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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: Indianapolis 20, Tennessee 10

The Colts are turning into the very thing that all coaches love - a dominating defensive team that scores only enough to win while preventing the opponent from scoring more than 7 points in any game. Of course, that is exactly what all fantasy team owners hate the most. The Colts have gone from being the cool kid down the street that had beer and fireworks to being the grumpy old neighbor who just yells at people for walking through his yard. The Titans are 1-2 which is a slight surprise and have shown enough offense so far to give hope for the future so long as THEY STAY OUT OF THE YARD!

These divisional foes met twice last year with the Colts winning both, 31-17 as a visitor and 51-24 back at home.

Update: Drew Bennett is listed as questionable this week and did not practice on Wednesday due to his bruised heel. He returned on Thursday and is expected to play on Sunday against the Colts. I am not changing his projections which were already on the low side but be aware he is hampered by a bad foot.

Indianapolis Colts (3-0)
1 24-7 @BAL 10 Nov 13 HOU
2 10-3 JAC 11 Nov 20 @CIN
3 13-6 CLE 12 Nov 28 PIT
4 Oct 2 @TEN 13 Dec 4 TEN
5 Oct 9 @SFO 14 Dec 11 @JAC
6 Oct 17 STL 15 Dec 18 SDC
7 Oct 23 @HOU 16 Dec 24 @SEA
8 Open Bye 17 Jan 1 ARI
9 Nov 7 @NE . MON SAT
IND at TEN Rush Catch Pass
QB Peyton Manning 0 0 220,1
RB Edgerrin James 100,1 30 0
TE Dallas Clark 0 20 0
WR Marvin Harrison 0 80,1 0
WR Reggie Wayne 0 50 0
WR Brandon Stokley 0 30 0
PK Mike Vanderjagt 2 FG 2 XP -
Pregame Notes: In the history of the NFL, there has never been a team that has gone 3-0 and yet made every game feel like listening to a eulogy. The most explosive offense perhaps of all time has quietly put away all the guns and are trying to become a respected member of the Brotherhood of Bad-Ass Defenses. Shame really, but at 3-0 why would they change now?

Quarterback: Peyton Manning still has only two touchdowns on the season and has thrown an interception in each of the last games while never scoring or gaining more than 228 yards. His performance has done little more than spark sales of Barbara Streisand's song "The Way We Were". It looks like Fonzie has taken a desk job at an accounting firm.

Manning threw for 254 yards and two scores in Nashville last year and then 425 yards and three scores back at Indy. Sort of makes you sigh, doesn't it?

Running Backs: The lackluster passing game, or rather the lack of need for a passing game has paid dividends to Edgerrin James. He has at least 23 carries a game every week and totals over 100 yards every time. He only has one score on the season but with the Colts this season, that is actually pretty good.

James gained 124 and 105 yards when facing the Titans in 2004 with two touchdowns in each game.

Wide Receivers: Marvin Harrison had six catches for only 53 yards last week and that is fast becoming a new standard for him. Reggie Wayne had the biggest game of any wideout this year when he gained 97 yards against the Browns last week and Brandon Stokley is now just a traditional #3 wideout with almost nothing to show for suiting up every week. This unit has only had one touchdown the entire year so far.

Harrison had 98 and 106 yards with one touchdown last year and Wayne turned in 119 and 96 yards with a score in each game when they played the Titans in 2004. Brandon Stokley had 153 yards and one score when Indy hosted the Titans but only managed 27 yards on the road.

Tight Ends: Dallas Clark now has three catches for 18 yards in two games and has been decimated more than any other player with the lack of passing now in Indianapolis.

The tight ends had little input into the games last year between these teams but Pollard did catch one score.

Match Against the Defense: These teams had wonderful shootouts last season but how that plays out this week has to consider the dramatic change by the Colts this season. They are playing ball control and great defense and with that only James is a lock for a nice game here. Expect him to approach and probably exceed the 100 yard mark with a chance of at least one score.

The Titans have always allowed at least one passing score and Manning probably could get four or more but in this new era, the safest bet is that he throws just one and no more than two. That favors Harrison the most and the Titans have allowed big games to him last year as well. Beyond a Harrison score, the Colts just have not shown to be interested in posting anything gaudy this year.

The Colts also have a trip to San Francisco the following week, so there is no reason to be overlooking this game and getting into a shootout.

Tennessee Titans (1-2)
1 7-34 @PIT 10 Open Bye
2 25-10 BAL 11 Nov 20 JAC
3 27-31 @STL 12 Nov 27 SFO
4 Oct 2 IND 13 Dec 4 @IND
5 Oct 9 @HOU 14 Dec 11 HOU
6 Oct 16 CIN 15 Dec 18 SEA
7 Oct 23 @ARI 16 Dec 24 @MIA
8 Oct 30 OAK 17 Jan 1 @JAC
9 Nov 6 @CLE . . SAT
TEN vs IND Rush Catch Pass
QB Steve McNair 0 0 200,1
RB Chris Brown 70 20 0
TE Ben Troupe 0 30,1 0
TE Erron Kinney 0 50 0
WR Drew Bennett 0 50 0
WR Tyrone Calico 0 10 0
WR Brandon Jones 0 40 0
PK Rob Bironas 1 FG 1 XP -

Pregame Notes: The Titans opened poorly against the Steelers but bounced back well with a win over the Ravens and a close loss to the Rams. The offense just lost Travis Henry for a month but McNair is throwing scores every week and Chris Brown is running well and is healthy as of this particular moment in time. The Titan offense is still developing and this week faces an entirely new look defense from the Colts.

Quarterback: Steve McNair has managed at least one touchdown every week this season but he's never had more than two and his 261 yards last week in St. Louis was easily his best game. He had two interceptions in that matchup which should be a problem again this week. McNair also never runs anymore, he has never had more than four yards in any game.

McNair threw for 273 yards against the Colts in 2004 but was already gone in week 13 when they met again and Volek had 269 yards and three touchdowns. It was one of the "Bennett" games.

Running Backs: Travis Henry did something and though the exact nature of what his transgression against the NFL substance abuse policy was not made public, we have a month to figure out what it was thanks to the suspension. Chris Brown has been a solid runner when he plays this year and has over four yards per carry in every game. He's been much more effective than Henry has but as always, his durability is always suspect and he's already had a concussion this season.

Chris Brown ran for 152 yards and one touchdown against the Colts while at home and then later had 104 rushing yards at Indy in week 13.

Wide Receivers: Drew Bennett comes off his best game of the year when he had six catches for 96 yards against the soft secondary of the Rams last week but he still has yet to score and could end up with his lowest game of the year this Sunday. Tyrone Calico has all but disappeared now, replaced by the rookie Brandon Jones who had his first NFL touchdown last week and slowly is becoming a bigger factor in the passing game. As expected, this unit is below average and is still trying to catch up to the new offensive scheme using sub-standard or inexperienced players.

Bennett had seven catches for 85 yards and later 124 yards and three scores against the Colts last year.

Tight Ends: The tight ends have been more heavily used this year in Norman Chow's new scheme and Erron Kinney has been the yardage player. He had seven catches for 64 yards last week and 58 yards in week one. Ben Troupe has yet to gain more than 28 yards in a game but has two scores already this year - he's the endzone component in the passing scheme.

The tight ends never scored and topped out at 45 yards (Kinney) against the Colts in two meetings last year.

Match Against the Defense: Well, this just is no fun anymore. The Colts have not allowed a rushing score and no runner has turned in more than 81 yards against them. Figure Chris Brown for a moderate yardage game here without Henry to take carries but unlikely that he will score.

The Colts passing defense has been stellar and has allowed only one touchdown so far this year. McNair varies to either side of 200 yards passing and that falls into line with how much the Colts have been allowing. At home, give McNair a good chance for one passing score but more than that would be monumental against this defense. More than likely, the score will go to the tight end as will an equal amount of the passing yardage.