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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
The Huddle
October 19, 2005
Season Ticket
FRI 7 PM Sun 1 PM SF at WAS* Sun 4 PM Sun 4 PM
KC at MIA* NO at STL Sun 4 PM DEN at NYG TEN at ARI*
Sun 1 PM PIT at CIN* DAL at SEA* On Bye: Mon 9 PM
GB at MIN* IND at HOU BUF at OAK CAR, TB Updated*

Prediction: Tennessee 14, Arizona 23

This is a week where almost every game is evenly matched and the Titans without Drew Bennett are a perfect match for the Cardinals with no hint of a running game. The home venue favors the Cardinals, but will anyone really be watching?

Update: HC Denny Green has decided on a starting quarterback but has no intention on naming who that is. Going against the Titans in Arizona, the starter will have a nice opportunity to post some yards and scores. I am leaving it as McCown but Green could use Warner. He could use both for that matter. McCown comes off the best two game stretch of any Cardinal quarterback in history, so I am leaving him as the starter but realize there is risk.

Steve McNair was downgraded from questionable to out on Saturday and will be replaced by Billy Volek who will in no way resemble 2004 since Drew Bennett is out and Derrick Mason is gone.

Tennessee Titans (2-4)
1 7-34 @PIT 10 Open Bye
2 25-10 BAL 11 Nov 20 JAC
3 27-31 @STL 12 Nov 27 SFO
4 10-31 IND 13 Dec 4 @IND
5 34-20 @HOU 14 Dec 11 HOU
6 23-31 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 at ARZ Rush Catch Pass
QB Billy Volek 0 0 220,1
RB Chris Brown 70,1 20 0
TE Ben Troupe 0 40,1 0
TE Erron Kinney 0 60 0
TE Bo Scaife 0 10 0
WR Tyrone Calico 0 20 0
WR Courtney Roby 0 20 0
WR Brandon Jones 0 50 0
PK Rob Bironas 0 FG 2 XP -

Pregame Notes: The Titans fall to 2-4 with the loss to the Bengals last week and even worse, Drew Bennett had a dislocated thumb that required surgery and he will miss several weeks. That means the offense now turns into a rookie wideout club as the "take chances on the cheap young players" ploy now seems even more flawed.

Quarterback: Steve McNair had been throwing one score and around 220 yards a game until last week when he finally rose up to 259 yards but failed to score for the first time this season. He also had two interceptions. McNair has been running this offense using little more than Bennett and a smattering of tight ends. Now he just has smatterings.

Running Backs: As a brief glimpse of improvement for the Titan offense, Chris Brown comes off a two touchdown game - his first scores of the year - and gained 84 yards on 18 carries last week against the Bengals. Other than the Indy matchup, he's managed to turn in around 90 total yards or more in three of the last four games and will be no less needed now that Bennett and the possession game has taken a slide.

Wide Receivers: Now that Drew Bennett has been taken out of the equation for three or more weeks, the load falls mostly on the only other wideout that has done much this year - Brandon Jones. He only has one score on the year but there's only been two to the wideouts this season anyway and Bennett had the other one. Jones has been only good for around 20 or 30 yards a week until the Bengals game when he had 12 targets for five catches and 82 yards. He'll be getting that sort of attention for the next month, he just needs to continue to catch those passes.

Courtney Roby should see more playing time though he has only had two catches on the year. Tyrone Calico has been a major bust since he only has seven catches on the season for 54 yards in six games. Roydell Williams is the other rookie that can play but he only has two catches for 33 yards so far as well.

This will only make those tight ends more attractive but should see Brandon Jones have some fantasy relevance too since the next three weeks go against softer defenses.

Tight Ends: This crew already was getting more yards and scores than the wideouts in most games and that mainly falls to Ben Troupe who has three scores on the season to lead the team. Erron Kinney has been a constant source for yardage though he has yet to score and the rookie Bo Scaife has been quiet for two weeks but has a score and ten catches on the year. Look for an upgrade here in production for these players as the wideouts now become likely the worst unit in the league.

Match Against the Defense: The Cards have been good against the run this year but mainly because they have not faced many teams with big rushers other than Alexander (140, 4 TD). Look for a good game here from Brown but not likely one that will become more than he already has been doing.

McNair faces a secondary that has allowed only three touchdown passes this season and trust me - there is not a Holt or Steve Smith on this team (the only scorers). Look for more throwing to tight ends and Brandon Jones could see an uptick here as well but nothing major since this defense is underrated attached to a team that has not done well on offense. The Titans will run Brown as much as they can and when McNair throws, it could go anywhere since there is no best receiver anymore.

Arizona Cardinals (1-4)
1 19-42 @NYG 10 Nov 13 @DET
2 12-17 STL 11 Nov 20 @STL
3 12-37 @SEA 12 Nov 27 JAC
4 31-14 SFO 13 Dec 4 @SFO
5 20-24 CAR 14 Dec 11 WAS
6 Open Bye 15 Dec 18 @HOU
7 Oct 23 TEN 16 Dec 24 PHI
8 Oct 30 @DAL 17 Jan 1 @IND
9 Nov 6 SEA . . SAT
ARZ vs TEN Rush Catch Pass
QB Josh McCown 0 0 250,2
RB J.J. Arrington 10 10 0
RB Marcel Shipp 60 10 0
WR Anquan Boldin 0 100,1 0
WR Larry Fitzgerald 0 80,1 0
WR Bryant Johnson 0 40 0
PK Neil Rackers 3 FG 2 XP -
Pregame Notes: The Cardinals are playing better on defense lately and the passing game under McCown has improved thanks to a couple of homestands against soft secondaries, but the rushing game remains nothing short of horrible. The best game so far is only 54 yards by Marcel Shipp and having to play decent defense and throw a lot at home won't work every week. But it could this week.

Quarterback: Josh McCown has been throwing like a madman in the last two games, totaling 779 passing yards and four touchdown against four interceptions. Denny Green prefers his passing attack but McCown has been throwing 46 times a week and the easier part of the schedule is already over. Without a rushing game of any significance, McCown or Warner will be looking at some serious blitzes in the coming weeks as teams just tee off every play.

Green has not named a starter this week between Warner and McCown, so I am projecting for McCown but that could change later in the week. The starter will be one happy Cardinal getting to face the Titans.

Running Backs: The Cardinals would like to get a running game going - almost any one will do other than the pathetic showing so far by J.J. Arrington and Marcel Shipp. The best that Shipp has managed in a single game is 16 carries against the 49ers but in all other games, he's been limited to only 13 carries or less. Unfortunately, the rush blocking has been so bad that Shipp often gets the handoff and greets a defender before he's even taken two steps forward.

In the most recent game against the Panthers, Arrington is down to only four carries in a game with one catch. Hard to have any fantasy relevance when he is just relief for the most under-used starting running back in the league.

Wide Receivers: The recent passing success of McCown against the 49ers and Panthers goes directly to Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald and almost no one else. Boldin has scored in the last two games with 282 total yards while Fitzgerald also scored in each game with a total of 238 yards. Other than a few token throws to Charles Lee or Bryant Johnson, this offense is literally nothing more than McCown throwing to Boldin and Fitzgerald. Those two players have combined for five touchdowns this season - those are also the only offensive touchdowns by the Cardinals this entire year.

Tight Ends: None had any catches in the previous game and in total have done less this year than what Boldin or Fitzgerald alone can do in one half of play. Easily.

Match Against the Defense: The Titans rush defense has been ripped by most every team but the Cardinals won't run enough to make Shipp have a big value. He should manage some moderate yardage here but won't score as no Cardinal running back has this season.

The passing game should light up this week against a secondary that has allowed every team to throw for touchdowns and what's even better, it has always been the primary wideout doing well and the Cardinals have two of them in Boldin and Fitzgerald. Look for both to have a great chance to score and at least one of them will pass the century mark for yardage - if not both. The only teams they have faced this season which have the ability to pass have turned in a 100 yard wideout that also scores - Holt, Harrison and Chad Johnson all feasted on this matchup.