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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
The Huddle
December 7, 2005
Season Ticket
Sun 1 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 4 PM Sun 4 PM Sun 8:30 PM
CLE at CIN* OAK at NYJ SF at SEA MIA at SD* Mon 9 PM
IND at JAC TB at CAR BAL at DEN Updated* Times ET

Prediction: Miami 10, San Diego 20

The Dolphins come off their Cinderella game of the season when Sage Rosenfels led the team to a 21 point comeback in the fourth quarter to beat the Bills. The Fins are only 2-4 on the road this year with wins only over the Saints and Raiders. The Chargers are on a five game winning streak and this will be their last "easy" game of the year with trips to Kansas City and Indianapolis before ending up for a week 17 game against the Broncos. The Chargers won't be as motivated to win here but cannot let this one get past with a tough schedule remaining.

Update: This week Marty Booker is better and Bryan Gilmore is nursing a bad shoulder. Looks like Booker in and Gilmore is out.

Miami Dolphins (5-7)
1 34-10 DEN 10 16-23 NE
2 7-17 @NYJ 11 0-22 @CLE
3 27-24 CAR 12 33-21 @OAK
4 Open Bye 13 24-23 BUF
5 14-20 @BUF 14 Dec 11 @SDC
6 13-27 @TBB 15 Dec 18 NYJ
7 20-30 KCC 16 Dec 24 TEN
8 21-6 @NOR 17 Jan 1 @NE
9 10-17 ATL . . SAT
MIA at SD Rush Catch Pass
QB Sage Rosenfels 0 0 190,1
RB Ronnie Brown 40 20 0
RB Ricky Williams 50 30 0
TE Randy McMichael 0 30,1 0
WR Chris Chambers 0 50 0
WR Marty Booker 0 40 0
WR Wes Welker 0 20 0
PK Olindo Mare 1 FG 1 XP -
Pregame Notes: What a game last week! The Dolphins mounted a furious comeback after trailing 21-0 in the first quarter that needed Gus Frerotte to get a concussion before Sage Rosenfels could enter the game and have a career best fourth quarter. In the process, Chris Chambers set personal and franchise records with 15 catches for 238 yards. With remaining games against the Jets, Titans and Patriots, it's not too late to hope for a .500 season.

Quarterback: Sage Rosenfels threw for 272 yards and two scores against the Dolphins in barely over one quarter last week which was a bit better than his 5 of 10 for 14 yards and two interceptions in Cleveland in his previous relief work this year. Gus Frerotte suffered a concussion and still is not cleared for play this week. I will assume that Rosenfels will get the start and that he will once again be playing like a back-up quarterback. Chris Chambers - not a secret this week.

Running Backs: The running game took a backseat last week when the Bills rang up a 21-0 first quarter but Ricky Williams still had a score and 46 yards on 11 carries with 32 more yards on six catches. Ronnie Brown only had 22 yards on nine runs but added a receiving touchdown as well. The duo continues to split time with Williams now getting the better results. Brown has not rushed fro more than 67 yards for the last five games while Williams had over 80 yards in two of the last three match-ups.

Wide Receivers: Chris Chambers had 15 catches for 238 yards last week which is a season best in the NFL for catches and yards. Before betting the farm on Chambers from here on out, consider that Chambers always has one big game a year and then does little else besides just possession work. Last year he had 146 yards and a score against the Ravens. In 2003, he scored three touchdowns and had 96 yards against Dallas at Thanksgiving. In 2002, he had 138 yards in one game. In 2001, he had 113 yards and two scores against the Colts. He has a big game every year and last week was it. But he rarely has two and never three. No need to catch the Chambers bus this year when he only has one other game over 100 yards (101 yards in week 12). That followed a 12 yard effort in week 11.

Marty Booker was out last week and Bryan Gilmore took his spot so that he could have one catch for six yards. Since Booker's calf and shoulder injuries have been a problem for two weeks now, I am assuming that Gilmore starts again this week.

Tight Ends: Randy McMichael turned in six catches for 41 yards against the Bills and that's around his average game.

Match Against the Defense: The Chargers rushing defense has been outstanding this year, giving up only two scores at home to runners and no one has managed to have a 100 yard game against them. Expect moderate numbers from the duo of Williams and Brown that likely will have as much receiving yards as rushing yards.

The San Diego secondary at home has always allowed at least one score but anything more goes to the big offensive teams, not opponents like the Dolphins. Look for Rosenfels to replicate what Fitzgerald has done. Have a monster comeback game to spark optimism that proves completely unfounded the following week against a good team. The problem here is that Chambers is about the only wideout that the Fins throw to and he'll be surrounded by more Chargers jerseys than the San Diego equipment manager. There should be one passing score but that favors either McMichael or one of the wideouts that they never usually use.

San Diego Chargers (8-4)
1 24-28 DAL 10 Open Bye
2 17-20 @DEN 11 48-10 BUF
3 45-23 NYG 12 23-17 @WAS
4 41-17 @NE 13 34-10 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 MIA Rush Catch Pass
QB Drew Brees 0 0 210,1
RB L. Tomlinson 110,1 30 0
TE Antonio Gates 0 50,1 0
WR Keenan McCardell 0 60 0
WR Eric Parker 0 30 0
WR Reche Caldwell 0 20 0
PK Nate Kaeding 2 FG 2 XP -

Pregame Notes: The Chargers have an uphill battle but at 8-4 and on a five game winning streak, that tough remaining schedule can still produce enough wins to easily get a wildcard and with a little luck and a final home game against the Broncos, the division title is still in reach.

Quarterback: While Drew Brees struggled a bit against the Redskins in week 12, he's been on top of his game in pretty much all other games recently and has scored 20 touchdowns already this year. Over half of his games have produced two or more scores and since all-world tight end Antonio Gates is healthier, the passing game should remain strong.

Running Backs: LaDainian Tomlinson comes off a rare game without a score when he still managed to gain110 total yards against the Raiders last week. Tomlinson already has 17 rushing touchdowns, two receiving scores and has thrown for two scores. After 13 weeks, I have run out of superlatives while Tomlinson continues to score more.

Tomlinson caused many fantasy owners to experience a spike in blood pressure when he went down with a rib injury last week but he's expected to be fine after being pulled for most of the second half against the Raiders last week.

Wide Receivers: The Charges are one of the rare teams that produce wideout points only in relation to the health of their tight end. With Gates commanding attention, Keenan McCardell has a nice possession role for around 60 or 70 yards in most games and he has seven scores on the season. Eric Parker has been stepping up during the last month when he scored in three of the last four games and turning in at least 60 yards in most of those games. As the season heads near the playoffs. Parker's increased contributions are helping to keep the passing game going - particularly near the opponent's endzone.

Tight Ends: Antonio Gates only had 39 yards in week 12 when he had a sore foot but he turned in four catches for 51 yards and one score last week. That gives him eight touchdowns on the season and he's already logged three games over 100 yards.

Match Against the Defense: The Dolphins have been giving up one or two rushing scores in each away game this year and Reuben Droughns had 166 yards against them. Michael Pittman had 127 yards. Both scored. Chances are high this will be a great game for Tomlinson unless Tomlinson's ribs act up or the team wants to save him for the upcoming schedule though they have never really taken it easy with him in the past. Michael Turner has looked good enough that a significant lead could end up letting Tomlinson save himself for the Colts game next week.

Brees faces a secondary that has wavered between outstanding and terrible. On the road, the Fins stats are great against the pass but they've managed to visit almost nothing but bad passing attacks. When going against good teams they usually allow a couple of scores and over 220 yards. McCardell gets the same match-up against Madison that allowed three scores last week but that was a rare aberration. Chances are best that Brees has at least one passing score and perhaps two that will continue to favor Gates the most and then McCardell second. The match-up that Parker has against Reggie Howard will likely shut him down.