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Predictions & Projections
David M. Dorey
The Huddle
September 9, 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
  Jacksonville Rush Catch Pass
QB Byron Leftwich 0 0 190,1
RB Fred Taylor 60 10 0
TE Todd Yoder 0 20 0
WR Jimmy Smith 0 70 0
WR Troy Edwards 0 50,1 0
WR Reggie Williams 0 30 0
PK Josh Scobee 1 FG 2 XP -
  Buffalo Rush Catch Pass
QB Drew Bledsoe 0 0 270,1
RB Travis Henry 60,1 10 0
RB Willis McGahee 20 0 0
TE M. Campbell 0 20 0
WR Eric Moulds 0 110,1 0
WR Josh Reed 0 70 0
WR Bobby Shaw 0 40 0
PK Rian Lindell 2 FG 2 XP -

JAX (0-0) vs BUF (0-0)

Game Prediction: JAX 13, BUF 20

This is one of those games that could go either way. Both teams have underrated defenses and yet probably overrated offenses. The important factor here is that both teams enter the game healthy, something that will be fairly new to the Bills. The Jaguars shifting around on defense this summer will play into a slower start.

Pre-Game Notes - JAX

The Jaguars left their offense intact from last season and added Reggie Williams as the receiver of the future to pair with top WR Jimmy Smith who has been receiver of the past and hopefully one more year, Jimmy! The offense also added Greg Jones through the draft just in case Taylor's big 2003 was actually the exception instead of the rule.

The Jaguars started 1-7 last year and want to avoid the adversity early losses bring. HC Jack Del Rio enters his second season with more hope that a stronger finish in 2003 will play into 2004.

Quarterback: Byron Leftwich took over last year in week three and never looked back. No reason to look back anymore with Mark Brunell gone anyway. The Jaguars are hoping for a continued development of their franchise quarterback but the offense is much more predicated on ball control and defense than passing. Leftwich started hot throwing over 200 yards in four of his first five games in 2003 but then only had two in his final eight games.

Leftwich has not looked very sharp this summer but has been bothered by a sore hand.

Running Backs: Fred Taylor now comes off back-to-back big seasons for the first time in his career and actually got better as the season progressed. In the new offense last season, there was no Stacey Mack to steal touchdowns or scores but this year there could be in rookie Greg Jones. That is not likely the style that the Jags will go with though, so this first game will be a good indicator if that has changed at all. Jones was impressive in the offseason but Taylor was spectacular in most of the games during the second half of the 2003 season.

Wide Receivers: Jimmy Smith missed out on a 1000 yard season last year thanks to his drug suspension but is back and even at 35-years of age has some good games left in him. The Jags picked up a new toy for Leftwich in Reggie Williams but the rookie has struggled some to pick up the offense and starts the season as the #3 behind Smith and Troy Edwards. Reggie will be the future but it appears it will take time like most all rookies do.

Tight Ends: Doesn't really matter here. Kyle Brady still figures in as the #1 TE when he is healthy but he'll miss the first month with a torn tendon in his finger. The coaches also like George Wrighster on occasion but he may not play this week due to a strained quad. This leaves Todd Yoder as the most likely starter for week one. The Jaguars don't employ much use of the tight end since they are usually blocking for Taylor anyway.

Match Against the Defense: The Bills defense ranked #2 in yards allowed last year and the same crew returns with the exception of CB Troy Vincent taking over the departed Antoine Winfield's spot on the left. In fantasy terms, many people do not realize how good this defense was because they did not get a lot of turnovers to give them fantasy prominence in 2003 but at home in particular, this is a defense that is tough to beat. Last year in Week two, this matchup happened in Jacksonville and Taylor only notched 71 yards rushing. The passing game was weak then with Brunell and Leftwich still splitting time and the Bills won the game 38-17. The Jaguars offense will be a little better but are not at home this year and the moves made in the offseason with Williams and Jones should have no bearing in this game.

Pre-Game Notes - BUF

The Bills come off a terrible 2003 season that was marred by injuries to almost every position and was a team that struggled to move the ball. The defense was underrated and could be better this season and numerous offseason moves and events gives optimism to this season.

Quarterback: Drew Bledsoe can stop looking over his shoulder since J.P. Losman fractured his leg. Bledsoe obviously missed Peerless Price last year but the kiss of death was the lingering injury to Eric Moulds that hampered his favorite receiver the entire season. Now that everyone is healthy again and a new speed rookie is on board with Less Evans, his numbers should increase.

Running Backs: Travis Henry has to be one of the most frustrated running backs in the league. He has never been less than good and at times very good. He plays in pain and gives his all. He suffers though the Bills drafting Willis McGahee last year and then watching McGahee look fairly good in the summer.

The situation here is definitely worth following. Henry is still the #1 back and the Bills have never used any real two-back system. But Henry once again injured his ribs and is only now back in camp. He will be the starter in week one but all eyes will be to see if McGahee gets any appreciable playing time. Jacksonville has a decent rushing defense, so Henry alone will not carry the game. Plus there is one guy in every fantasy league holding onto McGahee hoping for something good to happen. Until there is proof on the field, consider Henry as a safe play on your team and the #1 guy in BUF this year. McGahee is still not 100% and may actually spend the year in spot duty before 2005 becomes the true year of making a decision.

Wide Receivers: The Bills drafted Lee Evans this spring to become the Peerless Price clone that Josh Reed was not last year. Problem is that Evans - like Price - is not starting out like a top wideout. He is still buried on the depth chart behind Moulds, Reed and even Bobby Shaw. This does give the Bills four potentially adequate if not good receivers to use this year but until a few games have passed, only Moulds role is certain.

Tight Ends: The Bills use the tight end only in spot duty and Mark Campbell will be the starter. Campbell actually ended the 2003 season strong with games of 44 and 55 yards but there will be more and better receiving options this season.

Match Against the Defense: Facing a fairly unchanged defense from last year, Henry only managed 26 yards on 21 carries in their matchup in 2003 but he scored three touchdowns. That was the best game for Bledsoe (314 yards, 2 TD's) and Moulds (133 yards, 1 TD). The running game should fare a little better this time around but not be a major factor unless the Bills end up on the goal line several times like last year and Henry can bang in a few scores. After a bad 2003 season, this is a big game for the home crowd to show the offense is back on track.






Statistical Comparisons begin after Week 1

Jaguars (0-0)
Score Opp.
Week 1 @BUF
Week 2 DEN
Week 3 @TEN
Week 4 IND
Week 5 @SD
Week 6 KC
Week 7 @IND
Week 8 @HOU
Week 9 bye
Week 10 DET
Week 11 TEN
Week 12 @MIN
Week 13 PIT
Week 14 CHI
Week 15 @GB
Week 16 HOU
Week 17 @OAK
Bills (0-0)
Score Opp.
Week 1 JAX
Week 2 @OAK
Week 3 bye
Week 4 NE
Week 5 @NYJ
Week 6 MIA
Week 7 @BAL
Week 8 ARI
Week 9 NYJ
Week 10 @NE
Week 11 STL
Week 12 @SEA
Week 13 @MIA
Week 14 CLE
Week 15 @CIN
Week 16 @SF
Week 17 PIT

* Fantasy point rankings calculated using standard Huddle fantasy points