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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
The Huddle
October 26, 2005
Season Ticket
Sun 1 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 4 PM Sun 8:30 PM
ARI at DAL JAC at STL* WAS at NYG* TB at SF* BUF at NE
CHI at DET* MIA at NO* Sun 4 PM On Bye: Mon 9 PM
GB at CIN OAK at TEN* PHI at DEN ATL, SEA *Updated

Prediction: Philadelphia 20, Denver 27

Two division leaders meet in this game and Philadelphia can least afford a loss here since they remain only tied with the Giants for the NFC East best record. Both losses for the Eagles have come on the road and even the win in Kansas City required a big comeback to accomplish. The Broncos just lost the the Giants in the last minute of the game but they had just beaten NE and WAS in the previous weeks. This should be a good test for the Denver pass defense, but one that they should handle well enough..

Philadelphia Eagles (4-2)
1 10-14 @ATL 10 Nov 14 DAL
2 42-3 SFO 11 Nov 20 @NYG
3 23-20 OAK 12 Nov 27 GBP
4 37-31 @KCC 13 Dec 5 SEA
5 10-33 @DAL 14 Dec 11 NYG
6 Open Bye 15 Dec 18 @STL
7 20-17 SDC 16 Dec 24 @ARI
8 Oct 30 @DEN 17 Jan 1 WAS
9 Nov 6 @WAS . MON SAT
PHI at DEN Rush Catch Pass
QB Donovan McNabb 0 0 270,2
RB Brian Westbrook 40 60 0
RB Lamar Gordon 10 10 0
TE L.J. Smith 0 60,1 0
WR Terrell Owens 0 80,1 0
WR Greg Lewis 0 30 0
WR Reggie Brown 0 10 0
PK Jose Cortez 2 FG 2 XP -
Pregame Notes: The Eagles were blown out in Dallas but returned home to beat the Chargers. The Eagles had a 10-0 lead in the second quarter before allowed the Chargers to score 17 consecutive points. The only reason the Eagles pulled that one out was a blocked field goal that bounced perfectly to a defender in stride and was returned for a touchdown and a critical ten point swing. McNair was throwing for huge yardage in the first four games but the offense has only produced one touchdown in the last two weeks. The record is good, the outlook less so if the Eagle offense doesn't get back on track.

Quarterback: Donovan McNabb has been playing with a sports hernia rather than take the extensive time off to heal it and he was great through week four when he had amassed 11 touchdowns and three consecutive games over 300 yards. But the Cowboys knocked him around and held him to only 131 passing yards. After the bye week, McNabb went against the Chargers and had 287 yards, but one only touchdown against two interceptions. McNabb is no longer mobile and realistically never runs anymore and he's getting even more heat now that the rushing game has disappeared. The Eagles always preferred to pass but had some running ability that the defense had to respect. Now that Westbrook has disappeared the last three games, it's just tee off on McNabb every play.

Further proof all is not right - the Eagles only scored 13 offensive points last week, had 287 passing yards and yet McNabb tied an all-time franchise record for throwing 54 passes in a single game.

Running Backs: Brian Westbrook has been complaining about his role in the offense lately and while he had 10 catches for 75 yards last week, he only gained 25 yards on 10 carries. In fact, for the last three weeks, he has only had 25 carries for 52 yards - far below his pace last year when he could turn a dozen carries into 60, 80 or even 100 yards. With the next three weeks being @DEN, @WAS and then hosting Dallas, the outlook on Westbrook running much is no better.

In case you missed it, the rookie Ryan Moats made his debut as a kick returner last week and fumbled twice before getting a concussion.

Wide Receivers: Terrell Owens turned in an uncharacteristic 50 yards and no scores in Dallas, but when he played last week he still only had seven catches for 53 yards and one score. The defenses are doing a better job hurrying McNabb and covering Owens in the last two weeks and that has caused a big hit on the ability of the Eagles to score since the offense has evolved into mainly Westbrook, L. J. Smith and Owens.

Despite needing other outlets. McNabb is getting very little from the other wideouts. Greg Lewis has declined since week three and is now down to only 30 yards in a game. Reggie Brown has never caught fire and has one catch per game if that. They mainly stretch the defense for Owens.

Tight Ends: L.J. Smith remains a constant target for McNabb and his 34 catches this season is tied with Erron Kinney for the NFL lead. He has 350 yards so far this season, ranking fifth best in the league.

Match Against the Defense: The Denver defense has only allowed two rushing scores this season, so the lackluster run game of Westbrook will not be improving here against a team that has held most opposing running backs to under 60 yards per game. Look for Westbrook to have his fourth straight low rushing game that will need more receiving yardage to provide fantasy points.

McNabb will have to avoid the rush and get the pass off for the Eagles to compete here and he should turn in some good yardage even if he has to resort to Westbrook and Smith again. CB Champ Bailey matches on Owens and he'll be getting extra help anyway, but the Broncos are allowing opponents to have good yardage and at least one passing score if not two. Look for Owens to score here even if it takes 20 passes (and it may). Smith and Westbrook will also turn in decent yardage and one of them is most likely to catch the other touchdown. The Eagles only used three players in the passing game lately and they are diverse enough to have at least one manage a good game as the defense tries to cover all three.

Denver Broncos (5-2)
1 10-34 @MIA 10 Nov 13 @OAK
2 20-17 SDC 11 Nov 20 NYJ
3 30-10 KCC 12 Nov 24 @DAL
4 20-7 @JAC 13 Dec 4 @KCC
5 21-19 WAS 14 Dec 11 BAL
6 28-20 NE 15 Dec 17 @BUF
7 23-24 @NYG 16 Dec 24 OAK
8 Oct 30 PHI 17 Dec 31 @SDC
9 Open Bye M THU SAT
DEN vs PHI Rush Catch Pass
QB Jake Plummer 10 0 250,2
RB Mike Anderson 70,1 10 0
RB Tatum Bell 60 30,1 0
TE Jeb Putzier 0 10 0
WR Rod Smith 0 70 0
WR Ashley Lelie 0 80,1 0
WR Charlie Adams 0 30 0
PK Jason Elam 2 FG 3 XP -

Pregame Notes: That late game collapse against the Giants last week keeps the Broncos from asserting a sizable lead in the AFC West, so all focus will be on the game this week to get that win and stroll into the week nine bye at 6-2 on the year. Denver is undefeated at home this season and have taken down quality teams in SD, KC, WAS and NE.

Quarterback: Jake Plummer continues to play more of a game manager role since the tandem rushing game has been so effective and he only has seven passing touchdowns in the six games this season. He has ran in one other score against the Chiefs. More importantly, Plummer has not thrown an interception or lost a fumble since week two. The Broncos are not impossible to beat, but they are not helping opponents in any way this season.

Running Backs: The Broncos have been getting great results in one of the true RBBC backfields of the NFL as Tatum Bell and Mike Anderson not only share carries, they seem to trade off each week which one has the better game. Anderson ran for 120 yards and one score against the Giants while Bell only had 80 yards. The previous week, Bell ran for 114 yards and one score while Anderson only had 57 yards and a score. Separately they are good fantasy options every week. Together they are quickly making Denver into one of the very best rushing teams in the NFL.

Wide Receivers: The formidable rushing game has lowered all passing numbers and that has only served to lower what any of the wideouts can do. Rod Smith has two scores on the year and a big 123 yard effort with a score against the Patriots but his role depends on the game situation and success of the run game. Three of the last four games had Smith only gaining 50 yards or less.

Ashley Lelie is the only other wideout of note and has turned in games of 84 and 61 yards in the last two weeks after disappearing for the previous three weeks. The ability is there, the opportunities just are not when the running game controls the offense.

Tight Ends: As the running game grows, the tight ends just block.

Match Against the Defense: The Eagles rushing defense has been sound this season, allowing only two touchdowns in six games and really only being dinged by Dunn (117) and Holmes (84, 1 TD). But the Denver rushing attack has evolved nicely and at home, they even thrashed the Redskins. Expect both Anderson and Bell to have moderate games here with a good chance of a touchdown by Anderson.

Where the Eagles have had problems is with the passing defense. Each of their last four opponents have thrown for at least two scores and typically a ton of yardage. This should be the best week for Plummer who will need to throw, will have a rushing game that likely will not be quite as dominating and against a secondary that can be beaten. Ashley Lelie gets the matchup most exploited and that has yielded four of the six wideout scores this year. Rod Smith would be the first split end to score against the Eagles this year since CB Sheldon Brown has been very good but Smith is typically the possession receiver so he'll get at least moderate yardage. Plummer should have some decent yardage in this game and the tight ends have been used to much success against the Eagles but the Broncos no longer use them. That makes likely a back like Bell more likely to catch the ball.