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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
Player Projections by Team
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The Huddle
September 13, 2006
Season Ticket
Sunday Late
Sunday night
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DET at CHI OAK at BAL STL at SF   updated

Prediction: WAS 17, DAL 24

Here's a game that is always fun for the team fans and after years of futility, the Redskins not only beat the Cowboys last year, they swept them 14-13 in Dallas and then 35-7 in week 15. Now both teams come in 0-1 when this was supposed to be the battle of unbeatens. The Skins should have the bigger task on the road and yet both teams will be loaded to a big game here knowing that an 0-2 hole is going to make the season uphill all year.

Update: Portis now has been downgraded to doubtful and according to HC Joe Gibbs, he will not play because he did not practice. His shoulder has some soreness that had prevented him from fully participating. That leaves LaDell Betts to start with likely some measure of recently acquired T.J. Duckett. While this could be a ploy to surprise the Cowboys with Portis, Gibbs has not resorted to those sort of tactics in the past and "no practice, no play" follows his typical philosophy.

Washington Redskins (0-1)
1 16-19 MIN 10 --- @PHI
2 --- @DAL 11 --- @TB
3 --- @HOU 12 --- CAR
4 --- JAX 13 --- ATL
5 --- @NYG 14 --- PHI
6 --- TEN 15 --- @NO
7 --- @IND 16 --- @STL
8 Open Bye 17 --- NYG
9 --- DAL - MON SAT
WAS at DAL Rush Catch Pass
QB Mark Brunell 0 0 190,1
RB Clinton Portis 80,1 20 0
RB Ladell Betts 60 0 0
TE Chris Cooley 0 30 0
WR Santana Moss 0 50 0
WR Brandon Lloyd 0 60,1 0
WR Antwaan Randle El 0 40 0
PK John Hall 1 FG 2 XP -
Pregame Notes: The Skins dropped a close one to the Vikes on Monday and now have a short week and a trip to Dallas. Portis is already back and the offensive genius Al Saunders needs to put his stamp on this offense that was good on Monday, but not great and not even good enough. Washington won in Dallas last year with two very late touchdowns and if Dallas can get ready for any team - it is the visiting Redskins.

Quarterback: Mark Brunell only had 163 passing yards last week and no touchdown passes. But he did not have any turnovers either. The surprising facet to the offense was the more extensive use of the slot receiver Randle El while Brunell only connected once with Brandon Lloyd. While Cooley had two catches for a net of -2 yards, he still remains in the progression and had seven passes thrown to him - more than any other receiver.

Brunell threw for 291 yards and two scores in Dallas last year thanks to a couple long bombs to Moss at the end of the game. He had 164 yards and four more touchdowns when the Cowboys came to Washington last year.

Running Backs: Ladell Betts took the start as expected but only had 22 yards on eight rushes and Clinton Portis returned to the game and looked good. Portis had ten runs for 39 yards and a score and was not bothered by his shoulder which was being supported by a special sling. Portis had no problems playing and suffered no setbacks so this week will be back to normal for the Washington backfield.

Portis gained only 52 yards on 17 carries in Dallas last year but later had 112 yards on 23 carries at home. He did not score in either contest.

Wide Receivers: The new look receiver drew had minimal results against the Vikings. Santana Moss only managed two catches for 46 yards though he added three runs for 28 yards. New acquisition Brandon Lloyd had six passes but only one reception for 23 yards. Most surprising was the effectiveness of Randle El who had five catches for 34 yards. Most of the pass distribution was related to the good cornerback play of the Vikes which made Randle El a better option. This could happen again in Dallas this week with Newman and Henry matching up against Moss and Lloyd.

Santana Moss had 159 yards and two scores in Dallas last year thanks to two very long scoring passes but only had 73 yards at home against the Cowboys.

Tight Ends: An Al Saunders offense in Kansas City made extensive use of the tight end position but that was related to Tony Gonzalez being there. His offense in St. Louis made limited use of the position and with Moss, Lloyd and Randle El on board, there is no real reason to expect that Chris Cooley will have a big year in 2006. This was born out when Cooley had only two catches for a net of a two yard loss. Cooley did have seven targets in the game so he is not being phased out by any means, but his outlook this year has to be considered a bit lower than in 2005 when the Redskins had few options in the passing attack.

Cooley only had 20 yards in Dallas last year but then turned in his best game of the year in week 15 when he had six catches for 71 yards and three scores at home against the Cowboys.

Match Against the Defense: The Dallas rush defense remains solid and limited Fred Taylor to 74 yards on 21 carries with most of that coming later in the game when the defense tired. But Portis is a far better runner and should have more success in this game. Expect him to remain under 100 yards but to turn in solid numbers with one score.

The Cowboys pass defense is a bit weaker on the Henry side and that should benefit Brandon Lloyd who needs to show up in a game more. After the way that Moss abused them deep in Dallas last year, expect the Cowboys to over commit to stopping him and for Lloyd and even Randle El to get some benefit. This won't likely be a shootout and the Cowboys will be plenty motivated here at home after last week and the two losses to Washington last year.

Dallas Cowboys (0-1)
1 17-24 @JAX 10 --- @ARZ
2 --- WAS 11 --- IND
3 Open Bye 12 --- TB
4 --- @TEN 13 --- @NYG
5 --- @PHI 14 --- NO
6 --- HOU 15 --- @ATL
7 --- NYG 16 --- PHI
8 --- @CAR 17 --- DET
9 --- @WAS M THU SAT
DAL vs WAS Rush Catch Pass
QB Drew Bledsoe 0 0 250,2
RB Julius Jones 80,1 20 0
RB Marion Barber 20 10 0
TE Jason Witten 0 30 0
WR Terrell Owens 0 110,2 0
WR Terry Glenn 0 60 0
WR Patrick Crayton 0 20 0
PK Shaun Suisham 1 FG 3 XP -

Pregame Notes: The Cowboys come off a frustrating loss that had the team looking flawless for the first two series and then unable to move the ball once Jacksonville made defensive adjustments. Drew Bledsoe had a very bad game with three interceptions but Terrell Owens was effective when Bledsoe got the ball near him. The Dallas defense started hot but then appeared unable to adjust as the game wore on and seemed to be tiring out in the second half when Dallas needed them most. The kicking woes also continue here, with Vanderjagt unable to play and Shaun Suisham unable to not hit the goal post.

Quarterback: The biggest factor in the defeat in Jacksonville was the poor play by Drew Bledsoe who had three very costly interceptions and a mere 45.8 QB rating. Bledsoe ended with 246 yards and one score to Terrell Owens but most of that all came on a couple of series. While the calls from fans for Tony Romo to play have naturally started, the Cowboys are firmly sticking with Bledsoe who should play much better this week.

Bledsoe threw for 261 yards and one score when the Redskins came to Dallas last year.

Running Backs: Julius Jones was effective rushing last week with 17 carries for 72 yards (4.2 YPC) with one touchdown and he added 39 yards with one reception. The Cowboys did not resort to any real committee approach here as Marion Barber only had three carries in the game and a couple of catches. Jones is the primary and Barber is just the relief back-up.

Julius Jones ran for 81 yards on 22 carries against the Skins in Dallas last year.

Wide Receivers: The Cowboys opened the game against the Jaguars with a completion to Terrell Owens just to get it out of the way but did not use him much until towards the end of the game when Owens had the lone receiving touchdown during his six catches for 80 yards. Owens had 11 targets so he remains heavily used - that was about twice as many throws as any other receiver had. Terry Glenn was a star in the preseason but only had four catches last week for 81 yards. Both wideouts had solid numbers but more was expected from Owens at the least. It was just a two man show last Sunday - Patrick Crayton only one had one pass and failed to catch it.

Terry Glenn had 157 yards and one score when the Skins came to Dallas last year.

Tight Ends: Not unlike Cooley for the Redskins, Jason Witten has to contend with there being more options for his quarterback this year thanks to Owens coming to town. Witten had six passes with three receptions for 33 yards. He's being used roughly as much as Terry Glenn but on much shorter routes.

Witten was quiet against the Redskins last year but did score in Washington in week 15.

Match Against the Defense: The Washington defense held Chester Taylor to only 88 yards on 31 carries last Monday it was generally solid though Taylor scored once. Playing on the road, look for them to let Jones have a decent day that will end just under 100 yards unless the Cowboys get a big lead and just run the ball - but even then Barber is more likely to get the additional carries if that happens.

Bledsoe knows he needs a big game here to make everything better and with CB Shawn Springs out again this week, that means Terrell Owens won't be facing the best defensive back though he'll undoubtedly be facing more than one every play. This is a home game and Bledsoe and Owens could really help their cases with a solid showing and the absence of Springs should make that a bit more likely to happen. It's the Sunday night game on a national stage - just what Owens loves.