his ninth multiple touchdown game of the season and has four 300+ yard games during 2003. In the past four games, Bulger has remained between 222 and 236 yards which is his norm when Faulk gets on track.

Marshall Faulk has five 100 yard rushing efforts this season and turned in 121 yards last week against the Bengals with two scores. All five big games have been in the last six weeks as Faulk finally has been playing healthy in an offense that is clicking. Faulk has ten scores on the year and is only one touchdown from tying Cris Carter's fourth place in NFL history with 131 touchdowns. Bet he scores at least once, maybe twice this week.

Isaac Bruce did not play last week with a high ankle sprain and is not expected to play this week. That allows Torry Holt to finish up an outstanding regular season that has witnessed him leading the NFL with 112 catches and 1642 yards this year. He leads Randy Moss by six receptions and 74 yards and Moss gets to visit the Cardinals. Since Holt draws the Lions, it should be a rather nice afternoon for both the elite receivers.

Match against the Defense: The Lions have one of the worse pass defenses in the league and have the entire season even before they lost set after set of defensive backs. DE Kalimba Edwards suffered a torn groin muscle and is gone for the season and DE Robert Porcher may not play due to wrist and elbow injuries. DT Luther Ellis is still out because of a concussion. It just never ends.

The Rams need to win in order to assure the only away game is the Super Bowl. Beyond that, they can decide how they want to win. Bulger should manage two scores since nine other teams have done so and Faulk needs to get two touchdowns to place him fourth on the all-time list. Bruce will not play so Holt is a lock to score once and maybe twice.

Detroit Notes

At 4-11 and having lost the last three weeks, the Lions are now playing their final game of the season by randomly selecting people out of the stands to play defense.

HC Steve Mariucci wanted to see what Mike McMahon could do last week which resulted in him throwing 4 of 11 for 36 yards and one interception. This was actually better than Joey Harrington who came in to save the day by completing 3 of 8 for 17 yards. At some point you would think they would just throw Hail Mary passes every play and willingly accept the 5% success rate.

The Lions have a rushing game by rumor and innuendo but nothing is proven yet. Artose Pinner led the runners last week with 12 runs that only netted 22 yards.

Match against the Defense: The Lions have not given up on the season though their record hardly refutes the notion. They just do not have the talent to run a medium-sized McDonalds, let alone the Mariucci scheme.

All you are hoping here is for trash time scores and yardage and that could easily happen at home once the Rams take a significant lead. Since that could be the final three quarters, the Lions may have a decent box score by appearance though the running game will really struggle. Look for Harrington to produce some respectable numbers via sheer volume.

Team Comparisons - Current team rankings (1-32) for FF points scored or allowed by position
Rank (1-32)
QB
RB
WR
TE
PK
DEF
STL Scores
12
14
4
28
1
4
DET Allows
31
30
14
30
9
13
STL AP
19
16
10
2
8
9
Rank (1-32)
QB
RB
WR
TE
PK
DEF
DET Scores
26
30
25
12
31
9
STL Allows
20
12
24
23
7
25
DET AP
-6
-18
-1
11
-24
-16
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.
STL
DET
2003 Game Averages
DET
STL
Gains
Allows
QB's
Gains
Allows
247
263
Pass yards
182
217
1.5
1.7
Pass TDs
0.8
1.3
1.7
1.0
Interceptions
1.5
1.8
6
19
Rush yards
13
19
0.2
0.2
Rush TDs
0.0
0.0
---
---
RB's
---
---
109
103
Rush yards
72
111
1.0
0.8
Rush TDs
0.3
0.7
29
72
Receive yards
32
29
0.2
0.7
Receive TD's
0.0
0.0
---
---
WR's
---
---
204
146
Receive yards
112
147
1.2
0.5
Receive TD's
0.7
1.2
---
---
TE's
---
---
13
44
Receive yards
38
40
0.2
0.5
Receive TD's
0.2
0.2
---
---
PK's
---
---
2.7
0.7
Field Goals
0.3
1.0
3.2
3.7
Extra Points
2.3
2.3
---
---
DEF/ST
---
---
0.7
0.2
Fumbles
0.8
0.3
1.8
1.5
Interceptions
1.0
1.7
0.5
0.5
Touchdowns
0.5
0.3
3.2
0.8
Sacks
1.2
2.3
0.0
0.0
Safeties
0.0
0.2
Rams (12-3)
Score Opp.
13-23 @NYG
27-24 SF
23-24 @SEA
37-13 ARZ
Week 5 BYE
36-0 ATL
34-24 GB
33-21 @PIT
10-30 @SF
33-22 BAL
23-21 @CHI
30-27 @ARZ
48-17 MIN
26-20 @CLE
27-22 SEA
27-10 CIN
Week 17 @DET
Lions(4-11)
Score Opp.
42-24 ARZ
6-31 @GB
13-23 MIN
16-20 @DEN
17-24 @SF
Week 6 BYE
7-38 DAL
16-24 @CHI
23-13 OAK
12-10 CHI
14-35 @SEA
14-24 @MIN
22-14 GB
7-14 SD
17-45 @KC
14-20 @CAR
Week 17 STL

* Fantasy point rankings calculated using standard Huddle fantasy points