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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
The Huddle
November 30,, 2005
Season Ticket
Sun 1 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 4 PM Sun 8:30 PM
BUF at MIA* HOU at BAL TEN at IND* DEN at KC Mon 9 PM
CIN at PIT JAC at CLE* Sun 4 PM NYJ at NE SEA at PHI
DAL at NYG MIN at DET* ARI at SF* Updated* Times ET

Prediction: Tampa Bay 20, New Orleans 17

The Buccaneers come off a loss with an understanding of why the Bears have the #1 defense in the NFL but the two previous weeks had shown a turnaround with wins over the Redskins and Falcons. The Saints come off a rare win to end a six game losing streak. These teams traded wins last year with the visiting win both times. The Saints won 21-17 in Tampa Bay and the Bucs won 20-17 in New Orleans. However in those games the Saints had a running game and the Buccaneers did not.

Update: Matt Bryant has a strained hamstring and did not practice on Thursday. He may miss this game and if he does, the Bucs will promote Todd France from the practice squad.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-4)
1 24-13 @MIN 10 36-35 WAS
2 19-3 BUF 11 30-27 @ATL
3 17-16 @GBP 12 10-13 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 at NO Rush Catch Pass
QB Chris Simms 0 0 200,1
RB Cadillac Williams 100 20 0
RB Mike Alstott 20,1 0 0
TE Alex Smith 0 10 0
WR Joey Galloway 0 90,1 0
WR Michael Clayton 0 20 0
WR Ike Hilliard 0 40 0
PK M. Bryant / T. France 2 FG 2 XP -
Pregame Notes: Tampa Bay fell to the Bears last week but only because Matt Bryant could not kick field goals and they gave the Bears the ball on their own one-yard line at the start of the game thanks to a Simms fumble that became a very critical touchdown. The loss dropped the Bucs one game behind the Panthers in the NFC South and that very crucial game comes next week in Carolina. The Bucs have to win here for that one to matter.

Quarterback: Chris Simms lost a critical fumble but he did throw for 202 yards against the Bears - better than most. Simms has thrown for more than 250 yards in three of his five starts and can post some points when the defense allows him to breathe.

Running Backs: Carnell Williams continues to impress, running for 84 yards on 20 carries against the Bears for a four yard per carry average against the #1 defense. That now makes two nice showings in a row and hope that he is finally beyond the arch problems that had limited him earlier in the season. Williams has lost the short yardage calls though and Mike Alstott has scored at least once in each of the last four games.

Wide Receivers: When the going gets tough, the best get going and the others (Michael Clayton and Ike Hilliard) had no catches last week. Joey Galloway, in stark contrast, had seven catches for 138 yards. Of course this follows his week 11 game with no catches but he had scored in the four games previous to that blank. Galloway has seven scores on the year - all other wideouts have only accounted for one.

Tight Ends: Have meant almost nothing since week two.

Match Against the Defense: The Saints rushing defense is only average on a good day and should provide Williams with a chance at another 100 yard game. The Bucs should notch one rushing score which now always go to Alstott.

Simms faces a secondary that almost always gives up at least one score if not three and most teams end around 200 yards or so because they are too busy rushing on the Saints. Look for the run game to work and effect what the passing game can accomplish which is little more than Galloway anyway.

New Orleans Saints (3-8)
1 23-20 @CAR 10 Open Bye
2 10-27 NYG 11 17-24 @NE
3 16-33 @MIN 12 21-19 @NYJ
4 19-7 BUF 13 Dec 4 TBB
5 3-52 @GBP 14 Dec 12 @ATL
6 31-34 ATL 15 Dec 18 CAR
7 17-20 @STL 16 Dec 24 DET
8 6-21 MIA 17 Jan 1 @TBB
9 17-20 CHI . MON SAT
NOR vs TB Rush Catch Pass
QB Aaron Brooks 20,1 0 210,1
RB Aaron Stecker 40 30 0
RB Antowain Smith 40 10 0
TE Zack Hilton 0 30 0
WR Joe Horn 0 60,1 0
WR Donte Stallworth 0 50 0
WR Devery Henderson 0 30 0
PK John Carney 1 FG 2 XP -

Pregame Notes: The Saints finally notched a win last week in the close match against the Jets and they've been competitive in most games this season, usually managing to find a way to lose. The season is officially over for the Saints with nothing more to play out the schedule and see who is on the team next year - and where that team may be.

Quarterback: Aaron Brooks has been inconsistent this year along with the rest of the team but the last two weeks against the Patriots and Jets provided Brooks with two of his best games of the year. He had three scores in New York last week and logged 343 yards against the Patriots. But Brooks has been far less effective against better defenses this season and the Bucs are very familiar with their divisional rival.

Running Backs: Antowain Smith only had 45 yards on 12 carries against the Jets last week for one of his worst efforts in the last two months. The other came two weeks ago when he only had 32 yards on 11 runs against the Patriots. If Brooks has a big game, Smith does little. Aaron Stecker was actually more effective last week when he had 54 yards on 11 runs but that was his best effort since week six. Anthony Thomas has yet to make a showing.

Wide Receivers: Amazingly Joe Horn still has not scored a touchdown since week two and he has not crested 100 yards in a game since that game as well. Going against the Jets secondary, Horn only managed to snare four passes for 47 yards while Donte Stallworth had 48 yards and a score. That makes six touchdowns on the season for Stallworth and he has scored in five of the last six games. Even Devery Henderson had a touchdown last week and with two on the season, even he has more scores than Horn.

Tight Ends: Brooks has turned to Zach Hilton for more help in the last two games and he's had 105 yards and a score in the last two weeks, tying him with Horn for one score on the year.

Match Against the Defense: The Buccaneers rushing defense has been solid this season in most games and the Saints are going to mix and match Stecker and Smith enough so that neither should have a decent game here unless Stecker shows up in the passing game.

Brooks goes against a secondary that had been outstanding this season but after holding opponents to only two scores in the first seven games, they have allowed six touchdowns over the last four weeks. Look for Brooks to manage one score here that would likely favors Horn or Hilton but neither have been much for scoring this year.