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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
The Huddle
November 16, 2005
Season Ticket
Sun 1 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 4 PM Sun 8:30 PM
DET at DAL NO at NE Sun 4 PM PIT at BAL* MIN at GB*
IND at CIN OAK at WAS SEA at SF* Updated* Times ET

Prediction: Buffalo 14, San Diego 24

The Bills come off a nice win over the Chiefs but still trail the Patriots by one game in the AFC East. The Chargers have the better record at 5-4 but are now two games back of the Broncos. The most important stat here? The Bills are 0-4 on the road this season.

Buffalo Bills (4-5)
1 22-7 HOU 10 14-3 KCC
2 3-19 @TBB 11 Nov 20 @SDC
3 16-24 ATL 12 Nov 27 CAR
4 7-19 @NOR 13 Dec 4 @MIA
5 20-14 MIA 14 Dec 11 NE
6 27-17 NYJ 15 Dec 17 DEN
7 17-38 @OAK 16 Dec 24 @CIN
8 16-21 @NE 17 Jan 1 @NYJ
9 Open Bye . . SAT
BUF at SD Rush Catch Pass
QB J.P. Losman 0 0 220,2
RB Willis McGahee 50 20 0
TE Mark Campbell 0 10 0
WR Eric Moulds 0 60 0
WR Lee Evans 0 80,1 0
WR Josh Reed 0 30,1 0
PK Rian Lindell 0 FG 2 XP -
Pregame Notes: The Bills defense came up big last week when they held the Chiefs to only three points though the rushing defense continues to be a problem. With Holcomb possibly sidelined with a concussion, J.P. Losman is likely to step back in and he looked sharp last week quite unlike his four previous starts. Still, there's that nasty 0-4 road record that hasn't included a truly close game yet - certainly not a winning one.

Quarterback: Looks like Kelly Holcomb will be out this week after sustaining a significant concussion last week and J.P. Losman resumed his starting role and actually did well. He threw nine of 16 for 137 yards and two scores against the Chiefs soft secondary with no turnovers. What's more, he actually connected on long passes to Lee Evans, AKA The Forgotten Man. Losman should start again this week and the injury to Holcomb just makes for a clean way to let Losman give it another try.

Running Backs: After notching 136 yards against the Patriots (though that required 31 carries), Willis McGahee only gained 66 yards on 20 carries last week and has not scored since week six. He's been good for over 100 yards in four games this season but only the Patriot matchup was on the road. His only score in an away game came against the Saints in a game they Bills lost anyway.

Wide Receivers: Eric Moulds was held to only 26 yards on five receptions last week but Lee Evans had three catches for 66 yards and both touchdowns. This is a marked difference from any other game this year and after the game Losman said he just relaxed and threw deep (amazing that had not struck him prior to last Sunday). It's only one game but Evans has been a major disappointment this season since the long ball has disappeared until last weekend. The success of the passing game should help there to be more play calling for deeper routes, but the reality is that Kansas City had a bottom five secondary and Losman is hardly the first to have success throwing on them.

Tight Ends: Mark Campbell comes off his best game of the year when he had four catches for 42 yards but he's only had one other game over 15 yards and he has yet to score this year.

Match Against the Defense: McGahee goes against a very solid rushing defense that has not allowed any runner to go over 100 yards this year and since week one, no opposing runner has gone over 60 yards against the Chargers. Look for a mediocre showing by McGahee here against a solid defense that is much weaker against the pass.

Losman faces a secondary that has allowed several big games to opponents this year though invariably that was to top quarterbacks - something that Losman has yet to become. He did look better last week and the time on the bench may have served him well, but anything above 220 yards and one or two scores will be a surprise. Lee Evans gets the slightly better matchup here and after the success of last week, the Bills are likely to throw more to him. The Chargers have only allowed one wideout to top 100 yards this season.

San Diego Chargers (5-4)
1 24-28 DAL 10 Open Bye
2 17-20 @DEN 11 Nov 20 BUF
3 45-23 NYG 12 Nov 27 @WAS
4 41-17 @NE 13 Dec 4 OAK
5 22-24 PIT 14 Dec 11 MIA
6 27-14 @OAK 15 Dec 18 @IND
7 17-20 @PHI 16 Dec 24 @KCC
8 28-20 KCC 17 Dec 31 DEN
9 31-26 @NYJ . MON SAT
SDC vs BUF Rush Catch Pass
QB Drew Brees 0 0 190,1
RB L. Tomlinson 130,2 20 0
TE Antonio Gates 0 70,1 0
WR Keenan McCardell 0 50 0
WR Eric Parker 0 20 0
WR Reche Caldwell 0 20 0
PK Nate Kaeding 1 FG 3 XP -

Pregame Notes: The Chargers come off their bye week and at 5-4, there's no room for any unnecessary losses since even a wildcard berth will be a challenge. The next month only has one road game in Washington, so these homestands have to produce wins before the final three games hit the toughest stretch of the year.

Quarterback: Drew Brees has been getting better as the season progresses, throwing for at least 270 yards in each of the last three games and scoring at least once in all but one match-up this season (@DEN). Brees has six touchdowns over the last three outing and 14 scores on the year. He's seen Gates get most of the action lately and McCardell has been inconsistent at best.

Running Backs: After having an unthinkable two games without any scores, Ladainian Tomlinson jumped back on the touchdown bandwagon against the Jets, scoring three times while rushing for 107 yards and adding another receiving score on three catches for 46 yards. Tomlinson tends more around 30 yards receiving per game but has been as high as 68 yards this season. Typically his receptions go up when the rushing yards go down.

Wide Receivers: Keenan McCardell has been much less of a factor since week four when he had totaled five scores. He's only managed one touchdown in the last five games and never has gone above 78 yards. In three of the last five games he only has 25 yards or less. He's inconsistently used and yet still is the only wideout that really matters in the offense. Eric Parker had minimal play and no passes in the last game due to a bad ankle and Reche Caldwell filled in but only had five catches for 43 yards. There have only been two scores by wideouts this year that have not gone to McCardell.

Tight Ends: Antonio Gates already has 707 yards and six scores on the season which includes the 132 yards he had in week nine. That followed 145 yards and three scores in week eight making him the most productive receiver in the NFL for those two weeks - regardless of position.

Match Against the Defense: The Bills rushing defense has been very bad this season with five runners already turning in monster games against them. Look for another big day from Tomlinson here that should produce at least two rushing scores and 120 rushing yards at least - like the other five runners have had against Buffalo.

The success of the running game will depress the passing game naturally, but Brees should find time to throw for one score against the team that just allowed Gonzalez 80 yards last week. McCardell is unlikely to have a big game here but Gates should be no less than around 60 yards and one score.