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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
The Huddle
September 18, 2005
Season Ticket
Sun 1 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 4 PM Sun 8:30 PM
BUF at TBB NE at CAR Sun 4 PM MIA at NYJ Mon 9 PM
JAC at IND* PIT at HOU* STL at ARI *Update Times ET

Prediction: Buffalo 16, Tampa Bay 20

This should be a very interesting game to watch. The Bucs return home after giving the Vikes more than they could handle while The Bills head south having barely broken a sweat last week against the Texans. While both teams have good defenses, neither has faced one yet this season. J.P. Losman and Cadillac Williams looked plenty good enough last week, but the bigger test arrives this Sunday.

Buffalo Bills (1-0)
1 22-7 HOU 10 Nov 13 KCC
2 Sep 18 @TBB 11 Nov 20 @SDC
3 Sep 25 ATL 12 Nov 27 CAR
4 Oct 2 @NOR 13 Dec 4 @MIA
5 Oct 9 MIA 14 Dec 11 NE
6 Oct 16 NYJ 15 Dec 17 DEN
7 Oct 23 @OAK 16 Dec 24 @CIN
8 Oct 30 @NE 17 Jan 1 @NYJ
9 Open Bye . . SAT
BUF Projections Rush Catch Pass
QB J.P. Losman 40 0 170
RB Willis McGahee 80,1 20 0
TE Mark Campbell 0 10 0
WR Eric Moulds 0 30 0
WR Lee Evans 0 60 0
WR Josh Reed 0 20 0
PK Rian Lindell 3 FG 1 XP -

Pregame Notes: First game now under his belt, J.P., Losman has looked like the right move to make as long as the Bills remain home against bad defenses. He now gets to go against the same defense that made Daunte Culpepper look like a first year starter. Wonder how a real first year starter will fare...

Quarterback: In just his first start, J.P. Losman looked sharp and efficient. He threw 17 of 28 for 170 yards and one touchdown and had no turnovers. He also ran for 31 yards on six scrambles. With McGahee more than enough to win and the Texans unable to mount any offense, Losman finally gets his first real introduction to the NFL this week on the road. Field goals are great when the opponents cannot score, but that won't be nearly enough for the coming weeks.

Running Backs: Willis McGahee started slowly last week, got banged up and left the game temporarily but still returned to gain 117 yards on 22 carries. Shaud Williams replaced him for a series and gained only 14 yards on seven runs in total.

Wide Receivers: So far the bulk of the passing game has gone to Lee Evans and he only had three catches for 68 yards thanks to a 42 yard gain on one play. Eric Moulds only had 40 yards on his four catches and this coming against one of the worst secondaries in the league last year.

There was no real need to throw last week and yet Evans still collected his obligatory long pass. This week the challenge and need will be much higher.

Tight Ends: Mark Campbell had 18 yards on two catches which is actually a pretty good game for him. As Losman is challenged more by defenses, it will be worth watching to see if Campbell becomes an outlet or if he will merely continue the tradition of mattering only once or twice a season.

Match Against the Defense: This gets much harder now. The Buccaneer defense completely shutdown the Vikings rushing game last week and while they won't hold McGahee to merely 15 rushing yards, they will keep him under the century mark. Consider McGahee for only moderate production this week. The Bills will want to lean heavily on him in the game and you, me and every Bucs defender knows that. He'll be facing big fronts.

Losman should be concerned after the pounding and harassment that Culpepper suffered last week. In any obvious passing situations, figure on the Bucs sending some heat to rattle Losman. Chances are best Losman has a low production game here though he could hit Evans on a long pass if he tries it on first down instead of waiting until they know it is coming. Matchups on the corners matter less when the first concern is just getting the time for the quarterback to make the pass.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-0)
1 24-13 @MIN 10 Nov 13 WAS
2 Sep 18 BUF 11 Nov 20 @ATL
3 Sep 25 @GBP 12 Nov 27 CHI
4 Oct 2 DET 13 Dec 4 @NOR
5 Oct 9 @NYJ 14 Dec 11 @CAR
6 Oct 16 MIA 15 Dec 17 @NE
7 Open Bye 16 Dec 24 ATL
8 Oct 30 @SFO 17 Jan 1 NOR
9 Nov 6 CAR . . SAT
TBB Projections Rush Catch Pass
QB Brian Griese 0 0 200,2
RB Cadillac Williams 60 30 0
TE Alex Smith 0 40,1 0
WR Joey Galloway 0 40 0
WR Michael Clayton 0 60 0
WR Ike Hilliard 0 20,1 0
PK Matt Bryant 2 FG 2 XP -

Pregame Notes: No two ways about it - Tampa Bay was impressive on the road inside a dome last week against what should have been a far better offense. The defense came up big on every front. The Bucs front office must be feeling good about their draft last April. In only one week, their first two picks accounted for 182 yards and three touchdowns, on the road no less. This week pits a far better Bills defense against the youngsters but at home the disadvantage should not be too great.

Quarterback: Brian Griese had a nice game in Minnesota last week, tossing for 213 yards and two scores though with two interceptions. Both scores went to the rookie tight end but the second one was impressive, with Griese running left and then throwing right as he went. If the defense continues to be this good and Cadillac Williams maintains his impressive play, Griese gets to play game manager this year.

Running Backs: HC Jon Gruden said that he wasn't getting Cadillac Williams as a part-time player and he wasted no time proving it. Williams had 27 carries for 148 yards and one score last week after popping a 71 yard run at the end of the game. Michael Pittman? Not one carry or catch. Mike Alstott had one effort at the goal line that failed, but otherwise this was 100% pure Cadillac. No reason for anything else.

Gruden was all over himself with satisfaction about Williams after the game but facing the Bills this week could play out differently.

Wide Receivers: Joey Galloway led all wideouts with five catches for 97 yards against the Vikings while Michael Clayton (4-57) offered just some possession catches. Clayton actually had eight passes thrown to him versus only seven to Galloway. but no other wideout had more than one pass if that. The passing scheme was not diverse and with Clayton and Galloway it does not have to be.

Tight Ends: One of the bigger surprises of opening weekend was the rookie Alex Smith (no relation to the SF QB). He not only had two scores in the game, he was targeted five times and had four catches for 34 yards. The ex-Stanford tight end has already made a name for himself which is remarkable on a team that historically did not use one primary tight end. First Cadillac and now this. Maybe Gruden is getting older and doesn't want to have to remember anymore names than he has to.

Match Against the Defense: Cadillac won't find the running any easier against one of the top defenses of 2004 that just held Domanick Davis to only 48 yards on 14 carries. Against the Vikings, Williams was already heading for about 70 yards on the game until he broke the 71 yard scoring run. The Bills won't stop Cadillac, but after last week they'll make sure he never gets out of second gear. Expect slightly better numbers than what Davis managed since the Bucs are home but no much better.

Since this is shaping up to be a defensive battle, there is likely little need for Griese to throw any more than he needs to in order to keep the chains moving. With top corners on the Bills, that should depress the passing numbers to the wideouts or at least limit them to shorter, possession catches that favor Michael Clayton. It also should make both Alex Smith and Cadillac become more involved in the passing scheme.