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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
  Washington Rush Catch Pass
QB Mark Brunell 0 0 190,1
RB Clinton Portis 130,2 30 0
TE Chris Cooley 0 20 0
WR Lavernues Coles 0 70,1 0
WR Rod Gardner 0 60 0
PK John Hall 1 FG 3 XP -
  New York Giants Rush Catch Pass
QB Kurt Warner 0 0 230,2
RB Tiki Barber 60 20 0
RB Ron Dayne 40 0 0
TE Jeremy Shockey 0 50,1 0
WR Amani Toomer 0 70,1 0
WR Ike Hilliard 0 40 0
WR Tim Carter 0 30 0
PK Steve Christie 1 FG 2 XP -

WAS (1-0) vs NYG (0-1)

Game Prediction: WAS 24, NYG 17

This NFC East matchup pits two long-time rivals both sporting new offenses and head coaches. The difference here is that while Joe Gibbs is considered a near-diety in Washington, Tom Coughlin is more likely to be burned in effigy by his players. Back at home the Giants could surprise but it would be exactly that - a surprise.

Pre-Game Notes - WAS

The Redskins come off a nice opening day win over the Buccaneers and travel to New York where the Giants do not appear to be improving. In a very short time, Gibbs has completely reversed the style of the team to a run-heavy, big defense scheme. Gibbs is less entertaining to watch in post-game interviews than Spurrier was but that's mainly because he's winning games.

Quarterback: Mark Brunell was less than stellar in his first outing, completing only 13 of 25 passes for 125 yards with one very costly fumble that was returned for a touchdown. He only had a 68.9 QB rating last week. In a refreshing return to old-style football, he threw all but four passes to the two main wideouts and Portis. The defense should be good enough to keep games from getting out of hand which will depress potential scores, but in the event that the Redskins do have to mount comebacks, this spells great things for both Coles and Gardner since the scheme focuses on them almost exclusively.

Running Backs: What a way to start out with a bang! On his first carry as a Redskins, Clinton Portis ripped off a trademark 64-yard touchdown run when he snaked through the middle of the Buccaneers' defense and then hit the afterburners. Portis ended with 148 carries on 29 attempts and added four catches for 15 yards for a solid start on the year. Ladell Betts offered minimal relief and only carried five times.

Wide Receivers: As noted, this is a fantasy dream if only the Skins would pass more. Laveranues Coles only had three catches for 27 yards on his eight targets and Rod Gardner had 61 yards on his four catches from seven targets. No other wideout even had a pass. Other than one strike to the tight ends, the only passes downfield go to either Coles or Gardner.

Tight Ends: Joe Gibbs has liked to use his tight end more than most historically, but it didn't show up last week. The only catch was by H-back rookie Chris Cooley for 18 yards but that is promising. Cooley was purely a receiving tight end in college and already is in the game plan.

Match Against the Defense: What defense?

CB Will Allen gave up three touchdowns to Terrell Owens last week and now faces Lavernues Coles - that should get Coles some more respectable numbers than last week unless Portis runs so well the Redskins don't bother much with the pass. More notable here is that the Giants just allowed Brian Westbrook his first 100 yard rushing game of his career. Look for success by Portis who has all the speed of Westbrook but with more inside running ability. This should become a big game for Portis with only as much passing needed to win.

With the Giants offense looking weak and the Redskins defense apparently much upgraded, this is more likely a ball control sort of game. With Mark Brunell far less mobile than McNabb, there is little hope that Washington will have a monster passing game since that is not their style now anyway.

Pre-Game Notes - NYG

The Giants come off a spanking by the Eagles in a game where they were unable to keep Terrell Owens from catching scores even though everyone knew he would be getting the passes. Tiki Barber made yardage look more respectable with his one long run at the end of the game but Kurt Warner did not even last a full game as the quarterback since Eli Manning came off the bench to also experience what a Philadelphia blitz feels like.

Quarterback: Kurt Warner only completed16 of 28 passes for 203 yards and one fumble. He was also sacked four times before yielding to Eli Manning who went 3 of 9 for 66 yards. The passing went largely to the three wideouts and Shockey as always and was mostly in desperation and incomplete.

Running Backs: As a return to a few years ago, Ron Dayne was the primary ball carrier with 13 carries for 45 yards and one score while Tiki Barber was the more effective runner on only 9 carries for 125 yards and a touchdown. The 72-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter by Barber was the only thing keeping the scoreboard respectable. Expect a similar ratio with a similar result.

Wide Receivers: The Giants actually threw more to Ike Hilliard who had three catches on nine passes for 66 yards while Amani Toomer had 59 yards on his three catches. Tim Carter was just as productive with four catches for 51 yards but that was a game where the Giants trailed badly from the second quarter onwards. Given the poor ground game the Giants are showing early in games when Dayne is still a factor, there is reason to hope the passing numbers stay high most of the season.

Tight Ends: Jeremy Shockey only had two catches for 39 yards but had six throws including two in or near the endzone. He dropped a probable touchdown as well.

Match Against the Defense: The new defense installed by Gregg Williams worked very well last week, limiting Brad Johnson to only 169 yards passing and gave up only 30 combined yards to Alstott and Garner. The Giants will run better than Tampa Bay, but it'll take another long gainer by Barber to make the yardage look good. Expect that the Giants continue to use Ron Dayne too much with minimal effectiveness and that Barber is the more effective - and yet less used - runner for the team.

Where this game falls apart for the Giants is in passing, since the Redskins were able to mute the air game of the Bucs and cause both an interception and a fumble by Brad Johnson. They'll be coming hot and heavy again this week knowing that Warner or Manning will not hold up as well as Johnson did. The Giants are installing a new offense that has yet to come together yet and that will make the Giants prefer the run for as long as they can and minimize the mistakes that passing can cause. The rookie safety Sean Taylor did not play much against Tampa Bay because of illness during the previous week but should be a bigger factor. Taylor was very impressive in the preseason and will need to be up to speed to cover the long ball - particularly TIm Carter.

WAS NYG 2003 Averages NYG WAS
Gains Allows QB's Gains Allows
125 330 Pass yards 269 169
0 4 Pass TDs 0 0
0 0 Interceptions 0 1
1 12 Rush yards 0 0
0 0 Rush TDs 0 0
--- --- RB's --- ---
165 129 Rush yards 170 30
1 0 Rush TDs 2 0
21 56 Receive yards 79 24
0 0 Receive TD's 0 0
--- --- WR's --- ---
88 166 Receive yards 151 102
0 3 Receive TD's 2 0
--- --- TE's --- ---
16 108 Receive yards 32 43
0 1 Receive TD's 0 0
--- --- PK's --- ---
3 1 Field Goals 1 1
1 4 Extra Points 2 1
--- --- DEF/ST --- ---
1 1 Fumbles 0 1
1 0 Interceptions 0 0
0 0 Touchdowns 0 1
4 5 Sacks 2 0
0 0 Safeties 0 0
Redskins (1-0)
Score Opp.
16-10 TB
Week 2 @NYG
Week 3 DAL
Week 4 @CLE
Week 5 BAL
Week 6 @CHI
Week 7 bye
Week 8 GB
Week 9 @DET
Week 10 CIN
Week 11 @PHI
Week 12 @PIT
Week 13 NYG
Week 14 PHI
Week 15 @SF
Week 16 @DAL
Week 17 MIN
Giants (0-1)
Score Opp.
17-31 @PHI
Week 2 WAS
Week 3 CLE
Week 4 @GB
Week 5 @DAL
Week 6 bye
Week 7 DET
Week 8 @MIN
Week 9 CHI
Week 10 @ARI
Week 11 ATL
Week 12 PHI
Week 13 @WAS
Week 14 @BAL
Week 15 PIT
Week 16 @CIN
Week 17 DAL

* Fantasy point rankings calculated using standard Huddle fantasy points