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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
The Huddle
September 25, 2005
Season Ticket
Sun 1 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 4 PM Sun 8:30 PM
CAR at MIA NOR at MIN Sun 4 PM On Bye: Mon 9 PM

Prediction: Kansas City 24, Denver 23

This is a statement game between two teams that know each other well and usually play to tight finishes. The Chiefs are 2-0 and need this win before hosting the Eagles the following week. The Broncos blew their opener in Miami but recovered by taking down the Chargers last week. The difference this year - Denver is not running well and the Chiefs have a defense. These teams opened 2004 with a game in Denver that was won 34-24 by the Broncos. In week 15 at Kansas City, the Chiefs won 31-30.

Kansas City Chiefs (2-0)
1 27-7 NYJ 10 Nov 13 @BUF
2 23-17 @OAK 11 Nov 20 @HOU
3 Sep 26 @DEN 12 Nov 27 NE
4 Oct 2 PHI 13 Dec 4 DEN
5 Open Bye 14 Dec 11 @DAL
6 Oct 16 WAS 15 Dec 17 @NYG
7 Oct 23 @MIA 16 Dec 24 SDC
8 Oct 30 @SDC 17 Jan 1 CIN
9 Nov 6 OAK . MON SAT
KCC Projections Rush Catch Pass
QB Trent Green 0 0 220,2
RB Priest Holmes 90,1 20 0
RB Larry Johnson 40 0 0
TE Tony Gonzalez 0 50,1 0
WR Eddie Kennison 0 40 0
WR Samie Parker 0 60,1 0
WR Chris Horn 0 20 0
PK Lawrence Tynes 1 FG 3 XP -
Pregame Notes: Kansas City had a minor scare when Priest Holmes went down holding his knee last week but he returned to the game none the worse for wear. At 2-0 on the season and atop of AFC West, the Chiefs are in the driver seat but know that division crown needs to go through Denver here and later in San Diego for the rematch later in the season.

Quarterback: For a quarterback who has been a hot fantasy property, Green has come out of the gate stumbling thanks to a defense that has squashed the need for those delightful shootouts every week (see The Demise of Peyton Manning). Green has yet to throw a touchdown pass this year and has only 437 total passing yards after two weeks.

Green threw for only 174 yards and no scores in Denver last year and then later had 224 yards and three scores while at home against the Broncos.

Running Backs: Priest Holmes had the injury scare last week but he still ended with 75 yards on 19 carries with a touchdown. Larry Johnson filled in for nine carries and 41 yards with a score though most came while Holmes sat out. This remains largely the Holmes show with only relief work by Johnson. Since this game is unlikely to be a blowout, figure Johnson to remain as only spot help unless Holmes grabs that knee again.

Priest Holmes rushed for 151 yards and three touchdowns in Denver last year and later Larry Johnson ran for 151 yards and two scores while at home.

Wide Receivers: The decrease in passing numbers has had an obvious effect on the value of these wideouts. Eddie Kennison only had 52 yards on four catches last week and 76 yards the previous week. Samie Parker had 86 yards on three catches but lost a fumble that almost proved costly. As long as the game remains close and the running game is effective, this crew is not getting nearly the workout in 2005 as they did last year.

Kennison had 101 yards and no scores in week one last year and then had the same 101 yards with two scores back at home against Denver.

Tight Ends: Tony Gonzalez had five catches for 44 yards and added to his 51 yards in the opener spells a slow start for the perpetual best tight end in the NFL. A tougher defense this week should make him more important but he has not usually fared well against the Broncos. Gonzalez only had 17 yards on two catches in the 2004 opener and only managed 44 yards in the second meeting against the Broncos.

Match Against the Defense: The problem here for the Chiefs is that the Bronco rush defense has been very good so far. Last week they held Tomlinson to only 52 yards rushing though he scored twice. The Chiefs were very successful rushing against Denver last year and for whatever reason, Tomlinson never runs well in Denver even last year considered. The Chiefs will come with a rushing attack and expect at least moderate production from Holmes with the chance for a monster game as he has normally had.

If this game moves to the air, then the Chiefs will need to step up with Kennison and Gonzalez. Champ Bailey draws coverage on Kennison on most plays which could be a problem and while Gonzalez did not fare that well in 2004 against the Broncos, Denver has already allowed good games to both McMichael and Gates.

Denver Broncos (1-1)
1 10-34 @MIA 10 Nov 13 @OAK
2 20-17 SDC 11 Nov 20 NYJ
3 Sep 26 KCC 12 Nov 24 @DAL
4 Oct 2 @JAC 13 Dec 4 @KCC
5 Oct 9 WAS 14 Dec 11 BAL
6 Oct 16 NE 15 Dec 17 @BUF
7 Oct 23 @NYG 16 Dec 24 OAK
8 Oct 30 PHI 17 Dec 31 @SDC
9 Open Bye M THU SAT
DEN Projections Rush Catch Pass
QB Jake Plummer 20 0 260,2
RB Mike Anderson 40 30 0
RB Ron Dayne 20 0 0
TE Jeb Putzier 0 40,1 0
WR Rod Smith 0 80,1 0
WR Ashley Lelie 0 60 0
WR Charlie Adams 0 20 0
PK Jason Elam 3 FG 2 XP -

Pregame Notes: The Broncos looked horrible in week one but rebounded well against the Chargers last week. This game against the Chiefs is a big one since Denver already trails in the standings. What is most problematic is that the vaunted Denver rushing game has not produced much this year and that makes Plummer become more central to the attack. And that means a good defense can force Denver into errors.

Quarterback: Jake Plummer has been consistent so far this year with two games of almost exactly 250 yards but only one touchdown (Miami) and three interceptions and a lost fumble. Plummer improved last week with completing 23 of 37 passes and only turning the ball over once but this week will be an all new Chiefs defense than what he knew from last year.

Plummer threw for 230 yards and two scores in the home game against the Chiefs last year and had 292 yards and one score on the road in week 15.

Running Backs: Where fore art thou, running game?

After two weeks, the best performance so far has been Mike Anderson's 49 yards on 15 carries last week. The lone rushing score came from FB Kyle Johnson and now Ron Dayne looks like a viable option. It all equals to an unusually confusing mess even for Denver. The lack of a cohesive running game this week could prove very damaging. The only other score by a Denver back was the catch in week one by Kyle Johnson again.

While Quentin Griffin had his only hurrah with 156 yards and two scores in the home opener against Kansas City, the Broncos split carries between Bell, Droughns and Hearst in the week 15 games with none having more than 50 yards and only Hearst scoring.

Wide Receivers: Rod Smith continues to be ageless by gaining 83 yards on eight receptions last week added to his 90 yards on seven catches in the opener. Ashley Lelie was nearly invisible in that first game but came on stronger last week when he had six catches for 62 yards. Plummer has yet to throw a score to a wideout this season.

Lelie had 88 yards in Denver against the Chiefs last year but only had 37 yards in the final match-up. Rod Smith had 76 yards and then 75 yards with one score on the road.

Tight Ends: Jeb Putzier had a nice 67 yard effort in week one but only turned in once catch for 16 yards against the Chargers. When the wideouts are covered, Putzier becomes a better target which could happen this week.

Putzier never exceeded 30 yards against the Chiefs last year and never scored.

Match Against the Defense: Here's where this game takes a whole new flavor this year. The Chiefs rush defense has been outstanding so far - Lamont Jordan only had 59 yards last week and Curtis Martin managed only 57 in the opener. With the messy situation already in Denver, figure the still tender Anderson to start but once again be ineffective and Ron Dayne to likely enter later in the match-up and also prove ineffective. The defensive changes by the Chiefs were made in large part to counter the Denver and San Diego rushing games.

The Chiefs secondary still has given up two games of 260 passing yards with one touchdown in each. CB Patrick Surtain held both Coles and Porter to only 60 yards so Ashley Lelie will likely have the worse matchup than Rod Smith. That plays into the offensive trends of the Broncos anyway. The Broncos at home will likely strike for at least one score and probably two since the rushing game appears in trouble. That favors Smith and then Putzier the most but it all depends on the erratic play of Plummer.