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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
The Huddle
December 14, 2005
Season Ticket
Saturday Sun 1 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 4 PM Sun 8:30 PM
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  NYJ at MIA SF at JAC* Updated* Times ET

Prediction: Dallas 20, Washington 17

Big game that likely spells "do or die" for both teams - especially the Redskins. This is a replay of when Washington won 14-13 in week two against the Cowboys on two last minute touchdown throws to Santana Moss in Dallas. The Cowboys are only 3-3 on the road but the Skins have not beaten a team with a winning record since hosting the Seahawks in week four.

Dallas Cowboys (8-5)
1 28-24 @SDC 10 21-20 @PHI
2 13-14 WAS 11 20-7 DET
3 34-31 @SFO 12 21-24 DEN
4 13-19 @OAK 13 10-17 @NYG
5 33-10 PHI 14 31-28 KCC
6 16-13 NYG 15 Dec 18 @WAS
7 10-13 @SEA 16 Dec 24 @CAR
8 34-13 ARI 17 Jan 1 STL
9 Open Bye M THU SAT
DAL at WAS Rush Catch Pass
QB Drew Bledsoe 0 0 230,1
RB Julius Jones 50 20 0
RB Marion Barber 40,1 20 0
TE Jason Witten 0 50 0
WR Keyshawn Johnson 0 40,1 0
WR Terry Glenn 0 60 0
WR Patrick Crayton 0 20 0
PK Billy Cundiff 2 FG 2 XP -
Pregame Notes: Dallas comes off a big home win over the Chiefs that reverses the two game losing streak and they had dominated the Redskins in Dallas in week two before the final minute killed them. The key here is that the Cowboys have remained similar to the team that started the season while the Redskins passing game has evaporated.

Quarterback: Drew Bledsoe had his worst and best games this season back-to-back. He only had 146 yards and four turnovers against the Giants but then threw for 332 yards and three scores last week against the Chiefs. His problem is that he has been much more error prone on the road this season where he has had 11 turnovers against only six at home.

Bledsoe threw for 261 yards and one score against the Skins earlier this year.

Running Backs: The mix-n-match game continues with the running backs with Julius Jones as the starter who had 12 carries for 41 yards last week while Marion Barber gained 82 yards on 15 runs. Use just one back and there could be some nice numbers. Use the two of them - only moderate numbers are produced individually. The Cowboys have not scored a rushing touchdown in three weeks.

Julius Jones ran 22 times for 81 yards in week two against the Skins.

Wide Receivers: After accepting a minor role for most of the last seven games, Terry Glenn finally exploded again and had 138 yards and one score on a flea-flicker against the Chiefs. His reintroduction to the passing equation has come at the expense of Keyshawn Johnson along with an increased use of Jason Witten. Glenn had his biggest game of the year in the previous meeting with the Redskins when he had six catches for 157 yards and one score. Keyshawn Johnson only had two catches for 26 yards in that game.

Tight Ends: Jason Witten comes off his best game of the year when he had 93 yards on seven catches with one touchdown and that gives him four on the season. Problem here is that other than the 49er game, Witten has not scored on the road nor had more than 50 yards.

Witten had four catches for 35 yards against the Skins in week two.

Match Against the Defense: The Redskins rush defense has been about average this year and while they allowed Tomlinson a monster game in Washington, most runners remain safely under 100 yards. With Jones and Barber splitting time, neither should have more than moderate yards here though the chance of one rushing score is good.

Bledsoe faces one of the better secondaries in the NFL and in six home games, the Skins have only allowed three passing touchdowns and never more than one per opponent. Look for only moderate yardage here in a game that should be mostly rushing and defense with a lower score. The Redskins are having injury problems in their secondary though with both cornerbacks Walt Harris and Shawn Springs banged up. If they do not play or show to be significantly limited, Bledsoe may open up the passing game more.

Washington Redskins (7-6)
1 9-7 CHI 10 35-36 @TBB
2 14-13 @DAL 11 13-16 OAK
3 Open Bye 12 17-23 SDC
4 20-17 SEA 13 24-9 @STL
5 19-21 @DEN 14 17-13 @ARI
6 21-28 @KCC 15 Dec 18 DAL
7 52-17 SFO 16 Dec 24 NYG
8 0-36 @NYG 17 Jan 1 @PHI
9 17-10 PHI . MON SAT
WAS vs DAL Rush Catch Pass
QB Mark Brunell 0 0 160,1
RB Clinton Portis 90 20 0
RB Ladell Betts 20,1 0 0
TE Chris Cooley 0 30,1 0
WR Santana Moss 0 70 0
WR Taylor Jacobs 0 20 0
PK John Hall 1 FG 2 XP -

Pregame Notes: The Skins have won their last two games but against the Rams and Cardinals - so what? They lost their previous three games including two homestands against the Chargers and Raiders. The passing game has disappeared since their opponents realized that only Santana Moss matters and that leaves the game up to just Clinton Portis. Still - their defense continues to make the difference for them, when it happens.

Quarterback: Mark Brunell the earlier was throwing for about 250 yards and two scores in every game. Mark Brunell the latter is now remaining under 200 yards every week and has only two scores in the last four games. Since week seven, this once top passing attack has become well below league average.

Brunell threw for 291 yards and two scores in the game in Dallas though most of that yardage and both scores came very late in the game.

Running Backs: Clinton Portis comes off two straight games over 100 yards and scores in both - against the Rams and Cardinals though. Portis is now getting over 25 carries a game for the last month but his results are directly tied to the quality of the defense. He always tops four yards a carry against below average teams and never reaches that mark against good defenses.

Portis ran for just 52 yards on 17 carries in Dallas this year.

Wide Receivers: Despite the low passing yards, Santana Moss continues to have fantasy value since he reels in four or five catches a week for around 60 to 80 yards but he only has one score in the last seven games and no longer is allowed to explore behind the safety like earlier in the season. Moss had one of his best games of the year when he turned five catches into 159 yards and two scores in the dramatic comeback win in Dallas this season.

Tight Ends: Chris Cooley remains the clear #2 receiver for the Redskins (who really have no other reliable receiver) but Cooley only had 25 yards last week and he has only scored once in the last eight games.

Cooley only had two catches for 20 yards against the Cowboys this year.

Match Against the Defense: This should be a defensive war this week and Portis goes against a defense that should hold him to close to 100 yards depending on how many carries he gets. The Dallas defense has been allowing more opponents to score on the ground in recent weeks but that could end up favoring Rock Cartwright or Ladell Betts on a short dive.

Brunell has been struggling the last half of the season and he actually had a terrible game against the Cowboys this year until he connected on two scoring bombs at the end of the fourth quarter. Expect more lackluster numbers here with the chance for a passing score to strongly favor Cooley this week - if it happens at all.