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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: New England 20, Buffalo 17

The Patriots are only 3-3 on the road this year but are 3-0 against divisional opponents. They already beat the Bills 21-16 in week eight when the game was in New England but the Bills are 4-2 at home and 0-6 on the road. This should be a far better game than the records will suggest since the two home losses by the Bills came against the Falcons and Panthers.

Update: The Bills have suspended Eric Moulds this week due to some undescribed differences with the coaches in the game last Sunday. I have removed Moulds but his absense also makes the game score change because Moulds was great against the Pats last time and was a key to winning this game. Without Moulds this week, I now like the Pats to pull off the win here.

New England Patriots (7-5)
1 30-20 OAK 11 23-16 @MIA
2 17-27 @CAR 12 24-17 NOR
3 23-20 @PIT 13 16-26 @KCC
4 17-41 SDC 14 16-3 NYJ
5 31-28 @ATL 15 Dec 11 @BUF
6 20-28 @DEN 16 Dec 17 TBB
7 Open Bye 17 Dec 26 @NYJ
8 21-16 BUF 7 Jan 1 MIA
9 21-40 IND M THU SAT
NEP at BUF Rush Catch Pass
QB Tom Brady 0 0 210,1
RB Corey Dillon 60,1 0 0
RB Kevin Faulk 10 30 0
TE Ben Watson 0 20 0
TE Daniel Graham 0 10 0
WR David Givens 0 40,1 0
WR Deion Branch 0 70 0
WR Tim Dwight 0 10 0
WR Troy Brown 0 20 0
PK Adam Vinatieri 2 FG 2 XP -
Pregame Notes: The Patriots come off a win over the Jets but at just 16-3 in New England, it is hardly anything to consider as a major success. In the AFC East, the entire division has been racked by injuries this year and the Patriots wins over the Dolphins and Bills were both by less than a touchdown. With a two game lead over the Dolphins, the Patriots really only need one more win this season to clinch the easiest division in the NFL.

Quarterback: Tom Brady comes off a rare game with no touchdowns last week against the Jets but he threw for 199 yards and one score against the Bills earlier this season. There is one interesting correlation to make here. Whenever Corey Dillon plays and scores a touchdown, Brady has lower production. In the games that Dillon has scored (5), Brady has only thrown for four touchdowns and only that high with the two scores in the season opener. Otherwise, he has only had two scores in the four other games. In the other seven games this year, Brady has 14 touchdowns. When Dillon scores, Brady does not. At least not more than once a game.

Running Backs: Corey Dillon finally showed up and played last week after missing the three previous games. Dillon only gained 65 yards on 16 carries but had his first touchdown since week eight. Dillon ran for 72 yards and two scores in the previous meeting with the Bills.

Also returning was Kevin Faulk who had 10 carries for 35 yards and added four catches for 46 yards. Faulk had been out since week three. For the first time in eight games, the Patriots have their two main running backs healthy enough to play together.

Wide Receivers: Nothing new here. The Patriots continue to platoon in up to six different wideouts and David Givens is finally back after missing the last three games but he only turned in five catches for 27 yards last week. Deion Branch remains the best of the bunch but even he has not had more than 49 yards for the last three weeks. Branch caught three passes for 92 yards and a score against the Bills in week eight while Givens turned in 58 yards on seven catches.

Tight Ends: Like the wideouts, Daniel Graham and Ben Watson are mixed in and at least one of them has 20 or 30 yards in most games. But which one will be the "weekly guy" remains unknown until it happens. Usually Watson, but never exclusively.

Match Against the Defense: The Patriots have returned several offensive players now - Dillon, Faulk and Givens. But each were playing in week three when the Pats could only manage a 21-16 win at home. The Bills on the road - everyone scores a rushing score or two against them. But at home - only two players have scored and only two have had significant games. Look for Dillon to turn in moderate yardage with a chance at one score but unlikely more than that. Plus Faulk will reduce Dillon's numbers a bit as well.

Brady faces a secondary that has only allowed one touchdown at home in the last three games and only five for the entire season. With Dillon back and running, expect just the standard one score from Brady with moderate yardage. That score could go to any player and really favors no player. Sure, the Bills were just killed by Chris Chambers who plays the same flanker role as Branch and Deion did have a score the previous time, but the Patriots never do the same thing twice.

Buffalo Bills (4-8)
1 22-7 HOU 10 14-3 KCC
2 3-19 @TBB 11 10-48 @SDC
3 16-24 ATL 12 9-13 CAR
4 7-19 @NOR 13 23-24 @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 vs NE Rush Catch Pass
QB J.P. Losman 0 0 190,1
RB Willis McGahee 110,1 10 0
TE Mark Campbell 0 10 0
WR Eric Moulds 0 60,1 0
WR Roscoe Parrish 0 30 0
WR Lee Evans 0 80,1 0
WR Josh Reed 0 40 0
PK Rian Lindell 1 FG 1 XP -

Pregame Notes: The Bills have been waxed in most road games this year, but they let one slip away last week in Miami. And the home stands lately have been very good, with the only loss of the last four games in Buffalo being to the Panthers 9-13. This is a much better team at home.

Quarterback: J.P. Losman comes off a big game in Miami when he connected for three scores with Lee Evans in the first quarter but that is as many scores as Losman produced in the previous three full games. However, Holcomb threw for 263 yards and one score against the Pats this season and this will be the easiest match-up yet for Losman.

Running Backs: Willis McGahee gained 136 yards on 31 carries in the previous meeting with the Patriots but he has never been better than 81 yards in the four games since that meeting. The defenses have been much tougher the last month and a home game against his Patriot defense should be enough to get McGahee back to bigger numbers.

Wide Receivers: The amazing thing last week was not only that Lee Evans snared five catches for 117 yards and three scores in pretty much just the first quarter, it is also that Eric Moulds was held to no catches for the first time this season. Moulds caught nine passes for 125 yards and one score against the Patriots this year. Evans only managed one catch for 14 yards. Apparently Holcomb and Losman have different favorite receivers. Evans had scored five times since Losman took over though they came in only two games.

Tight Ends: No fantasy value.

Match Against the Defense: There is no doubt that the Bills will be looking to establish McGahee who has already had a big game against the Pats. Look for some nice numbers here with a good chance for a score. The running of both Dillon and McGahee will serve to use up the game clock faster and reduce the passing numbers.

Losman had one of his good games in the previous match-up against the Pats and on the road, these Patriots are no better against the pass. Look for lower numbers in yardage but Losman should score at least twice as has have almost every opponent of the Patriots. The previous matchup with New England and last week in Miami will give Losman the confidence he needs against a secondary that can be beaten. Oddly enough, the Patriots have allowed four different wideouts to score twice in a game, so Evans could have another big one here.