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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
The Huddle
November 9, 2005
Season Ticket
Sun 1 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 4 PM Sun 8:30 PM Mon 9 PM
BAL at JAC NE at MIA NYJ at CAR On Bye:  
HOU at IND* SF at CHI GB at ATL CIN, SD Updated *
KC at BUF WAS at TB* STL at SEA TEN. NO Times ET

Prediction: Washington 13, Tampa Bay 17

Three weeks ago this game looked like a battle of the big dogs but the Buccaneers have apparently imploded because Brian Griese is gone and evidently left with the only playbook. The Bucs have lost three of the last four games and are struggling to find either a passing or rushing game. The Redskins are undefeated at home but are only 1-3 on the road this year and that required the late game two touchdown comeback in Dallas to accomplish. This will be a very interesting game to watch because either the Redskins have to learn to play on the road or the Bucs need to pick it up and notch a win before their season spins out of control.

The Redskins beat the visiting Buccaneers 16-10 in the season opener last year.

Update: Michael Clayton, who plays for the Buccaneers in case you have forgotten, is questionable to play this week with a knee sprain and has not practiced. He was almost invisible when healthy and has battled a shoulder problem this season as well. Now that he brings his knee into the equation, I am dropping him from the projections.

Washington Redskins (5-3)
1 9-7 CHI 10 Nov 13 @TBB
2 14-13 @DAL 11 Nov 20 OAK
3 Open Bye 12 Nov 27 SDC
4 20-17 SEA 13 Dec 4 @STL
5 19-21 @DEN 14 Dec 11 @ARI
6 21-28 @KCC 15 Dec 18 DAL
7 52-17 SFO 16 Dec 24 NYG
8 0-36 @NYG 17 Jan 1 @PHI
9 17-10 PHI . MON SAT
WAS at TB Rush Catch Pass
QB Mark Brunell 0 0 190
RB Clinton Portis 50,1 20 0
TE Chris Cooley 0 30 0
WR Santana Moss 0 60 0
WR David Patten 0 30 0
WR James Thrash 0 20 0
PK John Hall 2 FG 1 XP -

Pregame Notes: The Redskins come off a much needed win over the Eagles but that followed the 0-36 shutout handed to them by the Giants in New York. The road has not been kind to the Skins this season and the amazing play of Mark Brunell now has gone two weeks without a score. Portis is enough to win when at home against a soft team like the 49ers, but he's been little help on the road this year. This game depends on Brunell giving the passing game a kick start - and not a great place to try that either.

Quarterback: Mark Brunell had thrown for multiple touchdowns in five straight games but then ended the Giants fiasco with only 65 yards and no scores. Last week it was back up to 224 yards but still no score. Tampa Bay has a solid secondary and perhaps the best one yet to face Brunell but the turnaround needs to happen this week.

Running Backs: Clinton Portis has four scores on the season but none while on the road. He has three 100 yard efforts but only one came as a visitor when he managed 103 yards against the Broncos in a game with special meaning. Portis needs to run well enough to make the defense respect the run but this could be the worst game yet for him. The Bucs have never allowed a runner to exceed 48 yards in Tampa Bay.

Portis ran for 148 yards and one touchdown against the Bucs last year.

Wide Receivers: The magical season that Santana Moss was having has taken a short vacation since he has only totaled 11 catches for 113 yards over the last two games. He continues to get the same number of throws but is just being covered better. David Patten has only been able to gain up to 50 or 60 yards in a game and since Moss is the only wideout that has a touchdown, the defenses are focusing solely on him. Patten has not been about to make that into anything more than an average game despite being thrown up to 12 passes in a game.

Tight Ends: Outside of Santana Moss, is the only other consistent aspect of the passing game and he had a season high 85 yards on seven catches against the Eagles. While Cooley only has two scores on the year, he typically is an endzone target in almost every game - he's just being covered too well to catch them.

Match Against the Defense: The Buccaneers rushing defense has been very good while at home and no runner has gained more than 48 yards there. Look for a lower output from Portis who could manage one touchdown.

Brunell goes against a secondary that has only allowed a total of three passing scores on the entire year and most opponents remain well below 200 yards. Of the two wideout scores this year, both went to non-primary wideouts so Moss can expect another down game this week against a secondary that has not allowed a single 100 yard performance this year. The Washington attack is just not that diverse and the Bucs can cover both Moss and Cooley - that takes the Skins completely out of what has worked this year. Look for a sub-200 game here and likely no pass scores.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-3)
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 12-14 @NYJ 14 Dec 11 @CAR
6 27-13 MIA 15 Dec 17 @NE
7 Open Bye 16 Dec 24 ATL
8 10-15 @SFO 17 Jan 1 NOR
9 14-34 CAR . . SAT
TBB vs WAS Rush Catch Pass
QB Chris Simms 0 0 210,1
RB Cadillac Williams 70,1 10 0
RB Michael Pittman 10 20 0
TE Alex Smith 0 40,1 0
WR Joey Galloway 0 80 0
WR Michael Clayton 0 30 0
WR Ike Hilliard 0 20 0
PK Matt Bryant 1 FG 2 XP -
Pregame Notes: The Buccaneers have lost three of their last four games and now are a game back of the Falcons and Panthers in the NFC South. Since Brian Griese left in week six, the offense has only scored 10 and 14 points in the subsequent games and the defense finally fell apart against the Panthers last week largely thanks to Simms losing a fumble and throwing two interceptions. The rushing game has been lethargic with no passing game to fear and Carnell Williams's hot start has cooled enough that he should be called "Yugo" Williams. The defense had been stellar until last week but the scoring ability of the offense has almost disappeared thanks to errors and turnovers.

Quarterback: Chris Simms has turned in two games that were exactly the same. He had 264 yards against the 49ers and 259 yards against the Panthers. He had one touchdown, one lost fumble and two interceptions in both match-ups. Oh yes - both were losses. With no rushing game, Simms learning curve is going slow because he cannot keep drives alive without getting sacked or turning the ball over.

Running Backs: Carnell Williams has gone from being the star rookie running back to being a contemporary of J.J. Arrington - except even Arrington had more than 29 rushing yards last week like Williams. Since returning in week eight, Williams has 24 runs for only 49 yards - well short of half the level of production he was getting in every game. In the two games since Griese left, Michael Pittman has also had nine carries and only gained 19 yards. It is not that Williams is the only player struggling here.

Wide Receivers: The lone remaining piece of the offense unaffected by the change has been Joey Galloway who has continued to score in each game. He has six scores over the last six weeks and even with Griese has turned in 149 and 83 yard games. No other receiver is successful but Galloway remains the primary target. Michael Clayton's production would not even make him an average tight end.

Tight Ends: The only player that has actually seen an increase in production with Simms has been the rookie Alex Smith. He went from single catch games to having 43 and 41 yards in the last two weeks.

Match Against the Defense: This is the week that Williams needs to kick into gear and run better. The Redskins have allowed opposing runners to score ten times this season and given up several big games almost always on the road. Look for a better effort from Williams here though the wild ride of the first three weeks may be over until the passing game and blocking improves.

Simms will be facing a solid secondary that has never allowed more than one passing score to an opponent this season. Fortunately too the Skins only had four interceptions in eight games, so Simms only has to hit the right players to keep the Bucs in contention here. Look for one passing score from Simms since almost every team has that and that actually favors Alex Smith here, or Galloway. Since Galloway has been the biggest weapon, expect the Skins to concentrate on him and allow Smith to score again for the first time since week one.