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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
  New England Rush Catch Pass
QB Tom Brady 0 0 260,2
RB Kevin Faulk 10 30 0
RB Corey Dillon 100,1 0 0
TE Daniel Graham 0 20 0
WR David Patten 0 50 0
WR Deion Branch 0 80,1 0
WR David Givens 0 60,1 0
PK Adam Vinatieri 1 FG 3 XP -
  Arizona Rush Catch Pass
QB Josh McCown 10 0 170,1
RB Emmitt Smith 40 10 0
RB Troy Hambrick 10 0 0
TE Freddie Jones 0 50,1 0
WR Bryant Johnson 0 30 0
WR Larry Fitzgerald 0 60 0
WR Karl Williams 0 20 0
PK Neil Rackers 0 FG 1 XP -

NE (1-0) vs ARZ (0-1)

Game Prediction: NE 23, ARZ 7

Here's a match between polar opposites of 2003. The Patriots come to the desert just thankful they outlasted the Colts while the Cardinals are still exalting "we didn't get creamed!"

Not yet anyway.

Pre-Game Notes - NE

Tom Brady spent last year being stellar on the road and not having to do too much when at home. That little era has ended now.

Quarterback: In an effort to keep ahead of the Colts, Tom Brady turned in 335 yards and three touchdowns last Thursday in one of his better career efforts. He used all four wideouts and three tight ends in the passing scheme though he never threw to Corey Dillon. With Kevin Faulk out last week, that facet was not there but will be this game.

Running Backs: Corey Dillon only had 15 rushes in the game but gained 86 yards and was already impressive with his blocking assignments. He'll be a strong addition to an already diverse group but also will not see many 20+ carry games. That should only serve to make him viable throughout the season.

Kevin Faulk missed last week due to personal matters and will miss this week as well.

Wide Receivers: The Patriot scheme is always difficult to defend since it is complicated and uses several wideouts. Last week it really wasn't defended at all since Deion Branch (7-86, 1 TD), David Givens (4-80) and David Patten (4-86, 1 TD) all had big afternoons. Only Bethel Johnson did not join the happy fray.

Forecasting the production of the Patriots is always tough by design but one criteria that worked last season was that no player would have consecutive big games. Then again, they never had a week where they all did so well.

Tight Ends: Just when the defense was trying to cover Dillon and all the wideouts, Brady finds Daniel Graham (7-57,1 TD) and Ben Watson (2- 16). This offense is out of control (to the secondary).

Match Against the Defense: Since no other offense truly matches the complexity of New England, matching it up is a challenge almost best left to chance. The Cardinals do play better at home but against the two-headed receiving attack of the Rams they still gave up 208 receiving yards and 16 catches. Add a little more and spread it out and that'll be the Patriots this Sunday. Figure Givens is now overdue since the other wideouts have scored.

Dillon will not be used heavily but could easily see 100 yards this week. After the scare from the Colts last week and the solid effort of the Cardinals in St. Louis, New England will not consider this a given win.

Pre-Game Notes - ARZ

Only in Arizona can a seven point loss elicit smiles and approving nods. The Cardinals were supposed to be horrible this year and they were merely bad. When they get Boldin back, they might make average by the end of the season.

Quarterback: Josh McCown committed no errors last week, but he also did not make a big difference either. He had 181 yards passing but no scores and no turnovers. The Cardinals had that much before the game started. This week should be a challenge on a new level for the young quarterback.

Running Backs: During the running back yardage fest that was week one, Emmitt Smith was yet another tailback that suddenly decided he was not done yet. Smith ran for 87 yards on only 16 carries for a gaudy 5.4 YPC and looked liked he was back in 2000 right when he was starting to decline. Neither Troy Hambrick or Josh Scobey were as successful on their combined four carries but the Cardinals will go with a running game for as long as they can this week. That should mean more Emmitt even if we are reminded it is 2004 now.

Wide Receivers: Although Larry Fitzgerald missed much of the preseason with an ankle sprain, his 70 yards on four catches were impressive among a group of wideouts that did nothing else. Bryant Johnson is playing but not 100% and only logged 19 yards on his three catches and no other receiver had more than one catch. This group may have recall week one to remember what yardage is like after they play the Patriots.

Tight Ends: Freddie Jones was supposed to have a big year and even HC Dennis Green said he would go to the Pro Bowl. After six catches for 39 yards, he'll likely not need to pack the sunscreen for Hawaii quite yet.

Match Against the Defense: On paper, this is not appealing. On the field, it may actually be dangerous.

The Patriots have lost some run stopping ability with the loss of Ted Washington, but it's hard to imagine Emmitt Smith banging through the 2 hole more than a few times before getting hurt. The only saving grace with this game is going to be if the Patriots take it too lightly as it was in St. Louis. The Colts and Cardinals are about complete opposites on offense right now but may be similar on defense. That, my friend, is not the way to win a game.

NE ARZ 2003 Averages ARZ NE
Gains Allows QB's Gains Allows
335 272 Pass yards 181 256
3 1 Pass TDs 0 2
1 1 Interceptions 0 1
-1 0 Rush yards 5 18
0 0 Rush TDs 0 0
--- --- RB's --- ---
86 178 Rush yards 98 184
0 0 Rush TDs 1 1
0 17 Receive yards 23 29
0 0 Receive TD's 0 0
--- --- WR's --- ---
257 255 Receive yards 119 163
2 1 Receive TD's 0 2
--- --- TE's --- ---
78 0 Receive yards 39 64
1 0 Receive TD's 0 0
--- --- PK's --- ---
2 3 Field Goals 1 1
3 0 Extra Points 1 3
--- --- DEF/ST --- ---
2 0 Fumbles 2 1
1 0 Interceptions 1 1
0 0 Touchdowns 0 0
1 2 Sacks 0 2
0 0 Safeties 0 0
Patriots (1-0)
Score Opp.
27-24 IND
Week 2 @ARI
Week 3 bye
Week 4 @BUF
Week 5 MIA
Week 6 SEA
Week 7 NYJ
Week 8 @PIT
Week 9 @STL
Week 10 BUF
Week 11 @KC
Week 12 BAL
Week 13 @CLE
Week 14 CIN
Week 15 @MIA
Week 16 @NYJ
Week 17 SF
Cardinals (0-1)
Score Opp.
10-17 @STL
Week 2 NE
Week 3 @ATL
Week 4 NO
Week 5 @SF
Week 6 bye
Week 7 SEA
Week 8 @BUF
Week 9 @MIA
Week 10 NYG
Week 11 @CAR
Week 12 NYJ
Week 13 @DET
Week 14 SF
Week 15 STL
Week 16 @SEA
Week 17 TB

* Fantasy point rankings calculated using standard Huddle fantasy points