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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
The Huddle
Wildcard Week
January, , 2005
Season Ticket
Washington at Tampa Bay
4:30 PM Saturday on ABC
Carolina at New York Giants
1:00 PM Sunday on FOX
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Jacksonville at New England
8:00 PM Saturday on ABC
Pittsburgh at Cincinnati
4:30 PM Sunday on CBS

Prediction: Washington 17, Tampa Bay 23

Here's a replay of week 10 when the Buccaneers were able to barely clip the Skins 36-35 in a high points game that no one expected. Both teams know what to expect this time around and both are playing much better than earlier this season but only one is at home. The reality here is that these teams are more alike than different - one great wideout and no others worth noting, a good running back and defense that they can rely on.

Line: Buccaneers by 2.5
Weather: Clear, about 55 degrees

Washington Redskins (10-6)
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 35-7 DAL
7 52-17 SFO 16 35-20 NYG
8 0-36 @NYG 17 31-20 @PHI
9 17-10 PHI . MON SAT
WAS Projections Rush Catch Pass
QB Mark Brunell 0 0 170,2
RB Clinton Portis 80 0 0
RB Mike Sellers 0 10,1 0
TE Chris Cooley 0 50,1 0
WR Santana Moss 0 70 0
WR Taylor Jacobs 0 10 0
WR James Thrash 0 20 0
PK John Hall 1 FG 2 XP -
Pregame Notes: The Skins caught fire and ripped off five straight wins to end the season and catch the final wildcard opening. The offense has been scoring over 30 points in each of the last three games which all came against divisional foes though two of those were at home. The Skins are only 4-4 on the road this year.

Quarterback: In week 10, Mark Brunell threw for 226 yards and two scores against the Buccaneers but also had two interceptions and one lost fumble. Those 226 yards were the highest passing yards for Brunell over the final ten games when he only totaled 11 touchdowns which included four scores against Dallas and yet four games without a passing score. Brunell also has not thrown for more than 163 yards in the last five games.

Mark Brunell still is not 100% due to his sprained knee and was erratic last week against the Eagles but is expected to be healthier this game.

Running Backs: Clinton Portis had his season high in week 10 when he ran 23 times for 144 yards in Tampa Bay and had one rushing score. Portis has been on a roll since that game, topping 100 yards in each of the last five efforts as the Redskin rushing game has come to life. The secret weapon for the Redskins has been fullback Mike Sellers who has gone four straight games with only one reception or one carry and yet each went for a touchdown. He has scored seven times via the pass and only once on a run - his only carry of the year.

Wide Receivers: The weakness of this unit is that there are no other wideouts other than Santana Moss with any significance. In week 10, Moss had four catches for 79 yards but never scored. David Patten - since on injured reserve - only had three catches for 24 yards and James Thrash only managed one catch for two yards. Moss started the year red hot but since week seven has only scored in two of the remaining ten games with only one effort exceeding 100 yards. He is a safe bet for around 60 to 70 yards per game but rarely exceeds that now that the secondary knows that it is "Moss or back to tight ends and fullbacks".

Tight Ends: Chris Cooley has enjoyed a solid second year in the NFL and back in week ten, he had six catches for 66 yards though he did not score. The Redskins like to make heavy use of Cooley in the passing scheme, particularly in games where Moss is covered which should bode well for him this week.

Match Against the Defense: The Buccaneers rush defense was gouged for 144 yards by Portis the last time but they only allowed one other 100 yard performance this season and no runner has exceeded 82 rushing yards against them since that meeting with the Skins. Expect the Buccaneers to do a better job this time against Portis and keep him under 100 yards with a very small chance that he will score. They have only allowed three running score over the last seven games and never more than one per runner in that time.

Brunell will be the key in this game and he will have to establish the pass successfully to stay in the game. The Buccaneer secondary is above average and can be outstanding at home, particularly against a passing offense that only uses one wideout. Look for Moss to be contained and force Brunell to look for Cooley and Sellers in this game.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (11-5)
1 24-13 @MIN 10 36-35 WAS
2 19-3 BUF 11 30-27 @ATL
3 17-16 @GBP 12 10-13 CHI
4 17-13 DET 13 10-3 @NOR
5 12-14 @NYJ 14 20-10 @CAR
6 27-13 MIA 15 0-28 @NE
7 Open Bye 16 27-24 ATL
8 10-15 @SFO 17 27-13 NOR
9 14-34 CAR . . SAT
TBB Projections Rush Catch Pass
QB Chris Simms 0 0 230,1
RB Cadillac Williams 80,1 10 0
RB Michael Pittman 10 30 0
TE Alex Smith 0 40 0
WR Joey Galloway 0 50 0
WR Edell Shepherd 0 40,1 0
WR Ike Hilliard 0 30 0
PK Matt Bryant 3 FG 2 XP -

Pregame Notes: The Buccaneers took the NFC South with a fine 11-5 record. The defense slumped mid-season while the offense struggled but Chris Simms has been slowly improving and Carnell Williams is running well again. The Bucs have a knack for playing in close games anytime they face a quality opponent but with a home game to open their playoffs and some knowledge of their opponent this time should keep them on the bigger side of the scoreboard.

Quarterback: Chris Simms had his best game of the season in week 10 when he threw for 279 yards and three scores against the Redskins. Like Brunell, Simms has only scored in three games since that meeting and has only been above 200 passing yards twice in the last seven games. Simms throws only as much as needed but comes off two straight games with two passing touchdowns in each.

Running Backs: Carnell Williams has been named the Associated Press Offensive Rookie of the Year by a landslide though some of that points to a down year for rookies performing well. The previous meeting with the Redskins was during Williams four game slide of sub-30 yard games when his ankle was bothering him and he has since been above 80 yards in all but one game. Playing at home, Williams should be a lock for around 80 yards with upside to top 100 if he can break a long run or get more than 22 carries in the game.

Wide Receivers: Just like Santana Moss, Joey Galloway had a torrid start to the season when he scored in six of the seven games but only turned in two games with touchdowns in the final seven games of the year and he had only once been above 40 yards in the last four games. Galloway had seven catches for 131 yards and one score in week ten against the Redskins. What was most notable in that game was that both Ike Hilliard (3-37) and Edell Shepherd (3-87) had receiving touchdowns as well. Those were the only touchdowns by a wideout other than Galloway for the season.

Michael Clayton is out this week with a turf toe, not that you would miss him much anyway.

Tight Ends: The tight ends have been de-emphasized in Tampa Bay this year and after opening the year with two scores by Alex Smith, no tight end has scored for the Bucs. Smith has evolved into a passing option for SImms and usually turns in somewhere between 25 and 40 yards per game.

Match Against the Defense: The Redskins can probably forget about holding Cadillac to only 20 yards this week - he is healthy now and will add a new dimension to the offense that was missing in week ten. But the Redskins rush defense has been very solid and has not allowed any rushing scores in the last five games and only Tomlinson was able to gain over 80 rushing yards against this defense for the last half of the season. Expected a good game here by Cadillac but he'll need help from the Tampa Bay defense to hold Washington's score down to get enough carries for a big game.

Simms had great success against the Redskins before in his best game of the year but with a healthy Cadillac this time should not be forced to throw nearly as much. Look for a more standard game this time that will likely see one passing score going to a wideout other than Galloway. The Skins have been softer against flankers anyway and the Bucs are rotating players in so either Hilliard, Shepherd or Clayton could catch the score.