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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
The Huddle
December 21, 2005
Season Ticket
Sat 1 PM Sat 1 PM Sat 1 PM Sat 4 PM Sun 8:30 PM
BUF at CIN NYG at WAS TEN at MIA* IND at SEA* Mon 9 PM
DET at NO* SD at KC* CHI at GB Updated* Times ET

Prediction: Indianapolis 13, Seattle 24

This greatly anticipated match-up suddenly looks uninteresting with the loss by the Colts last week. Seattle only needs to win the next week against the Packers to ensure homefield throughout the playoffs and Indy just needs to beat the visiting Cards in week 17 to ensure homefield throughout (if in fact they wouldn't get it anyway). Now the Colts are banged up with virtually no chance of using all their starters for the entire game. Here is a likely fact - these two teams could very well meet in the Superbowl and there is no reason to show anything this week that would help in the biggest of all big games.

Update: What could have been the most exciting game to watch this week now may be the hardests to predict and least likely to go the way you think it will. HC Tony Dungy had his 18 year old son die yesterday and he will not be present for the game. How that may or may not affect the Colts is hard to guage given that the game was already meaningless. I am not changing the projections for the Colts, but the game now bears watching just to see what really does happen - do the Colts rise up to show support for their bereaved coach or will they come out even more flat in a meaningless game?

Darrell Jackson has not practiced this week because of his knee that was overworked last week and he remains a game time decision in a match-up that is a later game on Saturday. I am dropping his numbers and realize that he may not even play. In the best case scenario, he would only get limited duty this week.

Indianapolis Colts (13-1)
1 24-7 @BAL 10 31-17 HOU
2 10-3 JAC 11 45-37 @CIN
3 13-6 CLE 12 26-7 PIT
4 31-10 @TEN 13 35-3 TEN
5 28-3 @SFO 14 26-18 @JAC
6 45-28 STL 15 17-26 SDC
7 38-20 @HOU 16 Dec 24 @SEA
8 Open Bye 17 Jan 1 ARI
9 40-21 @NE . MON SAT
IND at SEA Rush Catch Pass
QB Peyton Manning 0 0 150,1
RB Edgerrin James 40 0 0
RB Dominic Rhodes 40 10 0
TE Dallas Clark 0 40 0
WR Reggie Wayne 0 60 0
WR Brandon Stokley 0 50 0
WR Troy Walters 0 40 0
PK Mike Vanderjagt 2 FG 1 XP -
Pregame Notes: The perfect season dream is now over and the Colts have to find a way to accept that they are still the best team in the NFL with the best record. Now Manning, Harrison, Sanders and Freeney are banged up. Time to rest and get ready for the big show.

Quarterback: Peyton Manning has swelling in his knee but is expected to start this week to keep his string of 126 consecutive starts alive. Anything after that is pure gravy and HC Tony Dungy already has said that Jim Sorgi will get playing time. Figure on Manning playing up to one half in a meaningless game. No reason for anything more than that.

Running Backs: Edgerrin James comes off his worst game of the year - by about 75 rushing yards - and there's virtually no chance he plays a full game this year. James leads the NFL with 347 carries already this season, no reason to not rest him this week. Figure on Dominic Rhodes seeing some playing time this week.

Wide Receivers: Marvin Harrison may be held out this week because of a fractured bone in his right hand. That leaves Reggie Wayne and Brandon Stokley to catch those Sorgi passes with the main directive - don't get hurt. If Harrison does sit out, and he would not play the entire game in the best of all cases, Troy Walters should see some increased playing time as well.

This could actually be interesting because other than week five when Walters had one catch, every single pass thrown to a wideout has gone to Wayne, Harrison or Stokley this year. Okay - so maybe not that interesting.

Tight Ends: Dallas Clark caught his fourth touchdown of the year last week and finally outplayed Brian Fletcher.

Match Against the Defense: This is a game of obvious unknowns that the Colts clearly will not want to risk players for a meaningless win. Since players could be shuttled in or out during the game, projecting numbers is almost meaningless as well.

Seattle Seahawks (12-2)
1 14-26 @JAC 10 31-16 STL
2 21-18 ATL 11 27-25 @SFO
3 37-12 ARI 12 24-21 NYG
4 17-20 @WAS 13 42-0 @PHI
5 37-31 @STL 14 41-3 SFO
6 42-10 HOU 15 28-24 @TEN
7 13-10 DAL 16 Dec 24 IND
8 Open Bye 17 Jan 1 @GBP
9 33-19 @ARI . MON SAT
SEA vs IND Rush Catch Pass
QB Matt Hasselbeck 0 0 230,2
RB Shaun Alexander 80,1 10 0
TE Jerramy Stevens 0 30 0
WR Darrell Jackson 0 30 0
WR Bobby Engram 0 70,1 0
WR Joe Jurevicius 0 70,1 0
PK Josh Brown 1 FG 3 XP -

Pregame Notes: Seattle can thank the Chargers for making this game go from a big-time battle to just a mail-in game by the Colts. Seattle has won their last ten games and a win here let's them not care about week 17.

Quarterback: Matt Hasselbeck Is wrapping up the regular season on a high note with seven touchdowns over the last two games. Granted, it was against the 49ers and Titans, but from a fantasy perspective it is nice to see a quarterback throttle his opponent even when he does not have to in order to win.

Running Backs: Shaun Alexander leads the NFL with 1668 rushing yards but with only two games left and 332 yards to go, he likely won't press for a 2000 yard season. His 24 rushing scores are only three off the record though, so if the Seahawks get close to the goal line, guess who likely gets the call. Especially after last year when he was denied the chance to lead the league in rushing yards.

Wide Receivers: The Seahawks have the best record in the NFC and have won their last ten games. And just now, they get their best receiver back into the fold. Bad news for defenses. Darrell Jackson returned for his first game since week four and turned in six catches for 72 yards and one touchdown. Oh yeah, he's okay again. Joe Jurevicius scored last week as well. Oh yeah, he still matters. Bobby Engram ended that game with nine catches for 95 yards. Oh yeah, he still matters a lot.

Tight Ends: After going seven games without a score, Jerramy Stevens has scored in each of the last two games.

Match Against the Defense: The Colts are likely to hold out safety Bob Sanders and defensive end Dwight Freeney from this game and even cornerback Nick Harper has a sprained ankle. Expect a mail-in game here and the lack of intensity will play into Seattle's playing style once they get a decent lead. Expect at least one score from Alexander who needs it to keep pace with the record and some moderate yardage at least. The offense should remain pretty vanilla here since no need to show anything useful in case the Superbowl is a rematch.

Expect that Hasselbeck throws for a couple of scores in this game and Harper's limitation should mean that Jackson gets another score in this game. As with the Colts, there are a lot of unknowns here but the Seahawks will want and need the win at home.