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Predictions & Projections
David M. Dorey
The Huddle
September 8, 2004
Season Ticket
Thu 9 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 4 PM Sun 8:30 PM
Sun 1 PM SD at HOU OAK at PIT NYG at PHI Mon 9 PM
JAX at BUF TEN at MIA TB at WAS Saturday no byes
  Dallas Rush Catch Pass
QB V. Testaverde 0 0 240,2
RB Eddie George 20 10 0
RB Julius Jones 80,1 20 0
TE Jason Witten 0 50,1 0
WR Keyshawn Johnson 0 60 0
WR Terry Glenn 0 50 0
WR Antonio Bryant 0 40,1 0
PK Bill Cundiff 1 FG 3 XP -
  Minnesota Rush Catch Pass
QB Daunte Culpepper 30 0 280,3
RB Onterrio Smith 50 10 0
RB Moe Williams 40 30 0
TE J. Kleinsasser 0 20 0
WR Randy Moss 0 120,2 0
WR Nate Burleson 0 40 0
WR Kelly Campbell 0 60,1 0
PK Morten Andersen 2 FG 3 XP -

DAL (0-0) vs MIN (0-0)

Game Prediction: DAL 24, MIN 27

This should be exciting - one of the best defenses from last season visits one of the best offenses. Both sides have tried to address their weaknesses in the offseason but injuries have hurt the Cowboy defense and some of the offensive additions have yet to show they'll pan out. And yet still, there's Randy Moss waiting to show if the new rules on the secondary will make him literally "uncoverable".

Pre-Game Notes - DAL

The Cowboys are slowly becoming not only Parcell's team, but actually a collection of old Parcell's teams. Richie Anderson came over last year and now Vinnie Testaverde and Keyshawn Johnson join the ranks of the reunion tour. The Cowboys have revamped the offense significantly from last year and the defense should be good again once all the starters are healthy.

Quarterback: Vinnie Testaverde takes the reins and should provide the Cowboys with just the right thing - a veteran who can throw when he needs to and one that will play within the system. In fantasy terms that means he won't throw much unless he has to and in MIN, he will likely have to throw quite a bit. Drew Henson had minor flashes of good play in the preseason but still remains #3 behind Tony Romo. The biggest question is if 41-year old Vinnie can remain healthy for 16 games.

Running Backs: After skipping their chance to take any running back in the draft, the Cowboys took Julius Jones as the 5th back taken in the 2004 draft while crowing that was their intention all along. They then turned around and threw money at Eddie George to come to town and provide the exact same quality of production that got Emmitt booted the previous year. After George looked like he actually was driving on bald tires in the preseason, the Cowboys backfield now appears to be a RBBC affair even though that is counter to what Parcells has historically preferred.

The plan is to mix Jones, George and Anderson to provide a good ground game. Jones is the yardage guy with speed, George is the short yardage/ goal line back with sure hands and big size and Richie Anderson provides 3rd down fare. For fantasy purpose, Jones is the only back with the chance to emerge but will have to show he can hang on to the ball and play bigger.

Wide Receivers: The acquisition of Keyshawn Johnson could work well in Dallas given what his role will be - possession catches that keep the chains moving. No one is expecting Johnson to spend his time on fly patterns or even in the end zone much, he's main duty is to be a slightly faster tight end split out wide. Terry Glenn takes the #2 role and will be the speed guy along with Antonio "in your face" Bryant.

The Cowboys will likely have intermittent big passing games depending on what trouble they get into that week. Parcells will only throw as much as he needs to throw - given a preference this is a ball control, slow down the game offense.

Tight Ends: Jason Witten has quietly given excitement to the coaching staff that this is the season he steps up and becomes an integral part of the offense. He led all Cowboy receivers in the preseason and could easily become the #2 passing target behind Keyshawn.

Match Against the Defense: Julius Jones has the chance for a nice opening game, assuming he gets enough carries, since the Vikings are featuring three first-year starters in the front seven though the youth movement for MIN is making their defense faster - a need on the carpet at home. Look for Jones to pop at least a few nice runs. The Viking secondary still is a weakness but should not be too challenged by the passing attack of Dallas. Figure the Cowboys will do anything to keep Culpepper and Moss from hitting the field more than necessary so the run game and ball control passes to Keyshawn and Witten should be the bulk of the Dallas attack. Since MIN is weak at safety, there is a good chance that Vinnie connects on at least one deep ball to Glenn or Bryant.

Pre-Game Notes - MIN

Minnesota enters the season with a tremendous roster in regard to fantasy football. Daunte Culpepper and Randy Moss are already tops without the new enforcement of the "hands-off" rule on the secondary after five yards. Their backfield is likely deeper than any other team with four players capable of big games and while Marcus Robinson has not yet shown to be a key pick-up, Nate Burleson appears ready to step up from a promising rookie season.

Quarterback: It doesn't get any better than Daunte Culpepper and the new focus on pumping game scores up by limiting defensive backs is made to order for him. His receiving crew is even better than last year.

Running Backs: Onterrio Smith is still appealing his four-game suspension and appears to be able to play in week one thanks to the slow processing by the NFL. Regardless if he plays or not, Moe Williams will be the starting back but would lose carries if Smith plays. If Onterrio doesn't continue his suspension delay, look for rookie Mewelde Moore to figure in the game.

This is a strong backfield that will be made stronger when Michael Bennett returns from his sprained knee. His injury made keeping the backfield intact in the offseason in spite of offers from other teams for Smith. Moore will be an interesting one to watch this season as the heir to the aging Moe Williams.

Wide Receivers: The incomparable Randy Moss returns with a bit of extra padding in his shoe and is joined by Nate Burleson and the always dangerous Kelly Campbell. Burleson is developing nicely into a complement for Moss and the Vikes pick-up of Marcus Robinson has been a flop so far since Robinson has suffered hamstring problems this summer. He's been appointed the #3 receiver regardless of health though the Vikings want to make use of his height in the redzone this year.

Tight Ends: Jim Kleinsasser returns after almost leaving in free agency. He still only had one game last year with over 30 yards receiving and scored in only three games.

Match Against the Defense: The Cowboys already had a top rushing defense from last year and added Marcus Wiley mainly to beef up an inability to get to the passer. In Minnesota, that'll still be a challenge. The Cowboys will be without DT Leonardo Carson due to a league suspension for week one but the main source of problems for Dallas will be in the secondary. Roy Williams is a great run-stuffer but less adept against the pass and Darren Woodson is still out leaving a weakness at safety. That is not what you want against Randy Moss or Kelly "way down the field" Campbell. Burleson should have a fairly quiet game against Terrence Newman but the right cornerback was picked on all last year and in the preseason. That's the one that goes against Randy Moss without a veteran safety to help either. The Vikes should be able to have a nice passing game but the rushing is likely to be below average. Moss should have a big game to start the year and everyone knows it.






Statistical Comparisons begin after Week 1

Cowboys (0-0)
Score Opp.
Week 1 @MIN
Week 2 CLE
Week 3 @WAS
Week 4 bye
Week 5 NYG
Week 6 PIT
Week 7 @GB
Week 8 DET
Week 9 @CIN
Week 10 PHI
Week 11 @BAL
Week 12 CHI
Week 13 @SEA
Week 14 NO
Week 15 @PHI
Week 16 WAS
Week 17 @NYG
Vikings (0-0)
Score Opp.
Week 1 DAL
Week 2 @PHI
Week 3 CHI
Week 4 bye
Week 5 @HOU
Week 6 @NO
Week 7 TEN
Week 8 NYG
Week 9 @IND
Week 10 @GB
Week 11 DET
Week 12 JAX
Week 13 @CHI
Week 14 SEA
Week 15 @DET
Week 16 GB
Week 17 @WAS

* Fantasy point rankings calculated using standard Huddle fantasy points