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Predictions & Projections
David M. Dorey
The Huddle
September 19, 2004
Season Ticket
Sun 1 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 4 PM Sun 8:30 PM
STL at ATL DEN at JAX* Sun 4 PM IND at TEN Mon 9 PM
CLE at DAL* CAR at KC* SEA at TB* NYJ at SD MIN at PHI*
HOU at DET SF at NO* BUF at OAK* Times ET *updated
  Buffalo Rush Catch Pass
QB Drew Bledsoe 0 0 200,1
RB Travis Henry 70,1 10 0
RB Willis McGahee 20 10 0
TE M. Campbell 0 10 0
WR Eric Moulds 0 90,1 0
WR Josh Reed 0 30 0
WR Bobby Shaw 0 40 0
PK Rian Lindell 1 FG 1 XP -
Oakland Rush Catch Pass
QB Rich Gannon 0 0 230,2
RB Ty. Wheatley 60 10 0
TE Doug Jolley 0 20 0
WR Doug Gabriel 0 60,1 0
WR Jerry Porter 0 70,1 0
WR Jerry Rice 0 30 0
PK Sebastian Janikowski 2 FG 2 XP -

BUF (0-1) vs OAK (0-1)

Game Prediction: BUF 17, OAK 20

The Bills come off a disappointing loss on the final play to the Jaguars last week while the Raiders fell short in their comeback bid against the Steelers. The Bills head into their bye next week and would prefer not to looking at 0-2.

Pre-Game Notes - BUF

As a sign of games to come, the Bills came out last week with the intention of using good defense and ball control offense to take a win. Problem was that the defense folded on the final drive and allowed the Jaguars a surprise road win. This is not the same team that once got into shootouts, the Bills will be playing to keep the ball, use up the clock and rely on the defense to keep the team ahead on the scoreboard.

Quarterback: Drew Bledsoe only had 17 completions on 26 attempts for 153 yards against the Jaguars and threw one score to Eric Moulds. Outside of Moulds, no other receiver made any real contribution and this week against what should be at least an average defense, Bledsoe will try to get away with not throwing much as well. The passing game is much shorter this season in part to reduce the number of sacks of Bledsoe.

Running Backs: Last week Travis Henry played and while his ribs did not bother him, he continued to cramp up in the game and left in the fourth quarter. Henry ended with 75 yards on 23 carries and Willis McGahee played out the game with mostly between the tackles runs that were supposed to chew up the clock. As expected, Henry was still the primary ball carrier with little interference from McGahee. Henry should not be a problem this week but might consider eating a banana before the game to prevent cramps.

Update: Henry was held out of practice earlier this week and not only had cramps last Sunday, he also had a slight twinge to his hamstring. He should be fine this weekend but the Oakland defense should prove tough for him. I am not changing the projections since they were already on the low side but be aware that he has a tougher matchup and was a little more banged up last week than first admitted.

Wide Receivers: Eric Moulds had a solid game against the Steelers, catching all eight of the passes thrown to him for 75 yards and one score. That was twice as many catches as all other receivers combined for the Bills and the #2 Josh Reed only snagged two catches for 18 yards. Lee Evans also had two catches but for only 12 yards and the Bills have not yet felt a need to air the ball out yet this season. In a fantasy sense, Moulds is the only safe start here since the Bills will be run-heavy and then rely primarily on the #1 receiver on passing downs.

Tight Ends: Mark Campbell had only one catch but it was a nice 27-yarder. Figure the tight ends here to only matter in games where the Bills are pressed into throwing early and often.

Match Against the Defense: Charles Woodson held out this summer and then showed up only two days before the season started. He still held Plaxico Burress to only one catch. This means you can pretty much ignore Josh Reed this week (if in fact you had not already). The RCB Philip Buchanon was burned for 99 yards against Hines Ward last week and will face Moulds this Sunday. Given the Bills tendency to throw to Moulds first, pencil him in for a good game.

The Raiders held Duce Staley to 91 yards on 24 carries (3.8 YPC) but should do a better job at home this week. Both these teams will be adjusting the game plan to the situation and the scores should be lower in this matchup. That means Henry should be getting a steady diet of runs but will have a harder time than Staley did since the Raider defense is still coming together and will be getting better.

Pre-Game Notes - OAK

The preseason and the regular season looked rather different for Oakland. The bruising rushing game of Wheatley lasted about one play and with a deficit on the scoreboard, the Raiders went back to familiar territory - throw it to everyone and do so often. They managed to get back into the game and were only two points behind with five minutes left to play but couldn't stop Pittsburgh at the end.

Quarterback: It was a big fantasy game for Rich Gannon last week when he threw for 305 yards and two scores but the reality is that he had two interceptions and a fumble which killed the Raiders chances to get a lead and keep it. The Raiders were true to their word when they said they would feature a long passing game and scored on a 58 yard play to Doug Gabriel but Gannon passed to a total of eleven different players last week and Jerry Porter had the most catches with only four.

Running Backs: The addition of OT Robert Gallery should be a benefit for Oakland for years to come, but it was not nearly enough in Pittsburgh where Tyrone Wheatley looked entirely slow and old. Wheatley only managed 24 yards on 11 carries and once he had been ineffective early, the Raiders went to mixing in Justin Fargas and even Zack Crockett with no better results. Until the line play improves, the Raiders will continue to tend towards the shorter pass as a better way to move the ball so you can lose those bigger expectations of Wheatley that were born of some preseason play.

Update: Justin Fargas was held out of practice this week due to turf toe and is questionable to play. I am slightly bumping Wheatley's numbers as a result of one less backup to take carries away from him but the Buffalo defense is solid and will be a challenge regardless.

Wide Receivers: Oakland used all five wideouts last week, preferring to throw towards Jerry Porter who only had 44 yards on four catches. Over half of the passes went to a wide receiver but outside of Doug Gabriel's 58-yard touchdown, the group not only had few catches, they were mostly short and intermediate range. The wideouts just did not figure heavily and even Jerry Rice only had two catches on four passes for 22 yards and was not a factor at the end of the game when he historically is best. This against a suspect secondary in Pittsburgh.

Tight Ends: Teyo Johnson was inactive last week and is in the doghouse for now. Doug Jolley and Courtney Anderson both had one catch.

Match Against the Defense: Oakland should find rushing no easier against this defense. Fred Taylor was held to 61 yards on 17 carries and it would be a major success if Wheatley approached even that much. The Bills defense should come on the attack and plug the rushing lanes enroute to trying to rattle Gannon.

Porter has the best cornerback matchup and Jimmy Smith gained 83 yards last week. What is likely to happen in this tilt is that the Bills will be aggressive on defense trying to get to Gannon and eventually either Whitted or Gabriel will catch at least one long pass but overall this will be a lower scoring, more defensive game. Jerry Rice draws Troy Vincent this week.

BUF OAK 2003 Averages OAK BUF
Gains Allows QB's Gains Allows
153 142 Pass yards 305 147
1 0 Pass TDs 2 1
0 0 Interceptions 2 2
-4 13 Rush yards 0 11
0 0 Rush TDs 0 0
--- --- RB's --- ---
106 94 Rush yards 58 72
0 3 Rush TDs 0 0
21 1 Receive yards 76 -1
0 0 Receive TD's 0 0
--- --- WR's --- ---
147 123 Receive yards 197 136
0 0 Receive TD's 2 1
--- --- TE's --- ---
28 18 Receive yards 32 12
0 0 Receive TD's 0 0
--- --- PK's --- ---
1 1 Field Goals 2 2
1 3 Extra Points 1 1
--- --- DEF/ST --- ---
0 2 Fumbles 1 2
2 2 Interceptions 0 0
0 0 Touchdowns 0 0
2 3 Sacks 2 1
0 0 Safeties 0 0
Bills (0-1)
Score Opp.
10-13 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
Raiders (0-1)
Score Opp.
21-24 @PIT
Week 2 BUF
Week 3 TB
Week 4 @HOU
Week 5 @IND
Week 6 DEN
Week 7 NO
Week 8 @SD
Week 9 @CAR
Week 10 bye
Week 11 SD
Week 12 @DEN
Week 13 KC
Week 14 @ATL
Week 15 TEN
Week 16 @KC
Week 17 JAX

* Fantasy point rankings calculated using standard Huddle fantasy points