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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
The Huddle
November 23, 2005
Season Ticket
Thanksgiving Sun 1 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 4 PM Sun 8:30 PM
DEN at DAL CHI at TB* SF at TEN* MIA at OAK Mon 9 PM
Sun 1 PM CLE at MIN STL at HOU GB at PHI* PIT at IND
BAL at CIN NE at KC   NYG at SEA Times ET

Prediction: St. Louis 20, Houston 24

The Rams are only 1-4 on the road this season but heading into the 1-7 Texans home, it cannot be all that scary. The Rams have no room to take any team lightly much less a road game, so here's the chance to get back on a winning track for either team. This could end up an upset by the Texans if the Rams cannot correct their penalty and turnover problems.

St. Louis Rams (4-6)
1 25-28 @SFO 10 16-31 @SEA
2 17-12 @ARI 11 28-38 ARI
3 31-27 TEN 12 Nov 27 @HOU
4 24-44 @NYG 13 Dec 4 WAS
5 31-37 SEA 14 Dec 11 @MIN
6 28-45 @IND 15 Dec 18 PHI
7 28-17 NOR 16 Dec 24 SFO
8 24-21 JAC 17 Jan 1 @DAL
9 Open Bye . MON SAT
STL at HOU Rush Catch Pass
QB Jamie Martin 0 0 270,1
RB Steven Jackson 90,1 10 0
TE B. Manumaleuna 0 10 0
WR Torry Holt 0 110,1 0
WR Isaac Bruce 0 60 0
WR Kevin Curtis 0 60 0
WR Shaun McDonald 0 20 0
PK Jeff Wilkins 2 FG 2 XP -
Pregame Notes: The Rams come off a humbling loss to the Cardinals in a game that they once again lost Marc Bulger. The problems were far deeper than just the quarterback switch that didn't happen until almost the fourth quarter. The Rams secondary ranks as one of the worst in the league and once the Cardinals defused the run game last week, the Rams bumbled their way into a loss against the quarterback they dumped after 2003.

Quarterback: Marc Bulger suffered a re-aggravation of his shoulder injury and had a concussion as well when he was crushed against the Cards. Jamie Martin stepped in and threw for 161 yards and one score in just over one quarter but against the Jaguars and Saints his numbers were little more than that much for full games. Martin also had three interceptions in his final start and this will be the first time that Martin has played away from St. Louis this year. His three starts were all at home.

Running Backs: Bad news here. Stephen Jackson went against a defense that had been ravaged by Marion Barber and Shaun Alexander and Jackson could only manage six yards on 12 carries. Jackson had been on a red hot streak this season until settling down to only 70 yards against the Seahawks and now six yards last week. Chances are good that with Martin under center this week, Jackson will see his volume of carries increase this week. Very good.

Marshall Faulk has all but disappeared now. He only had one catch for three yards last week and he's only had one carry in the last two games.

Wide Receivers: Torry Holt comes off an 11 catch, 129 yard game against the Cardinals with one touchdown and he has scored in six of the last eight games played. Problem here is that the worst games he had all season came in the last two games that Martin was the quarterback. He didn't even get nearly as many passes in those games as usual though the running game was used more those weeks. Isaac Bruce finally returned to the scoring column with a touchdown during his four receptions for 83 yards against Arizona and even Kevin Curtis scored last week. Martin has been used to passing to Curtis but he had not played with Bruce until last Sunday.

Martin completed six passes to Holt for 65 yards but only had one completion to Bruce. He also threw twice to Curtis including the 26-yard touchdown.

Tight Ends: They didn't even block that well last week.

Match Against the Defense: No doubt that the Rams will want to establish the run against one of the weakest teams that just allowed Larry Johnson to gain 211 yards. The Texans have given up 13 rushing scores already this season and seven runners exceeded 100 rushing yards. Look for Jackson to have a bounce back game here against a team that should give up the run if nothing else.

This should provide a nice chance for Martin to post decent numbers against a secondary that has always given up at least one score and has witnessed the last two opponents throw for three touchdowns. Most teams do not have big passing yardage against the Texans because the running lanes are open and that takes up the plays. Expect a good game from Holt here and a score. Outside of Holt, the rest of the passing game will depend on the game situation and how well the running game is taking care of business. On paper this should be a big win by the Rams but with Martin playing and the Texans overdue for a win, this could be a "rise up" game since the Rams are not a good road team and are struggling internally with penalties and sloppiness that will not improve with a second string quarterback.

Houston Texans (1-9)
1 7-22 @BUF 10 17-31 @IND
2 7-27 PIT 11 17-45 KCC
3 Open Bye 12 Nov 27 STL
4 10-16 @CIN 13 Dec 4 @BAL
5 20-34 TEN 14 Dec 11 @TEN
6 10-42 @SEA 15 Dec 18 ARI
7 20-38 IND 16 Dec 24 JAC
8 19-16 CLE 17 Jan 1 @SFO
9 14-21 @JAC . . SAT
HOU vs STL Rush Catch Pass
QB David Carr 0 0 240,2
RB Domanick Davis 110,1 40,1 0
TE Marcellus Rivers 0 10 0
WR Andre Johnson 0 90,1 0
WR Corey Bradford 0 30 0
WR Jabar Gaffney 0 60 0
PK Kris Brown 1 FG 3 XP -

Pregame Notes: The Texans continue to redefine futility and come off a thrashing by the Chiefs in almost every category. The lone bright spots are the return of Domanick Davis and the special teams play of Jerome Mathis who ran back a kickoff for a touchdown last week. But the passing game continues to flounder despite being at home against a soft secondary and the defense has given up 76 points in the last two weeks. This is the most "winnable" game the Texans may have the rest of the year other than perhaps when the Cardinals come to visit in week 15.

Quarterback: The lone saving grace for David Carr this season was that he had thrown a touchdown - and only one - in each of the previous eight games. Now even that no longer happens. Carr only had 182 yards and one interception against the Chiefs and that was in a game that was mostly trash time for the entire second half. Carr had a season high 36 pass attempts but could only complete the shorter ones.

Running Backs: Domanick Davis returned after sitting out two weeks and gained 57 yards on 13 carries with one touchdown. He also added 53 yards on three receptions for his best effort of the season as a receiver. Davis continues to be the only aspect of the offense that has any success or consistency and his role in the passing game should be no less for the rest of the season as the Texans struggle to complete a pass downfield.

Wide Receivers: Andre Johnson's frustration is starting to impact his performance and his antics brought a penalty last week that took the Texans out of potential field goal range. Johnson ended with six catches for 50 yards and lost one fumble. He has not scored a touchdown yet this season.

Carr actually threw more passes to Jabar Gaffney last week and he only managed five catches for 35 yards. The passing game remains pedestrian at best and Carr just hasn't been able to connect with the wideouts to any great extent all year. With Johnson commanding so much attention from the secondary, Gaffney has become a more common target but even he has done little with the passes.

Tight Ends: Pretty standard one catch per game.

Match Against the Defense: The Texans are almost certain to win one more game this season, at least statistically it should happen and the individual pieces of the team have all had moments of decent play and yet never a time when everything worked. They catch a break by facing a very frustrated Rams team that is ripe for a road loss.

The Rams defense is bad - there is no nice way to say it. Davis runs against a defense that has allowed numerous monster games this season including three runners with multiple scores. Alexander and James both had three touchdowns against the Rams. Five runners have topped 100 yards and that includes the fact that the Rams have actually enjoyed a very light schedule this year. Expect that Davis has a very nice game here with a chance for his second 100+ yard game and at least one score - possibly two.

Carr faces a horrible secondary that will give him his best chance to rekindle the success of 2004. It Carr cannot throw well in this game then he likely won't be with the team next year since there is a question if the Texans will keep him and pay the $8 million bonus in the off-season. I like this game to come off as a win for the Texans because it almost has to be one or the team implodes completely. The Rams are ripe for this upset and present the opportunity that Houston has to take advantage of.