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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
   
Tampa Bay vs Tennessee Sun, Dec 28; 1 PM on FOX at The Coliseum
  Tampa Bay at TEN Rush Catch Pass
QB Brad Johnson 0 0 210,1
RB Michael Pittman 20 10 0
RB Thomas Jones 70 20 0
TE Ken Dilger 0 20 0
WR Charles Lee 0 80,1 0
WR Keenan McCardell 0 70 0
  Tennessee vs TB Rush Catch Pass
QB Steve McNair 0 0 240,2
RB Eddie George 70 10 0
TE Frank Wycheck 0 40,1 0
WR Derrick Mason 0 40 0
WR Justin McCareins 0 80,1 0
WR Drew Bennett 0 60 0

Game Prediction: TB 13, TEN 23

Update: Derrick Mason now has a fractured rib but is still expected to play against the Buccaneers this week and will wear a protective vest. Unfortunately Tyrone Calico is still bothered by his knee injury and may not play so I am not including projections for him.

Steve McNair is still expected to play the final regular season game against Tampa Bay though he continues to receive treatment on his sore ankle. McNair is reported to feel better than last week at this time and the Titans have no history of pulling him out of games in the past. Tennessee and Indianapolis play at the same time and with a potential division on the line, McNair should likely see the field the entire game barring further injury.

Tampa Bay Notes

The Buccaneers are now officially out of the playoffs and are 7-8 on the season.

Last week saw Brad Johnson throwing four interceptions against what had been one of the worst pass defenses in the league. Thanks to falling behind so early, Johnson turned in his best game of the season right during fantasy playoffs when he ended with 346 yards and four scores. He now has 26 touchdowns on the season.

Thomas Jones did not get much chance to shine last week thanks to the quick deficit on the scoreboard but still had 73 yards on 17 carries - basically the same as the previous week cut exactly in half. Jones is the starting tailback now and shows what a great move Tampa Bay made in acquiring him. Problem is that they only signed him for one season so before Jones plays for them again next year, Tampa Bay will have to write a check that says they like him more than anyone else.

Keenan McCardell ends a very nice year that saw his scoring disappear once Keyshawn was gone until last week. He ends with four 100 yard games and eight touchdowns. He had seven by week eleven when Keyshawn took his goofy grin into the announcers booth to explain why he really is not a cancer to the team.

Match against the Defense: The Buccaneers are actually more successful on the road than at home this year but how that plays out in the final game is hard to gauge. The loss last week may have completely taken the wind out of the sails, particularly since they are coming off a Super Bowl to a bumbling end. Warren Sapp's little tirade after the game only underscores the problem with the team overall and with specific players.

The Titans have a good defense but have often allowed trash time yards and scores this season. Chances are best that the Titans will be motivated to win this game much more than Tampa Bay.

Thomas Jones will want to produce a final picture of his worth on the free agent market but faces a defense that has only allowed one runner (James) to score as a visitor this year. No tailback has exceeded 100 yards there this year and only James and Henry went over 65 yards rushing.

Brad Johnson will likely have a lesser outing here since most opponents have remained well under 200 yards passing. The Titans have also held opponent wideouts to well under 100 yards in all but two games this season and the last time was Harrison.

Tennessee Notes

The Titans rise to 11-4 and are now tied with the Colts for the AFC South though Indianapolis owns the tie breaker. Since the Colts and Titans play concurrently on Sunday, Tennessee cannot know if their game matters or not.

Steve McNair ended up playing last week and to no surprise he hobbled his way to 242 yards and two scores against the Texans. McNair's foot was swollen afterwards but he will play this week unless during the game it becomes apparent that the Colts will already win their game. Neil O'Donnell is on board now and could use some game experience if it is possible.

Eddie George enters his final game with only five touchdowns on the season and just two 100 yard rushing games for 2003. The Titans offense could be swell served by a runner with actual speed but there has been no word about next year when George assumedly returns and the fantasy world complains yet again.

Derrick Mason is ending far cooler than he started this season and has only five touchdown and only one since week six. He has been overshadowed by Justin McCareins who has seven scores and five in the last seven weeks. Tyrone Calico is still suffering from a knee sprain and may not play this weekend.

Match against the Defense: The Buccaneers defense has played much better in the final stretch until last week blew up on them. That was more from offensive turnovers than from a defensive lapse. Look for McNair to limp his way to at least one score and possibly two in a game that the Buccaneers will be depressed that they have to play.

Eddie George hasn't scored in a month and only Ahman Green scored on the ground against the Buccaneers since week seven. He could turn in some yardage, but only if the Titans are wanting to kill the clock.

Team Comparisons - Current team rankings (1-32) for FF points scored or allowed by position
Rank (1-32)
QB
RB
WR
TE
PK
DEF
TB Scores
20
16
14
14
26
17
TEN Allows
17
11
18
14
28
26
TB AP
-3
-5
4
0
2
9
Rank (1-32)
QB
RB
WR
TE
PK
DEF
TEN Scores
3
28
7
4
9
13
TB Allows
1
7
2
24
11
15
TEN AP
-2
-21
-5
20
-2
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.
TB
TEN
2003 Game Averages
TEN
TB
Gains
Allows
QB's
Gains
Allows
228
216
Pass yards
241
150
1.3
1.2
Pass TDs
2.0
1.0
1.5
1.3
Interceptions
0.8
0.7
1
13
Rush yards
10
11
0.0
0.0
Rush TDs
0.3
0.0
---
---
RB's
---
---
112
75
Rush yards
103
107
0.5
0.8
Rush TDs
0.2
0.2
52
40
Receive yards
18
19
0.2
0.0
Receive TD's
0.2
0.2
---
---
WR's
---
---
163
144
Receive yards
176
108
0.7
0.8
Receive TD's
1.2
0.3
---
---
TE's
---
---
14
32
Receive yards
48
22
0.5
0.2
Receive TD's
0.7
0.5
---
---
PK's
---
---
1.2
1.8
Field Goals
1.5
1.5
1.8
2.5
Extra Points
2.8
1.3
---
---
DEF/ST
---
---
0.7
1.3
Fumbles
0.5
0.5
1.0
0.7
Interceptions
1.2
1.5
0.2
0.5
Touchdowns
0.3
0.3
2.5
1.8
Sacks
2.0
1.3
0.2
0.0
Safeties
0.0
0.0
Buccaneers (7-8)
Score Opp.
17-0 @PHI
9-12 CAR
31-10 @ATL
Week 4 BYE
35-38 IND
35-13 @WAS
7-24 @SF
16-0 DAL
14-17 NO
24-27 @CAR
13-20 GB
19-13 NYG
10-17 @JAX
14-7 @NO
16-3 HOU
28-30 ATL
Week 17 @TEN
Tennessee (11-4)
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
27-24 @HOU
Week 17 TB

* Fantasy point rankings calculated using standard Huddle fantasy points