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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
The Huddle
December 14, 2005
Season Ticket
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Prediction: Arizona 20, Houston 17

Okay, here it is. The Texans final chance at winning a game this season other than the final road trip to San Francisco (note - Houston is not considered a "road team"). The Cardinals enter the game with a 2-4 road record, which is better than what the Texans have managed at home. A messy game at best, the Texans cannot afford a win here if they hope to keep their coveted #1 slot in the NFL draft.

Update: Domanick Davis has not practiced on Wednesday or Thursday and is listed as questionable. The troubling thing is that Davis had swelling on his knee on Thursday which is different than last week. He now expects to be a game time decision. I am lowering his numbers and adding in Jonathan Wells. Either Wells or Davis should have a good game here if they can be the full-time back, so check out the inactives on Sunday before making your final decision.

Arizona Cardinals (4-9)
1 19-42 @NYG 10 21-29 @DET
2 12-17 STL 11 38-28 @STL
3 12-37 @SEA 12 17-24 JAC
4 31-14 SFO 13 17-10 @SFO
5 20-24 CAR 14 13-17 WAS
6 Open Bye 15 Dec 18 @HOU
7 20-10 TEN 16 Dec 24 PHI
8 13-34 @DAL 17 Jan 1 @IND
9 19-33 SEA . . SAT
ARZ at HOU Rush Catch Pass
QB Kurt Warner 0 0 290,1
RB J.J. Arrington 50,1 10 0
RB Marcel Shipp 30 10 0
TE Adam Bergen 0 10 0
WR Anquan Boldin 0 90 0
WR Larry Fitzgerald 0 120,1 0
WR Bryant Johnson 0 40 0
PK Neil Rackers 2 FG 2 XP -
Pregame Notes: Arizona dropped a close loss to the Redskins last week mainly because they allowed a punt to be returned for a score - otherwise they kept Washington out of the endzone. Unfortunately, they also only managed to score one touchdown themselves thanks to the offense being little more than Boldin and Fitzgerald and the Cards have now gone three games without being able to score more than 17 points.

Quarterback: Kurt Warner continues to get the yardage - he had 255 yards against the stingy Redskins defense - but he has only thrown for one touchdown in all but two games this season. Since week nine when he returned, he has not thrown for less than the 255 yards last week and he's had four of the last six games top 300 yards - just rarely more than one touchdown though.

Running Backs: HC Denny Green wants J.J. Arrington to step up and have the break out game that Green says he is due, but Arrington only had 26 yards on nine carries last week and Marcel Shipp gained 27 yards on seven carries. There are not enough carries here for any running back to matter and splitting it up only further minimized the fantasy value here. If Arrington can have a break out game, this week would be the best chance of the year for it to happen.

Wide Receivers: The Cardinals have been using Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald almost exclusively this season and while Boldin did manage to snare nine passes for 114 yards last week, Fitzgerald turned in only 23 yards on four catches for his worst game of the year. Surprisingly, Leron McCoy had the lone passing touchdown but only caught two passes for eight yards in the game. Bryant Johnson also hauled in five passes for 61 yards but his value only shows up against top defenses - not the case this week. Fitzgerald and Boldin - the rest just have no fantasy value.

Tight Ends: Adam Bergen has his best game of the year when he had three catches for 41 yards last week but that comes after only turning in one catch over the two previous games. Not enough consistency here to warrant much consideration.

Match Against the Defense: The Texans have a very bad rush defense that regularly hands out great games to opponents but the Cardinals have not committed to one runner this year anyway and the results have always been dismal. Figure on a better game for Arrington with a chance for an actual good game, but nothing in the past 13 games suggests that more than a moderate game is likely.

Warner goes against a secondary that has allowed multiple passing scores in about half of the games and considering the rushing success by opponents, the passing numbers are artificially low. Remember - this is the defense that game Ryan Fitzgerald a game for the ages. Fitzgerald takes the weaker side against CB Dunta Robinson but both he and Boldin should turn in nice efforts in this game. Great tandems like Harrison/ Wayne and Holt/Bruce have always combined for 200 or more yards.

Houston Texans (1-12)
1 7-22 @BUF 10 17-31 @IND
2 7-27 PIT 11 17-45 KCC
3 Open Bye 12 27-33 STL
4 10-16 @CIN 13 15-16 @BAL
5 20-34 TEN 14 10-13 @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 ARZ Rush Catch Pass
QB David Carr 20 0 170,1
RB Domanick Davis 70,1 30 0
RB Jonathan Wells 30 10 0
TE Marcellus Rivers 0 10 0
WR Andre Johnson 0 70,1 0
WR Corey Bradford 0 20 0
WR Jabar Gaffney 0 20 0
PK Kris Brown 1 FG 2 XP -

Pregame Notes: It is bad enough that the Texans have lost all but one game this season. It is bad enough that they have dropped their last six games including the last two by a total of only three points. But once Kris Brown whiffed horribly on his 31-yard field goal attempt last week, now the media is openly questioning if the Texans are actually throwing games. This week is the best chance for a win the Texans will have left to play. If they lose it by a close score, the questions about what they are doing will be justified.

Quarterback: David Carr comes off only his second game of the year without a turnover but he only managed to throw for 116 yards and one score last week against the Titans and his leadership has once again reverted to the same form of 2005 - hand it off or throw it to Domanick Davis. 81% of the plays went to Davis last week and Carr could only come up with seven catches for 48 yards to all four wideouts. Other than his one game against the Rams this year, he has not thrown for more than one score in any other game.

Running Backs: The natural conclusion is that the Texans will draft Reggie Bush but Domanick Davis has been the lone feature of the offense that has been productive this season (or last really). Davis has rushed for a mere 294 yards over the last two games and his 50 yards on seven catches last week made him the lead receiver as well. As the season grows old, Davis is just getting more use every week.

Wide Receivers: Last week against the Titans secondary, the wideouts performance was pitiful. Andre Johnson had nine passes thrown to him but only caught three for 27 yards. Johnson had a mini-revival for two weeks but slipped back into his lackluster ways last week. The wideouts here have been so bad that even a great match-up does little more than guarantee Domanick Davis gets bigger numbers.

Tight Ends: Still waiting for that first touchdown of the year. Or a game with 20 yards.

Match Against the Defense: The Cardinals have been about average against running backs this year and since Davis is being used so heavily, figure on him turning in decent numbers by sheer volume alone. This should be the final big game of the year for Davis who next has to face the Jaguars and 49ers in San Francisco.

Carr should manage one score here as he almost always does, and Andre Johnson has the better match-up but the risk of figuring him to do much here is always great given the season so far. I am projecting for Johnson to catch a score, but Carr has only hooked up once with Johnson this entire season.