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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: St. Louis 24 NY Giants 30

This battle of the 2-1 contenders has to show one franchise that they are not winners quite yet. The Rams are on a two game winning streak after their close loss in San Francisco but the Cardinals and Titans have hardly proven to be cream of the crop opponents this year. The Giants come off their first loss of the season after getting trounced in San Diego. The Giants defense has been surprisingly soft lately, but back at home should hold off the Rams who never travel well.

Update: Stephen Jackson suffered a chest injury last week that by some reports includes a slight break in his sternum. He was held out of practice on Wednesday but returned on Thursday and will play against the Giants. I am lowering his numbers and adding to Marshall Faulk since this week could see more action by Faulk as a way to limit Jackson and not risk any further injury to his chest. How much he will play will depend on how he feels, but the safest move here is to downgrade Jackson and expect a bit more numbers from Faulk.

St. Louis Rams (2-1)
1 25-28 @SFO 10 Nov 13 @SEA
2 17-12 @ARI 11 Nov 20 ARI
3 31-27 TEN 12 Nov 27 @HOU
4 Oct 2 @NYG 13 Dec 4 WAS
5 Oct 9 SEA 14 Dec 11 @MIN
6 Oct 17 @IND 15 Dec 18 PHI
7 Oct 23 NOR 16 Dec 24 SFO
8 Oct 30 JAC 17 Jan 1 @DAL
9 Open Bye . MON SAT
STL at NYG Rush Catch Pass
QB Marc Bulger 0 0 300,2
RB Steven Jackson 60,1 10 0
RB Marshall Faulk 20 20 0
TE Roland Williams 0 10 0
WR Torry Holt 0 120,1 0
WR Kevin Curtis 0 90,1 0
WR Shaun McDonald 0 30 0
PK Jeff Wilkins 1 FG 3 XP -
Pregame Notes: The Rams are about to embark on the tougher part of their schedule and while 2-1 is not bad, the team knows that 3-0 should have been the mark since those first three opponents all have only one win each this season. This will be the toughest month to get through with games against NYG, SEA, IND, NO and JAX to play. This is also the third road trip in only four weeks into the season.

Quarterback: Marc Bulger currently ranks fourth in passing yardage and is tied for 6th in passing touchdowns in the NFL this season. He has never fallen below 216 yards and has thrown multiple scores in two of the three matchups this season. Of all the teams in the NFL, the Rams and Bulger in particular are one of the least changed from 2004.

Running Backs: Stephen Jackson only had 12 carries for 48 yards against the Titans last week due to bruised ribs and Marshall Faulk stepped in to provide six carries for 50 yards and three catches for 31 yards with one touchdown. Jackson's injury robbed him of the best matchup of the year but he's expected to play without any limitation this week and he did later on re-enter the game last Sunday. Jackson is still searching for that first 100 yards rushing game this season.

Faulk had better numbers while Jackson stepped away last week. He remains just a role player that normally will get around 20 yards in a game as relief for Jackson.

Wide Receivers: After his huge 163 yard effort last week, Tory Holt now leads the NFL with 358 receiving yards and is tied with Steve Smith with 23 receptions on the year. Isaac Bruce suffered a hyper-extended toe against the Cardinals and is expected to miss a few weeks while he heals up. Bruce thinks he'll be back sooner but for now, consider Kevin Curtis as the starting flanker and Shaun McDonald as the #3 receiver for St. Louis. This could prove to be a big opportunity for Curtis to show that he's worthy of taking over for the aging Bruce when the time is right.

Tight Ends: Nothing to look at here, move along.

Match Against the Defense: The Giants were considered to be one of the better defenses until last week when Tomlinson filleted them for 192 yards and three scores. McAllister only managed 57 yards the previous week but consider Stephen Jackson as better than McAllister but no where near Tomlinson. He should turn in some moderate to nice numbers here with a chance for no more than one score. The Giants could be motivated after that spanking last week, but they may still be a little shell-shocked.

The last opponent in New York was Brooks who had 375 yards and a score though much of that came after the Giants had a safe lead. Where this is interesting is that the Giants have been very soft on the corners - they've already given up three games of 140+ yards to wideouts and that was in the first two weeks. McCardell only four catches last week and yet gained 80 yards and scored twice. Look for a very solid game here from Bulger who will need to throw to stay in the game and he'll have plenty of success against these wideouts - lesser quarterbacks have burned them already. That means Curtis should be a surprise good start this week as well.

New York Giants (2-1)
1 42-19 ARI 10 Nov 13 MIN
2 27-10 @NOR 11 Nov 20 PHI
3 23-45 @SDC 12 Nov 27 @SEA
4 Oct 2 STL 13 Dec 4 DAL
5 Open Bye 14 Dec 11 @PHI
6 Oct 16 @DAL 15 Dec 17 KCC
7 Oct 23 DEN 16 Dec 24 @WAS
8 Oct 30 WAS 17 Dec 31 @OAK
9 Nov 6 @SFO . . SAT
NYG vs STL Rush Catch Pass
QB Eli Manning 0 0 260,2
RB Tiki Barber 100 10 0
RB Brandon Jacobs 20,1 0 0
TE Jeremy Shockey 0 90,1 0
WR Amani Toomer 0 60 0
WR Plaxico Burress 0 80,1 0
WR David Tyree 0 20 0
PK Jay Feeley 3 FG 3 XP -

Pregame Notes: It was all looking so good this year. Swamped the Cardinals and then drubbed the Saints in the "away" game complete with home fans and a short drive home afterwards. Then the matchup with the Chargers showed them the road was a cruel mistress and even when Eli Manning plays well it is not nearly enough. This week the defense needs to reclaim some of the swagger that was sandblasted away in San Diego. After their bye week, the Giants face Dallas, Denver and Washington - all better than the schedule they have faced so far.

Quarterback: The good news is that Eli Manning can emulate his brother (the 2004 version) and he threw for 352 yards and two touchdowns last week. The bad news was that they still lost by 22 points. Manning has scored in each game this season and is showing nice development by targeting the money - Burress and Shockey.

Running Backs: While Tiki Barber had scored three times and looked just as good as last year in the first two games, he was held to only 60 yards on 15 carries and just one completion for five yards last week. The addition of Burress and just the increased chemistry between Manning and Shockey has further decreased Barber's role as a pass catcher.

Brandon Jacobs scored in each of the first two weeks but had only one carry for no gain last week and was battered on the one attempt. The Giants had no more sort yardage or goal line plays so Jacobs was not needed.

Wide Receivers: The Giants put up the cash for Plaxico Burress last spring and Manning is trying to get their money's worth. Burress was held out of the first quarter last week for being late to team meetings (rolling eyes) but still had 13 passes thrown to him of which he caught five for 52 yards and one score. Burress has caught exactly five passes in each of his three games with the Giants for 52 to 76 yards each week.

Amani Toomer had been the forgotten man but finally started clicking with Manning last Sunday when he had four catches for 84 yards. He had only two grabs for 31 yards the previous week and no catches in the season opener.

Tight Ends: Jeremy Shockey comes off his best game yet with Manning, reeling in six catches for 101 yards and a score last week. So far in this young season, Shockey is getting more passes and catches every week and Manning primarily balances passes to Burress with ones for Shockey.

Match Against the Defense: This should prove to be the best game of the season for Barber who goes against a defense that so far has only faced SF, ARZ and TEN - hardly running back mecca's. With the desire to keep a shootout from happening, the Giants will look to establish and stick with the run for as long as possible to eat up the clock and keep the ball. Expect Barber to turn in his first 100 rushing effort of the season this week and score once if Jacobs doesn't come it and take it himself.

Manning will only throw when the game situation dictates. If Barber is enough rushing the ball, Manning will stay low. Since the Rams should be able to find some success passing, expect eventually Manning to enter the fray armed with Burress and Shockey. Either player could shine here but Shockey in particular should be a lock for a nice game.