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FANTASY FOOTBALL WEEKLY FEATURES

Predictions & Projections
David M. Dorey
Super Bowl XXXIX
Sunday
6:30 P.M. on FOX
  New England Rush Catch Pass
QB Tom Brady 0 0 220,2
RB Corey Dillon 100,1 20 0
RB Kevin Faulk 30 20 0
TE Daniel Graham 0 30,1 0
WR David Patten 0 30 0
WR Deion Branch 0 50,1 0
WR David Givens 0 60 0
PK Adam Vinatieri 3 FG 3 XP -
  Philadelphia Rush Catch Pass
QB Donovan McNabb 40 0 260,2
RB Brian Westbrook 40 60,1 0
RB Dorsey Levens 10 0 0
TE L.J. Smith 0 20 0
TE Jeff Thomason 0 20 0
WR Greg Lewis 0 40 0
WR Freddie Mitchell 0 40 0
WR Todd Pinkston 0 60,1 0
PK David Akers 2 FG 2 XP -

NE (14-2) vs PHI (13-3)

Game Prediction: NE 30, PHI 20

(Line - Patriots by 7)

After 256 regular season games and ten post-season matchups, we end up with the game that almost happened last year. The Patriots cruise in to their third Super Bowl in the last four years with a shot at tying the Cowboys for a four year span of all-time dominance. The Eagles finally get past the NFC Championship curse that kept them out for the last four years. For all the hoopla about parity, there's nothing very unusual about the Super Bowl this season. It came within one win from being the same two teams in two of the last three seasons.

The Patriots have remained intact enough and won so often that they take on the look of a team that pretty much only tries as hard as it needs to try. After so many wins, until the playoffs get underway there is not a lot to get excited about. True to form, the Patriots looked certainly good enough during the regular season but once the playoffs began, the only real difference has been that this season they finally have a rushing game with Corey Dillon. Tom Brady is only even more experienced this season and finally has a rushing game to balance out the offense.

The Eagles come in after having secured the NFC Championship without the services of Terrell Owens. That's no major surprise since they enjoyed homefield in their two post-season games and Owens was not necessary to get to the NFC Championship game the last three years anyway. The main question that will need to be answered is if his absence makes the difference in the Super Bowl. Owens has not been given clearance to play by the doctor that performed the surgery on him but Owens still contends that he will play. The Eagles passing attack takes on a completely different look when Owens is in there and if nothing else, the specter of Owens could influence how the Patriots prepare. The reality with that though is that it probably wouldn't anyway. When Owens plays, the Eagles passing game has a major focus on getting him the ball to the exclusion of other receivers. The Patriot defense is certainly good enough to cover one man and especially since even the best case scenario is that Owens will not be 100% in the game if he plays.

These offenses match up fairly well. The bigger weakness of the Patriots is against the pass but the Eagles will have to make do with Todd Pinkston, Freddie "the mouth" Mitchell and Greg Lewis. The Patriots were one of the best defenses against the run last season so while Brian Westbrook should be a lock to meet and exceed the five catches a game he had the last couple of games, he's not likely to rack up much in the way of rushing yards.

McNabb had 286 yards and two scores in the Divisional Round, but the Vikings secondary usually allows that as a baseline. Against the Falcons, McNabb again threw for two scores but only needed 180 yards since the game was well in hand. He should manage the two scores this weekend as well and could end up with some very nice yardage if the Patriots get an early lead.

This should be a fascinating game in the sense two teams square off with good defenses. In most matchups like this, the first part of the game tends to be lower scoring as both feel out their opponent before the points start raining in the second half. The difference here will be all about Donovan McNabb. He won't likely see a big help with Westbrook's rushing and will have to make the passing game succeed which is already the bigger weakness of the Patriots anyway. Tom Brady already has two Super Bowl MVP awards but this time likely won't have to be such a major component of the offense now that Corey Dillon will be there and will be very motivated to play well.

Unfortunately for forecasting performances, the Patriots always have a varying scheme in every game so who does well is always harder to predict by design. The Eagles biggest weakness this season was against the tight end but the use of Daniel Graham or Christian Fauria will depend upon how much the Eagle defense blitzes and forces the Patriots to keep extra blockers in. The biggest weakness of the Patriot defense is against wideouts, but the Philly crew was already below average before Freddie Mitchell threw a bit of gas on the fire with talking smack about the Patriot secondary.

Look for the game to remain close and competitive throughout the first half with a fairly even score until the Patriots start to build on a lead in the second half with the luxury of running or passing. The Eagle's defense will keep them in the game for a while but McNabb alone is not enough to beat the Patriots, not without a healthy Owens to influence the secondary.

NE PHI 2004 Averages PHI NE
Gains Allows QB's Gains Allows
234
217
Pass yards
263
232
1.8
1.0
Pass TDs
2.0
1.1
0.9
1.1
Interceptions
0.7
1.3
2
8
Rush yards
14
9
0.0
0.1
Rush TDs
0.2
0.1
---
---
RB's
---
---
131
107
Rush yards
88
85
0.9
0.7
Rush TDs
0.4
0.4
36
34
Receive yards
66
32
0.1
0.1
Receive TD's
0.4
0.0
---
---
WR's
---
---
155
140
Receive yards
154
164
1.0
0.6
Receive TD's
1.1
1.0
---
---
TE's
---
---
42
41
Receive yards
43
36
0.5
0.3
Receive TD's
0.6
0.1
---
---
PK's
---
---
1.9
1.1
Field Goals
1.7
0.9
3.0
1.7
Extra Points
2.6
1.4
---
---
DEF/ST
---
---
1.0
0.6
Fumbles
0.8
0.8
1.3
0.8
Interceptions
1.0
0.9
0.3
0.1
Touchdowns
0.1
0.3
2.9
2.3
Sacks
2.9
1.6
0.0
0.0
Safeties
0.0
0.0
Patriots (14-2)
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
35-28 CIN
28-29 @MIA
23-7 @NYJ
21-7 SF
Eagles (13-3)
Score Opp.
31-17 NYG
27-16 MIN
30-13 @DET
19-9 @CHI
Week 5 bye
30-8 CAR
34-31 @CLE
15-10 BAL
3-27 @PIT
49-21 @DAL
28-6 WAS
27-6 @NYG
47-17 GB
17-14 @WAS
12-7 DAL
7-20 @STL
10-38 CIN