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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: Washington 7, Dallas 20

One of the more heated rivalries in the NFL comes to Monday night when the Redskins travel to Dallas and hope to turn around the painful curse that has seen them lose 9 of the last 10 games to Dallas. Last season were both three point wins by Dallas 21-18 on the road and 13-10 at home. This time around, the Cowboys are looking better and the Skins look remarkably unchanged.

Update: The Redskins have acquired the rookie Nick Novak from Maryland to fill in for the injured Jon Hall (quadriceps). Barring a game-time determination on Monday night, Novak will be the starting kicker. He's already been dropped by Dallas and Chicago in the past and his gig for Washington may last only one week.

Washington Redskins (1-0)
1 9-7 CHI 10 Nov 13 @TBB
2 Sep 19 @DAL 11 Nov 20 OAK
3 Open Bye 12 Nov 27 SDC
4 Oct 2 SEA 13 Dec 4 @STL
5 Oct 9 @DEN 14 Dec 11 @ARI
6 Oct 16 @KCC 15 Dec 18 DAL
7 Oct 23 SFO 16 Dec 24 NYG
8 Oct 30 @NYG 17 Jan 1 @PHI
9 Nov 6 PHI . MON SAT
WAS Projections Rush Catch Pass
QB Mark Brunell 0 0 160,1
RB Clinton Portis 60 10 0
RB Ladell Betts 20 0 0
TE Chris Cooley 0 30 0
WR Santana Moss 0 70,1 0
WR David Patten 0 30 0
WR James Thrash 0 20 0
PK Nick Novak 0 FG 1 XP -
Pregame Notes: It is nice to see somethings never change. The Redskins opened their season with yet another boring game where they won and yet never actually scored a touchdown. The 9-7 snooze-fest was a victory but hardly an optimistic one. While defense wins championships, the offense has to at least show up. The loss of Ramsey to injury should be compensated by Mark Brunell who can keep the course steady for an offensive ship that appears to still be moored to the pier.

Quarterback: Patrick Ramsey was blasted by LB Lance Briggs last Sunday after only managing 105 yards, one interception and a fumble. With Mark Brunell, the offense still only produced 70 more yards but more importantly - there were no more turnovers. Ramsey only has a mild neck sprain but HC Joe Gibbs has already named Brunell as starter this week in his quest (0-8 so far) to beat the Cowboys.

The Redskins passing game dumped Coles and Gardner in the offseason and brought on aging vet Patten and the speedy Moss. Unfortunately, that means either very long passes or very short ones and none completed in the endzone.

Brunell went against the Cowboys in Washington last year and had a 325 yard, two touchdown game. No doubt Gibbs remembered that when he made starting assignments this week.

Running Backs: The Redskins were thrilled to see Clinton Portis rush for 121 yards on 21 carries last week and even relied a surprising amount on Ladell Betts who had 12 carries for 41 yards. While neither figure into the passing game at all (nor does much of anyone else), the addition of Betts is a surprise for a team that wants to heavily rely on Portis. Betts has looked sharp running so far this season and he'll likely spell Portis more.

When Portis played in Dallas last year, he only gained 32 yards on 10 carries while Betts had 13 runs for 43 yards.

Wide Receivers: The new receivers did just enough to help the team last week but David Patten (3-19) was no contributor. Santana Moss had 96 yards on only four catches that included a 52 yard grab and run - precisely what he was brought on board to provide. Coming off a nice game, no doubt Moss will be the focus of the secondary since no other receiver had more than 34 yards.

Tight Ends: Chris Cooley came off a surprising rookie season with six touchdowns and had three catches for 34 yards last Sunday, with one throw in the endzone that just missed. While he was good last year, he only had 22 and 24 yards in the two matchups against the Cowboys in 2004 with no scores in either.

Match Against the Defense: The Redskins are not going to get into an offensive war no matter who they are playing and playing on Monday night in Dallas, they'll be every bit as conservative as ever. Portis has not been very successful against the Cowboys and with Betts being mixed in, don't expect the running game to exceed the 70 total yard mark. The Cowboys just held Tomlinson to only 72 yards in San Diego last week and you sir are no Tomlinson.

The Cowboys did allow Keenan McCardell to gain 123 yards and two scores last week but Brees was much better than Brunell will be. Both McCardell and Moss play the flanker but both also are moved around. Expect some moderate passing here with Moss the main recipient and he should turn in at least an average fantasy game - maybe more since his bread and butter is the bomb.

Jon Hall strained a quadriceps and may miss this week. As the only scorer for the Skins in 2005, this is not a positive development.

Dallas Cowboys (1-0)
1 28-24 @SDC 10 Nov 14 @PHI
2 Sep 19 WAS 11 Nov 20 DET
3 Sep 25 @SFO 12 Nov 24 DEN
4 Oct 2 @OAK 13 Dec 4 @NYG
5 Oct 9 PHI 14 Dec 11 KCC
6 Oct 16 NYG 15 Dec 18 @WAS
7 Oct 23 @SEA 16 Dec 24 @CAR
8 Oct 30 ARI 17 Jan 1 STL
9 Open Bye M THU SAT
DAL Projections Rush Catch Pass
QB Drew Bledsoe 0 0 200,1
RB Julius Jones 80,1 10 0
RB Anthony Thomas 20 0 0
TE Jason Witten 0 40,1 0
WR Keyshawn Johnson 0 60 0
WR Terry Glenn 0 50 0
WR Patrick Crayton 0 40 0
PK Jose Cortez 2 FG 2 XP -

Pregame Notes: Dallas comes off an emotional road win in the opener against the Chargers and the new 3-4 defense started slowly but appears to be more than holding its' own. Just as important, Drew Bledsoe looked sharp in his first game and the Cowboys look a definite notch above last season already. With an extra day to rest and prepare and a home game against the Redskins, Dallas should see their lead in the NFC East hold on at least one more week... Hmmm.... 49ers in week three... this could go on a bit longer thanks to the Eagles.

Quarterback: Drew Bledsoe threw for an amazing three scores and 226 yards last week and everyone knows that will not last. Remember back to 2004 when Vinnie Testaverde started hot and then cooled. Still, on the road against a quality team, his results are encouraging and he only threw one interception.

Under Testaverde last year, the Cowboys had around 220 passing yards and one touchdown in both matchups with the Redskins.

Running Backs: Julius Jones rushed for 93 yards on 26 carries with one touchdown last week against the Chargers but that is only a 3.6 yard average. Going against a tough Skins defense this week, he'll likely need that sort of volume to produce a good fantasy game. Anthony Thomas only had three carries in relief and Marion Barber (AKA the next Richie Anderson) was busy collecting cans outside the stadium instead of playing. This is all Jones, all the time.

Julius Jones only gained 57 yards on 22 carries in week 16 against the Skins in Dallas last year and did not play in their first matchup.

Wide Receivers: The fact that Keyshawn Johnson now is tied for the NFL touchdown lead for wideouts is a testament to the new leadership of Bledsoe and the fact that now Jason Witten commands so much attention in the redzone. Patrick Crayton manned the slot last week and led the team with six catches for 89 yards and one score. Terry Glenn had 42 yards on three catches. The trio can be effective but will never be confused with Harrison, Wayne and Stokley.

This week will be a much bigger challenge for them but with three viable options, the Skins cornerbacks are going to need safety help - a safety that has to make a quick decision between doubling a player, watching Witten or chasing Julius Jones.

Tight Ends: Those drafting Jason Witten this summer were hoping for a lot more than the one catch for 12 yards they received last week. There are more receiving options in Dallas this year but it is only one week so no need to freak out. The game against the Redskins should provide a nice benchmark to evaluate Witten since all receivers will need to step up against the strong defense of Washington. Witten only had 22 yards in Washington last year but scored once and then turned in 50 yards in the final matchup in Dallas later in the year.

Match Against the Defense: It is always a war when these two teams meet but played in Dallas on the carpet, it favors the Boys. Look for Jones to get a very heavy use this week in a game destined to be low-scoring and defensive. He should approach the 80 yard mark but anything more than that will be thanks to a long run. Bledsoe won't test his luck passing any more than he has to with the strong secondary of the Skins. Since the Redskins are not exactly racking up offensive points, expect low passing numbers here but ones that should favor Witten more this week when the linebackers commit against Jones rushing or when the safeties start trailing Crayton. There are no real matchups to explore here - just rushing the ball and throwing to keep control.