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FANTASY FOOTBALL WEEKLY FEATURES

Predictions & Projections
David M. Dorey
The Huddle
WEEK 13
December 1, 2004
Season Ticket
Sun 1 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 4 PM Sun 8:30 PM
CIN at BAL* BUF at MIA ATL at TB* DEN at SD PIT at JAX
MIN at CHI TEN at IND* SF at STL* KC at OAK* Mon 9 PM
ARZ at DET CAR at NO   GB at PHI* DAL at SEA
NE at CLE HOU at NYJ *updated NYG at WAS Times ET
  Denver Rush Catch Pass
QB Jake Plummer 10 0 270,2
RB Reuben Droughns 80 20 0
TE Jeb Putzier 0 60,1 0
WR Rod Smith 0 60 0
WR Darius Watts 0 30 0
WR Ashley Lelie 0 80,1 0
PK Jason Elam 2 FG 2 XP -
  San Diego Rush Catch Pass
QB Drew Brees 0 0 260,2
RB L. Tomlinson 90,1 50 0
TE Antonio Gates 0 40 0
WR Keenan McCardell 0 50 0
WR Kassim Osgood 0 30,1 0
WR Eric Parker 0 70,1 0
PK Nate Kaeding 1 FG 3 XP -

DEN (7-4) vs SD (8-3)

Game Prediction: DEN 20, SD 24

Here is the game of the week. If the Chargers win here, they take a two game lead in the AFC West and only face one more opponent with a winning record (IND) for the rest of the regular season. Denver plays literally the same schedule with IND also looming.

This is a rematch of week three when the Broncos won 23-13 in Denver.

Pre-Game Notes - DEN

The Broncos certainly did themselves no favors when they lost to the Raiders last week in spite of dismantling them earlier in the year in Oakland. The team is healthy and there was no real excuse for the loss other than probably looking past that game towards this one. Now this game is absolutely a must win.

Quarterback: Jake Plummer fell off his hot pace when he only managed 245 yards and one touchdown last week but he had a total of ten touchdowns in the three previous games and threw for 294 yards and two scores in the previous matchup with San Diego.

Running Backs: Reuben Droughns comes off his fourth 100 yard rushing effort in the last five games and will be a new addition to the Chargers-Broncos rivalry. In week three, Quentin Griffin was still the starting running back and that game (12-7 yards) was the beginning of the end for Griffin.

Wide Receivers: Rod Smith had 99 yards and a score last week which gives him five scores on the year - his first was when they faced the Chargers in week three. In that same game, Ashley Lelie also had his first score of the season. The role of both Lelie and Smith will likely change a bit this time around with Droughns now the starting running back but with the points that the Chargers have been scoring lately, there is no doubt that Droughns alone will not be enough to stay in the game.

Tight Ends: Jeb Putzier had his biggest game of the year the last time they faced the Chargers - five catches for 66 yards but he has settled around 40 yards in games that he is even used. Putzier has two scores on the year.

Match Against the Defense: Reuben Droughns will get the carries, but the San Diego defense has only allowed one runner (Martin) to top 100 yards this season. He'll get the workload but it is not as likely he'll record his sixth 100 yard game this week.

Plummer was every effective against the Chargers in the last meeting and his 294 yards and two scores was the biggest game allowed by the San Diego defense and the second most yardage of the year. He's a lock for over 220 yards but no team has scored more than twice via the pass against the Chargers.

San Diego has been soft against tight ends, allowing six touchdowns so far this year to the position and Putzier had a nice game in week three anyway. Expect a good game from Putzier and for the wideouts to be less of a factor than expected. in the past five games, no wideout has had more than 67 yards and only two have scored in that time. Plummer is above average and could challenge that but so far no passer has broken the two touchdown mark.

Pre-Game Notes - SD

Not unlike the Broncos, this is definitely a game for all the AFC West marbles for the Chargers who are on a five game winning streak. A win here at home means a two game edge with only four left to play.

Quarterback: Drew Brees had his worst game back when he played against the Broncos in Denver and only managed 121 passing yards and one rushing touchdown, Since then he has scored in all but one game (a road win in Carolina) and comes off a 378 yard, 2 touchdown effort against the Chiefs.

Brees had not thrown a touchdown to Gates when the teams last met and McCardell was still a spoil sport in Florida. Throw in Tomlinson looking healthier and this game should be fun and different than two months ago in the last meeting.

Running Backs: LaDainian Tomlinson looked completely back to form when he gained 164 yards against the Raiders but he only managed 46 yards on 21 carries last week against Kansas City - but he scored two touchdowns and added 57 yards receiving. He has scored in every game this year except week three against the Broncos. He never scored against them in 2003 either.

The biggest question is if the Broncos will still commit so much to stopping Tomlinson when they know that Brees is far improved since week three.

Wide Receivers: The Chargers only had 48 yards on four catches from Keenan McCardell last week, but saw Eric Parker get greater use when he had 78 yards on three catches and 58 yards on two reverses. This is an entirely different passing attack than Denver faced two months ago with not only new wideouts but the premier touchdown catching tight end in the league.

Kassim Osgood is yet another variable in the equation now. He ended with 92 yards on two catches last week.

Tight Ends: Since that Denver game in week three, Antonio Gates has caught 11 touchdowns. He had two last week in Kansas City and four different times has recorded multiple scores in a game. This will be an entirely new, and yet not unexpected, aspect to the Chargers attack for the Broncos to defend.

Match Against the Defense: As noted, Tomlinson has never done well against the Broncos but he has never been around a passing attack the likes of what Brees, Gates and McCardell now present. Throw in reverses to Parker and there's a lot more going on than the standard "Tomlinson left, Tomlinson right" of recent years.

Expect that Tomlinson scores once and turns in at least moderate yardage but if he has a big game it will be a major success. The Broncos have allowed only two runners to exceed 100 yards this season.

How the passing attack will unfold should be very interesting since teams have to pick their poison now against the Chargers. There have not been any tight ends score against the Broncos who rank as the best team against tight ends in the league. Expect a lesser game from Gates who is going from playing KC (#2 worst) to facing Denver (#1 best).

But committing to stopping Gates will only help Tomlinson on receptions and free up McCardell and Parker. Most likely McCardell will get the attention of Champ Bailey but lately that matchup has not proven as scary as it once did. Bailey is being challenged almost every game and losing a lot more than would have been expected.

DEN SD 2004 Averages SD DEN
Gains Allows QB's Gains Allows
250
242
Pass yards
230
210
2.0
1.2
Pass TDs
1.9
1.0
1.0
0.9
Interceptions
0.3
0.7
11
10
Rush yards
8
16
0.0
0.2
Rush TDs
0.3
0.2
---
---
RB's
---
---
122
70
Rush yards
116
69
0.5
0.9
Rush TDs
1.3
0.5
31
52
Receive yards
36
23
0.5
0.1
Receive TD's
0.0
0.0
---
---
WR's
---
---
170
139
Receive yards
117
162
1.1
0.5
Receive TD's
0.7
1.0
---
---
TE's
---
---
47
51
Receive yards
77
27
0.4
0.5
Receive TD's
1.2
0.0
---
---
PK's
---
---
1.6
1.2
Field Goals
1.4
1.3
2.6
2.2
Extra Points
3.5
1.5
---
---
DEF/ST
---
---
0.5
0.5
Fumbles
0.8
0.6
0.7
0.3
Interceptions
0.9
0.7
0.2
0.1
Touchdowns
0.1
0.1
2.0
1.2
Sacks
1.7
0.7
0.0
0.0
Safeties
0.1
0.0
Broncos (7-4)
Score Opp.
34-24 KC
6-7 @JAX
23-13 SD
16-13 @TB
20-17 CAR
31-3 @OAK
10-23 @CIN
28-41 ATL
31-13 HOU
Week 10 bye
34-13 @NO
24-25 OAK
Week 13 @SD
Week 14 MIA
Week 15 @KC
Week 16 @TEN
Week 17 IND
Chargers (8-3)
Score Opp.
27-20 @HOU
28-34 NYJ
13-23 @DEN
38-17 TEN
34-21 JAX
20-21 @ATL
17-6 @CAR
42-14 OAK
43-17 NO
Week 10 bye
23-17 @OAK
34-31 @KC
Week 13 DEN
Week 14 TB
Week 15 @CLE
Week 16 @IND
Week 17 KC