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FANTASY FOOTBALL WEEKLY FEATURES

Predictions & Projections
David M. Dorey
The Huddle
WEEK 14
December 8, 2004
Season Ticket
Sun 1 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 4 PM Sun 8:30 PM
NYG at BAL* DET at GB CIN at NE* SF at ARZ* PHI at WAS
OAK at ATL IND at HOU* Sun 4 PM STL at CAR* Mon 9 PM
CLE at BUF* CHI at JAX* MIA at DEN TB at SD* KC at TEN*
NO at DAL SEA at MIN NYJ at PIT *updated Times ET
  Cincinnati Rush Catch Pass
QB Carson Palmer 10 0 200,1
RB Rudi Johnson 60 10 0
TE Kelly/Stewart/Schobel 0 30 0
WR Houshmandzadeh 0 50 0
WR Kelly Washington 0 20 0
WR Chad Johnson 0 70,1 0
PK Shayne Graham 0 FG 1 XP -
  New England Rush Catch Pass
QB Tom Brady 0 0 190,1
RB Kevin Faulk 30 20 0
RB Corey Dillon 150,2 10 0
TE Christian Fauria 0 20 0
TE Daniel Graham 0 20 0
WR David Patten 0 40 0
WR Deion Branch 0 50,1 0
WR David Givens 0 40 0
PK Adam Vinatieri 2 FG 3 XP -

CIN (6-6) vs NE (11-1)

Game Prediction: CIN 7, NE 27

The Bengals enter the game with a .500 record and new found confidence after winning in Baltimore last week. The Patriots only managed to squeak out a 27 point last week against the Browns.

Update: Daniel Graham is questionable this week with sore ribs and will likely have Christian Fauria take his place as the primary receiving tight end. Graham has not been ruled out but Fauria is the more likely starter.

Pre-Game Notes - CIN

No matter what happens the rest of the season, the Bengals now have two games to hang their hat on this season - the win against the Broncos on Monday night and now the road win in Baltimore that proved to be the second best comeback on the road in team history.

Quarterback: Carson Palmer is either getting better on a fast pace or he's just enjoyed his best three games of the season over the course of the last three weeks. Against the Steelers, he threw for two scores, then had four touchdowns against the Browns with 251 yards in week 12 and then trumped those with a career best 382 yards against the Ravens in Baltimore last week with three more scores. He still throws interceptions - he had five over those three games but they came against quality opponents in BAL and PIT.

Running Backs: Rudi Johnson turned in his worst game of the season last week when he only gained 56 yards on 19 carries but that aside, he still is a solid part of the offense. He's been so good in fact that there is some speculation that the Bengals won't be able to cough up enough cash in the offseason to keep him from leaving in free agency. Unfortunately, Chris Perry has shown little to nothing this season that would suggest that he will be enough if Johnson leaves. Perry has been hampered by a severe abdominal strain for almost the entire season but wasn't impressive last summer anyway.

Wide Receivers: Chad Johnson has been the biggest beneficiary of the improved play of Palmer these last three weeks. He's scored at least once in each game and had two touchdowns and 10 catches for 161 yards last week against the Ravens for a season high. T.J. Houshmandzadeh comes off his career best game with 10 receptions for 171 yards and one score and was almost solely responsible for the fourth quarter comeback last week. He's been replacing Peter Warrick and made Kelly Washington (no catches) a complete non-factor.

Tight Ends: The three-headed monster saw all three with catches last week but Matt Schobel was the only noticeable one because he lost a fumble.

Match Against the Defense: The Patriots have one of the very best rushing defenses and that still remains even in close games which this one is less likely to be. They've only allowed two runners to exceed 100 yards this season and none at home since week one. They haven't allowed a rushing score in the past six weeks. Don't expect Rudi Johnson to have even a moderate game here.

The New England pass defense has been good enough but in fantasy terms, they end up giving back trash time yards and scores which makes them more attractive to start a player against. But there is a slight problem here. When they were on the road, the Patriots have allowed the last four opponents to throw for two scores each. But at home - they have not allowed any passing scores to the last four opponents. This will be a major test for Palmer to show if he has truly reached the next plateau and if he throws more than one score it will be shock.

Expect that Palmer has some decent yardage, but more than one score is just not likely. And throwing more interceptions is likely.

Pre-Game Notes - NE

Since the loss in Pittsburgh, the Patriots have not only won all five games, they have won each one by no less than 8 points. The last two homestands were wins of at least 21 points. Dillon's strong rushing and the always tough defense is just too much when opponents come calling.

Quarterback: Tom Brady's number's have fallen off the last three weeks but mainly because he did not have much reason to throw. He only had 157 yards and one score last week and some still were calling his bomb to David Patten as merely rolling up the score. The defense and rushing game is not forcing the passing game to be used. Brady can throw the scores and yards but as the season grows colder and the New England opponents seemingly get weaker, chances are good his best games this season are largely behind him. Especially when he is at home.

Running Backs: Corey Dillon comes off a 100 yard, two touchdown game last week and he has eight straight games with at least 94 yards. He has proven to be the exact right fit for a puzzle that wasn't missing many pieces anyway.

Wide Receivers: The New England wideouts have naturally taken a downturn with the lower passing numbers of the last three weeks. David Patten scored last week and had 74 yards on three catches but 44 yards came on the one scoring pass. David Givens has topped out at 42 yards during the last three weeks and Deion Branch only had one catch for 13 yards last week. The potential is always there, the need just hasn't been.

Tight Ends: Amazingly there are many fantasy owners out there still reminiscing about how Daniel Graham opened the season with five scores in the first four games. Get over it. He hasn't scored since and other than the one blip game of 83 yards in week 11, he's not exceeded 24 yards in the last seven weeks.

Match Against the Defense: The Bengals have one of the worst rushing defenses in the NFL and there is zero doubt that Dillon will not turn in a monster game here barring an asteroid crashing onto the playing field. Expect well over 100 yards with at least one score, probably two and maybe three if the situation arises. With the Bengals showing some passing talent lately, there's an even bigger reason to just run against them.

As always, Brady could turn in a big game here but he will not likely have to in order to win. If the Bengals manage to get hot in the second half as they have lately, it could produce a mini-passing war but the chances are that the Patriots at home will win as they always do - rushing the ball and playing great defense.

CIN NE 2004 Averages NE CIN
Gains Allows QB's Gains Allows
225
228
Pass yards
234
219
1.3
1.0
Pass TDs
1.6
1.6
1.4
1.3
Interceptions
0.8
1.3
2
10
Rush yards
2
7
0.1
0.1
Rush TDs
0.0
0.1
---
---
RB's
---
---
102
86
Rush yards
131
131
0.6
0.3
Rush TDs
0.9
0.6
20
27
Receive yards
34
40
0.2
0.0
Receive TD's
0.0
0.4
---
---
WR's
---
---
182
161
Receive yards
165
135
0.9
1.0
Receive TD's
1.1
0.7
---
---
TE's
---
---
23
40
Receive yards
35
44
0.2
0.0
Receive TD's
0.4
0.4
---
---
PK's
---
---
2.0
1.2
Field Goals
2.3
1.5
2.3
1.3
Extra Points
2.8
2.5
---
---
DEF/ST
---
---
1.2
0.8
Fumbles
0.9
0.5
1.3
0.8
Interceptions
1.3
1.4
0.3
0.3
Touchdowns
0.3
0.3
2.4
1.8
Sacks
3.2
2.1
0.0
0.0
Safeties
0.0
0.1
Bengals (6-6)
Score Opp.
24-31 @NYJ
16-13 MIA
9-23 BAL
17-28 @PIT
Week 5 bye
17-34 @CLE
23-10 DEN
20-27 @TEN
26-3 DAL
17-10 @WAS
14-19 PIT
58-48 CLE
27-26 @BAL
Week 14 @NE
Week 15 BUF
Week 16 NYG
Week 17 @PHI
Patriots (11-1)
Score Opp.
27-24 IND
23-12 @ARI
Week 3 bye
31-17 @BUF
24-10 MIA
30-20 SEA
13-7 NYJ
20-34 @PIT
40-22 @STL
29-6 BUF
27-19 @KC
24-3 BAL
42-15 @CLE
Week 14 CIN
Week 15 @MIA
Week 16 @NYJ
Week 17 SF