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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
The Huddle
October 9, 2005
Season Ticket
Sun 1 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 4 PM Sun 8:30 PM Mon 9 PM
CHI at CLE SEA at STL* CAR at ARI On Bye:  
NE at ATL TEN at HOU* WAS at DEN MIN, NYG Updated*

Prediction: Tampa Bay 17, NY Jets 6

The Buccaneers cruise into New York with a perfect 4-0 record that almost did not happen with a tough game against the Lions last week. Worst than that, Cadillac Williams was pulled from the game with a hamstring strain which put a very different look to the offense. The Jets are playing without their top two quarterbacks and Brooks Bollinger was never intended to be the helmsman for this offense that already has Curtis Martin playing less than 100%. The Bucs on the road had plenty of trouble trying to win in Green Bay but the Jets offense has lost both engines this season and this is not a team that can glide.

Update: Cadillac Williams is questionable to play with both arch and hamstring problems and has been held out of practice. There has been conflicting information about his chance at playing this weekend but in no case has anyone said he'll be fine. At best, Williams will be playing at less than 100% healthy and there is a chance he could be made inactive. HC Jon Gruden has been naturally elusive about what he believes will happen. I have again lowered WIlliams numbers and given the risk this week, he's not an attractive start. The Bucs will be facing the Jets who have shoved a helmet on Testaverde and pointed at the field, so chances are good that Tampa Bay will not need a tremendous effort here to secure a win anyway.

Michael Clayton is listed as probable with a second-degree dislocation of his shoulder and is slated to get some pain killers and play. Since I had already not expect much from him, I am not changing his projection.

Vinny Testaverde is expected to take the start this week but that only means the offense will be very plain vanilla since Testaverde has never played in the scheme of OC Mike Heimerdinger. He cannot be any worse than Brooks Bollinger last week except that there is almost zero chance he has any rushing yards. Curtis Martin will be relied on heavily this week but he too is banged up and has been kept out of practice this week. He is expected to play as he did last week.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-0)
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 17-13 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 at NYJ Rush Catch Pass
QB Brian Griese 0 0 190,1
RB Cadillac Williams 20 0 0
RB Michael Pittman 60,1 40 0
TE Alex Smith 0 10 0
TE Anthony Becht 0 10 0
WR Joey Galloway 0 50,1 0
WR Michael Clayton 0 30 0
WR Ike Hilliard 0 20 0
PK Matt Bryant 1 FG 2 XP -
Pregame Notes: The Buccaneers are 4-0 and could end up 7-0 if they can get past the Jets this week. WIth only a homestand against the Dolphins and then a road trip to San Francisco that sandwiches their bye week, Tampa Bay should be giving Atlanta a run for the NFC South title this season. Cadillac Williams has been a major contributor to the recent success, but this team has balance beyond just the rookie running back.

Quarterback: While Brian Griese had big games in 2004, he had yet to light it up this season until last week against the Lions. Griese ended with 302 yards and two scores thanks mainly to two receptions going for 41 and 80 yard touchdowns. With Cadillac out of the lineup, the offense looked a lot more like last year other than Michael Clayton who has not enjoyed nearly the same success as he had in his rookie campaign because there are more weapons than last year.

Running Backs: Cadillac Williams was pulled from the game with both the foot arch injury that has bothered him for a couple of weeks and he pulled a hamstring. In his place, Michael Pittman had five runs for 30 yards and added six catches for 96 yards that included a 41-yard touchdown.

I am projecting for only minimal play by Williams this week and most the work going to Michael Pittman. Updates as more information becomes available on Williams' health.

Wide Receivers: Joey Galloway has been a hot property for the last two weeks. Against the Packers he had two scores and last week he caught seven passes for 166 yards and another score. Add in 97 yards from the season opener and his week two game without a catch is forgotten. Galloway is the preferred target for Griese and since most his passes are long, he racks up yardage quickly even with only a few catches. Michael Clayton has hit the sophomore blues since he has yet to score this year and only had 11 yards on two receptions last week. He supplies the possession catches that Williams has been rushing instead but even last week he was only thrown four passes in the game - much of that had to do with being covered by CB Dre Bly though. Clayton has topped out at 84 yards on six catches so far this season.

Tight Ends: Other than the freak season opener that had Alex Smith catch two scores, neither Anthony Becht or Smith has managed to exceed the lofty 10 yards in any game this season.

Match Against the Defense: This could be an interesting game. The Jets secondary has been very good this year and no quarterback has thrown for more than 200 yards against them. Every quarterback has thrown an interception though. Where the Jets have been hurt is against the run with almost every opposing runner scoring and gaining at least 80 yards. Look for the Buccaneers to run Pittman and Williams to the extent he can hold up and to have some measure of success on the ground.

Griese goes against that tough secondary and will need to resort to the tight ends and Pittman again this week. The Jets corners have virtually shut down their opponents though realistically, KC, MIA, JAX and BAL are not considered great passing teams. As a measuring stick, consider Kennison had 76 yards and Jimmy Smith turned in only 41 though he did score once. Look for Galloway to match up on David Barrett and likely remain the primary target since Ty Law goes against Michael Clayton. Most teams resort to including their tight ends more.

New York Jets (1-3)
1 7-27 @KCC 10 Nov 13 @CAR
2 17-7 MIA 11 Nov 20 @DEN
3 20-26 JAC 12 Nov 27 NOR
4 3-13 @BAL 13 Dec 4 @NE
5 Oct 9 TBB 14 Dec 11 OAK
6 Oct 16 @BUF 15 Dec 18 @MIA
7 Oct 24 @ATL 16 Dec 26 NE
8 Open Bye 17 Jan 1 BUF
9 Nov 6 SDC . . MON
NYJ vs TB Rush Catch Pass
QB Vinny Testaverde 0 0 160
RB Curtis Martin 50 10 0
TE Chris Baker 0 20 0
WR Doug Jolley 0 10 0
WR Laveranues Coles 0 50 0
WR Justin McCareins 0 40 0
WR Wayne Chrebet 0 30 0
PK Mike Nugent 2 FG 0 XP -

Pregame Notes: The Jets offense took a major hit with the loss of both Jay Fiedler and Chad Pennington. Brooks Bollinger stepped in last week with predictably poor results against the Ravens defense and Vinny Testaverde may end up getting time as early as this week if Bollinger continues to struggle (likely). Curtis Martin is still feeling the effects of his knee sprain plus he was leg whipped last week. The defense is good here but the offense is falling apart, along with the hopes of Jets making the playoffs in 2005.

Quarterback: Brooks Bollinger did not have any turnovers last week but mainly because he never tried to force the ball or make anything happen - hence the paltry three points scored by the offense. That itself was a gift since the drive started on the one-yard line of the Ravens after a fumble return and three plays just totaled a one yard loss. Bollinger completed 14 of 28 passes for 149 yards last week. Vinny Testaverde may end up playing on Sunday but Bollinger will get the start and stay in as long as he doesn't seem a liability in a game that remains in reach.

Running Backs: As noted, Curtis Martin was leg whipped and he's already getting beaten up this season with little relief in sight. He only gained 30 yards on 13 carries last week and he still has not scored in 2005. Regardless of Martin's health, he remains the only back they will use since Derrick Blaylock only gets two or three carries a game.

Wide Receivers: With Bollinger behind center and only throwing for 149 yards, the wideouts took a big hit. Laveranues Coles only had one catch for 16 yards though he had seven passes thrown to him. Justin McCareins also had seven passes but caught three for 59 yards. On passing downs, Coles is getting even more attention now that could help boost McCareins numbers slightly but if Bollinger doesn't get better quickly, the Jets will be shifting to Testaverde who should end up as at least average on a team likely to need to throw.

Tight Ends: Chris Baker (3-29) and Doug Jolley (2-15) were used more last week but it's too early to rely on them being more involved with Bollinger and there wasn't a lot of production there anyway.

Match Against the Defense: The Jets are going to want to rush the ball with Martin but the Buccaneers have been outstanding against the run this year. McGahee (13-34), Green (19-58) and Kevin Jones (12-38) all were stuffed and Jones had the lone rushing score against the Bucs this season after four games. Expect the already struggling Jets ground game to slow down even more this week.

Just as bad - the Buccaneers have only allowed one team to throw a touchdown this season (Favre) and there is not a chance that Bollinger is going to shine here. Stay away from all Jets players other than Martin this week and keep very low expectations of him.