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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
The Huddle
October 2, 2005
Season Ticket
Sun 1 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 4 PM Sun 8:30 PM
DEN at JAC* PHI at KCC* Sun 4 PM On Bye: Mon 9 PM
HOU at CIN SEA at WAS DAL at OAK PIT, CHI *Updated

Prediction: Dallas 24, Oakland 27

The Cowboys head west again this week after a comeback win across the bay last Sunday over the 49ers. The Raiders are now specializing in losing close games and are searching for their first win of the year. This should be an entertaining game to watch and the secondary problems for Dallas must have Randy Moss and Kerry Collins smirking all week long.

Dallas Cowboys (2-1)
1 28-24 @SDC 10 Nov 14 @PHI
2 13-14 WAS 11 Nov 20 DET
3 34-31 @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 at OAK Rush Catch Pass
QB Drew Bledsoe 0 0 300,2
RB Julius Jones 80,1 20 0
RB Anthony Thomas 10 0 0
TE Jason Witten 0 60 0
WR Keyshawn Johnson 0 80,1 0
WR Terry Glenn 0 110,1 0
WR Patrick Crayton 0 20 0
PK Jose Cortez 1 FG 3 XP -
Pregame Notes: The Cowboys head to Oakland with a 2-1 record but not a lot of satisfaction from it. They gave away a game to the Redskins and last week had to produce a comeback late in the game after being beaten by the 49ers for the first three quarters. All that work in the offseason shoring up the pass defense has so far produced the worst passing defense in the league thanks mostly to an "all lanes open" approach against the deep pass.

Quarterback: Drew Bledsoe threw for 363 yards and two scores against the 49ers last week, his first 300 yard game in several years. He had two scores against two interceptions but those were his first pick-offs this season and he has scored at least once in every game.

Bledsoe won't throw anymore than the game situation dictates, but until Dallas resolves their secondary problems, the game will dictate that he throws.

Running Backs: After three games, Julius Jones has proven to be a solid fantasy back even though he still has not exceeded 93 yards rushing in a game yet. Adding in receptions (at least three per game), he has topped the century mark in total yardage every week and had two scores against the 49ers last Sunday. So far Jones has been carrying the ball at least 22 times every game - at worst he only sits for a handful of plays.

Wide Receivers: Terry Glenn now has two straight big games with 157 and 137 yards in the last two weeks with one touchdown so far. He is clearly the preferred deep receiver for Bledsoe. Keyshawn Johnson gets roughly the same amount of throws as Glenn but has topped out at 74 yards in a game this year. He has three scores on the season and with as much as Bledsoe has had to throw in the last two games, the duo both have fantasy value this season. Patrick Crayton had a nice 89 yard, one score start to the season but has done almost nothing since then.

Tight Ends: For fantasy owners who were growing impatient with the pick of Jason Witten, they were rewarded with a six catch, 85 yard effort last week with one touchdown by the star of 2004. Witten's role remains just as involved with ten catches in the last two games and only the week one single catch effort as an aberration.

Match Against the Defense: The Raider's rushing defense has not allowed any individual to gain more than 75 yards on the ground but everyone of them have scored at least once and added 20 or more yards via receptions. No doubt that Jones gets his 22+ carries this week and while he'll likely still fall short of the 100, he'll get pretty close this week and add some receiving yardage as well.

Bledsoe could have another "light 'em up" game here since the Raiders already have allowed two 300 yard passing games and both of those (Brady and McNabb) had two passing scores as well. Since this is played in Oakland and could escalate into a shootout, expect some nice numbers from all the normal receivers for the Cowboys including Witten.

Oakland Raiders (0-3)
1 20-30 @NE 10 Nov 13 DEN
2 17-23 KCC 11 Nov 20 @WAS
3 20-23 @PHI 12 Nov 27 MIA
4 Oct 2 DAL 13 Dec 4 @SDC
5 Open Bye 14 Dec 11 @NYJ
6 Oct 16 SDC 15 Dec 18 CLE
7 Oct 23 BUF 16 Dec 24 @DEN
8 Oct 30 @TEN 17 Dec 31 NYG
9 Nov 6 @KCC . THU SAT
OAK vs DAL Rush Catch Pass
QB Kerry Collins 0 0 290,3
RB Lamont Jordan 60 20 0
RB Zack Crockett 10 0 0
TE Courtney Anderson 0 20 0
WR Randy Moss 0 120,2 0
WR Jerry Porter 0 80,1 0
WR Doug Gabriel 0 30 0
PK S. Janikowski 2 FG 3 XP -

Pregame Notes: The Raiders are improved this year, just not quite enough to actually win a game so far. The rushing game is better than the zen-like state of nothingness we saw last season but still is not even average. Collins is making a difference with his arm thanks to Randy Moss but until the defense can keep up, the Raiders are going to be doomed to more close but not close enough games this year. This week is their best shot at a win so far this year and with a bye waiting for them next week, no one wants to sit at home and watch television with an 0-4 record.

Quarterback: Kerry Collins has faced what turns out to be three very solid secondaries in NE, KC and PHI and he has thrown scores in every game this season while never falling below at least 260 passing yards in a game. He only has one interception so far and that was back in New England in week one. Collins has a chance to yet again turn in a big week and this time - it could be just big enough to win the game.

Running Backs: Other than a couple of meaningless carries by Zack Crockett, the Raiders running game is pure Lamont Jordan and so far - that is not all that much. Jordan has never had more than 18 carries or 70 yards in a game and ran in just one score so far. Where Jordan has increased his stock is by adding a surprising element of receiving to his game. He has had at least five catches every week and added at least 30 yards to his game total. He also scored via a pass last week.

Wide Receivers: Randy Moss cooled down against the Eagles last week but he still turned in five catches for 86 yards. Jerry Porter only had 40 yards in that game and Doug Gabriel's touchdown came during his mere two catches for 35 yards - no wonder they were not watching him. The wideouts so far have been either all about Randy Moss or the action has gone to the tight ends. Porter is worth about 50 yards each week, he just never has been more than 68 yards so far.

Tight Ends: Courtney Anderson had two touchdowns in week one on only three short catches and then had no passes in week two. Against the Eagles, he became the primary target with five catches for 100 yards. Hard to rely on week to week but big when it happens. The key here is that his big games have come on the road against good defenses (NE and PHI) when the defense took the wideouts out of the equation all too often.

Match Against the Defense: The Cowboys have been solid against the run this year and since the Raiders are below average anyway, expect a lesser effort from Lamont Jordan going against the same defense that has held both Tomlinson and Portis to under 72 yards this year. He could end up with a short score but that just as likely could end up as a Crockett score if it is on the one yard line.

Where this game undoubtedly takes off is with the passing since the Cowboys have allowed at least two passing scores every week and yet have not faced a team with the quality of receivers that the Raiders will have. Look for Dallas to once again try to hold down the big play and yet have just as much trouble as they have the first three weeks of the season. That means Collins and Moss should shine here and even bring Porter up from his previous 50 yard average since CB Newman will be all alone against him while the rest of the secondary plays follow Moss.