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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: Detroit 6, Tampa Bay 20

The Lions finally cured their road futility woes last year but now appear to be struggling regardless of where they play. The Buccaneers come into this game with an undefeated record and solid play from every facet of their game. This is not an equation that equals a Lion win, unless the variable "X" represents "magic happens here".

Update: Jason Hanson is still hampered by his hamstring injury and has not practiced yet this week but the coaching staff is encouraged that he could play against the Buccaneers this week. The team will likely bring kicker Remy Hamilton with them and decide even as late as gametime which kicker will be used. Best to stay away from this situation this week.

Detroit Lions (1-1)
1 17-3 GBP 10 Nov 13 ARI
2 6-38 @CHI 11 Nov 20 @DAL
3 Open Bye 12 Nov 24 ATL
4 Oct 2 @TBB 13 Dec 4 MIN
5 Oct 9 BAL 14 Dec 11 @GBP
6 Oct 16 CAR 15 Dec 18 CIN
7 Oct 23 @CLE 16 Dec 24 @NOR
8 Oct 30 CHI 17 Jan 1 @PIT
9 Nov 6 @MIN . THU SAT
DET at TB Rush Catch Pass
QB Joey Harrington 0 0 180
RB Kevin Jones 50 10 0
TE Marcus Pollard 0 40 0
WR Roy Williams 0 50 0
WR Charles Rogers 0 30 0
WR Mike Williams 0 30 0
WR Kevin Johnson 0 20 0
PK Jason Hanson 2 FG 0 XP -
Pregame Notes: So far the sterling set of first round receivers in Detroit are still just as shiny as ever. They should be because they have hardly been out of the box or used. The Lions have the 29th ranked offense in the NFL and the passing game looks little different than in past years when it used a revolving cast of no-name wideouts. The rushing game that looked great in the second half of 2004 has yet to emerge. The Lions come off their bye week but playing in Tampa Bay this week? Ends up that is not where you want to start a turn around.

Quarterback: Joey Harrington does not have Jeff Garcia looking over his shoulder and he better be pretty happy about that. After throwing five interceptions in week two against the Bears in a 32 point loss, his stock could not be lower right now. He threw 19 of 37 for 196 yards and one score in Chicago and even that is skewed by the 51 yard touchdown by Roy Williams. Miss that one pass and Harrington only managed 145 yards and five interceptions in a game what was pure trash time for the entire second half.

Running Backs: Kevin Jones rushed for 87 yards against the Packers but that needed 25 carries to happen - an average of only 3.5 yards per carry. Against the Bears, Jones only had time for eight runs and had just 22 yards. Since he still is rarely used in the passing scheme, his fantasy stock nosedives when the Lions struggle offensively.

More bad news - the Lions upcoming games are against these Bucs, then the Ravens and Panthers.

Wide Receivers: Roy Williams had a nice 51-yard score against the Bears with a sideline streak that showed his speed but he only had four more catches for 36 yards in the rest of the game. That is almost exactly what every other wideout has been doing there in the last two games. The best any other wideout has this year is only 38 yards and that was for Kevin Johnson, the lone wideout that is not supposed to be pure potential. The week off should help this game but until Harrington can stop pelting beer vendors and gophers with his passes, this unit will continue to be a shell of what was expected.

Tight Ends: Marcus Pollard had the big 58 yard, one touchdown game against the Packers in week one but only turned in 31 yards against Chicago because that mark evidently means that Harrington will no longer throw to a player during a game. Pollard suffered a concussion against the Bears but is expected to play this week.

Match Against the Defense: Well doesn't this look like it's going to be ugly. The Buccaneers have not allowed more than 58 yards to any runner this year or allowed a rushing touchdown. The last runner at Tampa Bay was McGahee who had only 34 yards. Jones will need to break off a decent run to top 50 yards in the game.

Joey Harrington had five interceptions in week two and now faces a defense that is averaging two per game and yet has allowed only two touchdowns all season. Harrington has struggled and the Bucs in Tampa Bay will smother him - he'll struggle to reach even 200 yards in this game and will likely be too tentative from fear he turns the ball over. The outlook for all receivers here - regardless of their drafted potential - remains low with Roy Williams the most likely to lead only because he's the main possession receiver. This game will more likely see Pollard come into use once again.

Jason Hanson is recovering from a pulled hamstring and I am projecting for him to play but will update if needed.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-0)
1 24-13 @MIN 10 Nov 13 WAS
2 19-3 BUF 11 Nov 20 @ATL
3 17-16 @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 vs DET Rush Catch Pass
QB Brian Griese 0 0 150
RB Cadillac Williams 130,2 0 0
RB Michael Pittman 50 10 0
TE Smith/ Becht 0 10 0
WR Joey Galloway 0 30 0
WR Michael Clayton 0 60 0
WR Ike Hilliard 0 20 0
PK Matt Bryant 2 FG 2 XP -

Pregame Notes: The Buccaneers managed to take a close win over the Packers last week and though it was by only one point, it was the first time the Buccaneers had won there in years. All the elements of the team are coming together nicely and back at home they'll be twice as good. With the Buccaneer defense tops for turnovers, this game could get out of hand if Harrington starts throwing interceptions again.

Quarterback: Brian Griese has not had the monster games as he did in 2004 because he's not been in the position of needing to play "catch up" in games. With the running game providing the backbone to the offensive attack, Griese has reverted to game manager and plays efficiently. He's had two games with two passing touchdowns this season but has never thrown for more than 213 yards and has been under 140 yards passing for the last two weeks.

Running Backs: The day will come when Carnell Williams does not rush for over 100 yards but that likely won't be this week. After three games, he's never had less than 24 carries or gained less than 128 yards in a game. He also still has yet to catch a pass this year but with a 3-0 record and all those rushing yards - who cares? If he can maintain anything near his torrid pace of the first three weeks, he's a lock for offensive rookie of the year.

Wide Receivers: Michael Clayton still provides a possession role in the passing game and he manages around 50 or so yards per game but he hasn't scored in 2005 and so far there hasn't been any great need for a lot of possession catches with Cadillac running so well. Joey Galloway had two scores last week but only 53 yards on five catches. He had no catches against the Bills during his last home game and yet 97 yards in week one against the Vikings. Clayton remains the consistent receiver - though at a lower level - and Galloway offers up the home run hit when Griese looks downfield.

Tight Ends: Other than in week one when Alex Smith had 34 yards and two scores, the tight ends have never gained more than 10 yards in a game this season. No consistency but some very nice blocking from his crew.

Match Against the Defense: The Lions have only played two games so far this season, but the road trip to Chicago in week two saw Thomas Jones gain 139 yards and two scores even though everyone knew he would be the only real offensive threat by the Bears. Oh sure - look for another big game from Cadillac this week that could get so good that Pittman comes in later on and has some decent numbers as well.

The Lions pass defense has been great because their rush defense and entire offense has been so bad. There's no need this week, again, for Griese to start throwing much and Galloway's matchup with CB Dre Bly should keep him quiet. If there is a passing score here, it would go to either Clayton or one of the tight ends, depending on the Roulette Wheel that Gruden uses for determining which one takes center stage on each play.